Nicest on the Planet: 1978 Plymouth Volaré

This mind-blowingly-perfect 1978 Plymouth Volaré has traveled just 13,661 miles in the last 39 years and it is in absolutely amazing condition. It’s literally like new inside and out, top and bottom, above and underneath. This mind-warping time warp is listed on two different sites: Craigslist and ClassicCars.com. It’s located in Jeannette, Pennsylvania and the asking price is $11,000!

In the words of the great sage of our time, Napoleon Dynamite: GOSH! Look at the condition of this car! I’m sorry to go off the deep end on this one because this era and make/model of car rarely gets good reviews here. But, GOSH! It’s literally like new. If I could just find the vehicles that I want in this condition the world would be a better place, not to be selfish or anything. I know that most folks here don’t like vinyl tops, but if you’re going to have one this is the condition that you want it to be in. The same could be said for a Plymouth Volaré, I’m assuming. There have to be fans of these cars out there, they weren’t all bad, were they?

Now that we’ve (I’ve) established that this car is most likely concours-level and is ready for any show field in the country, how about the ’78 Volaré, in general? NADA lists the “high retail” for a 1978 Plymouth Volaré as being $1,823; d’oh! That will be a trouble spot for the seller, but if there were a person out there looking for thee nicest one left on earth, I would say that this is it. This car was “never driven in harsh weather”, according to the seller. The underside photos show more amazement and wonder (too strong?).

I promise not to GOSH, I mean, gush too much again but, as you probably knew from how perfect the exterior was, the interior is also about as close to being like new as it gets. How about that seat fabric? Why anyone would want plain, single-color vinyl or fabric when something like that is/was available, I’ll never know. Was this car even used or was it just jacked up off of the ground and left there to spin its rear tires for 13,661 miles? Oh yeah, and the trunk? Showroom perfect, other than matted carpet where the spare tire sat for almost four decades. The seller does say that the car comes with both brand new tires and the original bias-ply tires still mounted to the original wheels.

Bang, zoom! This is not a 318 or, better yet, the 360 4-barrel and 220 hp, this one has the tried and true 225 slant-six with 100 hp and it looks like it hasn’t even been started yet. As everything else is, the engine and engine compartment is amazingly well-preserved. It looks like maybe some chipping or something happening at the battery tray, but other than that it’s as nice as you will ever find. I literally laughed out loud looking at the photos, and in a good way. I was just so surprised and pleased that there could be a car, any car, this old in this sort of condition left anywhere on the planet. It gives me hope that I may be able to check off a few from my master wish list someday. Do any of you have any love for the Volaré? How about one in this condition?

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Comments

  1. Moparmann Member

    This is the less expensive model of the Volare. No A/C, no power brakes, lots of blank spaces in the instrument panel, AND the low spec taxi grade vinyl interior. All in all, still a very nice survivor; probably purchased by a frugal older person for their last new car! GLWTS! :-)

    • Mike W H

      IPI had no interest in these in ’78. I was a car snob. I would have been embarrassed to even ride in one.

      Those feelings have not mellowed over time but this would be good camouflage if you find yourself on the run and in some small backwater Midwestern town.

  2. JW454

    This one would definitely qualify for the “Survivors” display at the MOPAR Nationals.
    Not my cup of tea but, it’s a very nice example of the breed.

  3. Glenn from Wisconsin

    Nice condition and low mileage speaks to what a thrill it must have been to drive.

  4. imotors

    Did anyone notice the covers on the zirc fittings???

    • Ed P

      Where do you see zirc fittings?

      • DrinkinGasoline

        From the Ad

      • Ed P

        I just found those pictures. I’ve never seen those before but, they seem like a good idea.

  5. Bill

    one thing that always amazes me on cars, you see all of these near mint examples, restored, hot rods etc. but why do they always have a cheap ass pep boys battery hold down and the cheap kind of cables with extra wires hanging off all sloppy…

    • Billy

      As I recall after 4 decades of senility creeping up on me, these originally came with a tan colored vinyl box over the battery. Can’t recall what actually held down the battery, perhaps these were it. The battery cover is missing here.

  6. Blyndgesser

    Didn’t think anything still came with bias ply tires in ’78.

    • Billy

      My Dad bought the first new Volare in our town in the fall of 1975 (a 1976). It indeed had bias ply el cheapo tires, and after they wore out, big spender Dad put “new” retreads on it. That car ran 247000 miles with the slant six until rust made it unsafe. The six never even had the head off, a brilliant engine design. Of course, the carb and manifold had to go after the warranty was up as it kept stalling at intersections. The junk yard 1972 Dart set up worked like a charm and made it feel like it had 50 extra horses under the hood. BTW, Dads car was in the first shipment of Volares our local dealer got in and it had been ordered with manual steering. Now I prefer that. A Dart or Valiant was wonderful that way, but not with the screwy Volare/Aspen suspension set up. It was like turning the water tight doors on a ship. After that first run, the dealer never again ordered Volares with manual steering. Chryslers power steering is about the worst ever produced (and that comes from a third generation Chrysler buyer), but it would have been welcome on that car. BTW number two. Does anyone else hate opera windows and a half vinyl roof? These cars were pretty stylish without them, and looked hideous with them. I also feel the 78/79 grills were a step down from the nicer 76/77 ones.

      • 68 custom

        My parent bought a new Aspen SE wagon I think it was a 77 equipped like your dads, ie no PS but it did have PBs, and air. Mopar has/still has the most brilliant paint and the wagon was a nice metal flake brown. it also exhibited the endearing trait of stalling when ever you had to stop, the dealers mechanics could never figure out why, after the warranty expired a $7 Jiffy kit installed by the local grease monkey cured it of the stalling problem. did I mention it would not start on the second day of ownership? and that the dealer recommended first turning on the headlights to ‘warm up’ the battery? they traded it for a refurbished 68 VW Bug after maybe 6 years of ownership, the Bug was a vast improvement, but I am sure the trusty slant 6 went 200k its just the body rotted out around it. one day I was sitting in it while my parents shopped for food, they had taken the keys so I could not enjoy the AM radio, till I noticed that if you turned on the hazard lights the radio would flicker on and off with the hazard lights, the windshield wipers also exhibited this behavior! I dont think I would take the featured car for free.. ok I would but quickly sell it…

  7. Ed P

    I had a 78 Dodge Aspen wagon. I still have PTSD from that pos. This is giving me a flashback. The body never rusted out and the horn always worked. The 2bbl slant six always started but would stumble and stall horribly. If I never see another, it will be to soon.

    • Woodie Man

      hilarious…..volare…volare..

  8. Jeff Z

    American garbage at its zenith. No wonder Honda/Toyota gained such a foothold. My first car was a /77 Chevrolet Caprice Classic 305 V8 4 door nice spec (Dad leased it and I bought it off the lease). That was what the American car companies did best back then. Big, comfortable with decent handling, lovely ride and was quick enough. It went 200,000 miles with only major item replaced being the undersized THM-200 transmission with a $300 rebuilt! And note that it did not stall in intersections.

  9. Barzini

    Back in the 1970s, this was the car that pushed my friend’s dad away from American cars to buying imports. (For someone from the greatest generation, this was a shocking decision to us.) His 1977 Volare wagon had problems from the start and began rusting away within a few years. Eventually he returned to American cars when they improved their quality but it took many years to regain his trust.

  10. Wm Lawrence

    No, they weren’t all that bad, but most of us don’t come here looking for our mother in law’s car.

  11. fordfan

    My dad bought a 76 aspen se 2 door yes the fenders rusted also the vent louvers on the hood rusted because they weren’t de bured .after after a couple of years he gave it to me I loved it ,rode nice felt like a big car

  12. CapNemo

    I love this car!!

  13. Rustytech Member

    Now that looks like a 13k car! I like this, I could live with the 6, in fact with today’s gas prices I might rather have the 6 cyl, they got reasonable fuel mileage, and were bulletproof. I would need to add vintage A/C, and maybe a brake booster, but this would be a nice driver. This car was obviously garaged, or was in a dry climate. Here in the north east you could sit on the porch and listen to these rust. My mother in law got one in 1979, by the time it was 5 years old it had no lower quarter panels. Had to do a coffee can and bondo job just to trade it in. I hope this gets a good home.

    • Gary

      Jeannette, Pennsylvania; isn’t this somewhere in the northeast? I’m in Pennsylvania and my junk can be heard rusting if I listen for it – just saying. But seriously, the Chrysler Corps’. Volaré/Aspen, along with the Ford Granada/Fairmont/Zephyr, GM’s Nova/Ventura/Skylark, etc., all these vehicles suffered tremendously due to the down-sizing as a result of the first fuel crunch. On top of that, the imports came in so aggressively once the Big 3(1/2) – sorry AMC fans – were forced to down-size before they were ready to. The EPA standards of the time didn’t help either. In the end the average “American” car buyer was left with a whole new generation of so-so automobiles. As with anything else that is a consumable, the cookie cutter method of production, along with a new “throw it away” attitude, left the buying public with what we (now) see here today. It truly is quite a “GOSH!” find, all things considered. I’m not a hater of these particular vehicles, but I was definitely disappointed with the ‘new’ offerings from the big 3(1/2). Again, sorry AMC fans, but AMC put themselves in that position, not the consumer. All in all, this find is rather impressive, all things considered. See a pattern here? All things considered. GOSH!

  14. Joe

    Can’t criticize this well-loved and cared for Volare. But I can think of 1001 things I’d rather do with $11K, or even $3K.

  15. Eric Ostebo

    This car absolutely epitomizes what was wrong with American cars from the 70’s.It should be preserved simply to warn of past mistakes.

  16. Rod

    I owned a 77 Volare similar to this. It was a great car and we used it for many years until the dreaded rust came. These engines ran great if properly set up. Being a mechanic afforded me the ability to do this so I had no complaints that way. After many years I had to rebuild the tranny but that was no big deal. Chrysler tranny’s are probably the easiest in the market to overhaul.
    This one is a great example of a well preserved one and I wish I had it. Not sure that means it should command the money they are asking.

  17. Bob C.

    What? Not the 110 horsepower 2 barrel super six? Darn! Still bulletproof.

  18. S Ryan

    13,000 miles. This looks great,barely looked this good on the showroom floor.
    Makes the 13,000 on the iffy Camaro even harder to believe.

  19. Johnny Ringo

    Why?… Why would someone take this base model car and spend money on long term storage? “It’s a Volare, someday they won’t make them anymore.” At least not with a slant six, A/C delete, AM radio, and crank windows they won’t.

    That’s true, but such behavior should not be rewarded. Driving this car would quickly take the price down to that $1800 quote. That means another lifetime of expensive storage. I’d consider maybe $5000 so it can be enjoyed without losing five figures.

  20. Wagon master

    “Nicest” and “Volare” in the same sentence seems like an oxymoron …..

  21. Scott

    My parents bought a 76 volare wagon with 4 speed stick shift. It was recommended by consumer reports. The tranny crapped out and they screwed up installing the new one, something like reverse where 1st was. Then it rusted, then a 79 chevy Malibu wagon appeared

    • Ed P

      The shift paw for 3 and 4 was the reverse of the hi performance 4 speed and was easily reversed. The dealer did it to my Aspen.

  22. Randy

    I think if the owner holds on
    For another 40 years he might get his asking price.

  23. Ralph H.

    Here in the northeast, my most vivid memory of these cars was the amount of time it took for the front fenders to resemble swiss cheese…they definitely gave the Vega a run for their money in the rust department…

  24. John D

    The rust in the front fenders was because they failed to put an inner fender liner to keep the wheel from spraying water on the underneath of the fender.

    I drove three or four in some configuration or another as demonstrator at our Chrysler Plymouth store. I found them to be comfortable to ride in and reasonably good handling cars.

    I also found most of the drivability issues went away if you properly set the choke when starting the cod engine, just one press of the gas pedal to the floor. That was the rule on all carbureted Chrysler’s since the sixties up to th efi in the eighties.

    • Ed P

      Mine stumbled badly after warmed up. It turned out that the acceleration pump on my 2bbl Carter would wear and not push gas out when the throttle was opened. The cure was frequent replacement of that carb part.

  25. Nova Scotian

    Owned an 1980 Aspen. I liked the car, which is why I clicked on this one to open it up…read the write up and a few comments. My experience with them was very good. Bought mine used off a nurse who was upgrading. $800.00, no haggling. My girlfriend and I wanted to go to the beach on a hot summer day. We sometimes took the bus…not convenient at all in the summer heat. We drove our bicycles most times for fresh air…but the distance was a major hurtle…one day we saw this car close to our bicycle starting point, and within 3 large, hot, gasping for air hills, we decided to turn around and head to the bank and withdrawal our savings…
    Walked into the driveway where the car was parked, all washed up and glistening in the morning summer sun. It was a deep cherry red. 4 door. With a small dent tin the front bumper. Red interior, totally in as new condition. Her owner was busy tending to her garden off near the back yard. She came out to greet us young teenagers, and struck up a conversation…started the car and I looked underside and inside. It had a full tank! (I knew very little about cars at this point in my life.),..my girlfriend gave me a wink, that was the signal that she would be happy with this car…We promptly bought it on the spot. (Auto insurance latter in the week)…Loaded our bikes in the trunk. I opened the door for my girlfriend, Michelle…and as I closed the door with a solid “thunk”…I knew this car was a good idea. We were all smiles motoring to the beach, windows down with the wind in her hair…she held my hand and I held hers…We had a lot more energy when we drove away from that beach late summer afternoons… Summer was never the same after that car came into our lives…we eventually got married…fond memories. Thanks.
    …oh and the car rarely left us stranded…if ever. We just moved up in cars over the years…

    • KeithK

      Great story ! I gotta tell you though , I was eagerly awaiting the punch line when the fenders peeled back or the drivers door fell off. Good times.

    • Jeffro

      Towards end of story it started to sound like song lyrics. Great story.

  26. don clar

    I carpooled with a guy who had a new Volare. One day I got out of the car, I realized one side had a Volare nameplate. The other side said Aspen.

    • Ed P

      Baltimore City had some police cars with Dodge on one end and Plymouth on the other. What quality control.

  27. Howard A Member

    I had a feeling this was going to go both ways. 1st, this particular car is simply amazing. I do question a few things, but it’s a low mile car. The Volare/Aspen was a good car. It suffered all the problems of a changing automotive scene, perhaps a bit more than the others, but the basics were there for a good car. Imports were killing us by 1978, and things were changing, but many people, like my old man wouldn’t drive a mini import to save his soul, and this was the best US alternative, if you wanted a 6 passenger Chrysler compact. Even Lee Iacocca said, ” we sent a lot of crap out the door during this time”, I hope he meant crap as old way of thinking, and he knew a change was coming. Be advised, it’s still a 40 year old car, and it’s not going to be like new, but you will make a statement driving it. ’70’S ROCK!!!( with Edgar Winter blasting in the background) Great find.

  28. don clar

    I carpooled with a guy who had a new Volare. One day I got out of the car and realized one side had a Volare nameplate, the other side had an Aspen nameplate, as applied at the factory.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi don, that’s been covered before, somewhere. It seems that’s not as unusual as you’d think. Cars with color coded wheel covers, one side different color, many nameplates wrong, but the one I thought was nuts, a guy worked at a Ford dealer in the 70’s, and the car carrier driver couldn’t get a pickup to move, and it didn’t have a transmission! They loaded it on the truck to let the dealer mess with it.

      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        I believe it Howard, like you said, it was the 70’s. Pop had Volare, I inherited it after he checked out. OK car, I drove it a bit and ended up giving it to my buddies son.

  29. Scott

    I love the slant 6. The body is great. That said 11k is pretty steep.

  30. Matt

    I don’t think my dad’s brand new Volare looked this good the day he brought it home from the dealership. He had it for less than two years, trading it in after it rusted to s***.

  31. No thanks

    I bought one for $100 in 1989. Was barely worth the $100. Couldn’t barely get up a hill at full throttle! Just crush it and put it out of someone’s misery please.

  32. Paul B

    Price is too steep. Makes me sad, all the consistently bad stories about these, especially considering what a good rep the Valiant and Dart had built up. But as everyone says, it was the ’70s, and it was Chrysler in its worst period. I ordered a new ’79 Dodge van from the factory with slant six, 4-speed manual, full gauges and heavy duty cooling. It would have been great except it showed up with the temp gauge not working, the heat/ventilation controls hanging out of the dash and it never would run in the rain. Something electrical would short out and make it misfire. The dealer fixed the gauge and the climate controls, but never could cure the misfiring/bucking wet weather problem. I quickly sold it to a Chevy dealer, realizing I had a sour lemon, while it was still on warranty. The fuel economy also displeased me. I went back to driving my old Saab and later switched to Toyotas, like so many other people. Detroit lost a lot of young potential long term customers during those days.

  33. philthyphil

    they weren’t all bad, were they?…YES i served my auto body mechanic apprentice at a chrysler dealer when these came out.I changed hundreds of front fenders under warranty on cars even a year old,got paid 4 hours flat rate,that included all chrome replaced and new holes drilled and installed after paint,and don’t talk about woody wagons…gggrrrrr

  34. Raoul Robichaud

    In the mid 80s, two of my offsprings were teen age drivers , both had part time jobs.My own car was a full size Chrysler, while Mom drove a near newOlds Cutlass, both being kept immaculatly clean.After the kids had borrowed our cars to go to work a few times, we decided we had to do something else. Nothing more convincing than a McDonalds uniform left bundled up in the rear seat for a day or so.
    So, decided to get a couple of used but reliable cars.I would say probably largely due to their established reputation, the Volare and Aspen were bargain priced. The first was a 78 Volare, 2 dr coupe,super 6, auto, power everything, and 37K on the clock.$1600. It was clean and solid, red with a white vinyl roof, sharp looking, with negligible rust spots. Did its duty for 4 full year, with needing only a batteryand tires.. The second was an absolute base 79 Volare 4dr,super 6, auto , with P/S only, had @ 50K, deep maroon with colour coordinated dark red/black interior. This should have been a taxicab.It did serve well for about three years , until it was stolen. Was not as good as the 78, yet not bad overall, remember doing brakes and some suspension work.
    I personally think these car were given a bad rap,, indeed quality control was abysmal. Those we had , being 6/7/8 years old were likely some of the better ones. I still like the style of the 2 door.

  35. John

    This car was painfully driven by a real car guy, who, at 13k miles, could simply take no more and likely lept from the nearest high object. To me, anyone who has ever driven one of these can clearly understand why it took 39 years to accumulate that mileage. It may have been running at top speed. The only good thing I remember about these is that, other than body leaks, they were bulletproof. Many hated them for exactly that reason.

  36. JRATT1956

    $11,000 for a 40 year old low hp 6 cyl? You can’t fix stupid, if someone pays that much money for this thing. Maybe if it had a V8 with A/C. But I am not sure even then. There are way too many better buys out there for less than $11,000.

  37. Charles

    Nice survivor! Like many others here, can’t imagine someone paying 11K.

  38. Paul R

    Mom had a 76 with a 318. It stalled also until the carter carb was replaced with a 2 bbl Holley. Then it ran fine as long as you kept a spare ignition ballast resistor in the glove box. It eat ballast resistors for some reason.

    The body finally rotted away but the little 318 was still purring like a kitten. Sold it for parts.

  39. chad

    had the ’64 dart wagon during the early ’70s. 170 ran so good a glass of water on the hood showed no ripples. Fella in town specialized in these vehicles. When the body started disappearin I pop riveted the tin roof off the collapsed chicken coop on it to pass inspection. A great ‘college car’ till on a run a few mi north to Burlington, VT. Saw a ‘cherry’ ’66 wagon w/PA plates on it @ a garage (4Sale sign in window) (nother 170). Next time stopped in & bought it. Drivin back the 100 mi of interstate I heard a bang & lookin in the rearview saw 2 lanes of cars behind dodging the starter & pieces of block. Put the ’64 in the ’66 & drove it around all the outside (perimeter) states in the US loaded down w/my cast iron pots’n pans, skis, text books, etc. After a yr. of travel & 6 mo wrk in Cal & returned to grad school in WV. WHen it lost power there (over 300K) I gave it away for an 80s ventura w/a 350. A lill different car.
    Came up to MA & drove cab for a guy w/a fleet of…votaries & aspens (nxt generation after the dart). Couldn’t get away frm them!
    Some likeum some don’t…

  40. rustylink

    I guess if you had $11K and wanted the nicest stripped out – bench seat, am radio, no AC, no power brakes version of the a malaise era sedan – you hit the lottery.

  41. Dave

    I owned a ’78 Volare. I kept a spare starter in the trunk because it failed so often. The speedometer needle fell off one cold day. The unibody rusted so badly, the mechanic feared the car would split in half soon; I got a generous $200 on trade in on a new Toyota that I drove for 16 years. Good riddance.

  42. edh

    Time for a transmission, basically that’s a anytime on any Chrysler product.

  43. David Miraglia

    my parents bought a Volare/Aspen, replacing the good old Volvo 164. It gave them so much heartache. Let it rust in peace.

  44. jaymes

    back when they made real cars! wish i had $13,000 sitting around(

  45. Brian M Member

    I bought an 80 Volare in about 1994 from My wife’s boss for $200. It was originally destined to be a driver ed car but they had too many and it sat at the local Plymouth dealer for a year. All three of the woman’s kids learned to drive in it. They had it repainted and reupholstered. It had A/C and PS/PB and an AM radio and about 125K miles. I drove it for a while and gave it to my youngest son. He gave it back when he bought a classier ride (72 Monte Carlo) I drove it for a while longer and gave it to my other son’s ex-gf who gave it back when she got a Topaz. I found a super six carb and manifold setup and put it on as well as bucket seats from an Aspen. Next owner was my daughter who had it a couple of years and traded it back to me for my 84 LTD. A couple of years later I gave it back to her for a rusty V8 Monarch that I eventually sold. Daughter gave it to her husband’s nephew who finally destroyed the transmission shortly after it turned 200K which finally ended my never-ending stewardship. Somewhere before I bought it, either the transmission or rear end was changed and the resultant combination had about a 15-20 mph speedo error. Yup, made it from Melbourne FL to Daytona in less than an hour at an indicated 70 mph. It is actually 89 miles between the starting and stopping points. Found the right gear and fixed that. Other than two torque converters and six w/s wiper bushings (grrrr) the car was bullet proof. Ugly, single color s***brindle tan, no chrome other than the bumpers and front and rear window trim and corduroy (!) seats. I guess the old adage “the uglier something is, the longer it takes to kill it” held true here. $5K for the feature car would seem reasonable as it probably has about a quarter million miles left to live.

  46. Rustytech Member

    The incorrect badging on different sides was not uncommon on any of the badge engineered cars, you had one guy on each side of the assembly line installing them, each had their own inventory, and couldn’t see what the other was installing. What was surprising was that it was missed during the quality ( I use the term loosely) control inspection, and again by the tech doing the pre delivery inspection. It was not limited to Chrysler!

  47. Wayne

    I ran a Goodyear store in a small town that had 2 dealerships. One Dodge and one Plymouth. Neither one had a tech smart enough to fix NVH issues. To me it seemed that all Aspens/Volares with radial tires vibrated. And all vibration issues fell to the local Goodyear store. Now the early Polysteel Goodyear tires were not the greatest. But the Firestone 500s were way worse. Add all that up to the crap front suspension and the tinfoil wheels. And I became a very good NVH guy.
    I remember once having to brake hard while test driving a wagon. The car shook so bad the the rear hatch/tail gate flew open. What crap!
    On the other hand. My step mother bought a fully loaded wagon that had some issues (used). I installed the 15 inch (wide) wheels from my new B200 Dodge van (that I never had a problem with and got great fuel economy) a full set of KYB shocks and a full set of Goodyear American Eagle tires. She got 105,000 miles on the tires (and we’re still legal) and had no problems with the car. A drunk took the car out one rainey night.

  48. Chebby

    Turd Brûlée.

  49. Raoul Robichaud

    Chebby, You can’t argue with a well reasoned opinion.

    • Ed P

      Raoul I bought my 78 new on a Saturday. I had to jack it up Sunday to make temporary repairs so I could get back to the dealer. The repairs never let up. If it had been a cheap used car, I might feel different.

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