M y father purchased the Volaré new at a dealership in Melbourne, Florida, Gator Chrysler-Plymouth, in August 1977. The sporty two-door is definitely a so-called "Florida car". Dad passed away in 1992 and the car became mine. I did my best to maintain it while it remained at the house down there. I live in New York City. In 2010 I arranged for a "chrome-off" paint job at a local shop, Body's by Doug. In 2015 I sold the house in Florida and took the car north. I garage it presently in Westwood, New Jersey. As of summer 2016, the Volaré still looks great. It's fun to drive and reasonably nimble in Metro New York traffic. Getting noticed wherever I take it, it's is a great conversation starter. Everybody seems to remember their family Volaré -- with the indestructible Slant Six engine. I'm not sure that is true for Chrysler's other F Body car, the Dodge Aspen. Both brands endured a lot of negative press. But I believe Chrysler's Volaré brand, associated with that feel-good popular song of the time, benefits from the subliminal empathy conjured by the song. The original Italian lyric, translating well into English, is very imaginative and poetic.
In July, 2016, I had some pinstripe art done by Edison, New Jersey, artist, Glen Weisgerber. He came up with actual musical notation from the namesake Domenico Modugno song (co-authored by Franco Migliacci), Volare. Glen's design is repeated above each of three Volaré badges on the body, one on each front quarter, and one on the deck lid. I watched amazed with his skill as he handpainted, in perfect parallel lines, the three stylized staffs with notes.
The Slant Six is usually on lists of best engines ever produced by American car companys. That seems to put me on the spot for preserving the one in my car! Production of the engine for use in cars stopped around 1983. But at a recent car show, the owner of a new Dodge Hellcat, was one of a few participants to stop and spend some time with me chatting about the engine. And, for articles I wrote on allpar.com, I interviewed a few Chrysler personnel who took part in engineering and development of the Slant Six: Tom Hoover, Pete Hagenbuch and Pete McNichol. McNichol, "Mr. Slant Six", raced a Slant Six-powered Willys in the Sixties. I respect the legacy of these gentlemen as represented in the famous "Leaning Tower of Power".
However seems like the maintain apparently Imy Slant Six has been for years using too much oil. A New England-to-Florida round trip in 2011 covered about 5500 miles and took 18 quarts of oil. A 1400-mile round trip to Auburn Hills, Michigan, for the annual Chrysler Employees Motorsports Assoc. show in June, 2016, took four quarts. Compression is low in two cylinders, and uneven across all six cylinders. Mileage on the odometer when my father passed away in 1992 was about 22,000 miles; presently it is approaching 57,000 miles. Suggestions about the cause of the oil problem have included combustion gas blow-by caused by worn cylinder walls or bad valve guides or both. That has the effect of diluting crankcase oil. There doesn't appear to be any of the typical signs of excessive oil consumption, like smokey exhaust gas, sooty tail pipe residue, leaking, and fouled spark plugs, pcv valve, or air filter. The fault may be related to my father's and my driving habits. He used the car for around-town driving and seldom had the car out on Interstate 95, and so it may not have broken in correctly. I used it only on two or three short vacation stays each year in Florida, where the car was parked, covered, in a carport partially open to weather. Click on the Walter P. Museum image above to see a set of pictures taken in 2014. I hope the engine rebuild will bring the car's performance up to the level of its appearance.
The rebuild is planned for November 2016 at a shop in Nyack, New York, Olsen Engines. Thirty-year racing and engine building pro, Charlie Olsen, will do the machine work. A brother, Ed, runs an adjoining automotive shop, will pull and reinstall the engine. Charlie and Ed specialize in work on high end cars, of which there are a many traveling north Jersey and Nyack roads and highways. So I know they are looking forward to getting their hands on my Slant Six! As of October 1st, that is tentatively scheduled to happen in early November. Besides identifying reasons for the excessive oil consumption and irregular compression, the build will involve some modifications that should improve performance. Boring, balancing; milling to increase compression ratio, balancing, porting, and grinding of crankshaft and cam; and some ignition modifcations recommended by Dan Stern, Slant Six guru of the website, SlantSix.org.
What's not to like about a spiffy Seventies car with a "sleeper" street engine?