Car of the Year Revisionism, 1976 Edition: If Not the Volare/Aspen, What?

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

We went all 20/20 hindsight on the 1970 Motor Trend COTY choice yesterday, and today we’ll be jumping right into the depths of the Malaise Era for the MT gurus’ 1976 choice: the Dodge Aspen/ Plymouth Volaré

The Volaré and Aspen were the successors to the successful-but-aging-poorly A-Body compacts, the Dodge Dart and Plymouth Valiant (though the Dart and Valiant were available along with the Volaré and Aspen for the 1976 model year). The new Mopar compacts had reasonably modern chassis and suspension design, but the styling was frumpy and they were far thirstier than the Dodge- and Plymouth-badged Simca and Mitsubishi captive imports. Car of the Year material, or not? For the sake of flame wars argument, we’ll include imports (for reference, the Toyota Celica Liftback won MT‘s Import Car of the Year award in ’76). What’s it going to be? The hot-selling ’76 Cutlass Supreme, with its perfect-for-the-time styling? The Pucci Edition Lincoln Mark IV? The Plymouth Arrow? Discuss.

Image source: Old Car Brochures

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Acuraandy Acuraandy on Dec 10, 2011

    My parents when I was a growing up had a s#!t brown on tan 1978 Volare 4 door sedan with Slant-Sick. I distinctly remember driving from the Twin Cities to Willmar, MN one autumn afternoon and hitting Litchfield. Wheel bearing decided to take a s#!t. Took out the knuckle, spindle and bearing; wheel damn near fell off. With that said, i'd rather put my kids in that than ANY Camcord. And this is as a current owner of one. :)

    • Roger628 Roger628 on Dec 11, 2011

      The same thing happened to my dad's '78 LeBaron when it was only 2 years old, had about 42,000 miles on it.

  • And003 And003 on Feb 18, 2013

    My grandmother once owned a 1979 Dodge Aspen sedan. It proved to be troublesome at times. Sometimes it wouldn't start during the cold, and at one time it stalled out on me when I was at a traffic light ... on a rainy day. When it came time for me to go to college, she and my father had to get me a Chevy Cavalier. Still, I have a fondness for the coupe versions of the Aspen and Volare, particularly the R/T and Road Runner variants. With the technology of today, access to a professional hot rod shop, and the necessary financing, I could easily see myself transforming a Volare Road Runner or Aspen R/T into a high-performance restomod. :)

  • Blueice Patient 28, sorry, but it is Oktoberfest. Bring a kegof Kraut beer and we will 50% you.
  • Bd2 Probably Toyota, Hyundai is killing them these days.
  • Bd2 Japan is evil, stop buying their vehicles. I hope TTAC has a holiday for PEARL HARBOR.
  • Wolfwagen If Isuzu could update this truck and keep the cost between $25K - $30K they would sell like ice pops on dollar day in a heat wave.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic I'm at that the inflection point of do I continue to putting money in a 12 yr old SUV entering a heavy maintenance cycle or start shopping.I have noticed comparable new SUVs with $2.5k knocked off the sticker price, but still with the shenanigans of $300 for nitrogen in the tires. However, I have noticed the same 2 yr old SUV which are only $4.5K less than the original sticker price. Usually the used cars price should be 35% to 40% less. This tells me there's a stronger market for used as opposed to new. Part of this is to handle the monthly note. Considering installments of 72 months, you'll never pay the beast off. Just wait till the end of the model year which is just two months away, and I think the comparable new SUV will come with larger markdowns. May not be the color you want, but there are deals to be made. 🚗🚗🚗