Creating and Naming the Plymouth Volare: the development story

Our market research showed that the “A” Body Valiant/Dart and “B” Body Belvedere/Coronet four-door car buyers had the same demographics (age, gender, income, education, etc.), so we in Product Planning proposed that the new 1976 “F” body replace both the A and B body four-door sedans and wagons. Our idea was that the new “F” Body four door models (sedans and wagon) would replace both the “A” Body and “B” Body four door models. There would continue to be two door Valiants, Darts, Belvedere/Roadrunners, and Coronet/Chargers, because those models were attractive to young buyers.

1976 Volare brochure

This proposal was initially approved by Sales Management but then as the vehicle designs were evolving in the Design Studios Sales Management got “cold feet”. They said that to do their job they had to have counterpoint product entries to Chevrolet and Ford — that is, they had to have both compact and intermediate models. As a result, the 1976 F Body designs, although larger than “A” Body vehicles, became replacements for Valiant and Dart four door models - and the Coronet and Belvedere four door models continued in the product lineup. [The popular Duster, based on the two door Valiant, and two door Dart were dropped after 1976.]

Now it was 1974 and it was time to name the new “F” Body vehicles. We thought new names were still needed to communicate to the customer that these were new cars – although not new market entries.

During product development, the in-house code names for the “F” Body vehicles were Aspen (Dodge) and Vail (Plymouth). Len Piconke (Director of Marketing) and I (Director of Product Planning) selected Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Cygnet as the marketing names. Our boss, George Butts, approved our proposal and arranged for a meeting with R. K. Brown (Executive VP of Sales) for his approval.

dodge aspen

After hearing our proposal, R.K. said he would rather not have a new car at all then have it be named Cygnet (little swan) or Signet (precious stone). (Signet was a price line in the Valiant carline, and R.K. must have had an unpleasant experience with that name).

George, Len, and I returned to George’s office. George, a new VP, was crushed because he thought the proposal would be “rubber stamped.”

Sitting in George’s office waiting for his next meeting was Norm Christy, one of our international product planners. George couldn’t stop talking about the disastrous meeting with R.K. Norm listened politely and said, “Why don’t you call it Volare?”

We all asked what that meant, and Norm answered “it’s Italian for fly [the verb].” Len and I thought that was a good name and I suggested that we go back to R.K.’s office and propose it. George said, “No – if we go back to R.K. now he won’t think we have given it much thought.” (He was right!) George said let’s propose it to him tomorrow.


We saw R.K. the next day. R.K.’s reaction was “I’ll bounce it off the ad agency.” The rest of the story is that the Plymouth ad agency loved it! They visualized an Italian singer like Jerry Vale, Al Martino or Sergio Franchi being the spokesman (in song) for the new Plymouth Volare.

We registered the Volare name and it was ours.

And that’s how the Volare car line got its name.

About the Volaré song

Gene Yetter wrote:

The song “Nel blu dipinto di blu,” written by Domenico Modugno and Franco Migliacci with music by Modugno, was published in 1958. Modugno and many others, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and David Bowie, recorded it. Volaré, in the poetic and skillfully written lyric, translates as “flying.”

The company issued a promotional long-playing album and a deck of Volaré playing cards, both imprinted with the Plymouth Volare badge. The reverse side of the album cover features a picture of a Volare Premier.

Volare and Aspen (main page)Plymouth cars

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