By Jimini! 1971 Plymouth Cricket Survivor

This cute little British sports sedan was produced by the Rootes Group in the UK and marketed there as the Hillman Avenger. We bought a brand new 1975 Avenger wagon “Snowball” upon our immigration to the UK and liked it a lot. This car here is the sedan version and is listed here on craigslist from Garner, North Carolina. This car is only about fifteen miles from where I work and I’m pretty familiar with them, so if we can work out a suitable time I could go over and take a look for you.

We’re told the car was taken off the road in South Dakota during 1975 and has been garage-stored ever since. 22,322 miles are showing on the odometer, and after looking over the pictures closely they might be accurate.

I think the Cricket/Avenger had some nice styling and certainly appeared more attractive than the Austin/Morris Marinas I’m so fond of. It was a lot better car, too.Very few changes were made between the Avengers and Crickets, although we apparently missed out on the Avenger Tiger, shown below.

The Tiger featured both performance and appearance options including striping, wide aluminum wheels, a large rear spoiler, blacked out trim and interior changes. One of these is for sale in the UK for 15,000 Euro (about$17,020 today). It’s a shame we don’t get cars like that.

This Cricket features an automatic transmission behind it’s 1500 cc inline four. Right now the engine only has the original induction and exhaust systems attached, but the seller is including a factory hop up kit consisting of duel Stromberg carburetors and a factory tubular header produced by Hooker Headers. And while the interior isn’t perfect, It looks pretty nice and original to me. That description applies to the entire car.

The little four cylinder engine is related to the engines used in the Sunbeam Alpine sports cars in the late 1950s and 1960s. It’s known for reliable if not spectacular performance as long as it’s coolant and lubrication needs are carefully taken care of. Does the chirping of this Cricket take you back to a simpler time? Have an affection for roll up windows with cranks? This might just be your car! Tell us why or why not in the comments.

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  1. Steve R

    No listed price=no interest. Either put it up for auction on eBay with a reserve or name a price. Sellers know what offers they won’t accept which means they have a number in their pointy little head that they will accept.

    Steve R

    Like 14
  2. 2cool2say

    How can it “survive” if it was never alive? I didn’t know Maytag washers came in these colors.

    Like 7
  3. angliagt angliagt Member

    I hate it when they put “$1” on the header.
    To me,it means that they want $1.00 for it.
    I flag these when I see them.

    Like 5
    • Rx7turboII

      That’s really defeating the actual purpose of the CL flagging system….

      Like 4
  4. That AMC Guy

    Back when these were new, a friend’s dad bought a Cricket thinking it was a Japanese car and expecting Japanese levels of quality and reliability.

    Hilarity soon ensued.

    Like 14
    • Steve R

      I always assumed they were Japanese, until I read this write up.

      Steve R

      Like 1
    • GearHead Engineer

      Funny – I have always thought these were Japanese. I had no idea until today that they were British.

      From what I remember, Japanese cars in 1971 were not known for high quality or reliability. Where I lived they were throwaways due to rust, oil burning, and cheap vinyl seats that fell apart. Basically the same as British cars…

      – John

      Like 1
      • That AMC Guy

        Not really true, except for the rust part (though most cars rusted badly back then, some worse than others). The interiors were nothing to write home about though they usually at least had reclining bucket seats. Mechanically they were fine. They sure were much more comfortable than a VW bug (real heaters and defrosters!) and much better built than the domestic or British product. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

        I owned a 1971 Datsun 510 and can personally attest to the reliability and workmanship. The contrast to the Cricket, or friends’ domestic subcompacts, was like night and day. (Would love to have another but all of the 510s in the East and Midwest have rusted back into the earth, and most of the rest have been turned into racers.)

        Like 3
      • dweezilaz

        Quite the opposite. If that were the case, the Japanese brands never would have taken a foothold in the market in the 70s, Gearhead.

        Far more than anecdotal, the sales and buyer loyalty prove they were found to be of high quality and reliability.

        Couldn’t say that about Fiat, Renault, Opel, Alfa or British cars.

        Add in the X Cars and an entire market went for the Japanese makes.

        Like 2
      • Bill D

        About 1969-70 was the big turning point for quality improvement in Japanese vehicles. Motorcycles had the Honda CB750 as a flagship and cars had the Datsun 240Z. That was just a few years before the gas crisis of 1973, when people started buying Japanese imports en masse because they got good gas mileage, and noticed hey, these are actually pretty good for a small car.

    • boxdin

      The Japanese eat crickets right.. so I can understand his thinking….

      Like 2
    • Howard A Member

      Add me to the list who thought it was Asian. Shows how little we cared for them. I think they sold rather well, I remember seeing them for a while until they rusted out in 4 years.

      Like 2
    • chad

      yes, name made me think it wuz the mitsu or what ever Japanese import Mopowr did @ that time for their econobox…had a ‘twin stick’ shifter (econo or regular)…

      o0OPPp, senior moment – CHAMP (plymouth – ‘scamp’).
      but duz look similar, too (even color).

      • boxdin

        At one point the Plymouth Scamp was a fwd pickup.

  5. Had a Wagon

    As far as I can tell, their main contribution to the US auto market was to make Chevy Vega owners feel better about their purchase decision.

    Like 7
  6. XMA0891

    The last time I came across one of these, it was an abandoned one deep in the woods of northwestern Maine. Same color! Must’ve been the only other one Plymouth sold.

    Like 2
  7. Michael

    My friends older brother had one back in the 70’s. Same color. For some reason, he cut a giant hole in the roof and installed an air scoop. No idea why. It looked ridiculous.

    Like 1
  8. Ralph

    I’m in for $1….hell, I’d go……$10….no wait…..$5.

    Like 3
  9. Roger

    The Cricket was a disaster. They were total junk. I was the parts manager in a Chrysler Plymouth store when they came out. They were impossible to get parts for. We had several of them that sat for months waiting for parts.

    Like 5
  10. Madmatt

    I don’t think that any Cricket…ever turned over to 122.000..mi…so judging by that alone….I would say it’s totally original…lol..haha.😂.it is cool to see one…🙂
    Haven’t seen one in 35-40 years… except in a boneyard.neat cars …but just average compact junk like most cars were getting to be at that time……

    Like 1
    • Mikeystoy

      Mine has just shy of 500,000

      Like 1
  11. Kenneth Carney

    Got one given to me in the mid ’80’s by a
    neighbor whose dad rolled the car while
    driving drunk. Didn’t take me long to fix
    the roof damage and re insert the windshield that had popped out when
    the car landed on its roof–luckily for me
    it didn’t shatter. They lost the keys so I
    had to pop the ignition out and start it
    using a flathead screwdriver! My dreams
    of getting it on the road again were dashed though when I had it up on a
    hydraulic jack for some reason and found
    out that the frame was rusted in two and
    couldn’t be repaired. We at least got some use out of the car by using it to
    learn how to drive a 4-speed stick. We wound up
    using it to carry bags full of newspapers around all
    four trailer parks on Wednesdays. That 1500cc
    engine never missed a beat and ran great even
    after I sold it to someone else as a parts car!
    As for this car, I’d be more interested in it if
    the seller would let us all know just what he’s
    really charging for it. $1.00?…really? If that’s
    the case, my BILs and I will be there ASAP to
    pick it up and drive it back to Florida! Sis could
    drive it until she finds a car she can afford. After
    that, I’d use it as an oddball cruiser at car shows
    on weekends. After all, when’s the last time you
    saw one?

    Like 2
  12. Ben T. Spanner

    Saying that a Cricket is not as bad as a Marina is damning with faint praise. These sat on the dealer lot even longer then Marina’s. Shortly after they they left the sales lot, they returned to the service bay.
    I worked on many Alpines in the 1960’s. I liked them. By the 1970’s emmission controls and other factors really hurt some British cars, although I had 4 British cars from the 1970’s.

    Like 1
  13. Martin Horrocks

    Obviously not popular in the US, but the Avenger (= Cricket) was a very good car for Chrysler in the UK. Much better than the stock Escorts (ie non ADV cars, which were handbuilt in a special factory),everyone knows how bad the Marina was! You couldn´t buy the 510 Datsun in UK but its successor was available and was a horrible car, like all the bread and butter Japanese stuff of the time.

    Engine is not related to the Alpine´s 1492/1725 unit, the Avenger was a cleansheet design and could give good power (as on the Tiger and a small number of BRM engineered twincams).

    Avenger had an excellent competition history, rallies and circuits, helped by much better rear suspension design than the much-loved Escort Mk I an 2 (you have to spend a lot of money on the back end of an Escort to get it to work).

    This car´s autobox will kill it, though. The factory manual was an eexcellent box.

    Like 3
  14. Kobus

    I had an Austin Marina Straight 6 Automatic for almost 10 years and only sold because it was too small for family of 4. I would fine tune that 6 cyl. to the effect of spinning an automatic on pull away for at least 10 m before it would level out and go in a straight line. I enjoyed that car immensely and it was a good driver too, 30 MPG was standard.
    I think many a time so called experts weigh in with their 5 cents worth , never having ridden the car they often downgrade.

    Like 5
  15. ICEMAN from Winnipeg

    Don’t forget the infamous Vauxhaul Firenza that sparked lawsuits against GM Canada. Firenza probably the worst car ever sold in Canada.

  16. Wayne

    I had a Cricket (Baby Blue) that was traded in to the dealership where I worked. (It had 30k miles on the odo) I paid $600 for it, installed a junkyard $25 rear differential. And drove the wheels off of it for 70,000 additional miles. It was rear ended by an AMC Hornet and shoved into a Buick Estate Wagon. I was not too concerned about the car at that time as it’s days were numbered because of the front lower ball joint/control arm assemblies were worn out and replacements were no where to be found. The dashpot diaphragm on the carb gave out and that was the only other issue on the car. It had fantastic brakes. the car at that time was tested by a magazine and found that it would stop in excess of 1G! Huge for the day! It also came from the factory with 6″ wide wheels. Again, very unusual for the day. It was a way above average handling car and comfortable. I put over 150 miles a day on that car.
    The wheel bolt pattern was 4 on 3.75″ . The same as Triumph Spitfire and Lotus. Which I always thought was interesting. I had a Spitfire many years later (about 30 years ago) and went looking for a Cricket for it’s wheels. It appeared that all Crickets were deceased and gone. I enjoyed flogging mine, but would not buy one unless it came with a pair if lower control arm/ball joints.

    Like 2
  17. Phillip Parmelee

    While I loved the looks of the Cricket back when they were “new”, I knew I couldn’t deal with English reliability and hence went and bought a ’71 Super Beetle with the AutoStick trans. (My wife to be couldn’t drive a stick at that point.) Loved it, but the honeymoon ended when the first CV joint went bad at 28,000 miles, the trans servo unit around 40,000, the struts soon after and the second CV joint as well. With being in college and making payments, I did a trade down for a ’63 Chevy II with the same number of miles (56,000) and drove it for 9 years with much better luck. That was my last of 4 VWs.

    Like 2
  18. dweezilaz

    A mint Cricket appeared at the British Car Show in Woodley Park, Van Nuys CA.

    First one I had seen in years.

    Dark blue with a white top. Loved the design of these and remember going with my Dad to look at one at the C-P dealer in Davenport IA.

    Wouldn’t spares for these be easily found via the UK ?

    I know the larger brother of the Cricket was built for years in Iran as the Paykan.

    Like 2
  19. Beatnik Bedouin

    Horrible cars. A buddy of mine bought one new and it spent most of its time getting warranty repairs at the local Chrysler/Plymouth dealer in L.A.

    The Hillman Avenger was a popular family car in NZ, along with the larger Hunter, that dweezilaz mentioned was also built in Iran for many years.

    When I moved to NZ, I ended up with an Avenger as a company car – total POS. I think the engine came with ‘racing clearances’ from the factory as one could hear the pistons rattling in the bores on what was a late-model, low km example.

    It got replaced with a Mitsubishi Colt, which was so much quieter that when I stopped at a light, my then girlfriend thought I’d stalled it! LOL

    Like 1
  20. Kevin McCabe

    When Chrysler first started importing these cars, a sampling of them were taken to the proving grounds a Chelsea and run on the general endurance route. Not surprisingly the cars broke down soon after with most of the defects relatively minor in nature. On a conference call to Rootes, the Chrysler engineers noted the concerns that had occurred and suggested some minor modifications to the build of the cars that would remedy almost all of the items noted. The response from the Rootes people was quite simple and direct, “If you don’t want the cars the way we build them, then don’t buy them”. Hence the reason that Chrysler quickly and quietly brought in a second badge engineered Mitsubishi Colt as a Plymouth companion to the Dodge version.

    Like 1
    • Qabbott

      Actually, Chrysler was the Rootes people at that time. They didn’t have to buy them as they already owned them!

  21. Fordfan

    Junk when new worse than junk now
    It a s shame because on paper , it’s a better car than pinto or Vega especially in space utilization
    A co-worker dad had one and had a hard time giving one away for free

  22. Lance Platt

    I remember the Cricket was a captive import from Chrysler Europe/British vehicles because Plymouth did not have a domestic subcompact car to compete against the Pinto and Vega. It did not sell well even against the Dodge Colt imported from Mitsubishi. It was underpowered against the Americans and lacked the reliability of the Japanese small cars. The Cricket had great use of space and 4 door convenience. This example has survived well so I like it .

  23. Craig Walker

    They shared the stud pattern of 4 stud Ford’s ,your thinking of the messrina ( unfortunately had a lot of dealings with them so know they where garbage here in the uk) with the same stud pattern as other Leyland stuff.

  24. LT

    I learned to drive in one of these. My parents bought it new in 71 or 72. Dark blue. I don’t remember any issues with it. They did sell it in 76 so they could buy a new Volare’ station wagon with wood grain sides however.

  25. Mark Evans

    In Canada these were sold as Dodge Colts & a far superior Mitsubishi was sold as the Plymouth Cricket. My buddy & I were t-boned by a Chrysler Newport (Drunk) in the Cricket & not only did we walk away but it was repaired & driven daily for another 8 years till the tin worm got it.

    • Bill W

      The Dodge Colt sold in Canada was the same Japanese Colt sold in the U.S. The 1971-72 Plymouth Cricket in Canada was the same as the U.S. Plymouth Cricket.

      Where the Canadian Plymouth Cricket differed from the U.S. came in 1973 when Chrysler Canada introduced a new Japanese Colt-based Cricket. U.S. dealers sold the British Cricket for 1973 until they ran out of cars – which didn’t take too long.

      The Mitsubishi-built Plymouth Cricket was sold in Canada from 1973 through 1975, becoming the Plymouth Colt for 1976. The Plymouth version of the Dodge Colt GT was called the Colt Formula S.

      Easy to identify – Dodge Colt VINs started with 6 while British Crickets started with 4 and Japanese Plymouth Crickets/Colts started with 5.

      To balance things out when the Plymouth Arrow was introduced Canadian Dodge dealers got the Dodge Arrow.

  26. Dan D

    ‘Sports sedan’? Not really. The Brits made some very cool cars in the ’70’s. This was not one of them.

    Like 1
  27. Miguel

    Does anybody know anything about these Opel Rekord that we have here in Mexico?

    They were also a European car sold on this side.

    Like 1
  28. Miguel

    Here is the engine.

    I don’t know anything about them.

    Any help would be great.

  29. juan

    They were made in Argentina … real junk, the only positive thing about them was they were easy on gas …nothing more.

    • Miguel

      Juan, are you taking about the Opel or the Cricket?

  30. Mitch Ross Member

    The Cricket/Avenger was sold as the Dodge 1500 in Argentina anf Colombia, Dodge Polara in Brazil. They were better cars than you guys are claiming. These were not British Leyland cars, Roots group made some robust vehicles

  31. Nevis Beeman

    Were station wagon (estate car) versions sold in any of the Americas ?
    I remember these in Britain.

    Like 1
    • Bill W

      Yes, the 1972-73 Cricket in the U.S. had a wagon. The Canadian 1972 Cricket only had a sedan.

    • Mark-A

      Chrysler (Talbot) Avenger in the UK (I’d modify it to perform the same as an Avenger Tiger (twin carbs etc)

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