1980 Dodge Aspen
|Season||The Boulder Roadtrip|
|Air Date||August 25, 2014|
Aspen and Volaré were introduced in 1975, but they should have been delayed a full six months. The company was hungry for cash, and this time Chrysler didn't honor the normal cycle of designing, testing, and building an automobile. The customers who bought Aspens and Volarés in 1975 were actually acting as Chrysler's development engineers. When these cars first came out, they were still in the development phase.
“Looking back over the past twenty years or so, I can't think of any cars that cased more disappointment among customers than the Aspen and the Volaré. … But the Aspen and the Volaré simply weren't well-made. The engines would stall when you stepped on the gas. The brakes would fail. The hoods would fly open. Customers complained, and more than three and a half million cars were brought back to the dealers for free repairs – free to the customer, that is. Chrysler had to foot the bill.” ---Lee Iacocca, Iacocca: An Autobiography (pg. 160)
[AUDIO FADE IN, MR. REGULAR, INTERSPERSED WITH LIVE SOUND:] This is a 1980 Dodge Aspen. *Aspen bottoms out on curb* [MR. REGULAR, LIVE:] Ohh! --- INTRO SONG, THE ROMAN (please find original tune!) Take a bullet for you, girl, as long as I don’t die, Wear a silly costume, as long as it looks fly, Because you mean the world to me, I’ll give you the sun, the stars, the deep, But I’ll never let you drive my Dodge Aspen car, I just don’t love you enough, and that’s a bridge too far. --- MONOLOGUE by MR. REGULAR If you want to understand why Chrysler is no longer the innovative company it once was in the 1990s, all you have to do is look at the Dodge Aspen. The mistakes Chrysler is making right now are the exact same ones they were making in the late 1970s and very early 1980s. Alright, right--this may say 1980 on the VIN plate, right, but this is clearly a mid-'70s design. The wood trim; the acres of BROWN; the square analogue speedometer; that rotten, embarrassing, sadistic, Slant Six engine that makes--who cares, it makes eighty horsepower for all we know. Not since the Plymouth Prowler has a combination of so many automotive parts let so many people down. When the Aspen was new in 1976, you could get it with a 5.9 liter V8, but then that went away. And this Slant Six engine peaks at around 3600 RPM. Don’t worry, we’re going to come back to this engine in a bit. Alongside its twin, the… [TEXT: Plymouth Volaré] Plymouth Vol…Vol…this is one of these names that no matter how you pronounce it, someone’s going to tell you you’re doing it wrong. [TEXT: Volaré] Volare. I’ll stick with that. …The Aspen failed. This almost bankrupted Chrysler. It failed hard, it failed completely. In its own time, it was a bomb not seen since the Manhattan Project. This thing failed hard since Smith & Wesson mountain bikes, Life Savers soda, Coors Rocky Mountain Spring Water, Sony Betamax, the XFL. It failed harder than the presidency of William Henry Harrison. Or the first assassination attempt on Archduke Franz Ferdinand, a man whom fate demanded to be killed. [TEXT: Seriously, it's a crazy-ass story.] Its status as a recall nightmare was due to early body rust and some generally poor construction under the hood. The recalls were for everything from emission control systems to seatbelt retractors. However, the Aspen was still touted as the family car of the future, with its big comfort and its relatively low cost. One of the things the Aspen can do is seat six people. This is one thing thanks to safety regulations we will never see again – bench seats in the front and the back. The Aspen also had front suspension with torsion bars situated crosswise instead of lengthwise. The transverse bars made for better suspension isolation which meant a smoother, better, less COLON-RUPTURING RIDE. An FM stereo was an option! This car has an AM radio, and that’s it! Now with most engines, you have your intakes on one side--or your intake runners depending, on what you want to call it – your intake runners on one side, and your exhaust headers on the other side. But the slant-six in the Dodge Aspen has intake and exhaust on the same side of the cylinder. It alternates, kinda--intake, exhaust, intake, exhaust, intake, exhaust. What does that mean? Well, that means when your air’s coming into the cylinder, it gets nice and hot from the exhaust that comes out right next to it, and the last thing you want is hot intake air. Oh, real fart! *Mr. Regular farts* And if that’s not enough, the car’s carbureted because of course it's carbureted. Now they could have put the carburetor anywhere, they could have put it on the other side of the engine bay, but no, “I’ve got an idea: let’s put the carburetor right on top of the exhaust headers!” What does that mean? Well, if your carburetor gets nice and hot, you get this thing called "vapor Lock," which doesn’t happen anymore. --- LIVE RECORDING [FRANK:] Now here’s the fun part, you’ll like this. [MR. REGULAR:] What? [FRANK:] Since it's a Slant Six, the carb is basically on the exhaust. [MR. REGULAR:] Oh, so it's warm? (FRANK:] When it's warm, it vapor locks--you’ve got to floor it, and crank, crank, crank, crank, crank, crank, and when it starts up, you’ve got to do half-throttle. [MR. REGULAR LAUGHS, SLIGHTLY DISTORTED] [FRANK:] And hold it. --- MONOLOGUE by MR. REGULAR But the root of the Aspen’s problems laid not with the car, but with the think toilet what created it. It was a group of self-congratulatory men who sat around with their slacks around their ankles measuring each other’s dicks with rulers that had inch markers just a little bit too close together. And they nodded to each other, and then looked to the public with garbage smiles and said, “It gets great gas mileage!” [TEXT: 20mpg highway] In commercials, they got Rex Harrison--Rex Harrison, who was nominated an Academy Award in 1963 for playing an English Julius Caesar in ''Cleopatra'', and won the Academy Award for Best Actor the following year in ''My Fair Lady''. He did a commercial for the Dodge Aspen where he turned up the British to 2.8. S.F.U. [TEXT: 2.8 S.F.U. – Stephen Fry Units.] This is the lowest low point of Chrysler. This is the official car of asbestos and unfiltered cigarettes. The Dodge Aspen is for a man who’s seen some things, and he sips Boilo while coasting along Route 78 while on a desperate journey to forget. The Aspen is a motorised Merv Griffin special that runs off of 87 and HOOKER SPIT. --- LIVE, THE VOICE [MR. REGULAR grunts loudly on the toilet] [MR. REGULAR:] OHH, THE WORLD MUST KNOW, THE WORLD MUST BLOW! (while searching through censored phone contacts) OHH, WHO’S ON HERE? WHORES? GEORGE! PATRICK GEORGE. (phone rings, then cuts away to Patrick George’s office, where his phone is ringing. The text, ‘Patrick George – Senior writer for Jalopnik appears on screen.) [PATRICK GEORGE:] Jalopnik. [MR. REGULAR:] (cutting randomly) EVERY TIME I POOP, A PLANE TAKES OFF, AND MAKE BEELINE FOR THE BROWN, AND I TAKE YOU TO KUTZTOWN! HERE WE GO, I’M ROUNDING THE CORNER, AT TALLADEGA, MY POOP IS GOING ON A WATER SLIDE! (indecipherable) THAT WAS A REAL FART, AND THIS IS A REAL CALL – I’M GONNA STA(?) COME TO NEW YORK CITY, AND I’M GONNA MAKE YOU FEEL PRETTY! GILLETTE IS THE RAZOR THAT I’M HOLDING IN FRONT OF ME, SOMETIMES IT CIRCLES AROUND MY PENIS! (Patrick George resumes typing) --- MONOLOGUE by MR. REGULAR And yet, I cannot help but offer this counterpoint: it's aged well. It's so horrible, it starts to come around again. It's like an old, beat-up turntable that for some reason you prefer to use over some modern unit. The owner of this car bought it from Florida and brought it here to Pittsburgh, and it fits in with this city so well. He’s going to swap out the engine at some point, sure, but parked up next to modern economy cars, the Dodge Aspen looks dignified. Because it's not trying to be fast. It's not attempting to be revolutionary. It's like watching old footage of a football team during a rebuilding year – it's nowhere near as painful twenty years on. The Dodge Aspen makes arriving a victory, and I’ve never driven a car that was so much fun at 15 miles an hour. --- LIVE RECORDING [MR. REGULAR:] Man…I mean this thing, if we had this when we were lost downtown, otherwise, no big deal. Just this one finger steering…look at that, lalalalalalalalalalala. [FRANK:] You were as isolated as you could be… [MR. REGULAR:] Yeah. [FRANK:] …while still driving it. [MR. REGULAR:] Oh, can we just do one more lap of this? [FRANK:] Absolutely. [MR. REGULAR:] Ohh. --- MONOLOGUE by MR. REGULAR So if you’re listening, anybody from Chrysler: What I see happening right now was the exact same thing you were doing in the late 1970s. And you can make all the references to the Grumman fighter from World War Two that you want, but you don’t have really good small cars. Yes, you have the Dart. [TEXT: Of all the names to bring back…] We’ve said it before, and here it comes again, and I know this is proselytizing, and Iacocca said it himself to Charlie Rose, but if Chrysler wants to come back, if we want you to take you seriously again, you have to start making small cars that Americans want to buy. Because all the heritage and nostalgia in the world doesn’t mean a thing if the value of my car belly-flops the second I pull out the lot. --- OUTRO SONG by THE ROMAN [Parody of "Angie" by The Rolling Stones] We were just regular blokes, trying to tell regular jokes, But this car, it touched our hearts. The Aspen, Aspen…well at least you’re not a Dart… --- *Aspen bottoms out, but from different angle* [MR REGULAR, LIVE:] Ohh!