1978 Plymouth Volare: Petty Special

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Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

As we’ve documented on these pages before, Chrysler Corp. pulled out all the stops to make the Volare and Aspen twins more appealing through a variety of limited production packages. Well, featured here is one that must be damn near non-existent today considering only 247 Volare “Petty Kit Cars” found buyers. This one, complete with fender flares and the correct Richard Petty-inspired graphics, is here on eBay for $15,000.

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The Volare Super Coupe was a pretty loud car as-is, with plenty of graphics and window dressing to catch customers’ attention when they walked onto the lot. We documented one not too long ago, but this one is unofficially known as the “Petty Kit Car” since it wears Richard Petty’s famous racing numbers on the side and is clad in blue paint. However, not long after it was introduced, Petty stopped racing for Chrysler, so they pulled the plug on the model.

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This car is expensive for what it is, but it’s also impeccably clean. I’m not sure what’s original and what’s been re-done, or if the mileage listed is correct. The carpet and seats certainly appear clean enough inside that the 13,000 miles on the eBay listing could be authentic. I feel a low-mileage survivor at this price is a fair deal for all involved, but less so if the clock has rolled over and the interior has been replaced.

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While this engine doesn’t exactly live up to the hype of the hood pins and adjustable rear spoiler (I think the phrase is, “That body writes checks the engine can’t cash”), it is the higher-performance police package mill. In its day, it was good for a 0-60 run in the high 7s or low 8s, depending on what you read. For me, that’s an acceptable number for such a wild-looking cruiser, but it’s definitely a matter of personal taste as to whether you’d rock this loud-and-proud Mopar. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Charles H. for the find!

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Comments

  1. Rick

    Bizarre how Chrysler Corp copied GM’s rally wheels, by just adding a sixth hole, sort of a head scratcher, guess it’d be great if were made for 6 lug wheels . . .




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  2. Mike R

    You would have to be a true Petty fan to want that….wow.




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  3. JW454

    “However, not long after it was introduced, Petty stopped racing and Chrysler pulled the plug on the model.” “WTF”

    Richard Petty didn’t stop racing until a crash on lap 95 in the Hooters 500 November 19th 1992 long after many of these rust buckets were in the junkyards. During the last race on his farewell tour he was involved in a racing accident with Rich Bickle who had crashed with Darrell Waltrip.




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    • Dallas

      Stopped racing “for” Chrysler… next ride I believe was for GM and Pontiac.




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    • Jeff

      I’ll make the assumption that you believe anything that GM and Ford were making were superior in some fashion. They were not, by any standard. I was around at the time, and saw new Camaro’s with rust pitting on the doors, I was thinking at the time that all the new cars must have been made to rust. I also remember that my older brother’s friend came home from the navy, with a new orange 360 Road Runner, and it was a very nice car. And outran everything except a friends little red express. BTW, one of the Camaro’s had a Rusty Jones sticker on the bumper, and had some kind of goo dripping out from under the bumpers.




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  4. SoCal Car Guy

    Does anyone ever fact check this stuff before it gets posted? Richard Petty did NOT stop racing in 1978. He quit driving “Dodges” exclusively mid way through the ’78 season and ran a mixture of Chevy Monte Carlo and Olds Cutlass- bodied racers the rest of the season. For 1979 and 1980 he mixed it up with a mix of Chevys, Ddges and Oldsmobiles, switched to Buick for 1981, and signed on with Pontiac for the balance of his career, retiring at the end of the 1992 season. I am not a big NASCAR fan but 1992 stands out because I took my then 13-year-old son the the next to last race of the year, at Phoenix, so he could see Richard Petty race at least once. (I’d seen hime race at Riverside in everything from IROC Porsches to road course NASCAR “stock” cars ranging from a Torino Talladega to Pontiac Grand Prix’s.

    You’d look a lot better to say nothing and to spew mistakes.




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    • RayT Member

      I saw Petty race at Riverside as well. Looking back, seems to me that he developed more skill at road racing as the years went by: the first time, I remember that he tended to straight-line the “esses” there, driving on dirt when he ran out of pavement. He wasn’t alone in that!

      Wonder if Ford could do a “Petty Edition” Fusion now in honor of his current team…a two-door with a V8 driving the rear wheels is a Fusion I’d buy!

      But I’d hope they’d leave off the NASCAR-style gewgaws. No numbers or spoilers, thank you. I’d be a bit embarrassed to drive this Volare on the street. Having driven a few race-prepared cars on the street in the past — complete with numbers, sponsor decals and rollcages — I know all too well how much attention they attract. And there was always some leadfoot who had to prove his car was faster….




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    • Dave at OldSchool Restorastions

      ..JW454 is CORRECT …Chrysler quit selling these after Petty stopped racing CHRYSLER products in 1978…. ( I know JW didn’t say Chrysler in his post)
      .
      …….These Petty street cars were a decaled streetcar for retail, and were a take off from the ” Race Car in a Box ” …. true Short Track race cars that were sold by Chrysler in pieces, delivered to the Dealer of your choice…. and were actually from the Petty ‘program’, the chassis were built by the Team’s Arrington shop … Dale Sr did testing on the program’s prototype
      .
      ….. I have owned two of these race cars, one of which was the ex-Doug Dodd “Ole Blue”, one of two that were originally built for road racing in TransAm and IMSA…..
      You can find all about it , at a link about half way down our website

      ………………. http://www.race-cardrivers.com/shop.htm




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      • Bobsmyuncle

        Thanks for all the added info, I had never heard of them before. Man car companies used to be so forward thinking.




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  5. randy

    No thank you very much. It would go nicely beside a Shelby Charger though.




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  6. Dirty Dingus McGee

    “Richard Petty’s infamous racing numbers”.

    Huh?

    I think you mean famous.




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    • Bobsmyuncle

      Maybe not if your a rabid Pearson or Allison fan? 😉




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  7. Charles H.

    I think the author meant that Petty quit racing Chrysler Products in ’78, which he did….that’s when he started racing GM products. Give him a break, I think it was probably just a miss writing of words!




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    • Jeff Lavery Jeff Staff

      Thank you Charles, and apologies for causing any consternation among our readers. I did indeed mean to convey that he stopped racing Chrysler products. Carry on. 😉




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      • SoCal Car Guy

        Jeff,

        If you mean to say something, then say it. If you’re not sure of something, do a quick fact check on a search engine like google or yahoo search. It’ll save you hassles and sniping from readers later on.
        (I know whereof I speak. For over a decade I was a writer, photographer and, ultimately, an editor-in-chief for a major publisher of automotive, truck and motorcyle enthusiast magazines. I got reamed a few times early on, by both readers and editors I was working for, over stupid mistakes that went to print. And ALWAYS read and reread whatever it is you’ve written before you click on “send.”)




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      • Charles

        You did mention that Petty quit racing for Chrysler. JW454 mis-quoted you and omitted this fact. Instead of critiquing others one should proof their own writings b4 posting.




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  8. jake

    Can’t believe anyone ever drove this thing!!! Had a Volare company car and would not go out of my way to do anything positive about a Volare. Worst vehicle I have ever driven-including AMC Concord rental car from Newark Int’l Airport….unbeliveable that this is even showing up as a collector-should be crushed!!!




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  9. randy

    Rough crowd!




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    • Bobsmyuncle

      That’s the nice way of putting it. Some folks need to relax it’s supposed to be an enjoyable hobby they need leave the bitching for the workplace.




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  10. wynkin

    That has to be a low point in styling even for an American car.




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  11. Cassidy

    JC Whitney catalog must have loved Chrysler for all the orders!




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  12. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    247 people drove these on the road?

    I hope most of those folks just bought them as “an investment”, otherwise it’s a big red flag…I mean a two-tone blue flag…to the officers of the law to ‘Hey, pay attention to me’.




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    • Toddjim

      Cops have been pulling over muscle cars for as long as I have been driving them, just to get a closer look. I can only remember one time being stopped for: put some mufflers on it. But pulled over a lot just to receive compliments. Cops have been pretty good guys in my world.




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  13. Chris

    Coincidence strikes again. Over at oldcarbrochures.com there’s this gem.
    http://oldcarbrochures.org/New-Brochures—October/1978-Dodge-Aspen-Street-Kit-Poster




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    • Jason

      “Decorative hood pins”, ugh.




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  14. Fred

    Today’s laughing stock is tomorrows collectible “wish I had bought it when I could” car. So start snapping up those Aztecs.




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  15. Steve

    You sure they called this a “kit car”? A real Mopar Kit Car is a real oval/road track race car. Not meant to be street legal. THAT is the Mopar F body worth having




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    • julie

      This Is My Dad’s He Bought It Brand New Off The Show Room Floor And Still Has It! All Original 13,000 miles Car Has Never Seen Rain Or Snow Always Been Garaged! It’s Advertised As A Kit Car On The Original Window Sticker And Sales Brochures




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  16. Walter Joy

    Never heard of this version and the red Dodge Aspen cousin until Chryslers at Carlisle this year, where there were 2 of them (one was a one owner, all original car)




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  17. STEEL CRAZY

    SoCAL guy you need to take a chill pill! This is all for fun and I personally don’t care and im sure a lot of other readers on here don’t care either if the Jeff made a mistake. You need to take your perfection somewhere else Mr. perfect because we don’t need to read your negativity on here. I was having fun reading the comments in till I read yours. GO AWAY!




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    • Mark S Member

      I imagine it takes a lot of work to keep this page going, and God knows I’ve made my mistakes too. I just want to say thanks to the team of guys that keep this going. Remember we follow this site because we like old cars.




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      • gunningbar

        yes!




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  18. Charles H.

    Steve, they also made a Street/Kit Car along with the Stock Car/Kit Car.




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  19. Tundra/BMW Guy Member

    I’m with STEEL CRAZY, take a chill pill. This site is for fun and education. Most people with any intelligence can see through a mistake and take it in stride. Jumping down the authors throat gets you nowhere with many people and certainly ends up making YOU look the one with the problem!!! I knew, as soon as I read the “mistake” what he meant and I have never heard of nor seen one of these cars and know next to nothing about Petty.
    I am a regular reader of this site and have gained far more knowledge than I had prior to finding it!
    Jeff, please keep up the good work. I for one, appreciate it!




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  20. STEEL CRAZY

    Thank you Tundra/BMW Guy! I thought I might have made a mistake speaking my mind. It feels good that some people feel the same way I do. I have so much fun reading the comments that fuel this site, and that what’s makes it such a good thing to follow. But when some perfectionist has to come on here to project negativity against somebody that’s just trying to share a find it really takes the fun out of it. I AM 53 YEARS OLD and I thought I knew I a lot more than I did . But after falling this web site I have learned so much more about classic cars than I would have ever believed . Thanks to all the people that make this web site as good as it is. I am a true fan for sure. Most likely addicted lol.




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  21. randy

    Ditto here!




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  22. David-Joe Oliver

    my wife had one of these 1978 Richard Petty Plymouth volara Supper Coupe cars. I wish we still had it. If anyone knows where one if for sale I would be interested in checking it out. Her’s was the Petty Blue. Hers did not have the 43 numbers on it. She bought it new in Savannah,Ga. Been trying to find another one for her. thanks




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  23. Colby H

    Had 1 it was pushing 300 hp. Beat many big blocks. Better than a Camaro




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  24. David-Joe Oliver

    Hey Colby H My wife had one of these Richard Petty Specials. It was an awesome Car. Very good Looking and Very Fast!! I could beat our Boss in the 1/4 mile run every time and he was driving a Corvette!! He could finally catch me on Top I
    End But he could never beat me on take off!! If I could afford it I would like to buy this one or another one for my wife. She hated when she got rid of hers.




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  25. George A. Sr.

    I bought one of these back in the day when they came out. It’s been junked in my brothers ranch for years. All original. Drives good but has a problem with the steering column or something. Needs a paint job but body is good. I’m almost 60 now and on disability. I don’t drive much so have no use for it. My oldest son tells me he wants to work on it and fix it up. But not much has been done to it that I know of. Sure be nice to meet Richard Petty and he offer to fix it up for me haha… Dream on! Right? lol. I guess I just hang on to it since she’s all I got for now. Went through 2 divorces, but my 78 Plymouth is still my first babe. 😉




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    • David joe Oliver

      Hey George are you interested in selling the 78 Plymouth Volare??




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