In the history of the automobile, promising car brands have come and gone — some yielding to industry shifts, others to bad management and still others to the dominance of the big three. What's the coolest dead car brand?
Plymouth was Chrysler's first lower-priced brand; a brand whose link to New England pilgrims signified values of frugality and practicality. During the 1950s, Plymouth sat among the top-selling brands — the "low-priced three" — along with Chevrolet and Ford. And then, Virgil Exner's forward-looking 1960s designs propelled it to record sales, though poor build quality continued to haunt Plymouth buyers.
But by the late 1960s, Plymouth had found a new audience — muscle-car kids. With low-priced V8 monsters — and a beneficial licensing deal with Warner Brothers — Plymouth turned out flashy tire shredders like the Road Runner, which despite its origins as a mid-pack economy coupe, nailed the youth market dead on. In its later years, Chrysler's attempt to revive Plymouth's youthful mojo with the sprightly Neon and (for nostalgia's sake) a postmodern hot rod, the Prowler, landed with mixed results. A lame V6 and automatic transmission only served to make the Prowler, as Dan Neil once wrote, a "flaccid little jerk of a car." By then, Plymouth's best days were far behind it.
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