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The Plymouth Volare and Dodge Aspen: Specifications, Production, and Details

Drivetrain

Year Engine Carb HP Torque   Year Engine Carb HP Torque
1976 225 1 100 @ 3600 rpm 170 @ 1600 1979 225 1 90 @ 3600 rpm 160 @ 1600
225 Calif. 1 90 @ 3600 rpm 165 @ 1600 225 Calif. 1 90 @ 3600 rpm 160 @ 1600
318 2 150 @ 4000 rpm 255 @ 1600 225 2 110 @ 3600 rpm 180 @ 2000
318 Calif. 2 140 @ 3600 rpm 250 @ 2000 318 2 140 @ 4000 rpm 245 @ 1600
360 2 170 @ 4000 rpm 280 @ 2400 318 Calif. 4 155 @ 4000 rpm 245 @ 1600
360 E58 4 220 @ 4000 rpm 280 @ 3200 360 2 155 @ 3600 rpm 270 @ 2400
1977 225 1 100 @ 3600 rpm 170 @ 1600   360 Calif. 4 160 @ 3600 rpm 265 @ 1600
225 Calif. 1 90 @ 3600 rpm 170 @ 1600   360 E58 4 195 @ 4,000 280 @ 4,400
225 2 110 @ 3600 rpm 180 @ 2000          
318 2 145 @ 4000 rpm 245 @ 1600 1980 225 1 90 @ 3600 rpm 160 @ 1600
318 Calif. 2 135 @ 3600 rpm 235 @ 1600 318 2 120 @ 3600 rpm 245 @ 2000
360 2 155 @ 3600 rpm 275 @ 2000 318 4 155 @ 4000 rpm 240 @ 2000
360 E58 4 220 @ 4000 rpm 280 @ 3200        
1978 225 1 90 @ 3600 rpm 160 @ 1600          
225 2 110 @ 3600 rpm 180 @ 2000        
318 2 140 @ 4000 rpm 245 @ 1600        
318 Calif. 4 155 @ 4000 rpm 245 @ 1600        
360 2 155 @ 3600 rpm 270 @ 2400          
360 4 160 @ 3600 rpm 265 @ 1600          
360 E58 4 220 @ 4000 rpm 280 @ 3200          

Available transmissions included the A230 3 speed (Slant Six only), the A833 4 speed overdrive (Slant Six and 318-2 only), and the A904 and A998/999 Torqueflite 3 speed automatics. These were coupled with either the Chrysler 7 1/4 inch rear axle (for Slant Six coupe and sedan, non-towing applications) or the Chrysler 8 1/4 axle for the wagon, heavy duty, and V8 versions. Axles were available in 2.45, 2.76, 2.94, and 3.23 to 1 ratios, depending upon transmission and engine. Sure-Grip limited slip axles were optional. Torqueflites got a lockup torque converter in 1978 for non-heavy duty engines.

Super Coupe engine

Some Aspen - Volare performance figures

Car (with automatic) 0-60 1/4 mile Top Speed*
1978 Volare Kit Car 360-4 7.3 sec 15.9 @ 88 111
1978 Aspen Super Coupe 360-4 8.1 sec 16.7 @ 85 108
1977 Aspen 360-2 HD 8.6 sec 17.4 @ 86.1 115
1977 Camaro Z28 350-4 8.6 sec 16.3 @ 83.0 105
1977 Corvette L82 350-4 8.8 sec 16.6 @ 82.0 n/a
1977 Trans Am 400-4 9.3 sec 16.9 @ 82.0 110
1977 Volare 318-2 HD 10.7 sec 18.2 @ 74.4 106

The 1978 Street Kit Cars and Super Coupes were somewhat faster and quicker, although the 360 4 barrel had 10 ft-lbs less torque than the 2 barrel in 1978 (HP was 20 more for the 4 barrel, though). Note that the 1978 kit car speed, with 1978 tires (not as grippy as current rubber), managed to do 0-60 in the same time as the Saturn Sky.

Other Volare - Aspen Specifications

  1977 2-Door 1977 4-Door 1978 2-Door 1978 4-Door 1978 Wagon
Wheelbase 108.7 112.7 108.7 112.7 112.7
Track     60 Front / 58.5 Rear
Length 197.5 201.5 198.8 201.2 201.2
Width 72.8 72.8 73.3
Height 53.1 54.8 53.3 55.3 55.7
Trunk     14.8 cubic feet  
Gas, 6/V8     18 / 19.5 18 / 19.5 18 / 18

Weight: published figures indicate that an empty F body weighed between 3200 and 3500 pounds, with the V8s being about 110 pounds heavier than the Sixes. Obviously, the wagons weighed the most, and the coupes were the lightest. Generally, the 4 door was about 75 pounds heavier than the coupe, while the wagon was 200 pounds heavier than the 4 door.

Chronology

1976 Aspen had front turn signals in bumper, Volare between headlights and grille. The Volare Custom and Premier had a trim panel between the tail-lights, which were otherwise the same as the Volare's; the Aspen Custom and SE had a trim panel and different tail-lights than the Aspen.
1977 Same as 1976 - can only tell the year by the 6th character if the VIN code.
1978 Tail-lights became larger and got separate amber turn signals. Aspen and Volare grilles were different, with bigger patterns. Aspen turn signals were moved to between headlights and grille, like the Volare's. Lockup torque converters made standard on all but heavy duty TorqueFlites and big block engines.
1979 Same grilles as 1978, but the backup light moved to where the amber turn signal was, and the old backup light location became a reflector. New upholstery patterns, and a 85 mph speedometer replaces the 100 mph model due to Federal regulations. Interior and exterior trim packages unbundled and offered separately. Some slant sixes sold with hydraulic lifters (a few hundred) according to TSBs. Lockup torque converter universal.
1980 A brand new grille, squarish (with rectangular headlights) not dissimilar from the contemporary Nova. New bumpers and guards, new hood. Same taillights. A multi-function stalk was used, with wipers and the headlight control on the turn signal lever. The 360 was no longer available.

Production

Throughout its lifetime, the F body served Chrysler and its owners well, as a bread and butter family car. The F body was Chrysler's compact car as the 1970s ended. By the end of production of the very similar M body in 1989, the same size 4 door car was suddenly somewhere between a midsize and a full size. This transition began around the time of the F body's debut, and was very obvious by the end of the run in the summer of 1980. The cars nonetheless competed well with their American counterpart during a difficult period in American car history, both for reasons of quality control and gasoline economy. Chrysler sold many F bodies throughout the 5 year run.

Coupes Sedans Wagons Total
1976 Aspen 61,917 63,936 64,047 189,900
1976 Volare 85,289 85,031 84,688 255,008
Total 1976 US Sales 444,908
1977 Aspen 66,675 87,815 111,522 266,012
1977 Volare 80,346 107,868 139,525 327,739
Total 1977 US Sales 593,751
1978 Aspen 48,311 64,320 53,788 166,419
1978 Volare 61,702 85,365 70,728 217,795
Total 1978 US Sales 384,214
1979 Aspen 34,882 53,386 33,086 121,354
1979 Volare 54,144 80,590 44,085 178,819
Total 1979 US Sales 300,173
1980 Aspen 19,138 35,792 12,388 67,318
1980 Volare 14,453 25,768 16,895 57,116
Total 1980 US Sales 124,434
Grand Total US Sales 1,847,480

A few notes: one, Chrysler production figures are often spotty, so these figures may differ somewhat from others. Two, these figures represent F body production shipped to US dealers for sale to customers. It does not represent the total F body production, which also includes Canadian sales and export sales (export is foreign market and military personnel abroad). For instance, there were a total of 74,818 '78 Volare 2 doors built, or 13,116 more than those sold in the US.

One reason for the sales surge between 1976 and 1977 was that in 1976, the A body was sold alongside the F body. Those who wanted to buy the older design did so, to the tune of some 53,464 Darts/Dart Sports/Swingers and 68,044 Valiants/Scamps/Dusters, for a total of 121,508 A body US sales in 1976.

Sales appear huge for 1977, especially in comparison to 1978's sales. However, one must also remember that beginning in 1978, the F body was joined in the Chrysler line-up by the subcompact, front wheel drive L body Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon. This model undoubtedly stole sales from the F body and is one reason why sales dropped by 200,000 units between 1977 and 1978. In fact, Chrysler sold 70,971 '78 Omnis and 95,817 '78 Horizons in the US, or a total of 166,788 cars. Combining '78 L and F body sales brings Chrysler's total sales volume closer to the 1977 level.

Competition got tougher through the F body's model run as well. The introduction of Ford's successful Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr in 1978 increased the competition, as did two models from GM. GM's midsize cars were shrunk for '77, putting them on a 108 inch wheelbase. The more expensive ones competed with the Diplomat and LeBaron, but the Chevrolet Malibu and Pontiac LeMans fought squarely against the F body. A second squeeze came when GM introduced its front-drive X cars in April, 1979. The Chevrolet Nova was also a competitor, but it changed little from 1975 through the end of its run in 1979, and probably had a smaller effect because it was not a new entry to the market.

Of course, these were the American companies' responses to each other and the times of the day. Foreign companies were getting stronger during the F body's run, chipping away at Chrysler, GM, and Ford alike. At the time, though, the F body (and their GM and Ford competition) were considerably larger than anything from Honda, Datsun (now Nissan), or Toyota.

Links

(Most of the information originally on this page is included in Ed Hennessy's article.)

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