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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have never understood why Chrysler reinvented basically the same vehicle in the hundreds of millions in R&D on the Volare /Aspen ? They look almost identical shared the same engines and basically had the same performance and economy . I do lve them both but the Volare/ Aspen almost put Chrysler under. I could see if they developed a much different styed car but they did not . I own a 1977 LeBaron an upscale Volare if you must and love it . But I never could understand the mentality behind the Volare/Aspen design.
 

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I actually liked the Volare/Aspen looks. It was the poor quality that killed them.
 

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They needed to freshen up the look of their cars The Valiant & Dart were starting to look "dated" by the standards of the day, Even though they don't look all that different 40 yrs later
 

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They were NOT basically the same car. The Aspen and Volare had a very different suspension, with transverse torsion bars and much tighter handling and better ride, for one thing. And they had much better fuel economy, with the lockup torque converter starting in 1978. They could get 25-28 mpg highway, whereas Valiant/Dart got no better than about 22 mpg.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
They were NOT basically the same car. The Aspen and Volare had a very different suspension, with transverse torsion bars and much tighter handling and better ride, for one thing. And they had much better fuel economy, with the lockup torque converter starting in 1978. They could get 25-28 mpg highway, whereas Valiant/Dart got no better than about 22 mpg.
The point I was trying to convey was that Chrysler spent millions in R&D but the cars basically looked the same and performed the same. The MPG's you quote are pretty optimistic as I have never gotten anyway near that mileage in a 318LA , you must be referring to the 6 cylinder models. Hey I love them all Dart/Valiant Volare/Aspen and my new baby a 1977 LeBaron . But I still do not understand the similar appearances of the models when they were supposed to be completely new. I was just looking aat both the 4 doors Aspen/ Volare and Valiant /Dart and they at a glance are the same item. Now the 2 doors are different but I personally prefer the Dart / Valiant 2 door to the bloated Aspen /Volare 2 door models. Just an observation I love them all and have owned them all .
 

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It is said on this site that Iacocca thought Aspen/Volare should not have been built. So you are not the only critic. Funny that often when I express a seemingly non-controversial opinion I immediately get a contrarian response. I thought the Volare and Aspen were (hold your breath) ugly. The Valiant and Dart were not ugly. Later stylings, of the basic body such as the LeBaron were fairly attractive autos. I never understood the thinking on the styling of many Chrysler Corp cars of that era (such as Aspen/Volare). So I mostly agree with your post. The transverse torsion bars had advantages but had issues that required more R&D.
 

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Simple answer, the competition had moved on. People were looking for smaller cars because of the energy crisis. The Ford Granada and the Chevrolet Nova (inc its Buick/Pontiac/Olds variants) were attractive offerings (for the day) leaving the Dart/Valiant looking rather Spartan in comparison. The Aspen/Volare was Chrysler's answer. They weren't a bad design but suffered from quality problems. The Roadrunner package with the 360 was one of the few performance highlights of the day. Not going to get screamin' chicken money for them though.
 

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I remember the Motor Trend F-body articles around 1974 on the upcoming Dart/Valiant replacements. The A-bodies had been around long enough and it was time for change.
I think that I kept those issues. The MT artist styling sketches were much different than what we received as the final product. The sketches were of a stunningly beautiful car with nostalgic, yet contemporary themes as opposed to the stodgy, not-too-much-different car that was sent to the dealers in the fall of 1975. It was much more than a refresh, but fell short of the promise.
All car quality from the big-3 was horrible around this time, it wasn't just Chrysler. The FTC did step in when the front fender rust-out happened and some of the 76-77 models had up to 7 recalls. All stupid things that were blamed on suppliers and vendors not following specifications. Also, a lot of little things were overlooked in assembly that later became big things out in the field.
I am glad that they morphed into the M-bodies and continued until 1989. It helped to recover the tooling costs and some of the financial damage done by the early mistakes.
The 4-cylinder L-body Omni/Horizon and the Mitsubishi Colts/Arrows helped us through the gas crunch and we just couldn't get enough of them for awhile there.
 
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While they were different than the Dart/Valiant having driven both I did not see any real advantage of the new front end with the transverse torsion design. In fact there were a lot of issues with it not holding alignment well, esp in police use. CC woukd have done far better leaving the basic proven design alone and updating the styling. Another big problem with them that really turned off owners was the stalling issues with the 6 cyl models.
 

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They were NOT basically the same car. The Aspen and Volare had a very different suspension, with transverse torsion bars and much tighter handling and better ride, for one thing. And they had much better fuel economy, with the lockup torque converter starting in 1978. They could get 25-28 mpg highway, whereas Valiant/Dart got no better than about 22 mpg.
Agreed, Bob.

The only things the F/M/J cars shared with the A bodies were the basic Powertrain/drivetrain combo's. There is a lot of poorly worded info in the Allpar "Diplomat" pages, both retail and police.

Some very good studies of Bob Batchelor's transverse T-bar systems are out there. Pro's and con's seem to average most opinions out. Having owned several retail and fleet M bodies, I've only had minor trouble with one of the cars, an '85 Fury AHB, which was corrected with the shim kits. I also had an '86 AHB Fury that had a replacement k-member (using poly OEM mounts, green with Chrysler part #). A friend once had a couple of early '88's that were so bad, they'd lock up the steering while braking. Those were retail cars, contrary to the claims of the Sanow/Bellah cop car books.

My overall experience with that '86 was that the handling and braking were outstanding, but the ride was very, very stiff. I wish my '13 Hemi Pursuit handled and braked as well, truthfully.

For anyone restoring an F/M/J, I would try an '89 or otherwise straightened/enhanced k-member (Firm Feel) with OEM rubber mounts, the new Firm Feel bars and bushings, and police-equivalent shocks, and to the rear, new 5-leafs, police-equivalent gas shocks, the big Firm Feel bar with solid leaf bushings and iso-clamp eliminator kit. Weld the cowl to fender braces to each contact area. Use a Firm Feel Level 2 steering Chuck, with their bigger tie rod ends, and reinforced lower control arms. I'm not 100% positive, but I think Ford P7B 17" rims with the 235/55/17 Eagles might work for skins.

I'd run a 360 Magnum, keep the EFI, use an ECM from a manual transmission truck. Aeromotive fuel pump in a new fuel tank. 42RH transmission. Run the 2.94 SureGrip or Eaton Trutrac out back.
Alternatively, an '09+ 5.7 Hemi/A580 combo would be entertaining, as well.
For either combo, slide the fuel tank over one notch, and run dual 2.5" with an H-pipe and turn downs out the rear.

Perfect diabolical street cruiser.
 

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The Volare' seemed like it was larger. Also had a nicer interior, sort of upscale. 8 1/4" rear was stronger. 10" brakes / discs. Mileage was so so with a 6 cyl. Not a powerhouse. Dependable. No Corinthian leather, but made up for it with the "wood grain siding"!!!!!
 

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One of the widely mentioned reasons for the replacement of the A body was a reduction in NVH. The B and C bodies has moved from the old designs to a new isolated design. For the B body this occurred in 1973 and included a rubber isolated front subframe and rubber isolators added to the rear leaf springs. Instead of adding isolators to the A body, the F body replaced it and the F body was an isolated design.

Compacts were starting to move upscale slightly and the F body gave birth to the more upscale, but mostly dimensionally similar, M body.
 
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One of the widely mentioned reasons for the replacement of the A body was a reduction in NVH. The B and C bodies has moved from the old designs to a new isolated design. For the B body this occurred in 1973 and included a rubber isolated front subframe and rubber isolators added to the rear leaf springs. Instead of adding isolators to the A body, the F body replaced it and the F body was an isolated design.

Compacts were starting to move upscale slightly and the F body gave birth to the more upscale, but mostly dimensionally similar, M body.
The later (post -'81) M's were very well-built. Plenty of space, quiet. I had an A38 St Regis an a '77 Fury that we're both far noisier and "rattly" than any M I've owned.
 

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I had a 1974 Dodge Dart Sport and a 1978 Plymouth Volare with the "Fun Runner" package and 2bbl Slant Six and the Volare was the better car hands down in all categories. Highway mileage was awesome with the lock-up torque converter,more interior room, better performance, quieter etc.
1978 Plymouth Volare.jpg
1974 Dodge Dart Sport.jpg
 

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The stodgy styling was the “formal look” that was incredibly popular on the Cordoba and was also well received by the buying public until the quality problems become known.

Yes, I agree that the Volare was a far nicer car to drive than the Valiant, when slant six equipped; the Super Six was far more responsive and the ride was nicer and quieter, and the driver-oriented dashboard was a huge step up. The larger trunk in teh sedan was good and the aerodynamics were far superior for lower wind noise and probably better mileage.

The only things the F/M/J cars shared with the A bodies were the basic Powertrain/drivetrain combo's. There is a lot of poorly worded info in the Allpar "Diplomat" pages, both retail and police.
And you’ll point out specifics?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
All I really was questioning is instead of all this new research and Technology spent and producing a near in looks and performance similar products is that could Chrysler have just rebent the metal onto the old platform and came out ahead financially and reputation wise. I love them all Dodge Dart, Aspen , Plymouth Valiant , Volare , and the upscale Diplomat , LeBarons Great durable rides to this day .
 

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All I really was questioning is instead of all this new research and Technology spent and producing a near in looks and performance similar products is that could Chrysler have just rebent the metal onto the old platform and came out ahead financially and reputation wise. I love them all Dodge Dart, Aspen , Plymouth Valiant , Volare , and the upscale Diplomat , LeBarons Great durable rides to this day .
I don't agree with that assessment. I drove both generations of cars, owned a Dart, my dad owned an Aspen. World of difference in refinement. I don't believe reshaping the sheet metal would have kept sales going on Dart and Valiant. And fuel economy definitely improved with Volare and Aspen. They sold very well. Aspen is what converted my dad from a confirmed GM owner to Chrysler.
 

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I suppose they could have done to the A body what they did to the B body (added the isolated suspension). That brought refinement and a few more years of life to the B platform.

But I agree, having had some of each, the A body was crude compared to the F body. And the F body formed the base for the M and J body cars. I think their investment in the F body paid off when you consider that basic platform lasted until 1989.
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I don't agree with that assessment. I drove both generations of cars, owned a Dart, my dad owned an Aspen. World of difference in refinement. I don't believe reshaping the sheet metal would have kept sales going on Dart and Valiant. And fuel economy definitely improved with Volare and Aspen. They sold very well. Aspen is what converted my dad from a confirmed GM owner to Chrysler.
I do not think you understand my assessment which was cost and product related. If you were like most automobile customers , unless you were a previous Chrysler customer you would not know the difference in performance or the handling of either vehicles . But most would recognize at first glance very similarities in style of the vehicle. Which brings me back to the point of my post which was to just place the newer stying on the old platform with minor ride modifications . Great riding cars though I took my 77 Lebaron out for a spin this afternoon.
 
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