The last Plymouth – a silver Neon – will be built today at DaimlerChrysler’s Belvidere plant near Rockford, IL.
It marks the end of a long run. The first Plymouth rolled off the line on June 14, 1928, according to Jim Leman of the Plymouth Owners Club, which this month had a show commemorating their vintage vehicles.
The Neon was the last vehicle remaining in the Plymouth lineup. The Plymouth Breeze was dropped. The Voyager minivan and Prowler sports car were rebadged as Chrysler products.
The Belvidere plant will continue to produce Dodge Neons. DaimlerChrysler sold 13,002 of those last month. In contrast, Plymouth Neon May sales were 4,146 units, representing a .5% market share. Dealer inventory of the Plymouth Neons is about a 42 days’ supply.
DC revealed in late 1999 that it was ending the Plymouth line. That announcement came after months of the automaker saying otherwise. However there were hints along the way.
For instance, the Plymouth line was dropped in Canada. And eyebrows were raised when the PT Cruiser, which began as a Plymouth concept car three years ago, was rechristened as a Chrysler when it came time to produce it.
Two dealerships in Pennsylvania and one in Nebraska were the only remaining stand-alone Plymouth stores when DC announced it was pulling the plug. The company promised to “take care” of those dealers.
Meanwhile, some dualed Chrysler-Plymouth dealers say they could face tough times because they will no longer be selling Neons. One such dealer in Connecticut says the Neon accounts for 25% of his new-car sales.
Plymouth’s best sales year was 1973 when it moved about 750,000 units compared to 86,000 in 2000.
Classic names in Plymouth’s past include the Barracuda, Belvedere, Fury, Horizon, Road Runner, Valiant and Volare.