Review by Greg McCausey
Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare: An Automotive Car Story is a self-published book printed through Lulu. It chronicles the history of two of Mopar's most famous (or infamous) cars from the '70s – the Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare.
As a writer of two self-published books, I have a soft spot for self-publications. Self-published authors usually write about subjects that no one else will touch. They know that they are not going to sell a ton of copies or make boatloads of money. These authors write for no other reason than for the love of the subject.
Tony Dzik's attraction for these cars is readily apparent. The book even mentions he is the current owner of three F-bodies (several pictures of him with his Plymouth are in the book). Like my book about the Dodge Daytona and Chrysler Laser, the Aspen and Volare have a dedicated group of hardcore followers, and yet will never get any respect from the outside automotive community.
The Aspen and Volare do have an interesting story to tell, and I am glad that somebody has finally chosen to chronicle it.
The Aspen/Volare book is a quick read at 89 pages, although the author does pack a lot of information into those paragraphs. He writes in an easy-reading style, with no misspelled words and no mangled sentences. There are full-color photographs dispersed throughout the book, with most of them appearing to be press photos or brochure pictures. He did have several photos of the original clay mock-up models, which I had never seen before.
A casual F-body fan will find lots of new information on the Aspen and Volare, although diehard F-body fans most likely already know the it all. The text is made up of quick paragraphs giving technical and model specific information. The information appeared to be accurate. I am no expert on the history of the F-bodies, but I saw no glaring errors. The book includes a chapter on the fleet service F-bodies (i.e., taxicab and police cars).
There is also a chapter devoted to photographs of current survivor and race cars, including some interesting foreign Volares. There are numerous tables throughout providing a huge amount of information for every model year. The tables include full production figures, pricing information, trim levels, standard features, and color availability.
You can always find some things to quibble about with any book, and this book is no exception. A history and description of the legendary Slant Six and 318 V8 engines would have been nice. A more in-depth analysis of the new-for-1977 lean-burn system would also have been a great addition, especially in regards to the problems associated with it.
In chapter five, he mentions a "Fun Runner" package for the cars, without any description as to what that was. I would have loved to have seen more photos of current survivor and restored cars (you can never have too many car photos), especially in the chapters where they are originally described. For example, his chapter on the 1976 model year talks about the new Aspen R/T and Volare Road Runner packages, but there are no photos of either car included in that chapter.
It also would have been great to have read about Dzik's personal impressions of the F-bodies. He is probably as much of an expert on these cars as anybody, being the current owner of three of them. I would have been very interested in reading about his impressions of the cars. What does he think of their performance and handling? Does he think they have a quiet ride? What is his personal experience of their build quality and reliability? I got the impression from reading this book that Dzik has a passion for what he is writing about. His personal experiences would have been an interesting read.
At $33.97, Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare: An Automotive Car Story is a bit pricey, but this is entirely due to the self-published nature of the book. Having a full-color interior increases the printing price substantially.
So is the book worth getting? If you are a fan of the Volare and Aspen, then I would recommend getting it. Let's face it, it is the only game in town and probably always will be. The clay model photographs are a great find. Having the production figures and specification tables all in one handy reference is also a nice plus.
The most economical place to purchase the book is at Lulu (the website will also charge for shipping and sales tax). It is available on Amazon, but the price there was $55 when we last checked it.
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