Hillman Avenger : Plymouth Cricket

The Stateside Avenger

The B Car was developed by Rootes using Chrysler’s money; it was only a matter of time before the parent company in the USA decided to import it into the USA.

As a result, Chrysler sold the Linwood-built Avenger in the most demanding of markets under its Plymouth brand. Sadly poor quality and a lack of youth appeal compared with the all-conquering Volkswagen Beetle meant that sales would be limited… officially, the Cricket was offered in the USA between 1971 and 1973, and makes for an interesting case study in how not to market an imported sub-compact in the USA. British Leyland committed the same crime with its Austin Marina.

Life Story

This table, compiled by Graham Arnold, summarises the Cricket’s life in the USA:

The life and times of the Cricket
Model Date Notes
Cricket 20 Jan 1971 1,500cc (91.41 cu in.) 69bhp (net). 9.2:1 compression ratio. A Chrysler Plymouth press release dated 30 June 1970 stated that the Cricket was going to be shown to the automotive press forthe first time in November 1970. The first shipment of 280 Crickets from the UK arrived in the USA on 20 November 1970.
Cricket 23 Aug 1971 Optional twin carburettor available on the four-cylinder engine adding 15 horsepower and bringing the total up to 70bhp. The standard engine now also comes with an automatic choke.
Cricket Station Wagon Spring 1972 1500cc(91.4 cu.in) 70bhp 8.5:1 compression ratio. It was fitted as standard with the optional twin carburettor set up of the sedan. Manual transmission standard, automatic optional. A Chrysler Plymouth press release issued on 23 February 1972 stated that the Station Wagon version was going to debut in early Spring of 1972.

Press Photos

These press images of the Cricket were used to sell the car in the American market.

Plymouth Cricket saloon

The Cricket looked little different from its up-spec European cousins, as its 1971 launch precluded the addition of 5mph impact absorbing bumpers. This picture appears to have been taken back in the Whitley design centre in the UK.

Plymouth Cricket Estate

The stylish estate version was pushed hard by Chrysler, and many of these press images play heavily on its commodious load area.

Press Adverts

Pictures kindly supplied by Graham Arnold

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9 Comments on "Hillman Avenger : Plymouth Cricket"

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  1. KeithB says:

    Were the Arrow cars ever sold in the USA/Canada as Plymouths?

  2. Joe Altieri says:

    No, the Cricket was the first foreign captive import to wear the Plymouth name.

    Actually, after the British-built Cricket was discontinued in both the US and Canada, Canadian Plymouth dealers began to sell a Cricket version of the Dodge Colt which had been sold through Dodge dealers in both countries since 1971. Plymouth USA didn’t get another captive import until the 1976 Plymouth Arrow based on the Mitsubishi Colt Celeste. US Dodge dealers didn’t get a version of that car but Canadian Dodge dealers did as the Dodge Arrow.

    However, from then until the 1990s, all US Chrysler captive imports were Japanese-built.

  3. didierz65 Didier Ziane says:

    that’s typical 70’s story book: Japanese replaced European “fare” at lowest end of North America’s market. Maybe Chrysler should have imported the ones built in South America, where the workers were proud of their job/achievement, read the NZ Todd operation, it’s quite an eye opener!!!

  4. Glenn Aylett says:

    The Avenger was acceptable for the British market, but would probably be savaged by road salt in the bitter winters the Northern states have. which explained why it only lasted three seasons. Also would American families really want a 1.5 litre basic British saloon when most could afford V8 cars with all the options and effortless performance at the time? Maybe if the Avenger/ Cricket was launched during the mid seventies fuel crisis and recession, it would have stood a better chance.

  5. mm says:

    The estate has a very early Toyota look to my senses, did Toyota base any of their cars on the Cricket?

  6. Pedro the Parrot says:

    @4. ‘most could afford V8 cars with all the options’ ???
    Some could, many bought something more like an old 6cyl Studebaker or an old Rambler. The Avenger was a plain, simple car but one of the more reliable repmobiles available back in those days, fine for short hops. The problem with almost all European cars was that they were unsuited to covering vast distances, often with minimal maintenance.

  7. David Marsden says:

    Linwood? Not until the 1976 facelift, when production was shifted north of the border from Ryton into the space made by the Imp’s demise and Hunter assembly moving to Ireland. Avenger body panel pressing was always done in Scotland, so the move made some sense.

    The Arrow range was sold in north America under the Sunbeam name.

  8. Richard Davies says:

    It also helped that the Sunbeams used many Avenger parts.

  9. Boo says:

    Re: “acceptable for the British market, but would probably be savaged by road salt in the bitter winters the Northern states have”
    Britain uses road salt in winter too. Rust was the death of most ’50s-’70s cars here.

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