18,000 Miles! 1980 Plymouth Volare

“Volare, oh, oh.. Cantare, oh, oh, oh, oh”.. I highly doubt if Dean Martin owned this 1980 Plymouth Volare, but you never know. No, he didn’t own it, or probably anything like it. That’s not to say that it isn’t a nice car for $3,000 or offer. It’s on Craigslist in Baltimore, Maryland.

This looks like a civil service car or some sort of government-issued fleet vehicle. But, white cars usually do. The seller calls it a “7 out of 10” and “not a garage queen”, but it looks about as nice as a 37-year old white car can look. I see some rust bubbling to the surface in a few areas and that’s painful. I have two white vehicles and they’re a rusty mess.

The Volare, and its sister car the Dodge Aspen, were made for the 1976 through 1980 model years and Lee Iacocca once famously said, “The Darts and Valiants ran forever and should never have been dropped. Instead, they were replaced by cars that often began to fall apart after a year or two. When these cars came onto the market, they were still in the development phase. Looking back, I can not think of a car of the last twenty years that gave the customer more dissatisfaction than the Aspen and Volare.” Ouch.

This is one utilitarian car, but it really looks like it’s in great condition. The seller says that it only has 18,000 miles on it, is that possible? Of course it’s possible, but is it probable? This must have been the proverbial drive-to-church-on-Sunday car, that’s less than 490 miles a year! And, it has a hula girl on the dash, you can’t beat that. The vinyl seats look a little darker than the door panels do, maybe it’s been replaced or they were covered? The headliner looks perfect and other than a couple of nicks on the dash and an aftermarket stereo, it looks like it’s pert’near in perfect condition inside.

This is Chrysler’s famous 225 slant-six engine and it looks fairly clean. $1.28 worth of satin black on the air cleaner element and an hour of general cleaning would have made this engine look fantastic. There is no mention of how it runs, but they mention the new battery, Interstate, of course, and there’s a spare belt in the trunk. This car also has brand new tires. It sure would been under the radar in the early-1980s but now you’d stick out like a sore thumb in this car; but in a good way. Let’s hear those Volare and Aspen stories out there!

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Don H

    My little town Bicknell Indiana had the Dodge diplomat as the police cars ,my 10 speed was about as fast 🚲🚲

  2. Cleric

    My first car. Paid $200 for it, sold it for $350 18 months later. Would love to have this one.

    Like 1
  3. Mark

    Looks like this was the granadas competetion, same shape.

  4. Sam

    I had the displeasure of owning a used 1980 Volare between 82 and 84. 4 door baby poo beige, vinyl interior, no air, crank windows, slant 6. Thats the down side. The upside was it got great mileage, you could squeal the tires, it got mistaken for an unmarked police car, it was totaled out after being rearended parked in front of the house.

    Like 1
  5. boxdin

    The most recalled car at the time.

    • Brent Mazur

      By the 1980 model year, the Aspen/Volare cars were sorted and were recalled ONCE for a brake line issue. Only 6,600 cars were affected.

      Our family owned a 1980 Volare for 23 years and it was wonderfully reliable.

  6. giorgitd

    I learned to drive on a 76 Volare. It had a wicked bad behavior – cruising up a freeway entrance ramp, nail the throttle to merge and…it would stall. Quite a puckering experience for anyone, but a 16 y/o newbie driver… It’s a wonder that I didn’t give up and just get an annual bus pass! The Volare did this trick e v e r y t i m e, even after multiple trips to the dealer. So, at least you knew what to expect… Oh, an it rusted through the top of the fenders within a couple of years. And recalled many, many times. I would not have this one if you paid me.

    • billy

      My old man bought the first new Volare in our little town, a fresh off the lot 1976. It too had that stalling problem, Mom was not happy. Luckily (?), it only had a 12 month/12000 mile warranty in those days and the day after that time frame, zipped off to the local junk yard and yanked the carb off a 1972 Dart slant six. Ran like a charm then, Mom was much happier. Luckily in our little Wisconsin town, there was no emissions testing so he could do that. Mileage and power went way up.That car ran until 247000 miles on her, we all had it for a while, never let us down. Never even had the head off her. Only reason it went to the junk yard around 1990, was because it was so rusty, the exhaust gave you a headache when inside the car. Yes, the car rusted too quickly, and a few other problems like that, but the real trouble was the 1950s tech engines trying to make the modern at that time pollution controls. Obviously I like clean air, but the cars were almost dangerous at times because of the problems. We are lucky for modern tech, clean cars and ample power.

      • Ed P

        The 2bbl slant 6 used a Carter carb. The carb had a piston type accelerator pump. It was supposed to give a shot of extra gas when accelerating. The pump failed quickly causing the stalling problem. At the time, mechanics feared the EPA police and avoided fixing the real problem.

      • billy

        ED P, Dads car had the 1bbl slant six, (He replaced it with an earlier working 1bbl carb) I believe the 2bbl Super Six wasn’t available on a Volare until 77or78 (though as early as 76 on the mid sized cars, I think) The SS had both Carter and Holley 2bbl, I think the Holley was a little more reliable. I heard the Carter tended to warp and leak over time. I have an 83 Mirada slant six that has little HP, and crummy gas mileage with a 1bbl. I can’t decide if I just want to go to an early 70s 318, a late 90s 318 Magnum (would that fit?), or try to get a working 2bbl on it. Got to do something. Had that car for over 30 years, and even though at 120K, the slant six will never die, I just need (okay, want) more usable power. (Plus its about to come out of the body shop with a shiny new Nightwatch Blue paint job and the performance should match)

      • Ed P

        Billy, I had a 4bbl 383 with a Holly carb. It had a ‘bellows’ type accelerator pump and worked much better than the Carter setup. I think the 1bbl had the same type of setup.

  7. RoselandPete

    The Aspen/Volare must have been great cars. They were awarded Motor Trend’s Car of the Year. (snicker)

    Like 1
    • angliagt

      Didn’t the Car of the Year winner need to supply
      Motor Trend with cars for the year?
      If so – the joke was on them (MT).

      Like 1
      • RoselandPete

        I think the car of the year winner only had to guarantee that a certain amount of advertising dollars would be spent in upcoming issues of MT.

        Like 1
  8. Leon

    Stale bread styling. Looks like Homer Simpson’s car was modeled after this. The round light previous models looked better

  9. sam

    i bought a new 76 road runner volare loaded as much as you could get in 76 including the ground effects. had it for 10 months,was in the garage 15 times for various things but mostly the dying problem. i put 10,000 miles on it . worst car i ever owned. when i went to trade it in the sales people usually just laughed & made there offer without driving it. i saw the 2nd owner at a diner & asked him about the running of the car. he explained why the previous owner traded it in not knowing it was me. i ask how it was running & told him i was the first owner. he tossed me the keys & said take her for a spin. UNBELIEVABLE .how it ran. i asked what he had done to make it run so good? ( ready for this) he changed the timing 2 degrees. i questioned the dealer i purchased it from about this & he said that was all it needed, but he could be fined $10,000 for doing it. all that headache for 2 degrees. sad. you will never guess what i just got done restoring? the identical car from calf. & no rust. however the sick 318 was replaced with a 69 barracuda 318 4 bbl. its the only one in my tri-state & has already need best mopar at every show & it will fly. so i guess you can go back to your early years in some ways. i,m 65

    • sam

      don,t know why pic is turned that way. must still have some bugs in it. lol

  10. Chris N

    “Volare, oh, No.. Alcantara, oh, no, no, No.”

  11. Miguel

    This car almost single handedly bankrupted Chrysler. It is lucky Iacocca took over and brought the company back.

    If anybody wants these cars, the are all over Mexico. They were called Dart here, all of them.

    The K cars that followed these were also called Dart. I guess they couldn’t give up that name.

    Like 1
  12. Mike H. Mike H

    “The seller says that it only has 18,000 miles on it, is that possible?”

    Of course it’s possible. While we see a variety of very low mileage cars here on Band Finds, the greater number of them are cars like this Volare and the 1970 Nova from yesterday.

    Why do they have such low mileage?

    Because they were (overall) awful cars to drive.

    Sure, I may be spoiled by what the modern cars offer in comparison, but even for the day the Volare/Aspen were uncomfortable, ugly, underpowered, and offered lousy ergonomics and the equivalent of no creature comforts, even in deluxe trim.

    This one appears to be base spec with an automatic and A/C. I’d agree that it may have some civil service use, although municipal vehicles aren’t usually known for their low mileage, and I don’t have cause to doubt this one’s mileage claim.

    It’s sad to see a rotting Challenger or GTO in one post followed by a well preserved but dreadful and pedestrian malaise-era Chrysler in the next one, but isn’t this just the nature of things?

  13. Don

    My carpool buddy had a new Volare, at least it said so on the driver’s side…but the passenger side said Aspen.

    Like 1
  14. Mark

    Homer Simpson’s car is 31 years old . Still runnng great.

  15. Fred W.

    Worst car ever built with the exception of the Yugo. However, there can be a good copy of anything. This is either a good copy, or it had a tranny failure early in life, sat in the garage for years, got fixed and put up for sale recently.

    • Mike

      my 1988 Yugo GV is a true survivor and has never let me down last 8 years. Still has cold AC too!

  16. rando

    Does the AC work if a belt is put on? And with 18K miles, should the valve cover look quite so ratty? I know it’s a lot of years, but that has me suspicious of the mileage claim. BUT, when I read the listing the owner says true mileage unknown. So the seller isn’t claiming 18K miles, just the writer here.

    With that, the car looks to be in really good shape otherwise. Might make a good car for someone.

  17. Bill Warner

    It was a terrible car then and it is a terrible car now. The Motor Trend Car of the Year was a payoff to a pan of the Duster the previous year when Chrysler pulled their Motor Trend ads.

    Like 1
    • RoselandPete

      I didn’t think MT ever panned cars for fear of manufacturers pulling their advertising. Makes me think of a car reviewer for the Chicago Sun-Times, Dan Jedlicka, who I used to read decades ago. I never read him panning a car except for saying the ash tray was too small or something like that. I always figured he was afraid that the car companies would cut him off.

  18. Pa Tina

    Maybe George Jones drove it when the riding mower was in the shop.

  19. whippeteer

    The engine compartment, and especially the air cleaner point to a lot more than 18K miles.

    • Keith

      It’s Baltimore man. Here on the east coast engine bays look like that after just a few short years.

  20. Bob S

    I gotta think someone here really has an irrational soft spot for the unloved trio : Volares, Fairmonts, and Monarchs.
    or would that be Aspens, Zephyrs and Grenadas?

  21. Miguel

    I don’t think the Granadas and Monarchs were particularly bad cars. The Fairmonts were just tin boxes of which you were reminded every time you closed the door.

    This car almost closed down the whole company. Not many cars have that claim to fame.

    Like 1
  22. Peter

    Yup, my dad had a bronze 2 door. Came highly equipped including what had to be some of the last bias ply tires available (should have been a warning sign). Truly was an awful car that we only had for about a year. The plastic trim on the rear deck warped badly. My dad took it back to the Chrysler dealer for warranty repair. Instead of replacing the plastic trim, they used nice bright silver screws and screwed the raised warped portions to the metal work under the deck. My dad never bought another Big 3 car again, partly for the poor craftsmanship, partly for the abysmal dealer service.

  23. David Miraglia

    my parents owned a Volare/Aspen after the reliable 164, it was a horror story. We replaced it with a Checker cab and a Chevy caprice latter on.

  24. Miguel

    My aunt bought a 1977 Volare Wagon.

    30 minutes after she drove it out of the dealership she brought it back because the horn didn’t work.

    The dealer told her that her husband rewired it. In 30 minutes, right.

    Her answer was “if you knew my husband, you would know that is impossible”.

    He didn’t know a screwdriver from a wrench.

    Horrible customer service.

    It is kind of fitting that the car was issued a California plate starting with 666.

    Like 1
    • Ed P

      I once rented a car from a C-P dealer while mine was in for service. The car they gave me did not have working wipers and it had started to rain. When I took it back, the dealer asked, why did I need wipers!!

      Like 1
  25. Keith

    I do remember that jingle from the commercial when I was a kid but song or no song some cars just aren’t worth the ink of advertisement and in my opinion, this is one of em. Long live the 73 Fury III !

  26. Brent Mazur

    If I had the $3k, I’d buy it right now.

  27. Car Nut Tacoma

    I’ve always liked the 1976 and 77 Dodge Aspen, and the 1979 and 80 Dodge Aspen. I’d buy one if I could find a nicely kept car, preferably one with low mileage, between 20k and 40k on the clock. I’d want mine to have all the accessories offered for it, except for the V8 engine.

  28. Mike

    You all are a bit off…this is a factory A38 police package. Very rare.

  29. Ed P

    I had a 78 Aspen. I think Barn Finds is haunting me with the Aspen/Volare finds. I never spent so much time fixing a new car.

  30. Jerry K

    I had a 76 Aspen 4 dr, with the slant 6. Great running engine..my first car. Orange color. Every time I went around a turn too fast, it would stall. I got so use to it, that I would shift it into neutral and crank her right back up without missing a beat.
    The ballast resistor burnt up a few times on me. That’s the only issue. The only reason I don’t have it anymore is because they stole it eight days after I had it painted at Earl Scheib.

  31. PaulieB

    I’ve been over my ’76 Aspen story here ad-nauseam. By 1980 they had pretty much sorted out the problems with the rusty fenders, faulty rear ends, stalling out..poor overall build quality etc. But by then it was too late. The Lido shuffle commenced and the company turn-around was in the works..

    Like 1
  32. Sabrina M

    I had a 1980 Dodge aspen as a first car in 2005. Paid $200 for it. It was a piece. It was so rusted, it had 320k miles, and it was a smoker but it got me from A to B. I had to put a quart of oil in about every 2 days and I had this thing for 3 years. The fender was so rusted that when driving, it would bend out because there was so little fender left, so I had to get out and push it back in like every 30 miles. Made for a lot of funny stories. Even though it was in a rough shape, I loved it and the only reason I got rid of it was because I was expecting twins and I couldn’t drive them in an unsafe car.

  33. Liam Williamson

    I had a 1980 Volare, briefly, when I was a teenager; it was white with a sort of pale metallic blue vinyl hard-top, and the weird non-matching chrome and black gas cap they used that year for some reason. I unfortunately wrapped it around a tree taking a corner too fast on a gravel road when I was sixteen. The cop told me I’d be dead if I wasn’t wearing my seat-belt, which was both amusing & terrifying, ’cause I wasn’t. Unlike most people who commented, I loved that car, and would take it back in a heartbeat, although I’d much rather have the station wagon version. By 1980, which was the last year of production, most if not all of the earlier problems had been sorted out. As far as I know, that was the last regular model built with the amazing 225 “slant six” engine, which was as close to bullet-proof as any engine, ever. On a fairly light car like this, that engine provided more than enough power. I could squeal the tires without brake-torquing, and I got clocked doing 137 mph by the Michigan State Police, who were kind enough to let me go with a warning since I’d only had my license for a couple of weeks. That’s as fast as anybody needs to go on the street! In the late 1980s, the Volare didn’t seem all that cool, although I’d put it up against my friend Steve’s Ford Fairmont any day, hahaha! Now, however, from the perspective of 2019, this was the last production vehicle more-or-less resembling a “muscle car” that Chrysler made for a very long time…

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