One Family Owned: 1979 Dodge Diplomat Wagon

It seems like we’ve seen a few one-family-owned cars in the last couple of weeks here at Barn Finds. Since there’s a family history and memories involved with a vehicle having been purchased new by parents or grandparents, it seems like there would be more care taken in its upkeep. That’s not always the case but hopefully it is here with this one-family-owned 1979 Dodge Diplomat wagon. This green machine (one of its nicknames) can be found here on eBay in Oak Island, North Carolina. It has an unmet opening bid price of $1,250 and no reserve after that.

The Dodge Diplomat and Plymouth Aspen get a bad wrap because of a few quality issues, both design and manufacturing quality. The infamous recall due to rust is well known as are some of the stories about how one side would have an Aspen badge and the other side would have a Diplomat badge. I don’t know if that’s an urban legend or not but maybe some of you have had bad, or good, experiences with them?

You can see that there is some rust on this example. Oak Island, North Carolina couldn’t be closer to year-round salt air if it were floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean rather than being perched on the edge of it. I’m guessing that explains the rust and some of it looks fairly deep so it’ll be more than just light sanding. In fact, the seller says “faux wood trim peeled off long ago, so the car is green all over instead of (almost) looking like a woodie. It has been repainted in the original color several times. The only body work that has been done that I am aware of, other than minor ding or rust repairs and paint jobs to keep it shiny, was after an encounter with a stray herd of cattle out west that involved my parents, several semis, a bus and another handful of cars.  The cattle got the short end of that deal; they were not very attentive pedestrians.  Has some rust, examples in two of the pictures, and the chrome and upholstery need work”.

There are no engine photos but it has a “small V8”, I’m guessing a 318 and it hasn’t been driven since 2015. Fading is the biggest issue that I see with the interior but there aren’t a lot of detail photos. The rear cargo area looks pretty good but I’d want to inspect the edges and crevices before splurging on this example, especially given its location. The seller’s “parents bought this car new. They used it as their family car until 2001 when my father died. My mother kept it until she moved in 2003, when I acquired it and drove it regularly until 2015.” This is one tough wagon, “having weathered hurricanes Hugo, Bertha, Fran, and most recently Florence, plus several not named, including the “No Name” blow in late 1993.” Do any of you have a Dodge Diplomat wagon story? Or, a hurricane story? Or, a car that has been in your family for generations?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. TimS

    Nice green. Probably my favorite thing about it.

    Admittedly I love cars and get attached to them so I’m different. However, if I had been able to hang on to almost any of the few vehicles my family had when I was growing up, it would take seven figures to pry the title out of my reluctant hand. I’d feel like I was selling a family member if I was this person. Or the flipper who’s using this person’s story.

    Like 5
  2. Markin32425

    The old man that had our newspaper route drove one of these in the 1990’s. Same green, wood grain with a gold tail gate.

    Like 1
  3. Mds

    Speaking of mis-matched badges, anyone notice how there is a LeBaron glovebox? Junkyard replacement maybe…???

    Like 1
  4. Blueprint

    The triplets were Diplomat, LeBaron and Caravelle. The Dodge Aspen was the Plymouth Volare twin.

    Like 4
    • Scotty GilbertsonStaff

      Blueprint, you are correct, my mistake on that. I blame it on not enough sleep, a contaminated tube of mustache wax… uh.. actually, I have no excuse this time. Ugh. Good catch.

      Like 1
  5. leiniedude leiniedudeMember

    I went bananas over this car, only to see bidding has ended on this item. As far as Mds’s comment on the glove box door, I have read here before about mismatched fender emblems on these Mopars coming off the line. Maybe here also?

    Like 0
  6. StudebakerKen

    No urban legend on sides having different ID, brother-in-law had a Aspen/Volare’ station wagon Aspen left side, Volare’ right side I believe.

    Like 1
  7. Markin32425

    My dad had a 76 Aspen wagon. ASPEN on the left front fender

    VOLARE in the right.

    Like 2
    • Scotty GilbertsonStaff

      Markin32425 – that’s what I was thinking of and messed up my Mopar twins! So that wasn’t just an urban legend?! Thanks for writing in about that!

      Like 2
  8. Miguel

    I knew that kid back when I was in high school, the actor I mean, not the character.

    Like 1
  9. Kevin McCabe

    This wagon is a Diplomat Medallion (that trim level got the woodgrain). The “small” V8 is likey the 318-2V. A 318-4v was available for high altitude markets and a 360-2V and the E58 360-4V cop car engine could also be had. It’s got a factory AM/FM which is good, and the a/c usually doesn’t take much to get going again. The rust behind the mouldings on the doors looks pretty intense, but doors from a Fifth Avenue up through 1989 will work. Back doors can be used to reskin the wagon doors. The rear door window frames are different, so the doors can’t just be swapped wholesale. Didn’t see whether or not the car has cruise. That would have been nice. Million miles, eh? Hope all of the Dad’s records can document that.

    Like 2
  10. Cav427

    Drop a hemi in it!

    Like 1
  11. BILLY

    They were Dodge Aspens and Plymouth Volares.

    Like 0

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