Chrysler that fell

short of the mark

Chrysler 180

IN the 1950s to the late 1960s Rootes Group products were one of the quality choices on the UK's roads.

Names like Hillman, Humber, Sunbeam and Singer were the pride of the driveways, but the cracks were starting to appear in the seemingly solid framework of the UK car industry.

The Rootes Group was near bankruptcy, was swallowed up by Chrysler Europe and things were never the same again.

A case in point of how it all changed was the Chrysler 180, marketed as a Simca in France and a Chrysler in the UK.

The car was produced from 1970 to 1975 and was built at the Simca plant in Poissy, France and later at a Chrysler subsidiary factory in Spain.

The initial problem was that the car had an identity crisis. Vaunted as ‘The American in Paris,' it was not exactly American, French or British. It was mish-mash of cultures that did not go down well at all, especially in the UK.

Motorists over here were almost spoilt by the automotive comfort-blanket of a Hillman Minx or Humber Hawk and the brash continental interloper was not welcomed with open arms

Then came the takeover of Chrysler Europe by PSA Talbot and the 180's eventual replacernent was the Talbot Tagora, a woeful and unsucessful attempt at executive motoring.

The 180 was the first model to spearhead the concept of unifying the offerings from both sides of the Channel under the common brand.

An exampletested by the British mediain April 1971 had a top speed of 101.0mph and could accelerate from 0-60mph in 12.4 seconds. An overall fuel consumption of 21.7 miles per gallon was recorded and the test car was offered at £1498 including taxes.

This Chryslerrusted prodigiously and there are only a couple left on the UK's roads with a few under SORN.

The 180 was not a cool car. It was large, comfortable and relatively good looking but it lacked the ‘wow' factor of one of its major rivals, the iconic Ford Cortina.

Chrysler must have been totally misguided to think that the 180 could net the buyers of the Hillman Super Minx by the droves.The truth was that the 180 could not match the old Rootes cars at all and was definitely a step in the wrong direction.

It can best be described as a sad car that could have done much better with a little more thought, development and better marketing.