1-of-531: 1978 Dodge Aspen Super Coupe

The Dodge Aspen Super Coupe was a one-year-only model, and only 531 examples were produced. It offered buyers a V8 engine, some useful suspension upgrades, and an appearance that was anything but subtle. Barn Finder Ikey H spotted this particular vehicle for us, so thank you for that Ikey. It is located in Litchfield Park, Arizona, and has been listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner has set the asking price for the Aspen at $8,500.

The Super Coupe was available to potential buyers in any color…as long as it was Sable Tan Sunfire Metallic. Or, to put it another way, dark brown. To immediately differentiate the Super Coupe from a garden-variety Aspen, the addition of some red, yellow, and blue striping, a black hood, quarter window louvers, front and rear spoilers, wider 15″ wheels, and very obvious fender flares were a less than subtle way of advertising what this car was. The body and paint look to be in quite good condition, although I would have been happier if I could get some close-up photos without the car covered in water. There are no obvious signs of dings or dents, and no evidence of any rust issues. The hood scoop isn’t original, and if I owned this Aspen, that would mysteriously fall off the car at some point. The distinctive 15″ steel wheels are still fitted to the car, but the chrome trim rings that are fitted to them aren’t original. The owner believes that the Aspen may have had a repaint at some point in the past, but is unsure when this occurred. Interestingly, a T-Top was a factory option in the Super Coupe, but only 41 buyers chose that option. Just how many of them survive today is unknown, so if this particular Aspen doesn’t eventually tick all of the boxes for you, perhaps searching for one of those cars would be another option to consider.

The interior of the Aspen looks to be relatively tidy, but there are one or two little issues that may need to be addressed to bring it back to its best. Starting with the good, the seats look like they might be free of any rips or tears, although that weird spot on the headrest makes me wonder. I can’t decide if that is an upholstery fault, or if it is a flaw in the photo. The carpet looks like it is in good condition, while the majority of the plastic trim seems to be free of cracks or discoloration. The dash itself looks tidy, although there is an aftermarket tachometer mounted on the steering column, and the original stereo has made way for an aftermarket radio/cassette player. The vinyl on the door trim is now looking quite stretched, and I am not sure whether that could be brought back into shape, or whether replacement vinyl might need to be sourced. There is also a cover over the top of the dash, so we can’t get a look at the pad to see if it is cracked. In addition, the lid on the console armrest looks like it is quite warped and damaged.

The Super Coupe only brought one engine to the table, which was the 360ci V8. This pumped out 175hp, which was then sent to the rear wheels via a 3-speed TorqueFlite transmission. As well as power brakes, the Sport Coupe was assisted when the roads got twisty by those larger wheels and tires, and by the addition of heavy-duty suspension, including a rear sway bar. This was the height of the Malaise Era, so performance wasn’t all that it could have been. However, with a 0-60 time of 9.5 seconds and a ¼ mile ET of 17.1 seconds, the Super Coupe was actually faster than Pontiac’s beloved Trans Am. It appears that the vehicle remains largely standard, although it has been fitted with an HEI Ignition, while the transmission has been treated to a shift kit. For all of that, the owner provides no information on how the car runs and drives. What he does tell us is that it has covered a genuine 83,000 miles, so given how bullet-proof the engine and transmission combination is, then there is every right to believe that the car is in good mechanical health.

This is a car that I would really love to get a close look at because it does show a lot of promise. If the bolt-on plastic pieces aren’t brittle or cracked, and if it is actually rust-free, then those are both big pluses. The interior looks to be quite serviceable as it currently stands, and it doesn’t look like it would take much work to have it looking really great. Given the fact that nice examples can fetch between $11,000 and $14,000, the asking price for this particular car seems to be more than reasonable. I mentioned the T-Top option earlier, and if you can find one of those cars in good condition, then you would need to be prepared to part with $20,000 or more. However, I’d still be considering this car first, because a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

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Comments

  1. Fred W

    I think the scoop actually works with the louvers and spoiler- completes the look. I dislike late 70’s- 80’s cars in general, but this one kinda grabs me.

    Like 14
    • John Rogers

      That hood scoop is from the A-Bodies and is a very popular addition to the F-Body coupes. My Super Coupe has one with the same hole cut out from the hood for cooler air to pass through. I believe the owner is named Steve, I spoke with him almost two years ago. From the conversation I remember this being a solid car. I passed on it and bought one a bit nicer from California. The drive back to NJ was fun and trouble free other than a battery.

      Like 4
  2. Scott Schomer

    I came of age in the Midwest (where everything turned to rust) during the depth of this era of performance malaise. I remember this model and somehow coming across the Mopar performance catalog where they laid out how you could turn (or build) one of these models into a genuine stock car. Suddenly I was deeply smitten with this “grandma car” and spent hours with the catalog dreaming about how I was going to build one. It never happened but like your first girlfriend, you never forget the first race car you dreamed of building.

    Like 4
  3. Chevy King

    The poor man’s Trans Am nuff said

    Like 4
  4. Raymond Smith

    I had an opportunity to drive one of these back in the late 70s. Compared to similar American offerings at the time these ran really strong and handled well. I always felt they never received the recognition that they deserved.

    Like 14
  5. Harold F Haas Jr

    I had a 1976 Aspen R/T with the Super Pack option in all black inside and out. I was a real looker for it’s time Mine had the 318 in it. If had the motor that this car has I probably would still own it. I’m not a big fan of all the flat black on these and the Volare’s. Still the price, if the car is as good as the pictures make it look is one heck of a bargain. I also owned a 1979 Little Red Truck with basically the same motor minus the Lean Burn, and tha truck hauled. I was always giving Z/28s and Trans Ams fits. The trick was getting to k hook up from the start.

    Like 3
  6. Troy s

    Hot rod Aspen, I’m sure with that de-smogged 360 it will perform a lot better, the hood scoop is pure Mopar so it stays.
    There was a Plymouth version too, I wonder how many of these body kit cars are still around?

    Like 5
    • John Rogers

      The Plymouth had a different color scheme, a brighter red that I prefer over the Dodge root beer. The “Petty” Kit Cars are basically the same but even more rare, more of a NASCAR look than street.

      Like 2
      • Dave

        I’ve seen one of those Petty cars! My brother in law and I were trying to get to Coalwood to visit the Rocket Boys and got caught in a parade in Welch. I have a photo of it on my laptop.

        Like 1
    • John Rogers

      …and yes de-smogging my 360 and adding a cat-free true dual exhaust really woke the car up.

      Like 5
  7. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    These always remind me of a face-lifted Duster / Dart. Was that all it truly was, or was the chassis / suspension a complete redesign?
    I ask because most folks prefer the older model over the newer.
    Aside from the typical build quality and rust issues, were these truly much worse than the model it replaced?

    Like 2
    • John Rogers

      The F-Body Aspen/Volare was the second generation all new A-Body Dart/Valliant. In many aspects it was all new and yet the same with many parts interchangeable. Build quality was basically the same with two exceptions. First year 1976 only front fender rust, the cars were recalled and factory replacement fenders installed. Then in 1978 Chrysler corp. began installing the problematic Lean Burn system. Many customers had the system swapped out for a standard carburetor. The Duster name returned in 1979 on the Volare coupe and in many ways it was a better Duster, exception of course the 1970-1972 Duster 340.

      Like 2
  8. Matt G

    My impression is that these were just a heavier Duster/Dart. Note the requisite sagging rear end that tended to plague these cars- although I would be inclined to lower the front to match rather than jack the rear back up. Is that the original steering wheel?

    • John Rogers

      Yes, the optional Tuff Wheel.

  9. Classic Steel

    This thing kicks asp !
    I like the look , color of the car .

    It only needs a sigh in the rear window stating quit looking at my ASP ;-)

    Like 4
  10. Del

    Nice cars and as mentioned, they did not get the attention that they deserved.

    Like 6
  11. Pete Kaczmarski

    If I didn’t own a ’79 Dodge Magnum GT with T-tops and Police Package (E-58) I would be interested in this car.

    Like 5
  12. Chris

    Absolute love the car . It does deserve more respect . I think the car is fantastic nxt generation for the Duster or Dart

  13. Rosco

    Owned one of these at one time and wish I still had it. Clearly this isn’t a a high performance car, but the 360 performs well for 1978. Keep the Mopar scoop. It does work with the style of the car, and at least makes it look a little faster!

    Like 4
  14. Wayne

    I believe that is the original steering wheel. The only thing that these had in common with the original Dart/Dusters were the power train and rear leaf springs. The front suspension is still torsion bar, but it is the weird 90 degree bent ones that wrap around the front, not the ones that end under the driver’s/passenger’s feet. It took Chrysler some time to get the correct balance of torsion bar and suspension bushing tuning to get the right amount of feel, response and ride out of this setup. It still was not “up to snuff” in this year, but a very good quality of gas pressure shock (KYB gas adjust minimum) did wonders for the ride and handling for these. Not to mention wider wheels. ( which this already has) This would make a very nice “different” daily driver. And would be the only one at cars and coffee. This car however will not be particularly stable over speed of 100. Been there, done that, and have no desire to do it again.

    Like 7
  15. David Ulrey

    I’m with all you guys that they would keep the hood scoop and the overall appearance just says Tough Guy. Heck, I really like the shape of the 2 door Aspen I had in the very early 90s and it was more luxury looking than this bad boy boy. The power the 360 put out wasn’t bad at all given the time it was built. Even though I live less than 140 miles away from where this car is located, in my part of Arizona we don’t have the smog inspections they do down there. You could really bring that 360 to life where I’m located. :) !

    Like 5
  16. Woody

    70’s hot-rod Dodge,the scoop is from a Dart Sport,the coolest next to a shaker Hemi.I had a ‘73 Dart Sport with functional cool air inlet hood and swapped it to my ‘69 Barracuda fastback,the hoods are the same.

    Like 4
  17. mainlymuscle

    Faster than whose Trans Am ?
    78 T/A 6.6 4 speed 0-60 =7.6. The 1/4 in 15.9.A weekend and a few hundred bucks got you to 14 easily.The mopar 360 has more in it as well though.4 speed to automatic is apples to oranges,but it’s not Pontiac’s fault the Dodge was not offered with a stick.The T/A was /is a better car in every way,but prices reflect that.The Aspen R/T,and this Super coupe were decent offerings ,as well as my preferred Roadrunner.A buddy has the Plymouth version with T tops,orange on white.He restored it himself and it’s a fantastic looking car.You will see one of these to every 10 Trans Ams,which is worth something.This one is very well priced if the body has no needs.If it needs paint,you’d be better off spending 12-15k on a better car.

    Like 3
  18. Miguel

    They called this car a Super Bee in Mexico.

    I wonder where this car is actually from originally.

    Who would buy a dark brown car in Aridzona with no air?

    • John Rogers

      The Mexican, Valliant Super Bee! I love seeing the Mexican F-Bodies, different emissions rules let one get a more powerful 360 and 4 speed manual. Something verboten in the USA.

      Like 1
  19. Michael

    Well this story, and image are very odd. After reading it, I did some research. The Super Coupe was mad in 1977, too 1980. I have an image of one from 1977 that looks just like this one, and it’s white. Then there is this issue with this story. I met my future wife in January 1977. Guess what kind of car she was driving? Yeap, a White 1977 Super Coupe with T Tops. Looked just like the one here, only white. No R/T, no Aspen. A Super Coupe. Research people. Very easy to do.

    Like 1
    • Dex

      Sorry Michael, you may need to do more research. Very easy to do. 1978 only.

      Like 3
  20. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Scoop was affixed to a Demon 340 as an option starting in 1972…..but you could acquire it along with decals to make any car a super duper ride at your local Mopar parts counter.

    Like 1
  21. John Rogers

    Michael, I’m 1000% sure you’re incorrect. The Dodge and Plymouth Super Coupe were built for one model year only, 1978. Each was offered in one color only, none of which was white from the factory. I’ve done my research, I’m literally writing the book on it.

    Like 1
  22. Glenn

    My brother in-law Paul here in Wi. has been sitting on his Plymouth Super Coupe for about 25 years now and its even rarer than the Dodge version,150? He recently got it running good and plans on doing the paint and interior as his next project just as soon as he finishes his 20 year 79 Road Runner project! Hope it doesn’t take another 20 years for this one! That must have been a road runner Volare his girl friend had, they made them for several years 77-79?

  23. JoeNYWF64

    Is that the only color interior you could get? Dark brown or black might have been better. Big mistake changing the early 70’s duster dash with circular gages & factory tach, to 1 with BIG rectangular speedo & NO tach. Dumb.
    If i was Mel Gibson & moved here in the early ’80’s, i might have looked for 1 of these to drive, since i dont think a mad max type falcon could be imported here yet.
    I would like to see 1 of these fitted with that kewl earlier mopar hood scoop that can be raised up & down with the “teeth” on the side!

  24. Dallas

    I had a Volare/Aspen in the late ’80s, a black 1979 Road Runner with 360 V8 and automatic. It was not a fast car but surprised some, and I had fun with it.

    Like 1

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