Everything old is new again
October 2, 2006
The same company that gave us the Dodge Aspen in the 1970s recently unveiled the 2007 Chrysler Aspen, an eight-passenger SUV now appearing on car lots nationwide.The two cars share more than just a name. Both vehicles sport fuel-saving features. Yes, a 1970s highway boat and a modern SUV designed to save gas.Those old enough to remember the ’70s might recall a pesky little oil embargo and resulting gasoline shortages.
According to http://www.allpar.com, a website devoted to Dodge, Chrysler and other cars from the same parent company, the Dodge Aspen was designed to be “more in tune with people who were moving from bigger cars to save fuel.”The Chrysler Aspen, the brand’s first SUV, can hardly be called small. But the V-8 does have a fuel-saving “multiple displacement system” that allows it to switch from eight cylinders to four while cruising. The Detroit News Autos Insider reported last year that the company chose the name Aspen “to position the vehicle – like the Colorado ski town – as both rugged and upscale.”When Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud learned of Chrysler’s plans to reintroduce the name, she wrote a letter to the company.
“It is my belief that the name Aspen would be moresee Chrysler on page 6suited for a more fuel-efficient vehicle,” she wrote. Klanderud did not receive a response.Mountain town names appear to have a certain caché with buyers. The Detroit News article states that Chrysler’s new SUV is “based on” another of the company’s cars that shares a name with a Colorado mountain town: the Dodge Durango.”The name Aspen was enthusiastically approved when Chrysler tested it with consumers,” the article states.
The Dodge Aspen did not fare well, said the Detroit News. It might have been designed to appeal to people downsizing in an era of terminal gas lines, but the Dodge Aspens “were costly to fill up,” the article states. It goes on to say, however, that “Chrysler’s new SUV should not be tainted by its namesake.”The Dodge Aspen might have been short-lived, but it inadvertently may have secured a permanent position in American pop culture. It is rumored that a modified Aspen station wagon, or its identical cousin, the Plymouth Volaré wagon, was fitted with a surrey top and used to ferry Mr. Rourke and his guests to tropical locales on TV’s “Fantasy Island.” (Tattoo drove his own, smaller version.) At the time, Ricardo Montalbán, who played Rourke, was a spokesman for Chrysler, employing his lilting Latin accent to pitch the “rich Corinthian leather” of the Chrysler Cordoba.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org