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Post Date Category Location Title
2017-02-22 Selling Etc.
2011-05-24 Buying Los angeles 1985 Mercury colony park tailgate weather stripping
2009-01-21 Buying Birmingham Used PLYMOUTH VOLARE Grille Shell
The Dodge Aspen, produced from 1976 t- 1980, was a compact car from Chrysler Corporation's Dodge division; its Plymouth-branded counterpart was the Volare. It was launched as a two-door coupe, a four-door sedan, and a unique-for-the-segment station wagon. It replaced the Dodge Dart. By the end of their production run, the Aspen and Volare would be considered intermediate cars.

The Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare were introduced in the fall of 1975 as 1976 models. They were collectively named Motor Trend's "Car of the Year" for 1976. They were the successors t- the A body Valiant and Dart (along with their like-bodied but other-named friends). The A body continued on through the 1976 model year alongside the new models and was then dropped.

The Aspen and Volare were produced for 5 model years--1976 through 1980--and were replaced by the smaller, 4 cylinder, front wheel drive K body Dodge Aries and Plymouth Reliant for the 1981 model year. (Many would argue that they were actually replaced by the M body Dodge Diplomat and Plymouth Gran Fury, but these occupied a higher price class, albeit using a very similar platform, body, and drivetrain).

The Aspen and Volare were designed t- be somewhat more luxurious than the A body models, at least in the most expensive models. The new cars als- continued the A body pattern of giving coupes and sedans different wheelbases. Aspen and Volare 2 doors had a 108.7-inch (2,760 mm) wheelbase (similar t- the 108-inch (2,700 mm) Duster and Dart Sport). Four door F bodies got a 112.7-inch (2,860 mm) wheelbase, making them slightly bigger than the Dart and Valiant, which rode a 111-inch (2,800 mm) wheelbase. The F body als- featured a 4 door station wagon (on the 112.7" wheelbase), something Chrysler did not have in their compact line since the Dart wagon of 1966.

The Aspen/Volare twins were light enough that with certain engines, they were rather potent--tests from car magazines of the day revealed that the 1977 360-engined Aspen, with a tw- barrel carb, was about on a par from zer- t- sixty miles per hour as the 1977 Camar- Z28 and Corvette L82, both with four barrel 350s. All three of these cars were faster than the 1977 Trans Am 400-4. The Aspen was a bit slower by the clock but faster through the traps in the quarter mile than all of the other three from GM. The 318 offered more sedate, everyday performance. It was obviously less powerful, but it performed about the same as its competing models with similar-sized engines of the day.

The Volare is commonly pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable, despite the accent. Contents

* 1 Production history - 1.1 Station wagons - 1.2 1976 - 1.3 1977 - 1.4 1978 - 1.5 1979 - 1.6 1980 * 2 Around the world * 3 After the F-body * 4 References

Production history

Although their designs were basically sound and well-engineered, the early F-bodies were plagued by poor production quality. In fact, in his autobiography, Lee Iacocca acknowledged that the Aspen and Volare were probably rushed t- market to- soon, causing first year buyers t- act as final model testers. This was true mostly of the 1976 models, since the 1977 models were considerably better quality-wise. Several recalls were undertaken on the 1976 and 1977 models; most were minor. However, the most serious of these cost Chrysler millions of dollars, which at the time, Chrysler could ill afford. In 1978, Chrysler recalled every 1976 and 1977 Aspen and Volare for possible replacement of the front fenders, which were prematurely rusting. Many cars got new fenders, painted in the proper color. Galvanized sheetmetal was phased in for the body, along with full inner front fender liners made of polyethylene (plastic) t- solve the rust problem once and for all. A large number of powertrain changes, particularly in ignition and fuel delivery, were als- made t- improve driveability.

After 1977, F-bodies had few problems with rusting or quality control. A note about the early models' quality: this was largely an issue of perception, based on minor recalls and flaws in body construction. However, the body was much more visible than the tough drivetrain. The 1979 and 1980 cars were als- relatively unaffected by recalls or quality issues, and were similar in that regard t- their contemporaries.

Station wagons

Station wagons were available in both model lines, all featuring liftgates with fixed rear windows. Premium station wagons in either the Aspen SE or Volare Premier series featured simulated woodgrain trim along its exterior sides. On Aspen SEs, the woodgrain was framed in simulated blond (painted metal) wood-look trim. On the Premiers, the side panels were trimmed in stainless steel frames accented in matte black. Aside from the brand badging and grilles unique on each brand, this station wagon trim element remains one of the few visual clues that differentiated the Aspen from the Volare.


The first year of the Aspen was met with much fanfare and sales. The replacement for the venerable Dart, the Aspen would share the same engines and basic body style with its predecessor, but not much else. Even Chrysler's longitudinal torsion bar suspension was revamped with transverse torsion bars, which weren't as geometrically favorable as the longitudinal bars of the Valiant and Dart, but saved space and weight. In addition, the new front suspension system gave it a "big car" ride by increasing handling and reducing road vibration at the same time.

This was not the first time transverse torsion bars were used in a production vehicle - the VW Type 3 used a modified version of the Volkswagen Beetle's front suspension.

Although transverse torsion bars were previously used by the U.S. military and part of the Volkswagen Beetle's front suspension, Chrysler's transverse torsion bar suspension was later incorporated int- the M and J platform.

Built on the new F-body chassis, the Aspen was dubbed "the family car of the future". Available as a 2-door coupe, 4-door sedan or 4-door station wagon, it came in three trim levels - base, Custom and SE (Special Edition). The performance R/T package came only on the coupe and featured a 318 in3 (5.2 L) V8 standard or an optional 360 in3 (5.9 L) V8 with either a 2- or 4-barrel carburetor. The 225 in3 (3.7 L) Slant Six was standard across the line, and was available in most states with a choice of 1- or 2-barrel carburetion.

Volares were fitted with a Mercedes-Benz-like front grille, whereas the Aspen had a blackout grille.

Total production was 189,900 (Aspen) and 255,008 (Volare).


Nothing much changed for the Aspen's second year. A new T-top was added t- the coupe's option list this year. The R/T package added a "Super Pak" option. This consisted of front and rear spoilers, wheel opening flares and louvered rear windows. A new stripe kit was als- added as well. An R/T equipped with this package became a "Super R/T". The Volare was Canada's top selling car this year.

Total production was 266,012 (Aspen) and 327,739 (Volare).

1978 1978 Plymouth Volare sedan 1978 Plymouth Volare sedan

The Aspen went through numerous changes for 1978. The three trim lines were consolidated int- one. The Custom and Special Edition lines were still available but were now reduced t- option packages. The Aspen als- received a new front fascia, similar t- the Volare (the Volare's grille was restyled with an eggcrate pattern). But the most exciting news were the new, one-year-only performance packages - the Super Coupe and Kit Car. Both packages used the same performance exterior add-ons as the "Super Pak", now renamed the "Sport Pak", but came in different colors as well as different options.

The Super Coupe came with GR60x15 Goodyear GT radial tires mounted on 15x8 wheels, a heavy duty suspension with rear sway bar, a matte black finish on the hood and came only in one color - Sable Tan Sunfire Metallic. Special three color (orange, yellow and red) stripes separated the body color from the matte black colors. Only 531 were built.

The Kit Car, made in honor of NASCAR legend Richard Petty, was supposed t- look as much like a race car as possible. The wheels had n- hubcaps, the wheel opening flares had a bolted on look, and even the windshield had metal tie downs just like the race cars. Unlike a racecar, the Kit Car came standard with an automatic transmission. A special addition was a decal kit with large door mountable "43" decals and 360 decals for the hood. These decals were shipped in the trunk either t- be installed by the dealer or by the owner. Most people however, left them in the trunk. It only came in one color - a special two-tone red. The Kit Car would prove t- be one of the rarest Aspens ever built, as only 145 were ever built.

A new Sunrise package, similar t- the Volare's Duster package, was als- new. This consisted mainly of new stripes and louvered rear windows. This was only available on the coupe.

Wider taillight lenses with amber reflectors were phased in, replacing the Plymouth Valiant/Duster-styled lenses on both Aspen and Volare coupes and sedans.

Total production came t- 166,419 (Aspen) and 217,795 (Volare).

1979 1979 Dodge Aspen R/T coupe 1979 Dodge Aspen R/T coupe

Not much would change for the Aspen in its second t- last year of production (the only change was the taillight lenses from the previous year - the amber reflectors were eliminated). The packages from last year continued int- this year, with the exception of the Super Coupe and Kit Car. A new 85 mph (137 km/h) speedometer, new colors and a diagnostic connector for the engine would be as exciting of a change as it would get for this year. The station wagon would add a "Sport Wagon" package t- its option list, which added special stripes, a front airdam, and wheel arch flares.

Total production came t- 121,354 (Aspen) and 178,819 (Volare).


For its last year of production, the Aspen sported a brand new front fascia (with square headlights, similar t- the 1979 Chevrolet Nova and/or Ford Fairmont) that included a hood, fenders and front bumper shared with the concurrent Dodge Diplomat. But nothing much changed beyond that. Special and Premier packages were made available. The Special came only on the sedan and coupe. The R/T package was installed only on 285 Aspens for this year before the Aspen name as well as the R/T badge would be "placed int- storage" for the next decade or so. Total production came t- 67,318 (Aspen) and 90,063 (Volare). The Aries replaced the Aspen for 1981, with another Aspen successor, the 400 arriving in 1982.

Around the world

Between 1977 and 1979, the small Swiss specialty automaker Monteverdi built a modified version of this car, called the Sierra, intended t- compete in Europe's luxury car market.

The Dart name (rather than Aspen) was applied t- Dodge-branded F-body cars in Mexic- and Colombia, corresponding t- the local Chrysler-branded F-body cars badged as Valiant Volare.

After the F-body

The F-body cars were withdrawn from production worldwide after 1980, but spawned tw- platforms, the Chrysler J platform and the Chrysler M platform.
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