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Creating and Naming the Plymouth Volare: the development story

by Burton Bouwkamp, Chrysler Corporation Product Planner

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.

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There would continue to be two door Valiants, Darts, Belvedere-Roadrunners, and Coronet-Chargers, because they were attractive to young buyers.

This was initially approved by Sales Management, but as the designs were evolving, they got cold feet and said they had to have counterpoints to Chevrolet and Ford - that is, 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 cars - and the Coronet and Belvedere four door models continued.

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.

During product development, the in-house code names for the "F" Body vehicles were Aspen (Dodge) and Vail (Plymouth). We had to call them something, so we called them Aspen and Vail; we, the product planners, just picked the names out of the air.

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Len Piconke (Director of Marketing) and I (Director of Product Planning) kept Dodge Aspen. My recommendation for the Plymouth was either Cygnate or Signet.

Our boss, George Butts, approved our proposal and arranged for a meeting with R. K. Brown (Executive VP of Sales) for his approval.

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). 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, our international product planner. George couldn't stop talking about the disastrous meeting. 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 'to fly'."

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!)

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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. They had the whole ad in their mind, so it became Volare - not Signet.

We registered the Volare name and it was ours.

I thought about that a lot afterwards. The high-line Valiant was called the Signet, so to R.J., "Signet" was old.

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."

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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) cars

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