The Plymouth Volare and Dodge Aspen get little or no love here (except here – ED), receiving Chrysler Deadly Sin #1 status from the brain trust and much of the commentariat. Nevertheless, in keeping with the spirit of the site, in which humble cars found in the street get their story told, I present here a series of images of a Volare found silhouetted against the Manhattan skyline with the Empire State Building behind it. It may be the Volare’s most glamorous moment since Sergio Franchi sang about it in this 1976 Volare commercial.
From another angle, Freedom Tower, proper name One World Trade Center — a symbol of American resilience — rises in the background. It rose from the ruins of the World Trade Center to make it again the site of America’s tallest building, a place for memorials, and again a living part of the city. In a much smaller way, this Volare is a symbol of resilience. Of a model despised since new, rusty, missing its hubcaps, and generally neglected, it is still standing and on the road.
With the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center, and the World War II aircraft carrier USS Intrepid all visible from its parking spot atop the Palisades in Weehawken, New Jersey, you would think that this Volare could not be surrounded by more symbols of America. You would be wrong, because of the site visible in the background of this photograph. Near the American flag at the left, where the two separate lines of shrubbery meet, there is a bust of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father from New York who served as George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Revolutionary War, led the drafting, ratification and interpretation of the Constitution, served as the first Secretary of the Treasury, and founded the first American political party. The bust marks the spot where Hamilton died in his famous duel with Aaron Burr in 1804.
On one hand, this car is a reminder of the worst era for American automobiles. The rear fenders that are riddled with rust holes, the misaligned chrome trim, and especially the trail of leaked gas from the exposed gas cap (a common sight in the 1970s, now never seen) are images that remind me of the bad cars that roamed the streets during the darkest years of the Malaise Era. On the other hand, I find it impossible to dislike this car. It has survived for at least 35 years in an environment with stop and go driving and considerable road salt, overcoming the conditions, time, and its limitations as a Volare/Aspen. A 1989 Plymouth Acclaim or Camcord surviving to park in the same spot in 2024 will be somewhat impressive, but not nearly as much.