Junkyard Classic: 1977 Plymouth Volaré Coupe – The Question Is How Did This Last 42 Years In the Wild?

If there is one constant in the automotive world it is that the Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volaré are the biggest pieces of junk ever foisted on the American public.  However, to every rule there is an exception and today it is this, a 2-door coupe from the second year of Volaré production that somehow didn’t enter the pearly gates of the junkyard until the middle of this year, some 42 years after rolling onto a transport train from the factory.

Resplendent in what appears to be the Light Mocha Tan color option, this example used to sport the optional Landau vinyl top. People aren’t kidding when they say vinyl tops just hide the rust underneath, this car doesn’t have much visible rust except for where the top was.

Was the public already aware how much worse these were than the Valiant that it replaced by the 1977 model year?  Likely not as 1977 was the Volaré’s best sales year with over 325,000 leaving showrooms and it was Canada’s top selling car.  Curiously (to me anyway) the Volaré outsold the Aspen its entire run, I always thought Dodge was the volume marque. It doesn’t look all that terrible from here, certainly the styling isn’t objectively worse than the Nova or Maverick, although once the Fairmont 2-door and Futura rolled into the showroom that may have changed the calculus a bit.

That hood’s almost as curvy as one on a Jaguar XJ6 but somehow the effect isn’t the same.  Shall we see what’s under the hood?

Well, that’s not the Slant-Six that Jason Shafer’s family had in their 1978 Coupe, so it’s either the 318 or the 360 V8. this looks like an otherwise low spec car so I’ll guess the 318. Of course I could be mistaken as I’m no ’70’s Mopar engine spotter.  The fuel filter looks pretty new, I wonder if someone tried to get this going again if it was sitting for a while.  Or just had a thorough service regimen in place the whole time.

Let’s crack the door and take a peek inside…ooh, white vinyl, so classy, gotta match the shoes and belt I suppose.  Does it really go with the Light Mocha Tan exterior?  I dunno, I suppose if the top was white, that looks like the whipped cream on your Venti Mocha from Starbucks and maybe the white inside represents all the sugar in the drink.

Well, someone sucked most of the sugar out of this one’s interior already, but they left the carpet underlayment and some of the dash.  Bummer about that but let’s take a closer look.

A little wood-tone on the wheel and then silver bits on the dashboard.  I wonder which trim level this car was?  Supposedly there were three main ones available – Standard (which isn’t really called out as such in the brochure), Custom, and Premier. In addition there were a few sub-packages available such as the Road Runner and other option combinations. The Premier had a hood ornament as standard which this doesn’t have and it seems too lightly equipped to be a Custom so I think that makes this one a Standard.

The odometer is a typical 5-digit with a current reading of 30,160 so I’m assuming we need to add a 1 to that.  Were the Canadian market ones 5-digits as well?  How does one tell how many times it’s really been around the dial if that’s so?  With miles at least usually an extra 100,000 of them are fairly noticeable but kilometers?

Pretty plain back here without the applique between the lights.  Also, beyond the seats, not much demand for any of these parts.

Ah, the air cleaner in the trunk.  The Fram-looking filter looks pretty clean from here so maybe this one was in fact maintained well enough to last this long.

There’s the roof seam that the Landau top covered so elegantly.  The fiberglass filler panels for the rear windows to make them “Opera” style is the weirdest American affectation to my eyes.  How did people think that looked good?  And what is the point of taking out so much of the rear side visibility?

The other side has a whole bunch of factory body filler in the roof panel seam.  It looks completely different than the passenger side.

Still, not ugly from this angle either but far, far better without the vinyl roof and would be even better without the window inserts.

Looking up the VIN shows that this salvage yard purchased this car back in July for the princely sum of $201 at an auction, possibly they were the first and only bid.  It was built in Hamtramck, Michigan back in June of 1977.

No rust here.  This is the back part of the front fender.  However looking at the front end of the fender (see first and fourth pictures) shows massive corrosion right around the mounting points for the fender lights, in fact it’s actually rusted all the way through.  I suppose the back part was better shielded than the front part.

Yeah…I don’t think it worked out quite that way for most people.

Related Reading:

Jason Shafer explores a 1978 Dodge Aspen Wagon

PN chronicles the Deadly Sin that was the 1976 Aspen and Volaré

Robert Kim annotates a vintage review of a Volaré Station Wagon