Many different car brands have existed over the years. Some are barely known or remembered, others live on, and some have histories that ended somewhat recently. Plymouth is a brand in that last category. This well-known brand lasted until 2001 and has been joined by other defunct brands like Scion from Toyota and Saturn from General Motors. Here’s a look at Plymouth and its very last Neon model.
A brief history of Plymouth
The Plymouth car brand first arrived in 1928, says myAutoWorld. Walter P. Chrysler took over the Maxwell-Chalmers company, launching the first Chrysler car in 1924. The Chrysler Corporation added the Plymouth brand as a low-priced option intended to compete against Chevrolet and Ford.
At first, the Maxwell car was redesigned and sold as a more affordable Chrysler 52 model. In 1928, the car was redesigned to become the Chrysler-Plymouth Model Q. In 1929, it was renamed the Plymouth Model U. While Plymouth cars were a bit more expensive, they came with standard features like internal expanding hydraulic brakes. Additionally, even though they were more expensive than their predecessors, the Plymouth cars were still more affordable than Chrysler models and helped sustain the company through the Great Depression in the 1930s. Plymouth cars were sold by Chrysler, DeSoto, and Dodge dealerships.
Plymouth became a trendy American automotive brand, coming in third in sales during 1940 and 1941. The brand hit its maximum amount of production in 1973, with 973,000 units. It was known in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s for models like the Barracuda, the Belvedere, the Fury, the Road Runner, and the Valiant, says Classics & Beyond Auto Gallery.
However, its popularity didn’t last forever, and sales began to fall by the 1990s. The brand was discontinued in Canada after the 1999 model year. Later, DaimlerChrysler announced at the end of 1999 that the Plymouth brand would end its run with the 2001 model year.
The last car made by Plymouth
A Neon from the second year of the second generation was the final car made by Plymouth, says MotorTrend, which came after the model’s production ended in the United States on June 29, 2001. The last Plymouth Neon was a 2001 Neon LX that came fully loaded in a Bright Silver Metallic color option. It had a Dark Slate Gray leather interior and a 2.0-liter inline-four engine with a five-speed manual transmission. It was equipped with woodgrain trim, cassette stereo, CD changer, power sunroof, and cruise control.
The car was sold to Darrell Davis, Senior Vice President of Parts and Service for DaimlerChrysler, for his vintage car collection. Davis drove the Neon off the assembly line and shipped it to Daytona Chrysler-Plymouth. His friend working there made sure the car was not “dealer prepped,” so all the factory protective covers were kept in place.
Davis picked up the Neon with only 20 miles on it. He chose not to install the factory radio antenna, never used the remote entry transmitters, and kept the delivery manuals wrapped. The window sticker is even still in place, and a second copy was framed. Davis also kept his memorabilia from the Belvidere plant where he first drove the car, including a framed banner that hung over the assembly line to celebrate the last Plymouth vehicle.
Kept in storage in Davis’ climate-controlled garage, the last Plymouth Neon still has just 68 miles on it as of 2021. Now older and retired, Davis auctioned off his Neon in May 2021 for $19,000, reports Bring a Trailer. Its original price when new was $18,210.
Why the brand went out of business
By the late 1970s, most Plymouth models were rebadged versions of Chrysler, Dodge, and Mitsubishi vehicles. That’s why, by the 1990s, the Plymouth brand didn’t have much of a unique identity left, causing sales to decline.
The Neon was one of four models still being sold by Plymouth in the late 1990s. The others were the Voyager and Grand Voyager minivans, the Breeze sedan, and the Prowler sports car. The Prowler was the only model unique to Plymouth as it didn’t have a version available from either Chrysler or Dodge.
In 1998, Chrysler shuttered its Eagle brand and had plans for growth in the Plymouth brand. However, Chrysler’s merger with Daimler-Benz AG led to a change in plans, and the brand was then discontinued in 2001.
Plymouth is certainly not the only recent brand to disappear. As Investopedia points out, it is joined by Mercury, Hummer, Pontiac, and Oldsmobile over the last couple of decades. However, it’s good to know that the final Plymouth car still lives on in nearly original condition.