RESERVE LOWERED - 1971 Plymouth Cricket

Guide price: £14,000- £17,000


・The only right-drive Plymouth Cricket in the world
・Incredible condition after expert restoration
・A mere 30,000 miles on the clock
・Firecracker red as per the Plymouth Cricket Brochure

Sadly, due to unforeseen circumstances with the buyer, the sale was unable to complete. Which is great news for someone else!

The Background

For as long as there has been the car, there has been a desire for one country to sell its automotive wares in another. The most desirable market for brands across the globe has always been America. MG was given the very lifeblood on which it would exist by selling cars into post-war America. Jaguar made itself an American household name with the XK120. The Japanese launched an entire brand - Lexus - to capitalise on this market. America meant big business. Everyone wanted a slice of the action. And that included the Rootes Group. 

By the time the ‘70s rolled around, the American appetite was for small, economical cars. The Ford Pinto, the Chevrolet Vega and the AMC Gremlin were proof the U.S wanted small, economical cars. So, thought Rootes bosses, why not join the party? They re-badged the popular Avenger and, in a cheeky bid to capture the Volkswagen Beetle market, they called it the Cricket. The Plymouth Cricket, no less. Sadly though, it seemed Americans wanted American cars, and sales floundered. The Cricket arrived in November 1970, and by 1972, esports stopped. The remaining cars were sold through to 1973 before the plug was pulled. A shame, but hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained. 

The History

The Plymouth Cricket you’re looking at here is, make no mistake, a very special and very rare car indeed. The Cricket is rare as it is. They occasionally pop up for sale in America, but it’s rare. Over here, they are unheard of. They are double unheard of with the steering wheel on the correct side. But, sure enough, that’s what we have here - a factory-built right-hand drive Plymouth Cricket. It never left UK soil. 

The first owner bought from a garage that was known for dealing with and disposing of the Rootes ‘oddities’. The test cars, the development models, that kind of thing. Or at least, that’s how the story goes. And were someone telling you this story without this car present, you may be dismissive. But, seeing as the right-hook Cricket is here in front of you, there must be some truth to it! It was built here in the UK, but in full U.S specification. It had the side marker lights, the quad headlights from the GT (American rules needed these), also identification plate on dashtop, it had 9.5in disc brakes as standard and this one, unusually, benefited from the later optional twin carbs. However, they’re fitted with ‘SMOG’ gear, to reduce emissions. 

The first owner sold the car in ‘76 and it remained with that second owner until 2011. By this point though, the years had caught up with it and it needed work. Happily though, the current owner is a passionate advocate for Rootes machinery. Boasting piles of ex-factory stock, a workshop, a ramp and everything you could need to rebuild a car, the Cricket was in good hands. Now fully-restored, it’s being offered for auction and in doing so, represents a true once in a lifetime opportunity. There quite literally isn’t another. 

The Paperwork

There is a V5 present, which states the car has had two owners prior to the current. So three in total. There is also a letter from the DVLA which gives details of the past owners of the cars. There is also the car’s original logbook, which is a nice little addition. 

Other paperwork includes a collection of past MOT certificates. As for a current MOT, there isn’t one in place at present. However, the car is of course MOT exempt. The car was regularly MOTd until 2018 though, and this can be seen in the paperwork. Since 2018, the car has been in dry, secure storage. Though don't be concerned by the lack of MOT. The seller is more than happy to hand over the car with a fresh test in place. 

The Interior

Slide in behind the leather-wrapped steering wheel and you’ll be in for a treat. The Cricket’s interior might not be the most laden with equipment, but that’s fine. It’s proof that less is more. The dash top is a rare find in that it’s not warped or cracked. The dash itself is an elegant, simple affair. Over the passenger side there is a Plymouth script, while in front of the driver there is a horizontal speedometer and fuel/temp gauges. It’s all very crisp, clean and simple. In the centre of the dash, there is no stereo, just a rare factory blanking panel. 

The door cards are all utterly excellent, with no wear or damage to be seen,  as they have been retrimmed to the owners specification. There are no broken clips and no warping of the backing card, They are brand new. as are the associated door furniture. Look into any of the pillar areas with the doors open, and you’re greeted with shiny, clean paintwork. No rust, no dirt - it’s mint, as they have been retrimmed; even the headlining has been replaced.

The seats up front are the rare ‘tombstone’ buckets, and are both comfortable and in incredibly good condition. Again, no wear, no damage. They are near new in condition, so too is the rear bench. 

The carpets are of course just as good. No wear, no holes, nothing unsightly to draw the eye.

Finally, the boot is clean, dry and walled by four sides boasting shiny, clean paint. The boot floor is excellent, and still has the factory chassis tag in place. The matting is excellent, and even the rare fibreboard/moulded rear light covers are present, correct and undamaged.  

The Exterior 

Just look at it - it’s utterly stunning. The car has of course been restored, but given the expert nature of the current owners, it’s been done to an exacting standard. The front wings were replaced (genuine NOS items, of course), as was the front panel, the headlight panels and the front crossmember (all NOS). Then the car was repainted. It was originally brown, but the current owners opted to liven things up and painted the current firecracker red – an original cricket colour as appears in the cricket brochure, a period colour. The paintwork across the car is rich, deep and boasts a healthy shine. No hint of the brown remains, as the shell was completely stripped prior to painting. 

All the rubbers have been replaced, while things like the light, bumpers and badges were retained, cleaned up and refitted. It all looks mint, and it’s all been built back up with proper care and attention. This car is, make no mistake, a potential show winner - it’s that clean. 

The wheels have been changed for a fetching set of John Brown Wheels ‘minilite’ style alloys, and of course, the rubber is new. They suit the car, and give it that sporty edge. 

Finally, we have the underside of the car. The owner has a ramp, so there was no way we were going to pass on a chance to get underneath it. The floors are all rock solid, there are lashings of underseal, so rust will never be an issue. There is no sign of any past repair bar one sliver of metal on the offside sill lip. Chassis rails are solid, outriggers, inner arches, floors, fuel tank. It is in remarkable condition. 

The Mechanics

The 1500 engine starts on the button and runs perfectly. Interestingly, despite having twin carbs, this car still wears all the period correct emissions control equipment as required by the American Department of Transportation. This means ICVs, an extra air-box and so on. Crazy to think that in the early ‘70s, the American market dedicated such equipment on an engine so small and frugal! 

On the road, the engine pulls well and sounds healthy. The four-speed manual transmission shifts effortlessly, but with a pleasing mechanical directness. The steering is surprisingly light, but not so much that it robs any feedback. You still feel very much in the loop when it comes to where the wheels are pointing. The brakes, which are disc up front, are all new and as such, work perfectly. 

The suspension is tight, with all parts replaced for new old stock. New shocks, springs, bushes and fixings throughout mean this Cricket feels showroom fresh on the road. And while we’re talking about fresh, we should look under the bonnet. As you would expect, it’s incredibly clean under here. Strut tops, inner wings, bulkhead - all rock solid. And interestingly, you can see the place where the steering column was destined to go for left-hand drive. It has the date of panel manufacture stamped on the inner wing.

The Appeal 

It’s not a Ford, it’s not an Escort MK1. It’s an of its era competitor but so rare that it’s different and stands out. You may remember this car from a recent auction. Sadly, due to unforeseen circumstances with the buyer, the sale was unable to complete. Which is great news for someone else!

You won’t find another. And in saying so, we employ no hyperbole. You will not, categorically, find another right-hand drive Plymouth Cricket. This is it. This is the one and only car of its kind. Even if you do find one over in the states, it won’t be in this condition and of course, it won’t be a right-hooker. So again, this is it. But more than being exclusive, this car is just exceptional. It’s been restored to a very, very high standard, it is in exceptional condition and with only 30k on the clock, it has years and years of motoring left ahead of it. It's a fun, cheeky, happy little car. Bright, fun to drive and always able to put a smile on your face, this is the kind of car you really can’t afford to miss out on.

Notice to bidders

Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1971
  • Make Plymouth
  • Model Cricket
  • Colour Firecracker red
  • Odometer 30,901 Miles
  • Engine size 1500
  • Location Staffordshire
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
10 bids from 7 bidders
  • Ch•••• £12,500 18/06/21
  • fa•••• £12,250 18/06/21
  • jr•••• £12,000 18/06/21
  • fa•••• £10,000 16/06/21
  • fa•••• £5,100 16/06/21
  • ti•••• £5,000 16/06/21
  • st•••• £4,000 16/06/21
  • ti•••• £3,500 14/06/21
  • dm•••• £2,200 13/06/21
  • m4•••• £2,000 13/06/21

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