Non-Road-Runner: 1980 Plymouth Volaré

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We all know that this isn’t the window-dressing Road Runner version of the Volaré, but it’s a nice counterpart. This is a 1980 Plymouth Volaré and it’s listed here on craigslist in Salem, Oregon with an asking price of $5,000. Or, excuse me, I mean, $4,995.

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1980 was the last year for the F-Body Plymouth Volaré and Dodge Aspen and a lot of you would say, good riddance. They were plagued by troubles, rust, more troubles, and recalls. This one, however, looks like it’s in superb condition and it doesn’t have any of those pesky stick-on, go-fast goodies that were on this generation of Road Runner. This car only has 54,000 miles so you should be good for another 36 years. This was the only year for the rectangular headlights so maybe that’s why something doesn’t look familiar here.

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No, it’s not flashy, other than the “Graphic Red” color, but it sure is in nice shape. I like all vehicles, which you probably know by now. And, I like them even more when they’re in almost like-new condition, no matter what they are. Fast or slow, exotic or commuter, big or small, two doors or four doors, car, truck, van, motorcycle, it literally doesn’t matter to me. If it’s in perfect condition it just brings me back to the era and that’s what this hobby is about for me, and it’s why I like original or restored-to-original-specs vehicles.

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For me, it’s not about showing off or about beating someone at a stoplight drag race, it’s about the memories. This car was made when I graduated from high school so whether older or younger folks like it or can relate to it or not, it’s something that I like because of the era that it represents. I suspect that most of you like cars, and eras, that others don’t like or don’t relate to at all and you can’t convince them otherwise that they are in fact worthy of your praise no matter how hard you try.

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And, just look at that great interior! Yes, I probably had pants that looked like this in 1980, and I probably still do somewhere. The seller says that this car has an “EXCELLENT all original interior.” Bucket seats would have been available but what the heck, as long as we’re reliving 1980 we might as well relive it the way that most people really saw it, with a bench seat in a 6-cylinder car with an automatic. Sometimes, our memories have a way of dropping a Hemi and a 4-speed into things whether they were really there or not.

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Speaking of Hemi, there are no engine photos, unfortunately, but it probably looks somewhat like this under the hood. This one has the classic 225 slant-six; a top-ten engine for me. It is said to be “very reliable and dependable transportation”, according to the seller. I’ve only had a three-on-the-tree manual transmission with a 225 so I don’t know how an automatic would be, but I’m guessing that it’s about as dependable as it gets. I almost cringe when I ask this question, knowing that a lot of the responses won’t be positive, but, what are your thoughts about these F-Body Plymouths and Dodges? For the era and the time that they were saddled with, I think that they turned out ok.

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  1. bob

    These were not dependable at all. In fact , most just fell apart or never ran correctly. If you want a slant six, go back in time to about 75 and lower. Those were great.
    This particular car appears to be in great shape though.

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  2. piper62j

    Typical Mopar low end production vehicle. As the years went by, they rotted out quite badly. Most vehicles of these years had body integrity issues, but I must admit, the engines and drivetrains were quite dependable. Most of the complaints we got in the shop were rust, body squeaks and rattles along with wind noise around the doors.
    Anyway, Great find and a decent car. (Slightly overpriced)

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    • Ed P

      The 76 & 77 Aspens and Volares were the worst rust buckets of all. For 78, rust protection was “improved”. I had a 78 Aspen. The first thing I did was have it rust proofed at “Rusty Jones”. That was the best money I ever spent as rust was never one of my problems, just everything else.

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      • Carl Stclair

        I agree with you totally Ed. my 1976 Dodge Aspen 4 door 225 slant six auto the only good thing was the slant six and automatic transmission. Mine sure was a rust bucket

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  3. Kincer DaveMember

    These weren’t too bad looking of a vehicle but what they did to the taillights in 1980 was horrible in my opinion, I hated them the first time I saw them and I was only 10yrs old in 1980, but still knew they were ugly! They just look like a JC Whitney accessory taillights lol

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    • The Walrus

      Ditto. Feel the same way about the front of the ’80’s as well. Neither fits with the rest of the styling. The details look particularly incongruent on the coupes.

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  4. grenade

    I like them. That 5k price is too much for this particular car, but anything like a Duster all the way on up to this travesty is cool by me because it can be made into a resto-mod street screamer with ease and a little bit of cash.
    They fetch big bucks when modded because morons like me just love the old Mopars.

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  5. Mike

    My future In-Laws was driving a 79 Aspen when I met my Wife and they loved the car. My Wife had the car for a few years when she was in College, and when they traded it off in the late 80’s it was still a nice looking car, of course my Dad had worked on it a couple of times after my soon to be Wife would back into something. She was always backing into something. My Dad had the car detailed before her folks traded it off, so it looked really nice. Being that the car was from Missouri and my Wife went to College for 6 years in Iowa, there wasn’t any rust issues with it, and was still a solid car when traded off. It had the slant six 225, I always remember that high torque starter and the way it sounded when starting it.

    Like 1
  6. Fred

    No memories for me because by this time I was into Japanese cars. Still, like you I enjoy looking at any well preserved car. I remember looking at the Consumer Reports (my parents subscribed) Frequency of Repair chart for Aspen/Volare and was appalled. “Good” was red, “Bad” was black. The Mopar chart was solid black. I remember full sized Fords of the time and some Japanese cars were nearly solid red, most other cars were somewhere in between.

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    • The Walrus

      Not that they were great cars, but I read somewhere (perhaps Iacocca’s book) that the editor of the Consumer Reports automotive division was fired by Chrysler sometime in the mid-late 70’s and embellished a bit at the expense of these which were actually, for the time, about average.

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  7. Nessy

    I like it. I like the color combo, the interior design, the coupe body, the one year only square headlights, ect. Just not for 5g.

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  8. Mark P

    Three things, I remember years ago an article about Chrysler products quality, a woman bought a Volare new, one fender had a Volare badge, the other an Aspen. In the 90’s my father in law had a collection of old cars in his back yard. One was a late 70’s Volare wagon. I always thought it was rare as it had a factory installed standard transmission, not sure if it was a three or four speed. I just looked unusual to see a shifter sticking out of the floor of a wagon. It was traded to an electrician for some work he did on the house. And last, my property abuts 100’s of acres of cranberry bogs, there’s a lot of slant sixes in the pump houses out there moving irrigation water.

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  9. Mark S

    It’s a pretty well known fact that Chrysler Corp products have always had poor fit and finish on their body work. Doors that sound like tin cans when you close them, air leaks, rattles. All that is to be expected with these cars, but chyrco’s were also well known for there solid reliable engines and drive lines that too was to be expected so when you bought a dodge like this you kind of knew that the car would go And go and go while over the years falling apart around you. As far as I’m concerned there still like that. This is a great old car that I hope lands in the hands of someone that will continue to take care of it. My 1994 cumins diesel is the same way drive in will far out last the body.

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  10. Phil

    Bread box

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  11. Mark Nye

    This was my car. Incredible shape- super 6 engine with AC. I agree that Volares were once a great car, but past 75 or 76, they turned to junk. This one however was in excellent condition. It’s funny, I did a search for one that I was going to show my son and my actual pictures came up and this write up!

    Like 0

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