This wouldn’t have happened in the late ’80s, that’s for sure. J.D. Power’s 2018 Initial Quality rankings, amassed from problems reported by owners over the first 90 days of vehicle ownership, shows the area south of the 38th parallel as the Land of Least Annoyance. The fresh-faced, fledgling Genesis brand took the top spot in this year’s rankings with 68 problems reported per 100 vehicles, followed by Kia in second place (72 problems) and Hyundai in third (74 problems). You might say Hyundai (Motor Group) excelled. Porsche and Ford rounded out the top five brands in the 2018 study, with 79 and 81 problems per 100 vehicles, respectively. In terms of overall year-over-year improvement, Mazda recorded the greatest rise up the initial quality chart, with 25 fewer problems per 100 vehicles. Cadillac, Infiniti, and Mitsubishi also earn mentions for overall brand improvement. In a sign that automakers aren’t taking consumers for granted, this year’s … [Read more...] about Korea Takes Top Three Spots in Initial Quality Study: J.D. Power
I was asking my fellow Jalopnik writers for some Meh car suggestions, when I heard a rapping on the plexiglass of my work-pod. David’s pod was next to mine, and I saw him press a scrap of paper against the plexi, soggy from the nutrient-broth sprays, that read “ASPEN.” I was confused, because I was thinking Dodge Aspen, which is pretty terrible but hardly Meh. I turned in my head restraint to gave him a confused look, which he must have understood, because he made the universal three-thumb hand gesture for CHRYSLER. Now it all made sense. Yes, the Chrysler Aspen. A vehicle I had completely forgotten existed because, really, it barely existed at all. The Chrysler Aspen was only built for two years, between 2007 and 2009, at which point an almost universal lack of interest convinced Chrysler to stop even trying with this thing, already. Just to reiterate, this is absolutely not a Dodge Aspen, which was the badge-engineered sibling to the Plymouth Volaré. These … [Read more...] about Meh Car Monday: I Bet You Totally Forgot About The Chrysler Aspen
A remarkable collection of classic Dodge, Plymouth, and other vehicles are being auctioned off this weekend in South Dakota. The vehicles were all owned by enthusiast Alan Rietz who died last year. His family has decided to sell of the collection and with the help of VanDerBrink Auctions, will offload the vehicles to fellow muscle car enthusiasts. The selection of vehicles are widely varied and range from rusted Plymouths without engines to running cars that simply need a new lease on life. One of our standouts is a 1979 Dodge Aspen Drag Car with a massive V8 engine, exceptionally wide drag tires from Goodyear, a stripped-out interior, and even a NOS bottle in the rear. Another vehicle that’s sure to attract interest from muscle car fans is a numbers-matching 1970 Dodge Super Bee 440 6-pack painted bright orange. While it requires a little tender, love and care to be restored to its former glory, it retains those killer looks that made cars from the 70’s so appealing to so … [Read more...] about Farm Find: Dozens Of Classics Dodges, Plymouths, And Others Headline Auction
Last month, I yielded to the inevitable and bought myself another open-deck car-hauling trailer to replace the 18-foot steel-deck one that was stolen from my race shop about ten years ago. The place I bought it, Rock's Trailer Sales in Columbus, Ohio, has been supporting SCCA autocross and club-racing efforts since around the time I was born. Their sponsorship and participation in motorsport is so pervasive that I recently saw a Montreal-based pro-racing team hauler with a Rock's sticker on the back bumper. Advertisement - Continue Reading Below While I was waiting for the salespeople to finish my paperwork, I walked through their shop and looked at the dozens of framed photos commemorating various racing efforts over the years. Most of the photos were taken at Mid-Ohio, often from the same angles, and it's fascinating to see the gradual changes in everything from camera quality to flagger positioning. There was just one little thing about the overall display that bothered me, and it … [Read more...] about We Are Running Out of Cars for Club Racing and Autocrossing
We had a 1970s movie-car QOTD last week, and that was so much fun we’re doing it again! So, here we go: in the beginning of Smokey and the Bandit, when Big Enos challenges The Bandit to fetch 400 cases of that Colorado Kool-Aid, a wad of cash of unspecified thickness gets handed over for expenses, including a “speedy car.” As we all know, The Bandit headed straight to the nearest Pontiac showroom and bought himself a brand-new 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. In the film, that car seemed to be the fastest imaginable motor vehicle (thanks to the magic of engine swaps, stunt drivers, and special effects). In reality, however, the ’77 Trans Am was kind of a bloated Malaise Era slug, and The Bandit probably had a lot of better escape-the-smokeys car choices available. So, in his shoes and with a ’77 Trans Am-sized stack of C-notes, what car would you have bought for that run to Texarkana and back? Now, the list price of a 1977 Firebird Trans Am was $5,456, but … [Read more...] about QOTD: You’re the Bandit. Do You Buy a Trans Am or Something Else?
A-Body Plymouth Valiant (and its Dodge sibling, the Dart), stayed in American production from the 1960 model year all the way through 1976. Legendary for its sturdiness, the Valiant was sure to be a tough act to follow. The Plymouth Volarés and Dodge Aspens appeared in 1976, never gained the affection given to their predecessors, and were facelifted and renamed the Gran Fury and Diplomat in 1981. Here’s a luxed-up first-year Volaré I spotted in a Northern California self-service yard. Slant-6 engine, rated at an even 100 horses in 1976, but some junkyard shopper purchased it by the time I got there. You could get a 180-horsepower 360 V8 in the 1976 Volaré, but not in California, where the 150 horsepower 318 was the most powerful Volaré engine. cashmere-like cloth-and-vinyl” seat upholstery in 1976, but this one has the all-vinyl buckets. Volaré Premier Coupe. The Premier with Slant-6 started at $4,402, versus $3,324 for the regular Volaré … [Read more...] about Junkyard Find: 1976 Plymouth Volaré Coupe
Mopar fans are among the most steadfast automotive enthusiasts in history. Their ability to openly express their love for post-war luxury, classic muscle, and turbocharged compacts from the 1980s remains unrivaled. While an advocate for General Motors or Ford can certainly appreciate disparate models within their chosen nameplate, Mopar enthusiasts frequently push the envelope of sanity — at least, that’s the stigma. If you’re unfamiliar with the stereotype, log into any car forum and write that you’re considering swapping an LS motor into a Plymouth, Dodge, or Chrysler. Congratulations, you just made a dozen new enemies. On the flip side of that coin, owning a vintage Mopar can win you a lot of respect within the community. While not equal in terms of prestige, owning a Dodge Aspen wagon will still net you loads of brownie points with anyone driving a Coronet Super Bee Six Pack or Omni GLH-S. Hell, at this stage in the game you might even … [Read more...] about Dodge Offers the Ultimate Two-for-one Deal With Demon/Viper Auction
We’ve already seen this happen. A manufacturer discontinues a model, but can’t help but feel the nameplate deserved a longer life. So, it keeps it around, waiting to affix it to the exterior of a new model — even if it’s in a different segment than before. Even if it’s a different bodystyle. Yes, we remember the old Chrysler Pacifica crossover. We also remember when the Aspen was a sedan with rust-prone fenders. Hey, how ’bout that Taurus X? Mitsubishi recently got in on the name game with its Eclipse Cross crossover. Why not grab a handful of a defunct model’s hard-earned cachet and sprinkle it over something new and altogether different? It’s an automaker’s prerogative, but our eyes couldn’t have rolled back further into our heads when we heard the news. Yes, one day we’ll all be driving crossovers (or trucks, but nothing else), but really? Eclipse? Clearly, automakers are willing to make this controversial … [Read more...] about QOTD: Drop the Body, Save the Name?
The Dodge Aspen ‘Street Kit’ (and its sibling, the Plymouth Volare) was Dodge’s effort at implying high-speed prowess in dealer showrooms back in 1978. Their compact car at the time, the Aspen replaced the aging Dart, and the highest performance model available at the time was powered by MoPar’s 360 ci small block V8 with a then-massive 175 smog-choked horsepower. The Street Kit was nothing more than body modifications, including a front lip, an adjustable rear spoiler, tack-on fender flares for all four wheels, quarter window louvers, faux hood pins, and NASCAR-style window safety keepers. Then came the billboard-sized Petty 43s for each side, and the displacement screaming hood decals. The kit provided absolutely zero performance benefit, save a slightly stiffer ride, for Aspen and Volare buyers. It sure looked damn cool, though! Only 247 Volare Street Kit Cars were sold, all in two-tone blue. Even more rare, the two-tone red Dodge Aspen Street Kit Car was … [Read more...] about This Late-70s Dodge Has The NASCAR Look With None Of The Performance
After 37 years with its original owner, the last car ever produced at the historic Dodge Main assembly plant—the famed Hamtramck facility where countless Mopar muscle cars were born—has a new steward.Jeff Cross of Indiana purchased the TA3 Silver Metallic 1980 Aspen R/T at the end of 2017 from Michigan’s Bob Nellis. He plans to gift it to his father, David.The plant opened in 1911, when brothers John and Horace Dodge were supplying sub-assemblies to Henry Ford for the Model T. It would quickly grow to employ more than 20,000 in the 1920s and up to 35,000 during the war years. It was one of the most productive plants in the industry, capable of producing more than half a million cars per year.Nevertheless, employment began a continual slide in the 1950s as manufacturers, including Chrysler, headed to the wide-open spaces beyond the city to build sprawling single-story plants. The traditional, multistory Dodge Main facility became obsolete, and the end was announced in … [Read more...] about Last Dodge Made at Hamtramck Gets New Home