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Brief History of the Plymouth

Plymouth was a marque of automobiles based in the United States, produced by the Chrysler Corporation and its successor Daimler Chrysler. Production was discontinued on June 29, 2001 in the United States.
The Plymouth automobile was introduced on July 7, 1928. It was Chrysler Corporation's first entry in the low-priced field, which at the time was already dominated by Chevrolet and Ford. Plymouths were actually priced slightly higher than their competition, but offered all standard features such as internal expanding hydraulic brakes that the competition did not provide. Plymouths were originally sold exclusively through Chrysler dealerships. The logo featured a rear view of the ship Mayflower which landed at Plymouth Rock. However, the Plymouth brand name came from Plymouth Binder Twine, chosen by Joe Frazer for its popularity among farmers. (Plymouth Binder Twine was a common household item that was used to tie up various items.)
The origins of Plymouth can be traced back to the Maxwell automobile. When Walter P. Chrysler took over control of the troubled Maxwell-Chalmers car company in the early 1920s, he inherited the Maxwell as part of the package. After he used the company's facilities to help create and launch the Chrysler car in 1924, he decided to create a lower-priced companion car. So for 1926 the Maxwell was reworked and re-badged as the low-end Chrysler "52" model. In 1928, the "52" was once again redesigned to create the Chrysler-Plymouth Model Q. The "Chrysler" portion of the nameplate was dropped with the introduction of the Plymouth Model U in 1929.
While the original purpose of the Plymouth was to serve a lower-end marketing niche, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the marque helped significantly in ensuring the survival of the Chrysler Corporation in a decade when many other car companies failed. Beginning in 1930, Plymouths were sold by all three Chrysler divisions (Chrysler, DeSoto, and Dodge). Plymouth sales were a bright spot during this dismal automotive period, and by 1931 Plymouth rose to the number three spot among all cars. In 1931 with the Model PA, the company introduced floating power and boasted, "The economy of a four; the smoothness of a six." In 1933 Chrysler decided to catch up with Ford and Chevrolet with respect to engine cylinder count. The 190 cu in version of Chrysler's flathead-6 engine was equipped with a downdraft carburetor and installed in the new 1933 Plymouth PC, introduced on 17 November 1932. However, Chrysler had reduced the PC's wheelbase from 112 in (284.5 cm) to 107 in (271.8 cm), and the car sold poorly. By April 1933, the Dodge division's Model DP chassis, with a 112 in (284.5 cm) wheelbase, was put under the PC body with DP front fenders, hood, and radiator shell. The model designation was advanced to PD and the car was marketed as the "DeLuxe" 1933 Plymouth. This car sold very well and is the 1933 model most commonly found in collections. The PC became the 'Standard Six'. It had been the 'Plymouth Six' at introduction, and was sold through to the end of 1933, but in much lower numbers. It is consequently in the minority in collectors' hands today. In 1937, Plymouth (along with the other Chrysler makes) added safety features such as flat dash boards with recessed controls and the back of the front seat padded for the rear seat occupants. The PC was shipped overseas to Sweden, Denmark, and the UK, as well as Australia. In the UK it was sold as a 'Chrysler Kew', Kew Gardens being the location of the Chrysler factory outside London. The flathead 6 which started with the 1933 Model PC stayed in the Plymouth until the 1959 models.
In 1939 Plymouth produced 417,528 vehicles, of which 5,967 were two-door convertible coupes with rumble seats. The 1939 convertible coupe was prominently featured at Chrysler's exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair, advertised as the first mass-production convertible with a power folding top. It featured a 201 cu in, 82 hp version of the flathead six engine.
For much of its life, Plymouth was one of the top-selling American automobile brands; it together with Chevrolet and Ford were commonly referred to as the "low-priced three" marques in the American market. Plymouth almost surpassed Ford in 1940 and 1941 as the second most popular make of automobiles in the U.S. Through 1956, Plymouth vehicles were known for their durability, affordability, and engineering. In 1957, Virgil Exner's new Forward Look design theme, advertised by Plymouth with the tagline "Suddenly, it's 1960", produced cars with much more advanced styling than Chevrolet or Ford. 1957 total production soared to 726,009, about 200,000 more than 1956, and the largest output yet for Plymouth. However, the 1957–1958 Forward Look models suffered from poor materials, spotty build quality and inadequate corrosion protection; they were rust-prone and greatly damaged Chrysler's reputation.
In 1954 Chyrsler started its decade long unsuccessful attempt to develop and market a viable car powered by turbine engine when it installed an experimental turbine they had developed specifically for vehicles in a Plymouth.
Final years
Most Plymouth models offered from the late 1970s onward, such as the Volaré, Acclaim, Laser, Neon, and Breeze, were badge-engineered versions of Chrysler, Dodge, or Mitsubishi models. By the 1990s, Plymouth had lost much of its identity, as its models continued to overlap in features and prices with Dodges and Eagles. In an attempt to fix this, Chrysler tried repositioning Plymouth to its traditional spot as the automaker's entry-level brand. Part of this marketing stategy included giving Plymouth its own new sailboat logo and advertisements that focused solely on value. However, this only further narrowed Plymouth's product offerings and buyer appeal, and sales continued to fall.
Chrysler considered giving Plymouth a variant of the highly successful new-for-1993 full-size LH platform, which would have been called the Accolade, but decided against it. By the late 1990s, only four vehicles were sold under the Plymouth name: the Voyager/Grand Voyager minivans, the Breeze mid-size sedan, the Neon compact car, and the Prowler sports car, which was to be the last model unique to Plymouth, though the Chrysler PT Cruiser was conceived as a concept unique to Plymouth before production commenced as a Chrysler model.
After discontinuing the Eagle brand in 1998, Chrysler was planning to expand the Plymouth line with a number of unique models before the corporation's merger with Daimler-Benz AG. The first model was the Plymouth Prowler, a hot rod styled sports car. The PT Cruiser was to have been the second. Both models had similar front-end styling, suggesting Chrysler intended a retro styling theme for the Plymouth brand. At the time of Daimler's takeover of Chrysler, Plymouth had no unique models besides the Prowler not also available in the Dodge or Chrysler lines.
From a peak production of 973,000 for the 1973 model year, Plymouth rarely exceeded 200,000 cars per year after 1990. Even the Voyager sales were usually less than 50% that of Dodge Caravan. In Canada, the Plymouth name was defunct at the end of the 1999 model year. Consequently, DaimlerChrysler decided to drop the make after a limited run of 2001 models. This was announced on November 3, 1999.
The last new model sold under the Plymouth marque was the second generation Neon for 2000–2001. The PT Cruiser was ultimately launched as a Chrysler, and the Prowler and Voyager were absorbed into that make as well. Following the 2001 model year, the Neon was sold only as a Dodge in the US, though it remained available as a Chrysler in Canadian and other markets. The Plymouth Breeze was dropped after 2000, before Chrysler introduced their redesigned 2001 Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Sebring sedan.
Plymouth Voyager 1955: Plymouth first offers a V-8 engine.
1956: The automatic three-speed TorqueFlite transmission is introduced on some premium models. The Plymouth Fury is introduced.
1957: As with all other Chrysler divisions, the Forward Look design makes its debut on the 1957 Plymouths.
1960: Dodge introduces the smaller, lower-priced Dart model that competes directly with Plymouth's offerings. The new compact Valiant is introduced as a marque unto itself.
1961: Valiant is repositioned as a Plymouth model for US market; Dodge gets badge-engineered Lancer version. Rambler and then Pontiac assumes third place in industry sales for the remainder of the 1960s.
1962: Sales drop dramatically with the introduction of a line of unpopularly styled, downsized full-size models.
1964: New Barracuda fastback coupe introduced in April.
1965: Plymouth rejoins the full-size car market with the new full-size Fury, based on the Chrysler C-Body. The intermediate B-body model line becomes the Belvedere and Satellite for 1965.
1967: The GTX is introduced.
1968: The Road Runner enters the Plymouth line-up.
1970: Duster coupe introduced in Valiant line for 1970 as is the E-body Barracuda.
1971: The British Hillman Avenger is imported as the Plymouth Cricket; it is discontinued in mid-1973. New Valiant Scamp two-door hardtop is a Badge-engineered Dodge Dart Swinger.
1973: Plymouth production hits an all-time peak of 973,000. The Plymouth Cricket in Canada is now based on the Dodge Colt.
1974: The Dodge Dart and Plymouth Valiant are, for the first time, different only in name and minor trim details as the two cars now share the same 111-inch wheelbase. This badge engineering continues with the Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volaré and all subsequent volume-production Plymouth models. The car that would ultimately become the Chrysler Cordoba is reassigned to Chrysler from Plymouth. Last year for Barracuda.
1975: The car that was to become the 1975 Plymouth Sebring is instead released as the new Chrysler Cordoba.
1976: Valiant discontinued; Volaré launched.
1977: The large Gran Fury is discontinued.
1978: The mid-size Fury is discontinued at the end of the model year. The subcompact Horizon is introduced. Chrysler Canada introduces the Plymouth Caravelle based on the Dodge Diplomat.
1979: Plymouth's lineup is reduced to the Horizon and Volaré, and three rebadged Mitsubishi imports.
1979–1980: Chrysler makes several thousand more Dodges than Plymouths for the first time. More Plymouths would be made than Dodges for 1981 and 1982, but from then on there will always be more Dodges made than Plymouths.
1980: Newport-based Gran Fury introduced. Last year for Volaré.
1981: The full-size Gran Fury and Trailduster SUV's last year.
1982: The Plymouth Gran Fury, basically identical to the Dodge Diplomat, is introduced in the United States.
1983: Caravelle four-door sedan based on the E-body and a two-door coupe based on the K-body introduced.
1985: E-body Plymouth Caravelle introduced in the United States.
1989: The mid-size Gran Fury (Caravelle in Canada) as well as the Reliant are discontinued after this model year. The Reliant and E-body Caravelle are replaced by the Acclaim.
1992: The higher priced Acclaim models are repositioned as Chrysler LeBarons. Total sales of Acclaim and LeBaron drop. Total 1993 Plymouth model year production drops to 159,775, along with 237,875 Vogager models. Dodge built 300,666 Caravans.
1994: The little-advertised Laser sport-compact as well as the popular Sundance and Colt compacts all end production. They are replaced by a single car, the Neon, a car that Chrysler decides to offer as a Plymouth after dealers protested the loss of the Sundance and Colt with no replacement.
1995: Plymouth's lineup is at its all-time low, just 3 cars: the Acclaim, the Neon, and the Voyager/Grand Voyager. The number will go up to 4 in 1997, with the introduction of the Prowler, but will never get any higher.
1996: Chrysler announces the new Plymouth Breeze six months after sister Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Cirrus models. Chrysler originally had no plans to replace the Acclaim model.
1996: In an attempt to move Plymouth downmarket, Chrysler makes the redesigned Voyager only available in base and mid-level SE models. All of the higher-end trim levels available on the previous generation can now only be found on the Dodge Caravan.
1997: Production for the 1997 model year comes to 178,807 cars plus 187,347 Voyager models. Dodge builds 448,394 cars and 355,400 Caravans.
1999: Total 1999 production for Plymouth cars comes to 195,714 with Dodge at 394,052. Voyager production comes to 197,020, compared to 354,641 Caravans. The writing is on the wall. The redesigned 2000 Neon becomes the brand's last new model.
2000: The mid-size Breeze ends production. This is also the last year for the Voyager minivan as a Plymouth. All 2000 Voyagers built in December 1999 and beyond are badged as Chrysler Voyagers. In Canada, the redesigned Neon is sold under the Chrysler name and both the Plymouth and Dodge names are dropped on all car models, save for the Prowler and Viper. The Voyager name is dropped in Canada as all Chrysler dealer sell Dodge trucks, including the Caravan. Total 2000 model year production for Plymouth comes to 108,546 compared to 459,988 Dodge cars. Voyager production totalled 123,869 versus 330,370 Caravan models.
2001: Plymouth's final model year. Only the Neon remains in the Plymouth line. The Prowler and the Voyager become Chryslers. The Breeze is dropped as Chrysler issues the Chrysler Sebring sedan to replace the Chrysler Cirrus. The PT Cruiser is launched as a Chrysler, though it was originally planned to be a Plymouth. The final Plymouth, a Neon, is assembled on 28 June 2001, with a total of 38,657 built for the model year.

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