Crickets Of A Lifetime: One of My Plymouth Crickets Has 500,000 Miles On It

(submitted by Michael S.C.   We’ve seen the Hillman Avenger at CC, but I’ve been hoping for a genuine Plymouth Cricket since day one. It’s finally appeared)

I’ve owned this green 71 Cricket since 81, and the parts car since 1998. These cars weren’t as unreliable as they were just really difficult to get replacement parts for. The green car has over 500,000 miles on it and the gold car 150,000 miles. How’s that for breaking the stereotype of these?

Choke issues, points issues, some electronics problems were common. Arguably, the Hillman engine was tougher, the low compression and sidedraft carb were a limiting factor. The Dodge Colt (by Mitsubishi) was lighter, faster, got better mileage.

But the Cricket was quieter, had more room, handled better. The metal was better, but still prone to rust.

My father totaled his ’65 Malibu SS and traded the carcass for the green ’71 back in 81. It had a fresh Earl Scheib paint job, and Tijuana upholstery. It had a burnt piston and it took a month to get one from England. He drove it until ’89. I pulled it out of storage in ’93 and started driving it. Blew it up a year later and put the spare engine into it. I drove it until 97, when I swapped in a Datsun b210 engine and trans. Raced autocross for a few years until I painted it in a factory color; Oasis Green (Original was electric blue).

I had it in my first car show, Feb ’98, when a guy approached me to tell me he had an Aztec gold 71 in his back yard. I rolled my eyes thinking he was actually talking about a Colt, but he said it was from England. $50 got me a 150,000mi deluxe model with some moderate damage to the front, a set of vintage rocket racing wheels, front spoiler and some vintage parts.

I got it running, the clutch was in bad shape, but I drove it down from Los Angeles to San Diego.I later blew the rear seal out and ran it out of oil. I drove it back from Los Angeles knocking a rod the entire trip, but it never quit.

We moved to Washington in 2012 and the floors had gotten really bad, so the green car was parked on stands. Last year, I started fixing rust to discover that the Pacific North West weather was horrible to it. A SoCal car had rusted to hell in five years of rain!

I also put the gold “parts” car back together, but all the spare parts were worn out. I will finish the green car, and maybe swap a more powerful drivetrain into it.

Michael also sent some pictures of a Cricket in a junk yard labeled “Valiant” that he found a few years back and got some parts off it.

I’m guessing “Cricket” wasn’t in the junk yard’s inventory database.

He also sent this great shot of a truck load of Crickets, Colts and some other Mopar goodies of the time.

Here’s two in the same colors Michael’s Crickets were originally in.