You can’t exactly say that Plymouth created a market segment, but the new-for-1928 Chrysler division went to great lengths to define one. Plymouth was founded specifically to tackle the “low-cost” competition, which at the time was primarily Chevrolet and Ford.
From the start, Plymouth advertising made reference to the “low-cost field,” which quickly gave way to the “the low-cost three.” Though period ads rarely identified the competition by name, consumers understood that the “three” were Chevrolet, Ford, and Plymouth.
The Hudson, Pontiac, and Studebaker ads below are interesting, as the ad copy makes reference to the low-cost three, which feels something akin to Burger King discussing special sauce. But again, consumers of the era understood the terminology.
Chevrolet and Ford marketers seemed reluctant to engage Plymouth on its own level, and—per my research—made less use of the low-priced-three terminology. That said, the 1941 Chevrolet ad below is pretty enlightening—especially the quiz.
It’s interesting to consider that just three volume brands were positioned on the bottom-price rung back then, as most contemporary makers compete in that space today. Gone are mid-price brands including DeSoto, Mercury, and Oldsmobile.
For whatever reason, probably the emergence of Rambler and import brands, the low-cost three terminology faded completely away in the Sixties. I can’t think of a similar automotive-branding exercise, certainly not one as successful. Today a similar effort might make reference to the low-priced dozen.
The Low Priced Three
Favorite Car Ads: 1958 Studebaker Scotsman
Classic Car Ads: Pickup Trucks of 1961
Classic Car Ads: Cheap Cars of 1983
Classic Car Ads: Coupes of 1981
After Dark: Classic Car Ads Set at Night
Listen to the Car Stuff Podcast
Click below for enlarged images.
Low Priced Three
Low Priced Three