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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've got a question that has been on my mind today and I haven't really been able to find an answer for it. I remember when the Neon first came out, about 1996 or so, it was sold as both a Dodge and a Plymouth. I'm sure most of you remember this as well. I was about 13 at the time and remember my mom test driving, I believe, the Plymouth version. I remember hating the idea, but that's beside the point ;)

Anyway, with the screams and gnashing of teeth that happens on here daily about GM's "rebadging" of certain cars, I'd like to know what the story was behind this. I don't remember the cars being any different, though I didn't care nearly as much about cars then as I do now. Was there a reason why they couldn't be bothered to give the Plymouth version a different name? What was the point of offering two cars that were almost identical (literally)? Was it to simply get the car into dealerships that only had Dodge or Plymouth and not both?
 

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I've got a question that has been on my mind today and I haven't really been able to find an answer for it. I remember when the Neon first came out, about 1996 or so, it was sold as both a Dodge and a Plymouth. I'm sure most of you remember this as well. I was about 13 at the time and remember my mom test driving, I believe, the Plymouth version. I remember hating the idea, but that's beside the point ;)

Anyway, with the screams and gnashing of teeth that happens on here daily about GM's "rebadging" of certain cars, I'd like to know what the story was behind this. I don't remember the cars being any different, though I didn't care nearly as much about cars then as I do now. Was there a reason why they couldn't be bothered to give the Plymouth version a different name? What was the point of offering two cars that were almost identical (literally)? Was it to simply get the car into dealerships that only had Dodge or Plymouth and not both?
You hit the nail on the head. This allowed both Plymouth and Dodge to have an entry level vehicle. The common name actually helped because customers didn't have to remember any difference....the commercial says Neon so effectively, they could reach both customer bases with one commercial. Saves time and money.
 

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What happened when the Omni/Horizon came out in 1978 was a super-rebadging

Essentially Ply and Dodge were the same thing, minor details like grille, etc but always with a big Pentastar there

There were cases of employees at the factories putting say "Plymouth Shadow" and things on the cars because they couldn't tell the difference even...

with the Neon that went full circle, they didn't even try to differentiate



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My mother owned a 1995 Dodge Neon bought new (First Year) I bought a 1998 Plymouth Neon used some years later. The inside of both cars had no brand identification at all. The name Neon was on the dash and the steering wheel. On the outside even the name "neon" was the same script on both the Dodge and the Plymouth. The only difference was the Dodge and Plymouth nameplate on the outside. I thought it was smart to do this. They were the same car built on the same line, why disguise the fact and confuse the stupid people
 

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There was even a Chrysler version for export markets. And, yes, the reason was to get an entry-level model into Dodge and Chrysler-Plymouth showrooms with the lowest possible sticker price. The only differences were the front badge, the rear "Dodge" and "Plymouth" nameplates, and the VIN (Plymouths started with "1P" while the Dodges started with "1B").

What happened when the Omni/Horizon came out in 1978 was a super-rebadging

Essentially Ply and Dodge were the same thing, minor details like grille, etc but always with a big Pentastar there

There were cases of employees at the factories putting say "Plymouth Shadow" and things on the cars because they couldn't tell the difference even...

with the Neon that went full circle, they didn't even try to differentiate
The Omni and Horizon had a few more differentiators. They did have completely different grilles (early models had Dodge or Plymouth logos, no Pentstars) and slightly different taillights. As for the P-Cars, most years the Dodge Shadow and Plymouth Sundance again had completely different grilles and taillights...and the people on the assembly lines could tell them apart...if from nothing else, from the VIN.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Interesting stuff. On a similar but not entirely related note, I was always under the impression that Plymouth was slightly upmarket (though not by much) from Dodge. However I've read in several places that Plymouth was the "value" brand. Which is correct? My parents were always big Mopar people when I was a kid, and it seemed like the Plymouths that we had were "nicer" than the Dodges. I particularly remember them buying a Plymouth Acclaim over a Dodge Spirit around 1994, and the Plymouth definitely seemed to have more features (a cassette player!!!).
 

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Typically Plymouth was the 'value' brand, and Dodge was the next step up, especially in it's last years.
 

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Interesting stuff. On a similar but not entirely related note, I was always under the impression that Plymouth was slightly upmarket (though not by much) from Dodge. However I've read in several places that Plymouth was the "value" brand. Which is correct? My parents were always big Mopar people when I was a kid, and it seemed like the Plymouths that we had were "nicer" than the Dodges. I particularly remember them buying a Plymouth Acclaim over a Dodge Spirit around 1994, and the Plymouth definitely seemed to have more features (a cassette player!!!).
Plymouth was always Chrysler's entry-level brand, with Dodge slightly above it.

When DeSoto was introduced in the late 1920s, it was designed to plug the gap between the cheap Plymouth (named after a brand of baling twine, not Plymouth Rock) and the Dodge, which at the time was a medium-priced brand.

After WW2, the roles reversed, with Dodge moving downmarket and DeSoto moving to the mid-price sector. In the big three, brands competed strictly on price and were grouped something along the lines of...

Chevrolet-Ford-Plymouth
Pontiac-Dodge
Oldsmobile-Mercury-DeSoto
Buick-Chrysler
Cadillac-Lincoln-Imperial

Obviously Ford were stretched thin in the 1950s, with Mercury trying to bracket everything from the mid-price Pontiac to the low-priced Buicks. Edsel was introduced to level this out, competing with Pontiac-Dodge with its smaller models, and Olds-DeSoto with its larger models, and Mercury was pushed up sort of between Olds and Buick. So it wasn't just odd styling that killed the Edsel (look how ugly all Ford's and GM's '58s were!), it was also due to the "Eisenhower Recession" from late '57 to late '58, which hit mid-priced brands quite hard. DeSoto sales plummeted too and was killed shortly after Edsel's demise.

Ford solved this lack of coverage in Canada by selling two additional brands, Meteor and Monarch. Meteors were sold through L-M dealers and were Ford bodies with Mercury trim, and priced to compete with Chevy and Pontiac, while the Monarch had the Mercury body with Ford trim, was sold by Ford dealers, and priced roughly at Oldsmobile's level. Monarch didn't last long, but Meteor lasted as a brand well into the 1970s.

Fans criticised Chrysler for axeing the Plymouth brand, but Dodge had become so debased it was now a cheapie brand, making Plymouth nothing more than rebadged Dodges to sell through Chrysler dealers. It simply didn't make sense to do this anymore, especially since the Chrysler name itself had slipped from Buick's upper-middle-class status down to a barely-above-Dodge niche by the 1970s.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
After WW2, the roles reversed, with Dodge moving downmarket and DeSoto moving to the mid-price sector. In the big three, brands competed strictly on price and were grouped something along the lines of...

Chevrolet-Ford-Plymouth
Pontiac-Dodge
Oldsmobile-Mercury-DeSoto
Buick-Chrysler
Cadillac-Lincoln-Imperial
I think my confusion (and I doubt I'm alone) with thinking Dodge was the "cheaper" brand is just due to perception. Growing up the "Big 3" were Chevrolet/Ford/Dodge. I suppose Dodge was there because it was the bigger seller between it and Plymouth - I'm not sure, just speculating. Nevertheless, it seemed like those three brands were always in competition. I guess this naturally pushed Plymouth into another category. Maybe it being grouped with the "nicer" Chrysler cars at my local dealer made me assume it was more upmarket, just like Mercury to Lincoln.

Anyway, good information. I have never been very informed of Mopar history despite the fact my family owned so many. Seems like we didn't lose nearly as much with the closure of Plymouth as we did Olds.
 

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I feel Chrysler was a worse purveyor of rebadges than GM and Ford were. We have our evidence here in that Dodge and Plymouth both had Neons. Shortly before that, there was also the Dodge/Plymouth/Mitsubishi Colt. This is not to excuse Ford and GM from rebadges, but Chrysler was a more egregious offender.
 

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I currently own a '95 Neon (had it for a few years, been an awesome car for the whole duration of my ownership).

There's a Dodge badge on the hood, and a 1B... VIN. Nothing else will allow you to tell the car apart from the Plymouth version.

Later models (still first generation) had the brand name on the trunk... starting in '97, IIRC.

I think it was a smart marketing idea... get all the dollars behind one name, even though you're satisfying both sets of dealerships. Plus, usually sales figures were reported combined (for the "Neon").

Had GM done that at the time, they would have had this country's best-selling vehicle (J-body).
 

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I feel Chrysler was a worse purveyor of rebadges than GM and Ford were. We have our evidence here in that Dodge and Plymouth both had Neons. Shortly before that, there was also the Dodge/Plymouth/Mitsubishi Colt. This is not to excuse Ford and GM from rebadges, but Chrysler was a more egregious offender.
After they almost went bankrupt in the 70s, Chrysler stopped even pretending there was any difference between Dodge and Plymouth. They would feature cars like the Aries/Reliant and Caravan/Voyager in the same commercials. Same car two different nameplates.

Plus as mentioned, you had to have a pretty good eye for cars to even be able to tell the difference between their rebadges. It was only towards the end of Plymouth when they created seperate hood badges and more distinct grilles.
 

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All in all, I think Chrysler were clever to market the Neon, as well as the "captive imports" with a single name. Say for example, they had marketed the Neon as the "Dodge Neon" and "Plymouth Argon", the "Argon" would have likely been a much poorer seller and could have suffered dramatically lower resale value than its Dodge cousin. Not to mention Plymouth dealers likely sold more Neons than they would have sold "Argons" because of the recognition of the Neon name. It's an example of a car being a brand within itself, much the same way GM vehicles such as the Corvette and Suburban are. Corvette could (and imho should) be its own brand, and the Suburban likely would sell just as well, and have the same market identity whether it is badged as a Chevrolet or a GMC.
 

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Growing up the "Big 3" were Chevrolet/Ford/Dodge. I suppose Dodge was there because it was the bigger seller between it and Plymouth - I'm not sure, just speculating. Nevertheless, it seemed like those three brands were always in competition. I guess this naturally pushed Plymouth into another category.
The "Big 3" were (are?) GM, Ford, and Chrysler. The "low-priced 3" were Chevy, Ford, and Plymouth. Plymouth was the number 3 seller for years, ahead of Dodge, and some time in the mid-60's, Pontiac overtook Plymouth to become the third best-selling nameplate in the USA.
Ahh, the good old days...can you imagine how strong the U.S. economy would be today if every Toyota on the road was instead a Chevy, every Honda a Ford and every Nissan a Dodge ? <sigh...>
 

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Interesting stuff. On a similar but not entirely related note, I was always under the impression that Plymouth was slightly upmarket (though not by much) from Dodge. However I've read in several places that Plymouth was the "value" brand. Which is correct? My parents were always big Mopar people when I was a kid, and it seemed like the Plymouths that we had were "nicer" than the Dodges. I particularly remember them buying a Plymouth Acclaim over a Dodge Spirit around 1994, and the Plymouth definitely seemed to have more features (a cassette player!!!).
Plymouth was Chrysler's value brand. I remember when the cloud cars were out, only the Plymouth had the L4 when the rest had a V6. The only exception to the rule is the Plymouth Prowler. Also another interesting thing is that the PT Cruiser was supposed to be a Plymouth.
 

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The Omni and Horizon had a few more differentiators. They did have completely different grilles (early models had Dodge or Plymouth logos, no Pentstars) and slightly different taillights. As for the P-Cars, most years the Dodge Shadow and Plymouth Sundance again had completely different grilles and taillights...and the people on the assembly lines could tell them apart...if from nothing else, from the VIN.
I know the grilles were different that is what I said... but I meant that accidents were pretty common :D



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T-rex so beat me to it....but whenever I think Plymouth neon/Dodge Neon.....I immediately think Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Suburban.

I never understood either myself.
 
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