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

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
car of the year revisionism 1976 edition if not the volare aspen what

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 [s]flame wars[/s] 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

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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. :)

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