Abandoned Building Find: 1977 Plymouth Volare

Let’s be clear, I’m not about to break into a rendition of Volare ala Sergio Franchi and you should thank your lucky stars for that; cat’s fighting would be more melodic than listening to my tortured pipes. But that said, I can’t look at one of these cars without hearing that sales jingle(?) in the back of my mind. So, we’ll hold the tune but still take a deep dive into this 1977 Plymouth Volare. It is located in East Palo Alto, California, and is available here on craigslist for $3,950. Thanks to Pat L. for this tip!

The Plymouth Volare (Volare being Spanish for “I Will Fly Away” or “I will Blow Away” (gulp!) or Italian for “To Fly”), was introduced in 1976 as a replacement for the venerable Duster. The Volare, and its Dodge stablemate, the Aspen, sold well with 327K Volares and 266K Aspens finding new owners in ’77. In addition to the two-door sedan like this example, there were four-door sedan and station wagon models offered too.

The seller states, “I found in an abandoned building and did the paperwork to take ownership”. OK, that’s a different twist on automobile acquisition. He doesn’t state whether or not he has a clear title. We are told the body is straight and rust-free on this 82K mile example and I would concur from what can be spied. It’s not stated if this is a life-long California resident but that would help explain the clean body. The “mint green” exterior, as the seller refers to the Forest Green Sunfire Metallic finish, is understandably faded with some discolored spots. But this Plymouth, as it sits, is completely presentable. The trim is all in place, the chrome still shines and, as the seller mistakenly identifies the vinyl landau top covering, the “RAG TOP is perfect and original”. Nothing like a perfect RAG TOP! It would be nice to catch a glimpse of the driver’s side of this Volare.

The listing claims this Volare to be V8 powered but hidden underneath all of that smog handling equipment and A/C lines, I’m seeing what looks like a 100 net HP, 225 CI, in-line six-cylinder engine. There is no reference to how this Plymouth runs or drives – we’ll just assume that it does. A TorqueFlite, three-speed automatic transmission is in place behind the “Slant-Six” motor.

The seller considers the interior to be in “almost mint condition”. Well, it’s mint in color and the split-bench environment is actually in nice shape, but maybe not mint condition. The carpet is a bit worn and the hard-shell seatbacks are starting to deteriorate but the interior is in very acceptable condition and really needs nothing. This Volare has its fair share of faux wood trim, certainly a typical styling cue for 1977. A/C is installed in this Plymouth but there is no word regarding its operability.

The seller states, “These cars are extremely hard to find and valuable”. They’re not, I stumble across them all the time and they generally don’t trade for big $$$ unless they possess some semblance of a performance model, are in perfect condition and have very low mileage. And even then, they trade in reasonable territory. The seller also advises, “I know what I have here so price is more than fair. Please don’t lowball me”.  We’re not talking big money here, this is a very reasonably priced example of everyday ’70s motoring but getting lowballed is just part of the old car game. (But, he did say, please.) Anyway, all you have to do is proclaim that old quote from the ’80s and “just say no”, right?

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  1. Weasel

    Penal code 487 makes grand theft basically a ticketable offense in CA. So why not steal a car, let it cool off for 10 years and be proud of it. Gotta love the golden state.

    My question to the seller would be: How do you know the actual miles?

    I love picture number 2 in his ad. Does anyone think that was an intentional goof?

    Like 2
    • Mike

      Not intentional. If you’re focused on the car, you don’t see things like your shadow blocking, something embarrassing seen in the reflection on the chrome or people way in the background doing weird s**t.

      Like 1
      • Bob_in_TN Member

        A basic premise of photographing a car, or anything for that matter, is to pay attention to the background. Uncluttered is good, so your eye is drawn to the subject. Alas, most Craigslist sellers are too uncaring or lazy to actually frame their photos. In addition this ad includes the classic “I know what I have” verbiage.

        Like 2
    • Steve R

      Stolen cars are never dropped from law enforcement records, it would be flagged as soon as someone tried to register it.

      Steve R

      Like 2
  2. Moparman Member

    It’s funny, every time that I see one of these, the plastic “Volare” on the deck lid is always broken! Nothing wrong with this one that a set of Magnums would spice it up for a “low key” vintage ride. GLWTAS!! :-)

    Like 2
  3. irocrobb

    I had a light green one like this with the same green interior. Just used it in the winter. It was actually a great car and never seemed to get stuck in the snow. The 318 had the lean burn which never caused any issues. Thanks for the memories

    Like 1
  4. giorgitd

    If a barn find, why does the CL as note that this vehicle has a lien?

    Like 2
  5. Enthusiast

    These cars are a great example of 70’s life. Many suburban families had a woodgrain wagon and one of these as the second car — usually driven daily by the father to work and then later passed down to teen drivers. Unfortunately Aspens and Volares were quite prone to rust which is probably the reason there are so few decent ones left. Hopefully more will surface in the future.
    Oh the memories these cars bring back!

    Like 1
  6. Bob C.

    Yes, that certainly does look like a slant six under all that smog junk, unless it’s a super duper wide v8 with the other valve cover hidden. But, we know that isn’t the case here.

    Like 1
  7. George Louis Member

    I wonder what kind of towing the owner did with this car?

    Like 1
  8. Bubba5

    EPA is a sink of crime, you would need a police escort to go in there and get that car. If I’m going to get shot over a car it will at least have a clean title.

    • Steve R

      It’s not great, but not nearly as bad as you make it out to be. The city has changed a lot since the 1990’s, mainly the proximity to silicone valley, in general and Facebook, Yahoo and Google which all have offices located there, among many small start ups.

      Steve R

  9. Jim

    It’s Sergio FRANCHI.

  10. Bill McCoskey

    I’ve found multiple valuable cars in abandoned buildings. About 1985 I was in Bladensburg, MD, over near the Peace Cross, at about 4pm, when I saw a Cat bulldozer yanking by chain, an older car out of a basement garage, under a house that that he was about to demolish.

    As a Packard collector, I instantly recognized it as a 1942 Packard Clipper sedan, and it turned out to be a 160 series Super Eight, with the 356 straight eight, 9 main bearing engine. 1942 was the first year Packard offered the Clipper body on the extended wheelbase [longer front clip] that held the bigger senior Packard engine. Because of the very short 1942 production, this was a fairly rare Packard.

    I got the ‘dozer operator to stop and explained that I wanted the car. A quick exchange of $100 cash encouraged him to park the ‘dozer for the night. His job was to demolish the row of houses, and didn’t care about the car.

    I quickly called one of the mechanics at my shop, and told him to bring the ramp truck over so we could save the Clipper. Just before the sun went down we headed back to the shop, with the Packard atop the ramp truck. Other than the front bumper pulled into a “V” shape by the ‘dozer’s efforts to yank the car out of it’s hibernation hole, it was complete with no other recent damage.

    That car had likely been sitting in that damp, below grade single car garage for decades. As I recall, it was showing about 11,000 miles, but the car was a parts car because of the constantly damp environment it had been stored in. On dismantling the car, it was obvious I was looking at a very low mileage car, and it provided me with lots of great hard-to-find parts for numerous Packards.

    The last time I was in the area, there was a long row of 2 story office buildings where the Packard used to hide.

    Like 7
    • Bob_in_TN Member

      Great story Bill. Today with cell phones in our pockets you would also have had pics.

      Like 1
  11. ERIK

    Rust free and Volare (or Aspen) did not usually go hand in hand.

    Like 1

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