Today I take a break from converting every car ever made into a hardtop to answer a question no one asked.
As some of you may know, when Chrysler rolled out the cab forward LH cars in the 1990s, they originally planned to have a Plymouth model called the Accolade. For reasons I can’t even begin to explain, I’ve been fascinated with 1990s cars lately, and when an image search for “Plymouth Accolade” turned up nothing I decided I should take a shot at it myself. Using the differences between the Chrysler Cirrus and Plymouth Breeze as a guide, this is what I ended up with.
Today’s Feature: What if Chrysler released the Plymouth Accolade alongside the Chrysler Concorde, Eagle Vision, and Dodge Intrepid?
And because I couldn’t help myself:
I LOVE this Hardtop Sedan concept!!!
If they’d just made the LH with a good transmission and a couple other things…
Yeah the first gen transmissions were a bit finicky, my first 1st gen was a 94 trep the 3.3L which was basically bullet proof, (although the 3.2 and 3.5 2nd gen motors were just as bullet proof, and the 2.7 was a hand grenade) that 94 would just drop into limp mode at random, I actually put a switch into the dash, plugged into the fuse for the transmission computer. When it would go into limp mode I would shift to neutral, flip the switch and put it back in gear. After that car I put a 00 42LE into a 95 LHS they had the bugs out by 98 just had to splice the wiring harnesses. It was really easy to find good 2nd gen transmissions, they were in the 2.7 cars (motors grenaded) good engines were in 3.2 3.5 cars (transmissions grenaded always)
It likely would have hurt Chrysler further. If we use the Breeze as a guide the Breeze was ONLY available with the 4cyl engine but had comfort features standard. So the Accolade would have had the sludge-o-matic 2.7V6 (as the only engine likely) which combined with Ultradrive would have resulted in many angry owners.
If Chrysler hadn’t been obsessed with the on-again, off-again threats from Daimler-Benz – which first made overtures in 1996 – perhaps they would have focused on ironing out the bugs of the Ultradrive.
I’ve never bought the Conventional Wisdom that it’s possible to have “too many brands.” Moves made after discontinuing a brand, proves this out…once Plymouth was dead, Chrysler moved several models downward to fill the holes left….
…fill the HOLES? You mean, that brand actually had a MARKET? How the HELL do you SAVE MONEY by NOT filling a market?
The problem was, frankly, blatant badge-engineering. With Olds and other GM brands; with Plymouth. In the end, with Saturn. The argument could be made that keeping a separate marketing-and-dealership arm around, made the economies unworkable; but in Plymouth’s case, it was paired up with Chrysler. And there were cars in the Plymouth lineup (PT Cruiser and Prowler) that simply didn’t work as Chryslers.
Closing out brands is, variously, either a “churning” move to demonstrate that management is “taking action” on bad numbers, or else a new group asserting control and demonstrating it.
Plymouth’s demise was the latter. Like most of Daimler’s moves (right from the fiction of merger, and not takeover) it was ill-thought and poorly advised.
It actually would have been the 3.3 V6 only with the Ultra-Drive (or even perhaps a Torqueflite 3 speed? I remember the Mistubishi V6 was available with the Torqueflite but don’t remember about the 3.3…).
It would have been as cheapened out as the original Lumina was in comparison to the other W-bodies. I don’t know if that would have sold any at all. But there were certain cars that would have worked brilliantly as Plymouths (especially the PT Cruiser).
+1 on the 3.3. The 2.7 liter sludgemaster didn’t come out until 1998 with the second generation of the LH.
That’s exactly what i was thinking. The 2.7 wasn’t around til 2nd gen.
I like it. When the LH cars came out, I couldn’t believe they did not offer a Plymouth version. I imagine they would have sold a lot more Plymouths than they did Eagle Visions.
Up to 1994, Plymouth still had a chance, as long as they got some new products. The problem is they didn’t. I remember seeing tons of Voyagers and Acclaims at the time. The Breeze was about three years too late, and when it did come out, there were no upgrade options. Until the new Voyager came out in ’96, the Voyager LE was pretty fancy, with lots of chrome trim and optional leather.
I had a Concorde that color. Great car. Reliable, reasonably efficient, great driver, could overtake like a rocket, and loads of space. I’m still a big cab-forward fan, and the only complaint I had was that the airbag cover warped in the TX sun.
I had no transmission problems. The only things I ever had to replace were brake pads, timing belt, and outer tie rods (not unusual on such a big fwd).
Interesting. 🙂 Another “what if?” to ponder, what if Plymouth got its version of the Eagle Premier instead of Dodge with the 1990-92 Monaco?)
I don’t think THAT would have worked. People KNEW the origin of the Premier; they knew of the Alliance, firsthand or from reports. Renault was damaged goods in the markeplace – and a Renault by any other name, would stink as foul.
It didn’t sell as the Premier; it didn’t sell as the Monaco. It wouldn’t sell no matter WHAT it was called; it took re-engineering and a new skin (the LH cars) to persuade buyers to take a risk. Or to hide its origins, anyway…
Perhaps, and to think there was some proposed plans for a coupe called Allure (there some pics of clay models on this French site at http://renaultconcepts.online.fr/r25/allure.htm )
Another “what if?” to ponder: what if the LH cars was also available in 2-door coupe and wagon versions?
My guess is, they’d have sold like hotcakes. The LH was just plain brilliant – exactly the right car at the right time, stylish and racy in appearance while having immense practicality as a family car. A wagon would have added to that; the two-door would have gone well with young couples planning a family but not there yet.
The problem at that time was Chrysler itself – the untold story is, how close they were, AGAIN, to crisis. Iacocca, having rescued Chrysler, stayed on too long and let his thinking go stale. It was K-Car all the way, and buyers were tired.
The LH cars changed all that, but there wasn’t a nickel to spare. Chrysler in 1998 was, superficially, in good shape – for all the cost-cutting and rationalizing that was done a few years later out of necessity.
At that time they were still milking the Light Truck & SUV Cash cow for every drop as well. The 1st Gen Grand Cherokee (ZJ), Cherokee, Dakota and 1/2-1 ton pickups were all selling well and making outsized contributions to profit.
In fact the LH was based in the Renault 25, which was acquired when Chrysler bought Jeep. Many of the Premier parts were identical to the LH cars, such as all the front end stuff.
The cars were in fact junk. They had great potential but Chrysler didn’t have the volumes to engineer much quality into them. This meant that costs were cut anywhere they could be, especially in suspension, brakes and the infamous Ultradrive. There were several basic design faults in the cars. For example the air intake on the 3.5 faced downward towards the road, and close too it. Not a problem most places. However, the Wet Coast of Canuckistan is known for torrential rain. We had several cars come in with destroyed engines and Chrysler refused to pay warranty on them. Really good for customer relations.
I worked at a Chrysler dealer when the LHs came out. We thought we had a winner in them and they sold very well. Problem was the cars started to come back in droves shortly after they were introduced and the trickle turned into a flood. The upshot was the second generation didn’t sell very well. Then their was the 2.7 fiasco, which Chrysler blamed on owners not changing oil often enough….
IMO, the LH cars were my favorite cars ever produced. I sold them for 2 years (number one seller of the LHs at my dealership…everyone else focused on Jeep, Dodge Ram…). I’ve owned 5 LHS/New Yorkers and 1 Eagle Vision Tsi (FABULOUS car…black 1997 with chrome wheels). The fact that they were all fairly rare makes me love them even more! Would love to find very low mileage Bright Platinum LHS or New Yorker or a Drama Gold LHS.
Red 1994 NY (Pre-Owned)
Green 1995 LHS (New)
Black 1996 NY (New)
Black 1997 Vision Tsi (New)
Wildberry 1995 LHS (Pre-Owned)
Green 1994 LHS (Pre-Owned)
Hey, that looks really good! Those big, airy LH cars all looked good, though.
Plymouth was decimated by 1993, and an LH version would have been a fleet queen, as the Breezes, with near zero resale. Gradually Chrysler and Dodge dealers were merging, so there was no room for a ‘cheap car’ brand.
Oh, man, when I saw the name “Plymouth”, my eyes got misty!
“Accolade” No way, that’s a Plymouth Fury if I ever saw one!
I just used the name that Plymouth was going to use before they cancelled their LH car (I guess “Accolade” was supposed to be a follow up to “Acclaim”). But if Plymouth hadn’t been dissolved, there’s no doubt in my mind that the Dodge Charger would have been released as the Plymouth Fury (and unlike “Charger”, no one would have a problem with the name “Fury” being applied to a sedan).
+1. Fury was too good of a name to let die and it would have fit well on a Plymouth LH.
The issue at the time was that with the Eagle Vision, a Plymouth LH would have crowded the LH field too much. As has been noted previously, although acquiring Jeep was a sound decision, the ensuing Eagle brand to keep Jeep dealers happy was essentially the death knell for Plymouth. Ironically, Eagle went out first, but Eagle sucking up platforms that should have went to Plymouth, instead, surely led the way for Plymouth’s demise.
a plymouth would’ve crowded the LH platform? but chrysler had THREE LH cars.
Another LH car would have been a disaster in sales. As it was, you had the three LH cars, plus the extended LH for Chrysler. No matter what the marketing people thought, they really fought each other for sales. The Eagle and the higher end Chrysler models were natural competition for each other, sometimes right on the same lot.
The Dodge model had the lower end wrapped up and successfully competed against the Lumina, Taurus, Accord, Camry and others. But the lower end Chrysler models fought the mid and higher end Dodge models. We had a standalone Dodge and a CPJE dealers in our town, I shopped both against each other (on Neons) and the pricing got pretty good.
In many ways, Chrysler had an epiphany in the 80’s-90’s when they realized they were only bloodying themselves with their sales structure. I think the effort to make Plymouth a “value” brand was a good one, and to take Chrysler to higher ground was a good move, too. GM couldn’t have done that back then, it took the elimination of Oldsmobile and the whole bankruptcy mess to finally cleave off Hummer, Saturn and sadly Pontiac. Even in Plymouth’s case, though, the delineation was incomplete, and it too was gone by 2004. Only Hemi Roadrunner owners cried, it seems.
Right before Chrysler’s BK, they were working on consolidating all of their outlets together, with one dealership selling every Mopar brand. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. In a mature market with shrinking marketshare, why duplicate sales and service, without a notable difference?
At the time, Chrysler was still riding the minivan wave rather well, and any overtures from Daimler were considered compliments, considering the relative status of the two corporations.
Any hardware issues that were in play by now was already a lost cause (i.e., Ultradrive), and they had the new Ram truck coming on line shortly, with a new Dakota and Durango to launch after that. There was a lot to like about Chrysler in the early to mid 90’s.
No, the additional LH car would have very little to distinguish itself, except for price maybe. And if that were the difference, it would have eaten any lower end Dodge and Chrysler sales. But being the runt of the litter, the Plymouth LH would have had an uphill battle in terms of sales and marketshare.
“Only Hemi Roadrunner owners cried, it seems.”
Sadly, me too…
We REALLY loved our 1990 Acclaim.
Some actually loved the Acclaim? I got to drive one a couple times in high school with the four cylinder and 3-speed automatic (friend’s car that he got from grandparents) and my impression was that it made the Olds Ciera that I occasionally drove at the time (when my Saab was being a Saab) seem like a modern, advanced car.
It wallowed even more than the Oldsmobile, which at least had the 2.8 liter V6 and some torque.
Much to the chagrin of some folks, the Acclaim was one heck of a car. Along with certain FWD GM A-bodies, there was a certain class of person who bought those cars over and over again.
They weren’t the prettiest car, but they were tough as nails and had a good overall design. I thought of them as Chrysler’s counterpoint to the early 90’s Camrys and Accords.
I loved my Plymouth Acclaim. 1991, base model, but had power windows, locks, tilt, cruise, heated mirrors and a nice stereo. 2.5L 4cyl and 3spd Torqueflite auto. Ran that car to 187,000 miles with 1 head gasket replacement, 4 timing belts (replaced as maintenance, never had one break), and basic maintenance (plugs, wires, etc.) Traded in 2008 for a new 2008 Avenger SXT with 2.4L and 4spd auto. The Avenger was faster, better mileage, nicer looking, better riding, overall better in every way…yet I still miss the Acclaim some days…it was so EASY to work on, and yet I didn’t need to often! 🙂 If Chrysler produced a new Plymouth Acclaim just like my 1991, I would buy it. 🙂
As a former 1994 Eagle Vision TSi owner, I have to say that the LH was the best car I ever owned. It offered a lot of standard features that were just not available on imports, such as folding side mirrors with defrost and dual sun visors for the passenger and the driver to name a few. Moreover, the sun visors also had a plastic slider that could be used to cover the space between the visor and the rear view mirror. I realize these are minor details, but a lot of today’s cars don’t have these features. It’s even rare to have a lighted glovebox. (LH has that too!) But in regard to the main topic, the Intrepid was available in lower trim levels and that would have cut into Plymouth sales, so I think they got it right.
Don’t forget, part of the Plymouth plan was to re-invigorate the brand with retro-styled models, a la the Prowler, and later the PT Cruiser (which, incidently, was to be a Plymouth). Plymouth would have had a better market share with an LH car and Dodge wouldn’t have needed the lower priced, base model Intrepid. Plymouth could’ve been a major player now with a new ‘Cuda rather than the Challenger (not hating the Challenger, btw, I own a Mopar 10 edition myself), but I do miss Plymouth and would gladly buy a Plymouth version of the Dodge Avenger if it existed. 🙂
The real Chrysler Corporation (pre-German invasion) could have saved Plymouth early on by issuing the Eagle Premier as a new Plymouth Fury. Advertising and development funds could have been free if there was no Eagle division at all. With the better known Plymouth name, the Premier may have sold in the quantities that Renault required when Chrysler purchased AMC. However, a Premier based “Plymouth Fury” could have ruined the Plymouth name. As a former owner of a Premier, mine was unusually reliable. According to my hometown Jeep/Eagle dealer, I was clearly in the minority. Even in 1996 with 150,000 miles, I never had a problem, until a drunk run a stop light and ended my love affair with one of the best “adoptopars” I have ever owned. I even preferred it to my 1991 Talon TSI AWD that came after it.
Cool! A Plymouth LH! I have a 1993 Chrysler Concorde 3.5 w/ everything but the Visorphone. This would make for an ironic body mod. I was also thinking a 1993 Chrysler Concorde woody wagon would be a unique “what if”, but that would be better suited to a loaded 1994-1996 New Yorker. I’d have to call it a Town & Country, even though that’s a minivan now. Maybe I’ll Just jackknife the doors like the Lamborghini Portofino in which the LH body is based, lol.
That sure is an interesting looking way of bringing back something that more than a few of us would like to see the hardtop without that sight obstructing B pillar that almost every car has nowadays, whether it be a two door or four door model.
I’ve got nothing 2 say about this article
What does the rear look like?
One niggle, you forgot to put those Fugly wheel covers on the other side, so the LHS style wheel is showing under the car, unless you were making (in your mind, a factory prototype) that had a higher trim level on the driver’s side. Auto makers did it all the time in the 50’s and 60’s on their full sized clay models, saved making two since no one else was going to see it. I do like the grille, having owned 20+ LH platform cars over the years, first and second Gen, and now a Chrysler 300 LX Platform as my daily driver, as well as having owned a 97 Ram V10, 95 grand cherokee, 02 Durango, 98 Sebring I bleed Mopar,
Oops forgot the 08 PT Cruiser, 00 Dodge Stratus, and my first 06 300. Now my wife drives a 01 trep ES, and my son a 98 ES.