This shot by dpertuz, taken in Chicago, makes a nice time capsule. A double one at that, as the Dodge Aspen screams “1976”. But it’s also a future time capsule of the current reality.
In any case, there’s no doubt this isn’t an older shot, which do make their way into the Cohort from time to time.
Just wow. Other than the slightly-off paint color on the front fender (likely courtesy of the Chrysler-paid fender replacement back in the day) this looks like the day it drove off the lot with a big loan on it.
I always thought the high-trim versions like this one looked good, but they were in the minority. One problem was the way the body side trim on the gas cap never seemed to line up right. Which was vintage 1970s Mopar.
I believe the front fender replacement recall only affected Volares and Aspens for the ’76 and ’77 model years. This is either a ’78 or ’79.
I’d call it more of a time traveler than time capsule. On closer inspection the Aspen looks like brand new. It definitely does not fit it’s dreary 2020 surroundings. If we’re going to be sent vehicles from the past to 2020 it doesn’t surprise me it’s an Aspen. It somehow fits with the rest of this horror show we currently call life.
Marty; “You made a TIME MACHINE out of a…Dodge Aspen?!?”
Doc Brown; “Yes the transverse torsion bars help with the flux dispersal. And I had to remove the front fenders for wiring, it’s easier when they’ve already been off once.”
Alternate draft – Doc: “The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why would I want something with any style? Besides, the porous iron oxide construction makes the flux dispersal — look out!!!”
The fender falls off, narrowly missing Marty’s feet.
Marty: “You’re the Doc, Doc…”
You are spot on in your assessment of our country’s current situation. I hope things improve soon.
Impressive to see a 42 year old car in original, showroom condition. This is either a ’78 or ’79. The wheel covers are the basic design offered on the Aspen through 1979. And the tires appear to match exactly the original FR78-14 whitewalls. The body side trim denoting the ‘Custom’ exterior package. It may be the photo, but the front fender does appear a slightly lighter colour than the rest of the body. Reminiscent of the major front fender recall that affected earlier Aspens and Volares. As JPC noted.
One thing I distinctly remember from the infamous recall to replace the front fenders on ’76 and ’77 Aspens and Volares due to premature rust, was the paint on the new fenders often didn’t match the rest of the body paint. As JPC recalls. Humiliating for Chrysler to have such a popular brand new car, now ubiquitous on North American roads, and many of them had very noticeably different coloured front fenders. As Chrysler brought the embarrassment on themselves. What almost seemed business as usual in that era of domestic quality control. As the follow up fix by dealer body shops, often appeared equally shoddy. 🙁
During the severe recession of 1974-75, Chrysler Corporation laid off its engineering department for several weeks. The corporation’s financial situation was that dire.
That move affected the quality of the Aspen and Volare, as they were being readied for a fall of 1975 introduction. Chrysler should have pushed back the introduction of the Aspen and Volare to compensate for this, but it couldn’t afford to do so.
So much potential, so badly executed….
That’s a great find – I hope it has a Slant Six and a Torqueflight – which would mean it will still be running when the 2050 Mustang vertical lift model is introduced…
I ‘ve mentioned this before at CC, and hindsight is 20/20, but I don’t think Chrysler pushed the design envelope enough with the Volare/Aspen. In replacing the Valiant/Dart, Chrysler created a car that was more luxurious in higher trim versions, but other than the transverse torsion bar front suspension, the engineering remained very similar. The F-bodies were designed to feel like big cars. Hoping to capture people migrating from full-sized cars. When they probably should have engineered them lighter for economy, and more agility. With MacPherson struts up front. And a 4 cylinder option, if there was a source for a larger four. As JPC has pointed out before, Chrysler probably had no budget in the mid 70s to invest in further engineering to advance the design. Therefore, it really was no surprise the Fairmont and Malibu, made the F-Bodies appear obsolete after only two years on the market.
Not only the Fairmont and Malibu but also the L-bodies Omni/Horizon also made them obsolete as well and add the addition of the F-bodies cousins, the M-bodies.
Then for a 4-cyl option, it cold had been a car closer in size to the Simca 1307.
Excellent points. The large gap between the F-Bodies and K-Cars in their weight savings and modern engineering with FWD and a small transverse four cylinder engine, highlights the Aspen/Volare being closer to 1960s technology than state-of-the-art for the late 70s.
And ironic to see they used the Volare name for the K-car in Mexico along with the Dart.
It’s honestly a shame they didn’t just carry the Valiant/Dart basic engineering over, refined to improve handling and NVH. It would’ve cost them less and had fewer teething troubles.
The addition of the most popular station wagon body style was the significant advantage of the F-Bodies over the A-Bodies. A Valiant wagon was marketed in Australia. Otherwise, the improvements you suggested, while freshening the styling of the Valiant/Dart for the 70s, seemed a more cost effective approach.
And also the addition of squared headlights to the A-body might have gived them a subtle fresh front end. I once had a copy of Collectible Automobile about the 1967-76 Dart (I have to sell all my collection because I moved to a new apartment) showing some sketches proposals including a Dart with squared headlights.
Most likely, it drives like a giant car is the side effect of the never figured right front end. The front end of F-body is hopelessly vague to a point the car feels two classes larger than what it is, and they made it a good point instead.
The rest of the car, it is quite dated indeed. I still have a ’78 Volare myself (base model with only radio and AC) and it looks like an upgraded Valiant indeed. (and the car is fairly roomy)
Replace the subframe [K-Member] to body bushings with plastic/metal bushings. Original rubber bushings soft when new, hopeless when old.
Either they found some whitewall tires somewhere, or these are the original tires. If it’s the latter, this is a really low mileage survivor. However, 40+ year old rubber may not hold together very well if driven far or at speed.
Great photo, the guy in the mask pins it down to 2020, and beyond.
” the guy in the mask pins it down to 2020″
Agreed, because just staring at his phone, to the exclusion of everything else, including walking, just pins it to the last 5 years or so.
That’s a bit harsh. Maybe he’s a passionate CC fan, and is checking out the photos he just took of the Aspen, which is a car he’s read about but never seen since he was a kid. On the other hand, probably not.
This 2009 tire recently gave up the ghost at speed on the 401 (off of my ’76 SDV). For the first time ever, I couldn’t source whitewalls in Canada, and had to get them sent over by Tire Rack. First time that I’ve bought tires off of the internet, and happy to say everything worked out well.
I really liked this picture, as it looked like it was taken when the car was three years old. I’m guessing that the owner makes every effort to keep it original and looking good. Even in Southern Ontario, these are really rare now.
I recall taking a test drive of a Volare at Islington Chrysler Plymouth when these were new. I found its performance underwhelming, but honestly, it had a mild 318 in it, not a Hemi for cryin’ out loud. My buddy who was with me said he was expecting to get thrown back in his seat. I asked him, well, does your Ford Custom wagon do that?
there are a few vendors of classic “thin” whitewall tires, e.g. Coker Tire or Lucas Classic tires. Selection is limited, and they’re expensive of course.
and lord knows where they’re made.
I was a junior in high school when my best friends family bought a 76 Volare wagon…It was a stripper…Spitfire orange, beige interior with only two options….automatic and AM radio…not sure if power steering was optional, but it had that two….Black wall tires, dog dish hubcaps..The interior was beige. front and rear bench seats. I also remember the headliner was a rigid pegboard. Powered by the slant six it was a real dog, especially with 5 cross country runners travelling from Buffalo to NYC for XC meets.
My late brother in law was quite a talented amateur mechanic and all around vehicle restorer. He was also a Mopar fanatic. He had a 76 Aspen RT which received more time love and money than any Aspen/Volare I’ve ever seen. He owned it for many years. Painted it twice and put several engines in it. The final form was plum crazy purple and a V8 with lots of chrome and three carburetors. It was beautiful. I still wonder what became of it after he passed away.
Whoa, as soon as I saw this post I knew that looked familiar. Back in ye olden days (like 6 months ago) I would pass that building every day on the bus to work. But I’ve never seen that Aspen.
You were too busy looking at your phone. It was right there. We can see you 🙂
The problem Chrysler had was they were initially planning to replace both the A and B body sedans. So the engineering had to accommodate intermediate class needs of the day. Then they got cold feet. If they hadn’t rushed the platform to market and had introduced it instead in 1977 as the new Satellite and Coronet at the same time GM downsized its B and C bodies, it would likely have been perceived as more forward thinking. But then the A body replacement problem would still have existed.
In hindsight, this isn’t a bad suggestion. But before Iacocca, Chrysler (and Ford) were still following GM’s lead on everything. Ford still had the resources to go model-to-model with GM but it took the charisma of Iacocca to radically alter Chrysler’s business model to bring the company back from the brink.
The irony of the photo is that the whitewall tires are almost as much a focal point as the guy in the mask.
With that said, the similarity of the domestic compact sedans of the mid-to-late seventies is stunning. Line the Mopar F-body up with the Granada and Nova, and it’s quite evident that all three are the same, simple, rudimentary three-box design with few different styling touches. It’s a stark contrast to 1960 when you could tell the difference between the new Valiant, Falcon, and Corvair a mile away.
I thought this Aspen looked familiar. It is near identical to the lead photo in the ‘four-door sedan’ section of the original US (and Canada) 1978 Dodge Aspen brochure.
They found it after all these years!
Great catch — that’s unbelievable (to borrow a word from Aspen ads).
I wasn’t sure if the mid-level ‘Custom’ exterior decor package on the Aspen included the chrome trim surrounding the wheel arches, as seen in the brochure photo. I didn’t think it did. I thought this was only available on the Aspen Special Edition. The Aspens I recall with the ‘Custom’ mid-level trim did not have the chrome wheel arch trim, as seen in this brochure pic. I think the brochure is inaccurate.
That’s a beautiful car in a beautiful colour. Dark metallic colours on 70s and 80s cars really bring out the chrome, unlike the awful hearing aid beige colour that was inexplicably popular at the time. There were some lovely colours for these: this metallic burgundy, a metallic forest green, a metallic deep blue. Even the metallic light blues and greens looked good with the upper level trim. The light yellow was attractive as well. I cannot imagine anyone walking into a dealer, seeing this colour and the hearing aid beige side by side, and choosing that beige.
Whoever bought this car in 78/79 was very, very brave, and I’m assuming given the extra options that person wasn’t named Hertz or avis. The volare/Aspen had earned their reputation as the most recalled cars ever and Chrysler stank of death. GM’s midsize cars, the Fairmont, upcoming x cars, granada, or a slightly used dart seemed like much better choices. I don’t know if enough credit can be given to Lee iacocca for making sure that the omni/horizon and k cars were not the quality and financial disasters that the volare and Aspen were and iacocca cannot get enough credit for ensuring Chrysler lived long enough to launch the k cars. I cannot think of anyone else who could have pulled that trick off.
The condition is so good that is almost unbelievable
And the paint is awfully shining for a car without clearcoat
The Lincoln Versailles first offered clear coat in 1977. As Chrysler offered several new metallic colours for 1978. I’m assuming they included a clear coat. They called them ‘Sunfire’ colours, and they were offered on the Aspen/Volare as well. And look quite attractive in photos.
The mismatched side trim on this car is due to the gas cap not being turned fully to its seated position. But the trim fore and aft of the gas cap did not line up on a lot of early production Dodge Aspens. The Plymouth Volaré was not affected as its trim strip was lower on the body, except for those specially ordered for some rental fleets with the Aspen trim, which was more effective against door dings.
I owned a 1976 Dodge Aspen Custom sedan from nearly-new to 1998…and if looked nearly-new though it had M-body police suspension parts and a massaged 318. I took it to a Mopar show and was offered really silly money for it; so much that it had to go. It still gets California smog checked, so it’s probably still out there.
But when I sold it, the tires were blackwalls.
In very cold climates, the vinyl inserts glued to the chrome body side trim on both the Aspen and Volare, would lose their adhesiveness over time. Where I lived in Canada, it was not uncommon to see F-Bodies missing some of these coloured vinyl strips. If owners cared, they could use silicone adhesive to re-attach trim that was separating from the chrome base.
Cool. Today I made my beginning approach to former NAS Alameda, for the Hornet, past a storage units on one side and car storage on the other. All you guys would droll over what is in that yard which is locked. However, along the outside fence, today, it was 1975-77 all over again with 10 vehicles between those years. They all have patina and while shooting pictures I had the owner of all 10 come up to me and ask what I was up to. I’ll have to write up a short synopsis with the pictures.
Seen other day in Munich’s posh Kufsteiner Platz neighbourhood.
Yeah, the Griswold family was passing through Munich…
It isn’t a photo taken in 2020.
it was a photo taken in 1979 and the guy wearing the mask is just hiding his identity so no one know he is driving a Chrysler Deadly Sin.
A Chrysler DD sin as in double deadly! I’ll never forget seeing a first year woody Volare wagon driving around in 1977 or so with a sign perched on top letting the world know that it was a total lemon and that they filed a pending lawsuit with Chrysler. No idea which engine it had but I distinctly remember the sign stating that “this car stalls randomly” or something close to that affect so my guess would be an early Lean Burn 318 with drive-ability issues.
My long time high school friend got a 1979 4 door sedan with the “Super Six”, automatic, sure grip rear axle, HD suspension and A/C and little else besides power steering and brakes handed down to him from his then recent wife’s folks for free. It literally needed everything replaced soon after including the A/C compressor to the brake lines to most of the front end suspension, carburetor, rear end pinion seal and the usual brakes and tires etc. I remember him telling me he put well over 2500 bucks into that car it’s first year and it still never ran that great with terrible performance despite the Super Six! We timed that car with both of us at well over 17 seconds to 60 and I weighted 120 LBS soaking wet at the time! Nobody could figure out why it was so darned slow even a long time Chrysler shop tech that we hired at our dealership at the time when he retired from the dealer.
Consumer Guide tested a couple of Super Six equipped Volare’s at 14.9 seconds and they were notoriously off by a second or 2 on many of there tests compared to Motor Trend, C&D and Road & Track. They tried everything from new carburetors to replacing the catalytic converter replacing every ignition component and even rebuilding the transmission and replacing the torque converter but it couldn’t get out of it’s own way and was death slow with the A/C on! It remains a mystery to this day that was never solved.