30K Miles! 1978 Plymouth Volare Wagon

I have always wondered what a Plymouth Valiant wagon would have looked like during the last of their run, but I guess the next best thing would be a 1978 Plymouth Volare wagon. It was next in line and this one has 30,653 miles on it. The seller has it listed here on eBay in Santa Paula, California, the current bid price is $3,550, and there is no reserve.

Plymouth made a Valiant wagon but not during the last couple of generations and most of us remember the stylish shape of the two-door model, I’m not sure how that would have translated into a wagon. I don’t know if a lot of people would call a Volare wagon stylish and they sure had their share of problems in the early years. They were made from 1976 until 1980 and this one has a couple of small dings on the front edge of the hood but that looks like about it for damage. We saw a very similar Volare wagon in the same color a year and a half ago here on Barn Finds but that one was even nicer and it had a mere 33,000 miles on it! It did have a slant-six compared to this car’s V8 so there’s that.

This particular Volare wagon looks like it’s in superb condition, as a Volare owner might say if they were as fancy as the name Volare would suggest. Most of them weren’t fancy, they were just regular people, not exotic and not singers such as Domenico Modugno who made the song Volare famous. In case you needed any more trivia clouding up your memory banks. I wonder what Dave Kindig or Chip Foose could do with those horrible bumpers to make them not look like they’re found on shelf 312A at Bumpers-R-Us. They’re as generic as it gets.

Starting in 1978, Volare added a 60/40 split-bench front seat which this one doesn’t appear to have in this trim level. Plaid seats would have also been available and I’d probably redo these in OEM fabric if it were mine. What it does have inside is drop-dead perfect-looking seats, dash, carpets, door panels, and everything else. And in the proper color, I might add. The back seat looks brand new and although they don’t show the rear cargo area or the underside, I’m guessing that they’re both as nice and clean as the rest of the car appears to be. A three-speed and four-speed floor shifter would have been available with some engines, but this one has a three-speed TorqueFlite automatic.

The seller doesn’t list a VIN or anything about the engine other than that it has eight cylinders. I’m assuming that it’s a 318 cubic-inch V8 which would have had 140 horsepower in two-barrel form, 155 with a four-barrel carb. A 360 V8 with around 155 horsepower would also have been an option. All they say is that it starts and runs which isn’t a huge vote of confidence, but they also say “junkslip” and I have no idea what that means but it sounds even worse. This car sure looks good to me even with a “Rebuilt” title. Any thoughts on this clean Volare wagon?


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  1. CCFisher

    Is anyone else disappointed that Bob, Linda, and the kids are nowhere to be found?

    Like 15
    • Geoff

      I was hoping I would see a reference here! There is one of these parked near my in-laws and I have been very tempted to make an offer just so I can make it into a Bobs Burgers tribute car.

      Like 3
  2. Mark C

    My uncle had one that looked almost the same, except he had the plaid seats. I remember hopping in with my cousins to head to the local amusement park when it would have been about 5 years old. The interior was clean but it had rusted so much I’m not sure how it was held together. I’d drive this one, just not in the winter.

    Like 8
  3. Mimo

    Had a buddy who had a green Aspen wagon with a stick.

    It was not pretty, but it took a beating.

    Like 4
    • ADM

      Our minister bought a new ’76 wagon with the six and a stick. It drove so badly that he took it back, after two days, and got his money back.

  4. Terrry

    The “junkslip” and rebuilt/salvage title have me nervous too. And they don’t say how well it runs…hmmm

    Like 4
  5. Bakes

    I would look very carefully at the front end of that. May have been rebuilt from a total or it may be as a flood car. Either one, that junk slip sends up warning signs

    Like 4
  6. Stephen Miklos

    Looking at the vin number the 5 digit reads H. That not right for 1978. But the Air filter cover looks like a 360. The 318 was smaller and taller looking. If it’s a 360 that’s pretty rare. As for the title business I agree sounds like it’s a flood vehicle. Good luck to the next owner.🐻🇺🇸

    Like 4
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Stephen, you’re right, I missed the VIN in the listing! My apologies. Thanks for the info on the engine.

      Like 1
  7. Troy

    I don’t think this is a flood vehicle because of its age that scrape on the hood would total loss the car from insurance this is before Carfax and autoCheck so one would have to inspect it in person but it would make someone a decent car for a while

    Like 3
  8. George Mattar

    For those of you who don’t know Carfax means nothing. This car was built long before useless Carfax existed. I work in a body shop. If insurance companies don’t PAY them, there is no Carfax. State Farm, the largest auto insurer by far, does NOT subscribe to Carfax. You take chances on any used car. Except for rust, these cars will run longer with cheap repairs in contrast to a new POS Chrysler.

    Like 7
    • Stevieg Member

      You are correct George. My Mom had a car she bought new in 1999. Between a run in with a deer, vandals, & my now ex wife stealing it and smashing it up, it had every body panel replaced at 1 time or another, except the roof & the grill (really lol). It had a clean car-fax when sold in 2003.
      I had a neighbor who was the original owner of another car she bought in 2001. Nice car, clean car. Had 1 minor fender bender that required a new driver’s side front fender & headlight to fix. The dealership she took it to for repairs must have needed more money. They charged the insurance company for a lot more parts & labor, & the cat was listed by Carfax as having been in a severs collision. I saw it after the accident & before repairs…it really was no big deal lol. I bought the car from her 10 years later.

  9. Wayne

    My step mom had a white wagon. 318 auto. It had the normal Aspen/Volare shakes and vibrations, not to mention the very poorly designed smog equipment drivability issues. Dad tossed all the smog stuff (including the intake manifold) and installed everything from about a 1968 318. I installed stronger, wider wheels with the same size high quality Goodyear tires and KYB shocks. (The old original wheels where what we called in the tire business “tin foil wheels”. They were not only likely to bend by looking at them. But they were also usually not round from the factory.) All the running problems were gone and it drove beautifully. She was on the dog show circuit and drove that car until an accident took it out. The car had 285,000 miles on it and she would get over 100,000 miles on a set of tires.
    It was a great car, once you took the stupid out of it!

    Like 3
  10. Russ Ashley

    I love it. I had a 76 Aspen wagon, same as Volare, with a /6, four speed, a/c. and ps. Mine was white with blue interior. We don’t have snow other than maybe a day or two here in the Atlanta area, and I stay home on those days, so it was never driven in salt, so no rust ever. Family and friends hated it, but I loved it for 201K miles. It still ran great when I traded it on a 1981 Diplomat two door.

    Like 3
  11. Martin

    We had the identical car growing up. You could fit a case of beer under the flip up floor in the back where the spare tire was supposed to be. My mom got a new motor at the dealership after a few hundred thousand miles, and she took a taxi to pick it up and go shopping. The dealership called trying to track her down because there was a puddle of oil where they had parked the car idling, breaking in the new motor. But she did not come home for hours and the low oil light had been on all day. The defective oil filter adaptor puked all the oil out as soon as I added a jug so she had driven all day with zero oil on a new crate motor. They towed it back to the dealership, pulled the pan to have a look and gave it back with extended engine warranty. It ran for years longer until rust took it off the road.

    Like 3
  12. Todd Fitch Staff

    Wow Scotty – flaskback to the car I learned to drive on, a ’78 Volare Wagon my folks ordered with 318 and three-speed floor shifter. Tan with the nice tan plaid interior and wood grain. My Step-Dad drove us out of town while explaining what he was doing with his feet and the shifter, etc. then he just pulled over onto the berm and said “OK – go ahead.” No parking lot or anything just on-the-road training. Worked out OK as far as I remember! I wonder what percentage of these wagons had a floor shifter. This was in NW PA and they didn’t want AC but whatever package they wanted came with it so it had AC that was NEVER used no matter how hot it got in the Summer. Nice write-up as always!

    Like 3
  13. Ian Carlton

    I worked for Chrysler from 1973 to 1978. I’m familiar with decoding serial numbers on these cars. In 1978, there was no “H” code for an engine. An “H” represented a 340 back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. In 1978, the 318 would be a “G” code and the 360 would be a “K” or an “L”, depending on carburation. I suspect it may be a typo and that the car originally came with the 318. Besides, I think the only way you could get a 360 in a Volare was if you ordered it as a “Road Runner” package. In any event, there was a lot of good and a lot of bad in these cars. A car like this would make nothing more than a cool daily driver but be aware that a complete and thorough inspection of the front suspension would be in order before proceeding. And look to see if there are tell tale signs of body work and rust repair. These were notorious for rusting out within the first year of service.

    Like 2
  14. David G

    The H code engine was first introduced for 1978. It is a 318 with 4 barrel carburetor, and was only available in California at that time. Other states still had 2 barrel carburetion on their 318s. Salvage title can be as simple as the car being donated to a charity or fundraising group. As a Californian, I have seen many cars like that over the past three plus decades. Happens a lot with elderly people. Many don’t want to be involved with strangers showing up to test drive their cars, not knowing if they will be ripped off or not. This is a great and super clean car that the new owner will be very happy with.

    Like 3
  15. Gary

    A buddy of mine and myself painted his clueless 19 year old brothers 71 Dart two door and put wheels and tires on it, really dolled it up. Several weeks after we finished it he was at his girlfriend’s whose driveway was two gravel ruts in the grass. He called from a phone booth on the way home and said the motor was noisey, and a light was on on the dash that looked like Aladdins lamp. We could here it knocking over the phone. He drove it home and we found the drain plug was ripped out of the oil pan. Turns out he hit a rock in the grass strip in the middle of her driveway backing out and caused the damage. We tried for an hour to blow it up and it just kept running with no oil. We are big Mopar guys and his dad had eight or nine Valiants and Darts around, all rotted into the ground with good running slant sixes, so we swapped motors and he drove it for another five years until it too went into the parts car row due to Ohio rust.

    Like 2
  16. Howard A Member

    Unless I missed it, Scotty failed to mention, the Volare/Aspen has the sole honor of almost running Chrysler into the ground. I believe, it became the poster child for recalls. If I may quote Mr. Iaccoca, “we sent a lot of crap out the door”,,pretty much referring to these cars. In all fairness, ALL cars were going through a transition then, Chrysler just was the poorest. They tried to make 40 year old motors comply to emission regs, while most foreign cars actually had mastered that by then. These cars were for folks that couldn’t buy a smaller foreign car, and if stout Chrysler fans wanted a “downsize” car, this was pretty much it. Once the bugs were worked, or more accurately, recalled out, they did their job, and junked accordingly. As with all these cars, seemingly at the time, unwanted for any future collectibility, as shown time and time again, SOMEONE, for whatever reason, held on to one, and here you go. Great find, for sure.

  17. chrlsful

    just bought a 35 y/o ford (dwn sized) looks like this (even maroon on red).
    These were the fleet I drove Livery in the 80s (aspens too). Then the boss switched to K-car wagons (or were they 1st?, no, think not as frnt WD lost the slant 6s).

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