In the USA the Plymouth’s Volare replaced the Valiant in 1976. Introduced in 1960, the
Valiant had had a very long model run proving to be such reliable transport that it was kept
in production for 16 years as good sales continued to be sustained.
The slightly sportier Dodge version was initially named the Lancer, then later the Dart. The
key to its success was the performance of the OHV Slant-Six engine which was available
as either a 2.7-litre version developing 85kW or a more powerful 3.6-litre version. The
engine’s description was derived from the fact that it was mounted in an angled position.
When the Volare was introduced, it was powered either by a detuned version of the 3.6-
litre which developed 75kW as the base model’s power source or one of two V8 OHV
engines of 5.1 or 5.8 litres which were rated at 112 and 127 kW respectively.
Unlike the Valiant, the Volare only survived for a little over two years as it soon developed
a reputation for poor performance together with record-breaking recall notices as body rust
became increasingly evident when cars aged.
All this occurred at a time when petrol was becoming more expensive and Japanese cars
were winning the economy stakes. In spite of these woes 291,919 Volares were sold in
1976 and 382,418 in 1977.
Whilst the Valiant was a very basic car with few frills which provided reliable transport the
Volare had a much more glamorous exterior.
To attract buyers the Volare had a much more distinctive appearance with smarter grille,
vinyl roof, new wheels and whitewall tyres and also featured a new heavy-duty
suspension. This was claimed to give the occupants a more comfortable ride.