Car Week, Day 1 - Plymouth Cricket.

The Chicago Annual Automotive Disappointment Parade is going on all this week, so we'll be posting a bunch of car stuff. What's the CAADP? That's when auto manufacturers trot out their new "concept cars", drumming up enthusiasm for designs that will eventually be watered down by product managers and sold to the public in a form that carries through none of the dynamism or inspiration of the original. Hooray!

Case in point. The Chevy Volt. It was Chevy's must-be-a-success electric car that had to get people excited to pay (originally) forty-one grand for an electric Corolla. So, they made it look desirable.

On  the left, the Chevy Volt concept. It was electric, so it needed to look futuristic and capable. It looked like something you could actually want to drive. On the right.... "Where's the Volt? Maybe it's behind that Corolla.... Oh no." The product manager could excitedly point to the black plastic dealie just in front of the wing mirror that surrounds the "Volt" badge, insisting "See? See? Carried over completely intact!". The crowd failed to go wild. The lesson to learn but never ever learned: Don't show it unless it's final. This is why I don't even bother going to the Chicago Annual Automotive Disappointment Parade any more. Waste of my time.

Anyhoo, this ad was plopped on my desk this morning. The 1971 Plymouth Cricket! WTF's a Plymouth Cricket? You got me. Let's find out! Summon the Internet!

Aaaah, I see. The Plymouth Cricket was a badge-engineered Hillman Avenger - an English compact made during The Seventies, when "English" and "Car" translated as "buy" and "something else".

What's badge engineering? Say you're a car company and you have a hole in your lineup, to compete in a certain market segment. You get in bed with a car company from (usually) another country, and license one of their models to sell in your own showroom, but you give it a new name and pretend it's a totally different model. It's lazy, cynical, and deceptive, and involves no engineering at all, which makes the term "badge engineering" inherently sarcastic.

The Cricket doesn't seem to be terrible, on paper. Rear wheel drive, front disc brakes, and nearly a hundred horsepower might have made it fun to drive. You'd expect the Cricket to have done well, considering the whole gas crisis and everything, but it was killed off in '73, to be replaced in Plymouth's lineup by the Colt, which was a rebadged Mitsubishi Galant/Lancer. Apparently, Plymouth either didn't know or what to know how to make small cars in the early Seventies, so they phoned it in. Good thing the Japanese didn't. the Colt can look pretty cool with the right wheels and color.

Click for big.


MrsBug said...

So a co-worker has a Volt and by the way he talks about that thing, you'd think it healed the lepers.

Steve Miller said...

Maybe it just electrocuted 'em.

Steve Miller said...

With your extended coverage of the Chicago Annual Automotive Disappointment Parade, I'm looking forward to this week!

And you can look forward to a small package of no particular value -- though Gronk will find some valuable entertainment and cookery tips therein -- since I'm finally going to introduce said parcel into the mail stream tomorrow.

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Thanks, Steve! Gronk is all aflutter with anticipation. Are we watching the e-mails or some kind of physical mail box?

Please stop making Gronk aflutter. It's freaky.


Steve Miller said...

A uniformed Federal employee will be arriving at the fabulous PAG Tower on or about Wednesday next. Do not be alarmed. (But for god's sake, keep an eye on Gronk.)

Post a Comment