Chrysler Corporation made history offering the Plymouth automobile in 1928 to compete in the economy car market. Chevrolet and Ford had previously dominated in this price range. The first Plymouths appeared on July 7, 1928. While a click above those competitors in price, they offered standard features such as internally expanding hydraulic brakes. Chrysler dealerships originally sold Plymouths.
By 1931 Plymouth ranked third in car sales in the United States. The brand remained successful throughout the 1930s economic difficulties.
In the 1940s, Plymouth introduced the Valiant, the first compact car from a major American automaker. The Valiant was a huge success. It helped to keep Plymouth competitive in the postwar market.
In the 1950s, Plymouth offered the Fury, Belvedere, and Savoy. The brand also introduced a number of innovative new features, such as the push-button automatic transmission and the wraparound windshield.
Short Life of Push-Button Transmissions
Plymouth pioneered push button automatic transmission in 1956, the same year that sister brand Chrysler did. This writer drove a 1957 Plymouth in high school that had one of these transmissions. It also had the wrap-around windshield and tail fins. I remember significant delays in shifting gears once the button was pushed. maintenance was also a problem.
Plymouth advertised the push button automatic transmission as making it easier and more convenient for drivers to shift gears. The buttons appeared on a panel on the left side of the dashboard, and each button corresponded to a different gear. To shift gears, the driver simply pressed the button for the desired gear.
The push button automatic transmission came with most Chrysler cars from 1956 to 1964. It was a novelty. However, drivers who were used to traditional shifter designs were not always comfortable with the push button system. It was not as reliable as traditional shifter designs.
The push button was more prone to failure. They required more energy to operate than traditional shifter designs, which led to decreased fuel economy. This was a major concern for car buyers in the 1970s, as the United States was facing an energy crisis.
Models over the Decades Before Decline
The 1960s was a golden age for Plymouth. The brand featured the Barracuda, the Road Runner, and the Superbird. These cars were popular with muscle car enthusiasts. They helped to make Plymouth a household name.
In the 1970s, Plymouth began to struggle as the American auto industry faced a number of challenges, including rising gas prices and stricter emission standards. The brand discontinued a number of models, and it began to focus on more fuel-efficient cars.
The 1980s saw a resurgence for Plymouth. The brand introduced the successful Voyager minivan. The Voyager helped to make Plymouth a leader in the minivan market.
In the 1990s, Plymouth produced the Neon, the Breeze, and the Prowler. However, the brand’s sales began to decline, and Plymouth cars ceased production in 2001.
- Year Started: 1928
- Year Ended: 2001
- Origin Of Name: Plymouth Rock
- Location Sales: United States
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Chrysler
- Owner While In Use: Chrysler
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Chevrolet
- Naics Code: 336110
- Location Headquarters: Highland Park, Michigan