The Plymouth automobile came on to the car scene during the summer of 1928. It was the first low-priced vehicle created by the Chrysler Corporation, which already dominated the auto field with Ford and Chevrolet vehicles. Plymouths, at the time, were more expensive than competitor's cars, but they had more standard features such as hydraulic brakes. The first Plymouths were sold only at Chrysler dealerships and the logo looked like the rear view of the Mayflower ship as it landed on Plymouth Rock.
The actual brand name, however, came from the Plymouth Binder Twine, which was a common household tie that was used to hold various items together. The name was chosen by company executive Joe Frazer, based on the household item because it was popular in the farming community.
The general purpose of the Plymouth was to serve a niche community on the lower end of the economic scale. During the Depression in the 1930s, many car companies failed, but Chrysler was able to keep Plymouth going. Plymouth sales during that era were actually a bright spot in an otherwise horrible period within the auto industry. By 1931, Plymouth ranked number three among all the different cars.
By 1933, the Plymouth caught up with Chevrolet and Ford in terms of engine cylinders. The flathead-6 engine was placed into the Plymouth PC. The company also reduced the wheelbase of the vehicle, however and the PC car sold poorly. The following year Plymouth came out with the PD, which was marketed as a deluxe car. It sold well and can be found in many car collections.
By the year 1940, Plymouth had produced well over 400,000 vehicles. Around 6,000 of those vehicles were convertible coupes with two doors and rumble seats. In fact, the 1939 convertible coupe was a prominent feature during the 1939 New York World's Fair within the Chrysler booth. The vehicle was advertised as the only mass-produced convertible that also had a folding top connected to power.
Plymouth has been a top-selling automobile brand in America for much of its life. Although one of the low-priced brands, its cars are considered reliable, and so are popular. Plymouth even nearly surpassed Ford as the second most popular automaker in the U.S. in 1940.
Most of the Plymouth models that were created from 1970 onwards were known as badge-engineered versions of Dodge, Chrysler or Mitsubishi vehicles. In the 1990s, the Plymouth brand lost some of its identity since many of the vehicles began to overlap its features with the Dodge, Chrysler and even Eagle vehicles. Chrysler has tried to reposition the Plymouth within the market as the entry-level brand of automakers. It even has a new sailboat logo and the advertisements focus on value. This strategy, however, has only narrowed the market for the company and the sales have continued to fall over the years.
The popularity of the Plymouth brand has come and gone over the years, but several celebrities have owned the vehicles. Don Johnson once drove a 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuba while Johnny Cash called his 1954 Plymouth Savoy the best car he ever owned. The last new model that was created under the Plymouth name was the second generation of the Neon in 2000 and 2001. The Neon is the only vehicle that remains under the Plymouth line. The former Prowler became a Chrysler and the Breeze was dropped altogether because it was too close to the Sebring sedan vehicle. The PT Cruiser was originally planned to be a Plymouth, but in the end, it came out as a Chrysler. Nearly 40,000 of the Neon vehicles were built during the model year and overall, the car has sold well.
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