Super Pak: 1977 Dodge Aspen R/T

At times, I get a feeling that many Mopar guys see late-model cars as a means for a good engine and transmission to swap into their much more valuable cars. I am a personal fan of a leaning tower of power, but the 318 in this 1977 Dodge Aspen R/T seems to be a nice match-up. Check out this well-preserved Aspen listed here on craigslist.

Ah, behold the not-so-big 318 V8. According to the owner, it recently went through a full rebuild and was bored .030 over. I’m not sure where that puts the displacement now, but I can’t imagine the displacement gain is all that significant. A slew of other NOS parts have been fitted, and the entire engine bay looks very clean.

The interior seems to be as nice as the engine. The dash is absolutely mint, and a period Hurst shifter was added for a little extra “muscle”. The seats are in beautiful condition, and the red vinyl presents well. I think, for the most part, this car was well-loved in its heyday and the current owner sees a similar value in it as well.

To add to the already expansive list of parts, a brand new set of wheels and tires have been fitted with an approximate value of over $2000. I have to say, for $14,000, this might not be a bad deal. If it were automatic, I’d feel differently. Given the fact it’s a 4 speed with an overdrive, I think there is a little bit of a cool factor that comes with it already being an R/T.

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Comments

  1. rando

    Looks pretty good! See how it runs, maintain as necessary and possible. Have fun with it. Try to keep it from rusting as so many cars from this era did.

    3+
  2. Ed P

    The 318 v8 should provide good power for a car of this size. With careful tuning and carb adjustment this engine can be surprising.

    2+
    • Dave at OldSchool Restorations

      ..
      .
      318 in ’77 was ANEMIC……..

      ..if ” careful tuning, etc ” made a significant difference, I WOULD be surprised…
      ..
      If performance is NOT a priority, this is a really nice looking car, with POTENTIAL to build some real 1970 period horsepower and performance, but at this high price, it would require a total personal inspection first, something I am not accustomed to requiring very often.
      ..

      2+
  3. Don

    A 318 is just like a 350 Chevy our 302 Ford ,you can get as much power out of them as you want ,only takes money . I really like is car ✌👍

    9+
  4. John D

    I drove a white 77 Road Runner with the 318 ‘5’ speed. It was a nice package. As I remember, it was some adaptation of the 833 4 speed with that 5th gear added to it. I think it was the aluminum case overdrive transmission from the Feather Duster. I usually speced my demos with the Firm Feel steering and the Heavy Duty suspension, so handling was pretty good. I do agree, the 318 in this size car was a nice match.

    5+
    • blyndgesser

      “Chrysler described the change as “an A-833 four-speed transmission, converted over to a three speed manual transmission with an overdrive gear ratio.” It was used with both the 318 V8 and 225 slant six. After the 1975 run, Chrysler switched to a finer-pitched gear tooth design to reduce the noise of the 1975 models, and changed the overdrive from 0.73:1 to 0.71:1. It used a steel housing except on the Feather Duster and Dart Lite, where it had an aluminum case and extension housing.” So not a five speed–but it sort of drove like a five speed with no third gear.

      More info at http://www.allpar.com/mopar/transmissions/four-speed-manual.html.

      3+
      • Fiete T.

        I actually have two of those “flipped-fork” OD A-833 gearboxes (in the A,F,M,J- length) in the early production iron case. Slapping one behind a budget-built 340 and jamming everything into an ’80 A38 Aspen street-beater.
        It was a parts car, so don’t any of you purists get your undies in a bunch. Mopar and Corvette nuts…”Does it have date-coded (or NCRS-certified) air in the tires?”
        Loathesome people

        0
  5. Don

    You can even see the engine no vacuum hoses all over the engine ,no power anything just like the older muscle cars by

    1+
  6. Vin in NJ

    My dad had a ’75 Coronet with a 318. In a tank like that, I could still smoke the tires.

    3+
  7. Nova Scotian

    We owned a plain jane 4dr. version with the leaning tower of power…and it would smoke the one rear tire endlessly from a standing stop. Was a riot when hooking into a right turn. Mind you there was no one (weight) in the back seat either. LOL
    Had a dodge truck with the 318. Probably had as much power. Burned way more fuel.

    4+
  8. LAB3

    Nice looking car for sure! That’s a pretty steep price though, It’s still a long way from being a true performance car and making it into one is going to take some cash.

    1+
    • Don

      Don’t really no what you mean ? It handles better then most older muscle cars ,the engine has bin modified a little ,what else do you need?

      4+
      • blyndgesser

        A zero-to-sixty time that beats my eight year old Honda Fit would be a nice start, Don.

        2+
  9. Rock On

    I think that I prefer the other two old Mopars that this fellow has in his garage (picture 12).

    3+
  10. Rod

    That’s a very nice car. The price is high but if you consider it really doesn’t need anything and is super clean maybe it is worth it. You won’t see too many around.
    The 318 is a good motor with enough power. It is easy to get more power out of it if that is what you want. I would enjoy as is.

    2+
  11. edh

    The passage of time has made people forget how bad of a car and engine these were.

    3+
    • Rod

      While I would agree the cars did have rust issues I don’t agree with the engine statement. This particular car seems to have avoided the rust issues for whatever reason. In regards to the engine there were a couple of service items that needed attention. First of all was the timing chain would have to be replaced (something that other manufacturers also faced). The second one is the one that people didn’t take care of. The engines OEM valve seals were not good. After a period of time they would crack and the engine would start to use oil. The oil would then deposit in the intake manifold crossover and it would soon plug up. Then the choke would not function correctly as it would not heat up. If caught in time all you had to do was replace the valve seals and you were good to go. If not done soon enough the intake came off and was cleaned out. Once done these engines would go forever.
      If you know of other issues let me know as I am not aware of them.

      3+
  12. George Livesley

    I always prefered the 383 or larger back then, but the freeways in OR were near empty U’d see maybe 50 cars from Eugene to Medford after 7 pm, now there are 50 constantly sitting on the on-ramps.
    My girlfriend had a new 1973 Dodge Dart Sport w/318. It was plently peppy, and I would not increase this one–the 318 is fine and not a stone. Plenty for today’s driving.

    2+
  13. z28th1s

    Really nice looking example here! The stick shift trans makes it that much more appealing, at least to me!

    The one thing I don’t like is the side exit exhaust. That would be the only thing I would change.

    4+
    • Moparman

      @z28th1s: DITTO!!! 🙂

      1+
  14. Rustytech

    I have had dozens of 318’s in everything from Dart’s to Ram 1500 4×4’s never had problems with any of them. This is a great looking car, but it’s too far away. Of course it it were here in PA it wouldn’t look this nice.

    0
  15. Cubs win

    Well taken care of and cared for has a lot to do with the sale. This was someone’s baby.

    0
  16. Howard A Member

    While this car may not have had the same glitz as the former neck snapping, R/T’s, it was 1977, considering what was around the corner, we were lucky to get this. It’s a pretty plain car inside, but I bet provided plenty of fun. I guess the engine work has me concerned, 22K miles is nothing for a 318. Despite what lousy build quality ( Iaccoca said it himself, “we sent a lot of crap out the door”) this is a great example. Not a great example of crap, but what was around in ’77. The fact one remains at all, especially like this, is a miracle in itself.

    1+

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