1 of 531 Made: 1978 Dodge Aspen Super Coupe

While not every limited production car made in the 60s and 70s was destined to be a collector’s item, some limited editions do deserve a special place in enthusiasts’ hearts for their mixture of special features or added performance. This 1978 Dodge Aspen Super Coupe here on craigslist stood out for its wild graphics and flared-out bodykit, but this example in Ohio has clearly been unloved for quite some time. 

Rust holes in the bodywork and dead paint are just scratching the surface of this Super Coupe’s myriad issues. It doesn’t run and the seller even admits the frame is cracked! Wow, special edition or not, this Super Coupe may not return to the road in its current form. But the rare bits are still attached, from the wide 15×8 wheels to the aero bits like the rear spoiler. One set of rear quarter window louvers is missing, however.

The deep fender flares were also part of the kit, as was a front air dam and a heavy-duty suspension with a rear sway bar. While we can’t confirm if those components are still attached, I’d be willing to bet they are. However, I doubt the original shocks or rear sway bar links and bushes are in usable condition, so they’ll likely have to be replaced or rebuilt anyway. The seller says the Super Coupe hasn’t been used since the 1990s, so it will need a fair amount of sorting to return to the road.

Image courtesy of BoogerRacing.com

Here’s what a Super Coupe looks like when it’s preserved. The factory side stripe kit, matching set of window louvers and special Super Coupe badges all help set this car off from more ordinary Aspens. Of course, this example is made rarer still due to the T-Tops, an option our craigslist vehicle did not come with. If this Super Coupe on craigslist was a little more solid, it might be worth picking up – but for now, it’s just an expensive parts car at $2,500. I do hope someone saves it and finds a way for at least its parts to live on in other cars.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    While some may not give this car a 2nd thought, the Volare/Aspen had a very poor reputation, (poster child for recalls) this, believe it or not, was the hottest sporty domestic compact you could get in ’78.( this was a $1416 dollar option) Compared to what you could get just 10 years earlier. One year only, and it’s said, with the tune of the day, this could give a Camaro, Corvette, or a Firebird a run for it’s money. Historically speaking, it was the end of an era, and this car was the last gasp. Absolutely worth restoring. Even though they had poor quality, I still think it was a cool looking car. Apparently, while researching this, they made an even rarer car, the Aspen Sport Wagon, numbers produced, unknown.
    http://i1.wp.com/www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/plymouth_volare_road_runner_sport_wagon_1979.jpg

    Like 3
    • Don

      I’m with Howard restore it.

      Like 2
    • bob burgett

      Iam looking for a supercoupe for parts like the one in the photo?

      Like 2
      • Bill Lindquist

        Best friend has one owner Coupe for sale. Mostly garaged since new but needs quarter panels. Hasn’t been driven lately but does start. In Chattanooga.

        Like 2
  2. Ed P

    These cars aggravated the crap out of their owners. I know mine did. You could not pay me enough to take this car.

    Like 1
  3. Nova Scotian

    Mmmm….yea, parts car. Too bad it sat around rotting for so long. I had a 1980 Aspen. As a teenager, this car was everything one would need. (You know what I mean LOL).It didn’t give me much trouble. I used it till I thought it was dead, gave it to my younger brother for another round of teenage antics. Him and his buddies drove it like they stole it. I was driving by the local laundry mat one day, after my brother moved away and joined the army, and there smacked into the laundromat front wall was the Aspen, door wide open, no one around, keys in it…apparently he left the keys for his buddies to use, at will, and they just beat the crap out of it a whole lot more…drunken fools! I reclaimed it (still in my brothers name), and then gave it again to a needy member of the community, (Rat was his name)- true!…but it was near death…still, it started right up and was willing to move you and your sweetheart wherever you pointed it. I believe Rat had some modicum of respect for a car that was orphaned so many times…Rat was an orphan.I saw it the following spring, just as it’s tank was being filled at the local gas station by Rats girlfriend …the frame literally gave out on the pad. It was towed out back beside the local junkyard (Cooters). And folks say these were junk cars? Not from my experience.

    Like 1
    • Kenneth Neal-Rosario

      I had a similar experience with a 77 Volare. I traded $66.00 worth of Subaru parts for it during the worst period of financial challenge in my life. It was rusted beyond belief, but it ran and served me well for a year and a half. When I was done with it, I left it in front of my brother’s house (there was no ignition switch or keys, just a starter button) and after a few weeks, it just disappeared. I called the city to see if it was impounded, and it wasn’t. I always thought it wondered off on its own. Looking for another young kid that needed help.

      Like 1
  4. jaymes

    sad, undeserving owner (

  5. Rabbit

    Actually, once you got rid of the TQ and Lean Burn, they were pretty hot performers for the day. My ’78 RoadRunner 360 went just fine, & never cost me a dime in 6 years.

    Like 1
  6. SSPBill

    Here is what someone needs to make this into a Chrysler/Petty kit car, a Mopar factory assembled kit to make a short track stock car. It still would be factory original.

    http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-aspen-based-petty-kit-car.html?m=1

    Like 1
  7. rando

    I don;t know for certain, but wouldn’t this car be old enough to more or less do as you please with the drivetrain? I guess it depends on where you live, but I think NC would only require a safety inspection and maybe a visual of the rest. If you found an inspector so paranoid as to actually look that far. I’d love to have it and some money to take apart, media blast and paint it properly to stop the rust. If it’s solid enough to save. Put the best paint/coatings I could. Put it back together with new suspension stuff. updated or new engine of some fire-breathing sort. Keep the wheels and look from OEM. Maybe tart up the interior a bit, but keep it close to original.

    The design was not bad in my eyes. And I didn’t own one in the day so bad memories don’t exist for me with this car. hope someone saves it.

    Like 1
  8. Caveman

    I had a wagon in the early 80’s. Ran fine till I smoked the tranny being too lazy to shovel snow. What I remember most about these Aspens was the fact that almost none had grills after a few years. Slam the hood shut a few times and that plastic grill would shatter.

    Like 1
  9. G 1

    I never had any real problems with the four I had and one my wife bought new. Two V8’s and two 6’s.

    Like 1
  10. Bruce Best

    This is one of the very few dangerous cars I have every owned. The cold and warm engine stalls with the stock carbs and smog equipment is the reason we sold it. The dealer had it off and on almost a week or two a month for the entire years we owned it. They had factory people look at it and nobody could get that lemon to work properly all the time.

    When you accelerate to cross two lanes of traffic and it stalls out after the first 6 feet you have real trouble. Sometimes it would refuse to restart easily. More than one accident was caused by this behavior. I was my fathers car for my mother and we both had problems. When he had to drive it for a month it got sold at the end of that month. He finally realized we were telling him the truth. Great cars when they run but trash the existing carbs if you purchase it.

    Like 1
    • giorgitd

      This was my experience, too. I drove this as a teenager (family car) and the bought it from the family to take to grad school. Worst car I’ve ever owned. I could not keep up with the recalls or the rust (talking here about a 76 Volare, not the sport version shown here). The stalling upon acceleration was dangerous and unrepairable (at least by our dealership). Finally got rid of the thing and bought a 1980 Dodge Colt (remember those Mitsu-made econo cars?). That thing has a few problems, but I drove it from 30k to 100k miles with zero repairs that I could not do myself. Perfect for a grad student/early professional (well, ugly and not a magnet for the opposite gender – I eventually bought an Alfa Romeo GTV6 for that!). Still these cars make the hairs on my neck stand up. They were that awful.

      Like 1
      • Ed P

        At the time mechanics were afraid to fix the real problem with the carbs. They knew the EPA police would catch them and put them in jail. My 2bbl slant six (78) would stumble or stall until I replaced the accelerator pump in the carb. This repair only lasted about a year and then I was back under the hood.

        Like 1
  11. Poppy

    I had no idea how rare these are. A neighbor down the street bought one brand new in 1978 – bright blue. I remember the louvers and the stripes. Always like this style of Mopar wheels.

    Like 1
  12. Rustytech Member

    The stalling issue was more likely the lean burn computer, not the carburetor. We used to replace them routinely whe customers complained about stalling, that usually fixed them, as I don’t remember any returning with the same complaint. There were several recalls on the early Aspens as you might expect on any new model as different as these were from previous offerings. I think GM surpassed their record greatly with the Citation a couple years later. This car needs to be saved, unfortunately they just haven’t appreciated in value like the Trans Am’s. As such this will have to be a labor of love, not an investment.

    Like 1
    • Howard A Member

      Hi Rustytech, that’s true, but it was a little of both. These were dangerous times for carburetted cars, their long reign of feeding fuel to the engine, was almost over. I tinkered on many cars, and the biggest complaint and most repairs, was the carburetor. It was strangled so bad with emission and fuel mileage rules, they all stumbled. They just weren’t giving the motor enough gas. Carburetors soldiered on for a few more years, and I think Chrysler was one of the last to use carburetors.

      Like 1
  13. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Yep…we had a wagon…….drove the stuffing’s out of it…..sold it still running good….new owners were seen around…..driving more stuff out of it !

  14. Gas drawers

    Nova & Kenneth – thanks for sharing your stories. I find the personal recollections and reminiscences shared in the comments here to be as compelling as the details of the cars themselves

    Like 1
  15. John D

    I enjoyed the Volares I had, I especially miss the 76 Roadrunner I had. It was pretty well equipped with the 360 ci. V8, space maker pack, and sunroof. It was a good looking car. I thpught the F bodies road good and had pretty good handling and yhe drivabilty issues were solved mostly by setting the choke when starting.

  16. casey j.

    the frame problem is most likely where the front frame connects to the passenger compartment. I helped a friend fix up a 76′ volare that suffered major rot on both sides. Some company out there makes a patch kit to go over the rot and make it solid again. The problem is caused by a hole pressed into the frame rail that faces up and traps salt and water leading to rot. Cool car btw, but a parts machine at best.

    Like 1
  17. David Armstrong

    I had a 78 Roadrunner (Orange) with the 360 in it. Went pretty good by late 70’s standards and had little issues with it that I can remember. I would definitely have it back if given the chance.

    Putting the finishing touches on a 78 Plymouth Trail Duster Top Hand Edition now that was a barn find in Southern MN (I’ll tell you sometime about the mouse nest I found under the intake manifold – the entire length of the intake manifold) and have a 68 Impala in the garage for the next project so I’ll pass on the Aspen. :)

    Like 1
  18. Vin in NJ

    As a kid working at a gas station, I hated these cars (Aspen/Volare) because of the way the gas filler was located on the side of the fender with no catch surround. No matter how careful you were, gas would always spill down the side of the car

    Like 1
  19. Edward Finnesey

    The only thing I remember about Aspens was a radio commercial of the time where a old man voice is heard saying, “Aspen? The woods are full of ’em.” For some reason I found that a laugh riot then, and still do.

    Now for this car? Buy it for parts to help rebuild another. Being 1 of 531 it does have value. I mean, how many could possibly still be out there.

    Like 1
  20. Jubjub

    There was also a cool Plymouth Volare Load Runner wagon.

    Like 1
  21. Burzel

    Had a ’79 Volare Roadrunner, black with gold graphics and 360ci V8 engine, in the early ’90s. It was rusty then, but had enough go in it to beat a smarmy kid in a Fiero GT… kid later went to jail for defrauding old ladies.

    Like 1
  22. Randy

    Wow! In the late 80’s, I worked for a rock radio station in Youngstown, Ohio. We gave away one of these as a promotion involving Dodge dealers in the eastern OH/western PA area. One thing leads to another on the internet, and I stumbled across this site and the above article. The CL link is dead, so I assume the car is sold or scrapped, but since you said it was in Ohio I have to wonder…was it the old 95 K-Rock promo car from Varley’s in Hermitage?

    Like 1
  23. Arthur

    I wouldn’t mind buying this car if I had the money. If nothing else, once the body was stripped down to bare metal, it would make a good candidate for a hot rod build, especially if it was given an Art Morrison or Roadster Shop chassis, carbon fiber parts wherever necessary, and an emissions-legal Hellcat engine backed by a Bowler Performance 4L80E with paddle shifters.

    Like 1
  24. R E Adams

    43 years, Happy owner of Super Coupe.
    Have read through many of the comments of the problems faced by owners and possible fixes. The reoccurring problem of stalling out when hitting the gas or pulling out into traffic, was kind of located by my brother rebuilding a carb on moms 6 cyl. He found it was nothing to do with the mechanical or electrical. It was FUEL.
    Back then (late 70s) they were loading up the gas with alcohol and this would erode or split the o-rings in the accelerator pump. Hence, no decent fuel supply to the jets.
    And no gitty-up when needed.
    Hope this may answer past issues.
    A final note:
    Was buying a 97 Sebring lxi , and over heard a woman asking about the difference between a Sun roof and a Moon roof, I told her it depends on which shift you work…..

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