9,340 Original Miles: 1977 Dodge Aspen Sport Coupe

Many cars leave an emotional footprint (or sometimes a scar!) in our minds from the experiences that we have with them. Often the exterior doesn’t reflect the driving experience and driving each of these machines is a combination of sight, sound, feel and smells. This Aspen coupe has a utilitarian exterior but ask anyone who has owned a slant 6 powered Mopar and you’ll quickly get idealized stories about these robust engines, Torqueflight transmissions, and torsion bar suspensions. This Aspen has only covered 9,340 miles in 41 years and may just be one of the best examples left! Find it here on craigslist in New Jersey for $7199.

The Aspen/Volare twins were good cars but were caught in unfortunate circumstances. These were replacements for the reliable Dodge Dart/Plymouth Valiant and were engineered to be quieter and better handling.  But a rust problem in the first year, problems with driveability with the single barrel Holley carburetor, problems with the Lean-burn system in the later years, and a general trend toward front wheel drive sealed the fate for these cars.

This car has the optional Super Six which is an intake and Carter 2 barrel carburetor setup which increased horsepower by 10 and greatly improved throttle response and driveability. The Slant Six didn’t get Lean-Burn until 1979, so if you like these cars, 1977 is a good year.  This car also features air conditioning, power brakes, power steering and a Torqueflight automatic transmission.  These are also great handling cars with their transverse torsion bar front suspension.

This car is said to have been in long-term storage after the original owner passed away. With the Super Six carb and intake this would be a good driver but not terribly exciting. It would bring back memories for folks who have owned these cars, but it is too nice not to preserve. What else would you do with this beautiful survivor?

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Comments

  1. Matt

    My dad bought a new Volare, I think it had rust through by the time he got it home from the dealer. Awful cars.

    1
    • Metoo

      Volare…….whoe, oh, oh, oh, oh…….. Sorry, couldn’t restrain myself. But this Aspen also allows me to mention my all time favorite Aspen commercial where the grizzled old timer says “Aspens? The woods are full of em”. I’ll be here all week. Try the veal. And don’t forget to tip your waitress. (Rimshot)

  2. Rod K

    This would be a great entry level car for someone wanting the get into the hobby. I had a sister 77 Volare for 7 years with hardly any problems. Rust did get to it and I traded it off before it got too bad.
    I am sure there will be a lot of negative comments about the car as they did have a bad name but where can you get something this cheap in almost new condition. This car will last for years and cost very little to take care of.

    • Mikey mo

      A friend of mine bought one of these new and in PA winters rust killed the car that by the time the car was three years old he could no longer get it to pass inspection he says he was very bummed since it was a good car after the carburator issue eventually was worked out

    • Larry Boring

      I jus bought a 1979 aspen r/t I love them the optional 360 4bbl makes for a more liveable drive. My son loves it he’s in the picture ready for his first day of 4th grade

    • Metoo

      Is that a common problem with them, or does it depend on location?

  3. Fred W.

    In general a terrible car, but there are always good examples of bad cars. Any Aspen that survives in this condition after 40 years has to be a good example. And I’ll bet it’s a ball to drive. Never owned a slant six, but my brother in law took me on an off road excursion in his Dart that made me a believer.

    • Metoo

      The slant six, from my experience, was a very good engine. But opinions here vary greatly and some may have had a different experience with them. Which is one of the things I love about this site. Knowledgeable car owners that can clue you in on details, perils and pitfalls, you may never have been aware of. I am sure it has swayed a buying decision or two in the past.

      • Chebby Member

        Pre-smog slant sixes are quite lively, but the later models are saddled with emissions gear that sucks the life out of them. These 1970’s motors only had about 100 hp and ran poorly. See all that crap under the hood that looks like there might be a V12 hiding in there? Look at a 1964 Dart by comparison. And good luck to you when you switch that A/C on.

  4. Hmm?

    Really, unless you owned one, or got run over by one, let it go. The love of cars is great, but, let’s grab our old windows 95 puter and “hop it up”, crazy. Old original cars are exactly what they are. Memories. All good, but…lets agree, tri 5’s are pretty dianasors, keep it original. Yes, OK, I get it… Crap heat/air(and everything else), but hey, keep that out house, land line, drive that… Again. All good but darn crush half this crap.

    • Tim S. Member

      Why are you even visiting this site with an attitude like that? I don’t like 95% of all cars made after about 1988, but I don’t go to dealer websites and leave comments about how somebody needs to forget everything after OBD1.

      • Metoo

        obd1?

      • John D

        OBD1 = emission control standard for all manufacturers – On Board Diagnostics 1 and followed by a second set of standards in the mid-nineties OBD2

    • Paul Hudson

      That’s kind of funny because I actually was hit by a Volare while walking to school in the 7th or 8th grade. It was around 1976 or 1977. Fortunately I was not seriously hurt more then cuts and bruises and getting the wind knocked out of me. Ironically Easy Method driving school used these and Dodge Darts when I learned to drive several years later. I always thought the wagon version was very nice looking. The slant six was very adequate for powering these cars and got pretty decent mileage.

  5. davew833

    First time I went triple digits in a car was in one of these. Going downhill, of course.

    • Metoo

      Sure it wasn’t over a cliff?

  6. Rube Goldberg

    To quote Lee Iacocca, “we sent a lot of crax out the door”. A shame too, because this was actually a pretty nice car for the time. Aside from build quality, all car makers were struggling trying to get carburetors to pass emissions, and look at that poor slant 6, choked off, it never asked for any of that. It was a freakin’ Valiant motor for heavens sake, one of the simplest cars made. No doubt this is the real deal and should perform well for years to come, if you can put up with little things, like glove box doors popping open or a stripped window regulator. Oh, I’d carry a spare ballast resistor with you, if you can find one, that is. Great find.

  7. Don

    A guy I motor-pooled with bought a new 4-door. One side said Volare, the other side said Aspen. From the factory, of course…

    • Hagarcobra

      My friend’s mom bought one new that had the same thing with the emblems.

      • Tom Member

        Bet you used to like to say “Hi Mrs. “her name here”, how’s your Aspen? ! Then run off giggling with your friends !!!

    • SRT8

      Must’ve been a Dodge thing, my stepdad had a D100/D200 depending on which side of the truck you were on.

  8. irocrobb

    I had a 1978 Aspen as a winter car around 1988 and it was a good,cheap and dependable car. I bought it a a estate sale and originally it was a out west car which had saved the body. Got 3 or so winters out of it.Mine was a 318 and had some scat.This one looks great.

  9. Joe

    Looks better with the dog dish

  10. Vin_in_NJ

    I used to work at a gas station in the 80’s and hated when one of these cars would come in. The gas cap was mounted flat on the left rear fender, so as you removed the gas nozzle, no matter how careful you were, gas would always spill down the side.

  11. Hmm?

    I have an opinion, not a popular one. But I respect all but rat rods. Enjoy all cars, but darn people please have something other than a blind eye. Old stuff is.. Old. I am a bit old. Model T? Keep one, all others.. Meh. COPO Chevy’s? Meh, if you want a Ferrari to rust as yard art, OK. Just fun to hear the oh my, keep it original stories. Never ever up date/paint anything. Wierd.

  12. Fordguy1972

    Seems to me there’s a lot of bang for the buck here. A 41 year-old car with less than 10k and in really good shape. Price seems fair for what it is. Cool every day driver or cheap entry into the collector hobby. I’d enjoy to see it at a cruise or car show, it’s different.

    • Miguel

      You seriously think an Aspen is worth 7 grand?

      The only reason anybody ever bought one of these was because it was cheap.
      Nobody ever bought one because it rode great or was powerful or that it even held together for more than a week.

      The extreme low miles is a heavy negative, not a positive.

  13. Richard Fortney

    see something odd, pie tin hubcaps on the left, but on the right? full wheel covers?

  14. John Taylor

    The first thing to do would be get rid of that Horse Power gobbing A/C unit and fit one of the newer units which are way more efficient, yes I know it wouldn’t be original but at least you would have more H.P. We used to race one of these slant 6 engines in a stock car many years ago and you can get them hauling pretty good with just mild engine work. We used to beat the Chev V8’s so they were no slouch.

    • kENNY

      Sorry– but I can never figure out why guys say things like: “Get rid of that power-gobbling A/C unit”. It doesn’t “Gobble” ANY POWER AT ALL IF YOU DON’T TURN IT ON. You’re showing your ignorance here. How much power does it take to turn a rubber belt that’s spinning a pulley on ball bearings?

      • Miguel

        I think they mean get rid of the heavy compressor.

  15. Del

    Great cars but rusty and always the shop for engine leaks. At least my 318 was. Wonderfull riding and handling

  16. Chris Londish

    I can’t believe the slant motor was still being used so far into the 70’s we stopped using this motor in about 68 and started using the straight up Hemi six to 1980 when the last Aussie Valiant came off the line and Chrysler was taken over by Mitsubishi motors

  17. David Miraglia

    Asspain. My parents owned one of these after our classic 1969 164 Volvo bit the dust…

  18. Wayne

    150,000 mile drive train in a 5,000 mile car.
    I liked the style and options. slant six or V8 with a floor mounted 4 speed overdrive transmission. Fairly light so performance was decent. But stuff falling off and rusting through was bad news.
    I live out west now. So rust is not a problem. If it had the manual transmission option I might consider it. Once they started using the cross torsion bar suspension on heavier cars (without beefing up the mounts and bars) they did not handle so well. Dad had a Nevada Highway Patrol Diplomat that was a plain handful after about 115 mph. You also had to use excellent quality shocks on any of these cars. My step Mon had an Aspen wagon that I installed KYB (De Carbon style) shocks, 15X6.5 wheels and Goodyear American Eagle tires. She received 90,000 mile tread life on those tires. And gave the car up when the rust got it. (Chicago area) The mileage on the car was 365,000 with the original 318 and Torqueflite.

  19. Mike B

    I had one as my first car, hand me down from mom. It was six years old and had a malfunctioning speedometer and when you washed the car, paint came off on the towels when you dried it. A true winner…

  20. racer99

    You have to think someone will look at this as a low miles 40 year old collectable …….. it just won’t be me. Can’t see it going for anywhere near the asking price but you can’t blame the seller for trying.

  21. Troy s

    Nothing wrong with the body style here, it has that Mopar look to it, cop car/federal boys kind of vibe, but agree with some on the smog choked 6. Didn’t help this engine at all by strangling it to death with all that emissions junk but what choice did Chrysler have back then? They had to comply with strict regulations and still be able to mass produce a product and keep the cost affordable for the consumer, and yet make a profit on said product to keep the share holders happy. Wow! Bad times for all automotive companies back then.
    Of course, some upgrades could always be done by the owner to make it run, stop, and handle better, that’s always an option.

    • John D

      I have always wondered how the slant six would run with efi. The AMC six seemed to run great in all of those Jeeps with a throttle body injection system.

  22. Kevin

    Base cars like the one in this article came with bias ply tires as standard equipment. The handling on these cars with bias ply tires is simply terrifying until the tires have come up to temperature. The value in this car is in the low mileage. If you end up buying this car and want to drive it at all, changing to radial tires is highly recommended. 15″ wheels and tires from any Diplomat, Caravelle, GranFury or other “M” body car are also highly recommended. The improvement in ride and handling is substantial.

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