Plymouth Cricket (1971–1973)
In North America, the Avenger was sold as the Plymouth Cricket through Plymouth dealers as a captive import. The car was essentially an example of badge engineering and Plymouth made few changes to it. Only the 4-door saloon and 5-door estate variants were ever offered, due to the 2-door Avenger being unavailable at the time. It had 9.5" front disc brakes and 8" rear drums. Brochures included a cartoon cricket.
A Chrysler Plymouth press release dated 30 June 1970 stated that the Cricket was going to be shown to the automotive press for the first time in November 1970. The first shipment of 280 Crickets from the UK arrived in the U.S. on 20 November 1970. Another press release issued on 23 February 1972 stated that the "station wagon" version was going to début in early spring of 1972.
Differences from the Avenger
The 1500 cc engine was offered on the Plymouth Cricket, the 1250 being a little underpowered for American tastes. Side parking lights were added, and front disc brakes were standardised; these were originally optional in the UK. The single carburettor / manual choke combination was standard. From 1972, the single carburettor / automatic choke combination, dual carburettors, and air conditioning were all options.
Due to American federal laws regarding headlight design, all Cricket models regardless of trim level used the round four-headlight grille of the GL and GT model Avengers.
Demise of the Cricket
The Cricket was discontinued midway through the 1973 model year, despite the gas crisis of 1973 seeing a sharp increase in demand for small cars and despite the fact that Dodge began to see real success with its similarly-sized Dodge Colt, built by Mitsubishi Motors.
The Cricket name lived on in Canada, however, as Chrysler Canada replaced the British-built Cricket with a rebadged Dodge Colt in mid-1973 model year. The Cricket's version of the Colt GT was called the Cricket Formula S. For the 1975 model year, the Plymouth Cricket was rebadged as the Plymouth Colt. Thus began Chrysler Canada's dual marketing system, selling the Colt as both a Dodge and a Plymouth. The later Plymouth Arrow was similarly sold as a Dodge Arrow.
The last British-built Crickets were exported to the U.S. in the later part of 1972, but were sold until mid-1973 as "1973" models. This was because U.S. safety and emission laws became effective based on the calendar year the car was manufactured in or imported in, as opposed to the model year. Chrysler used this loophole to continue selling what were essentially 1972 cars through 1973 as 1973 models
Plymouth Cricket, winner of the 1971 Rally