. . . BECAUSE IT'S A NICE CAR!
M y father purchased the Volaré new at Gator Chrysler-Plymouth, Melbourne, Florida, in August 1977. He passed away in 1992 and the car, with about 22K miles on the odometer, became mine. I kept it at the house in Florida until that got sold in 2015. Then I brought the car north. It remained in good shape over the years, but in 2010 I had a "chrome-off" paint job done at a Melbourne shop, Body's by Doug. It did wonders! Click on the Walter P. Chrysler Museum image to see a set of pictures taken in 2014. Presently the car is ga-raged in Westwood, New Jersey. Read a brief review on this page by Dave Zatz, allpar.com webmaster, after he takes the Volaré for a short spin.
Fun to drive and nimble enough in Metro New York traffic, the car is a great conversation starter wherever I take it. Many people remember their family's Volaré -- with the indestructible Slant Six engine! Both it and its Mopar sister car, the Dodge Aspen, endured a lot of negative press. But the cars improved in 1977, and the Volaré brand at least benefits from the sentiment in its feel-good namesake song that goes back to the 1950s. The original Italian lyric, translated in English, is imaginative and poetic.
In July, 2016, I had some pinstripe art done on the car by Edison, New Jersey, artist, Glen Weisgerber (dba Glen Designs). He came up with a by-hand rendering off the published sheetmusic of the namesake Domenico Modugno song (co-authored by Franco Migliacci). Glen's art is repeated above each of three Volaré badges on the body, two on the front quarters, and one on the deck lid. The notation usually raises a smile when it's noticed and photographed at car shows, or by passengers in other cars on the road.
The famous Mopar Slant Six is often listed among best American engines. Production for use in cars stopped in North America around 1983. At a car show in 2016, the owner of a new Dodge Hellcat, was one of a few participants to stop and spend some time chatting about the Six. For articles I wrote on allpar.com, I had interviewed some Chrysler personnel who took part in the engine's development: Tom Hoover, Pete Hagenbuch and Pete McNichol. Ever since I have felt a connection to their legacy.
But my engine used a lot of oil. On a Florida-to-New England trip in 2011, covering about 5500 miles, I had to add 18 quarts. A 1400-mile round trip to Auburn Hills, Michigan, for the annual Chrysler Employees Motorsports Assoc. show in June, 2016, took four quarts. Compression was low in two cylinders, and uneven across all six cylinders. Suggestions about the cause of the oil problem included worn cylinder walls or bad valve guides, or both. Although there weren't signs like smokey exhaust, sooty tail pipe residue, leaks, or fouled plugs, pcv valve, or air filter, I decided the rebuild was needed if I wanted to enjoy the car without having to add a quart of oil at every fuel fill-up! I wanted to bring up its performance to the level of its appearance. Click on the Walter P. Museum image above to see a set of pictures taken in 2014.
The fault may be related to my father's and my driving habits. He used the car for short trips around town. I used it only on holiday or vacation stays at the house, where it was parked, covered, in a carport partially open to weather.
The rebuild began Nov. 1, 2016, at Olsen Engines, a shop in Nyack, New York. It included boring, balancing; milling, porting, grinding of crankshaft and cam, and much else. Thirty-year racing and engine building pro, Charlie Olsen, did the machine work. A brother, Ed, runs an independent automotive services shop next door. He pulled and reinstalled the engine. Charlie and Ed are known in their area for quality workmanship. Many of their customers bring in high end cars. My car was back on the road in March, but with some rough running and tuning issues requiring considerable troubleshooting and follow-up. However, by Sept. 2017 mileage topped 61K miles, fuel consumption on the highway was 20+ mpg, and I hadn't had to add a drop of oil!
Dave Zatz, webmaster and editor of allpar.com, takes a ride in the Volaré and offers some comments"
"I own a 1974 Plymouth Valiant, which is my second Valiant and third A-body. Driving Gene Yetter's 57,000-mile Plymouth Volaré was a surprise and revelation. I knew the interior was far nicer, with optional velour seats and a dashboard oriented towards the driver; but I didn't know how smooth and comfortable the ride could be. I'd driven police Diplomats, which have a similar suspension, but they're tuned for handling, not comfort.
"On the road, the two-barrel slant six is a major improvement over the single-barrel, though nowhere near the power of the V8s. The Volaré hood is higher and more curved, and the ride reminded me more of my B-body 1977 Fury than my own Valiant. I didn't put it through its paces -- it's not my car -- but I got the idea that the high comfort came at some cost in handling. This particular car had a bit of play in the suspension. Still, wind noise seemed much lower than in my Valiant, and overall, the Volaré was every bit the leap forward that the magazines said it was, back around 1976 when the F-bodies were introduced to the car-buying public."
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