Is It Rare? 1978 Dodge Aspen Special Edition

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The seller seems to think that this 1978 Dodge Aspen Special Edition is quite rare. After doing some research, I’m not quite as sure, but on the other hand, when is the last time you’ve seen one, especially without rust? You can find the car in Strasburg, Virginia and it’s listed for sale here on craigslist. The seller is inviting offers but does not list a price. As a point of reference, NADA lists it at a high retail of $1,975 but doesn’t mention T-tops or a Special Edition. An article here in Hemmings on a low mileage Sunrise Edition Aspen puts it at $2,000 – $2,500. So who knows what a good offer would be on this car? UPDATE: a reader on Facebook found another ad where the seller quotes $5,500 as the price.

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Of course, the T-tops are the most distinctive feature about the car, or at least until you look inside. First offered on the Aspen in 1977, I don’t think I have ever seen them on an Aspen or it’s twin the Volare before. While I was looking, I found a pretty 1977 car here that was for sale a year ago in Lakeland, Florida for $6,350. Another one was highlighted here that was for sale back in 2009 for $5,150. Now I’m really confused as to the value of the car–but enough about money, let’s look at what you’d actually be getting! As someone who grew up in the 1970’s, I remember when the seals were new and they didn’t leak!

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On the other hand, I think I would like the car better without the vinyl half-roof. It sure is period, though. The seller states it has 62,000 miles, and will “let the pictures speak for themselves.” I don’t see any rust, so I’m hoping that’s true. You have to admit, there aren’t going to be a lot of these at the next Mopar show you attend!

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What’s that in the center of the picture (besides the regrettable shift knob)? Yes, that’s a third pedal you see to the left, and a manual transmission shifter in the center. Holy cow, that has to be unusual in an Aspen! Although there were 48,311 Aspen coupes produced in 1978, I’ll bet there weren’t many with manual transmissions, especially non Super Coupes or R/T’s. Jeff wrote up one here back in February, but there’s an important difference between that car and this one. As you can see, the rest of the blue interior reflects indoor storage and the relatively low miles as well.

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The seats really are that nice! I’m wondering if the center armrest has been recovered, though, as it appears to be a slightly different shade of blue and has some ripples. Perhaps a question for the seller? And here’s the surprise, although there’s no picture of the under hood area–it has a slant six! Again, this has to be an unusual combination of engine/transmission/option packages. I wonder how many cars were made in this particular combination? Are you interested in adding this survivor to your collection? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Comments

  1. Dan

    Just because something is rare, doesn’t mean a big value….nice that it has a 4 speed though…

    Like 1
    • Rick Aufderheide

      Exactly….. The “it’s really rare, it was the only ‘Olive Green w/ orange plaid bench seats and an 8 track radio!” Might be rare…. But that does mean it “ups” its price any significant amount (to me anyway)

      Although, this is a nifty little car that takes me back. If paint/ body is as nice as it looks, and it’s mechanically sound… Might be reasonable. Face it folks …. The Mustang II’s, Monzas, AMC concord AMX’s were just ‘looks packages’….. But they are creeping in as ‘collectibles’ the last 2 years I’ve gone to Hershey and Carlisle….. Seems like the car corrals vacillate between ‘true vintage cars’ and a nice used car shop.

  2. Healeydays

    T-tops on an Aspen is rare, but these were use up and throwaway cars at best.

    But some people love oddballs, so there has to be a buyer for this out there somewhere…

  3. Rich

    Only reason it’s rare is because it didn’t rust away like these all did back then.

  4. The Walrus

    The sticks aren’t rare on slant 6’s of the era, as it was the base transmission (technically a 3 spd OD unit and not a true 4-speed) and thus wasn’t rated for heavy duty use. Automatics were far more common, as they were standard with any 318 and required with 360’s (a 318 could have an automatic delete). Thus, a Supercoupe would not have had a stick available (since they were a 360 based package) and sticks were quite rare on R/T’s (same with Volare Roadrunners).

    The T-tops are somewhat rare, but not as rare as an R/T or Supercoupe. I recall seeing numbers at one point and any given year there were 6-8000 Aspen/Volare’s fitted with them (those are numbers for both Aspens and Volare’s across all trim levels, since the aftermarket fitter of the T-Tops didn’t care about that aspect). I saw a ’79 R/T with T-Tops and a stick once (318 Car) and the owner claimed it was 1 of 6.

    Oh, and I would estimate it’s value, based primarily on condition and secondarily on the T-Tops at $5-$6K. And the seller is totally wrong about SE package INCLUDING T-Tops. It was an option available on all Aspens. SE was a trim level and had nothing to do with whether it had T-Tops.

    • bryan stilson

      I have a 79 special edition with the t-tops it has 318 mild build quickfuel 580 cfm carb elderbrock intake up graded the ignition to elctronic took the lean burn system out add 2 1/4 exhaust thruogh flowmaster 40tys put a B&M shifter on the floor updated the 904 with some performane trans kit and added a transco shift kit its has BF Goodrich 50ty series on 10 inch in the rear set of ladder bars .A work in progress found it in a tow yard not runing for 150ty bucks got the engine from a friend and tranny already rebuilt out of 68 4 dr dart.Droped it in the car.

      Like 2
  5. Steve Member

    Slant six was one of the best engines ever made…Chrysler’s cars could rot away and the slant six just kept on going forever!

  6. Rick

    I got one of these for free that was almost as clean (sans t-tops and manual trans) while I was living in LA in 2006, had been sitting in a garage since 1991 (still had pro gulf war stickers on it), was red w/ a white top, got it running with a can of fuel gravity fed into the carb (fuel pump NFG) and it ran and drove very nicely,anyhow I couldn’t even get $250 for it on Craiglist, so ended up selling it to the local Pick-a-Part, as I recall they gave me $75 for it

  7. cj32769

    You really can’t drive this without a mullet. Sort of looks like a mix of what mom wants and what dad had the salesman check off. Like a mullet business in the front and party in the back. Slant 6 with a 4 speed has enough torque to make you feel like Dick Trickle at night and the Volare look on the morning after reminds you to take the kids to school.

  8. Rick

    Don’t you mean Cole Trickle!

    • grant

      Pretty sure he meant the actual, real race car driver with the Best. Name. Ever…. Tom Cruise makes decent movies though; I guess.

      Like 1
  9. John.H

    As a former owner of one of these as well as earlier Mopars, nothing on this car, including the slant 6, resembled earlier years. By this time the finance guys at Chrysler had hijacked the company, the engineering group was decimated to cut costs, and every part cheapened regardless of the impact on reliability.

    There is a reason we pronounced Aspen “A** Pain”. I”ll take any earlier Mopar over these even if the appearance of one of these is nice.

    • Ed P

      Agreed John. I owned a 78 Aspen wagon with slant 6 and manual o/d trans. The body did not rust out, but that was about the only thing that did not go wrong.

  10. Healeydays

    He wants $5500

  11. Blindmarc

    T-tops might have been a factory option, but many were after market. If it was a V8 it might been worth 5k. Just my opinion….

    • The Walrus

      For cars of this era, engine has almost no impact on value. Condition rules. Nobody’s gonna be taking any stop light prizes with a malaise era car. If you wanted to improve the performance, there is an active Slant 6 aftermarket that can, due to the weight savings, get them into the performance range of a slightly modded 318. However, with a car this original, it would be a foolish endeavor to mess with with the engine in either a 225 or 318.

  12. John B

    Cool old survivor Mopar, just don’t choose off the guy on the 50cc scooter at the stoplight because you’re gonna get spanked!

  13. DA

    Rare or even odd doesn’t make a car collectible. We pay high dollar for collectible cars because they have more value. This thing is nothing more than personal affection for the underdog. Somebody will buy it simply because they love an old Aspen.

    • The Walrus

      I’m confused by your statement. You talk about ‘high dollar for collectible because they have more value’ then ‘somebody will buy it because they love an old Aspen’, as if that is 2 separate things… the only reason any car has value is because people are interested in owning it. Without interest or ‘love’ all old cars are worthless. You’re right, someone will buy it because they want an old Aspen. There just don’t happen to be as many people who want an old Aspen as there are those who want, say a ’55 Gullwing Mercedes. Desire is what makes things ‘collectible’. And on that scale, the Aspen is equal to the Mercedes. The value comes in that there are fewer Gullwings and more people want them.

  14. BEAVERHOUND

    I knew a guy with one that was tan on tan and maaan that thing was FEWGLEY!!! AND WEAK AS PUPPY P**S. Slanted automatic it was sooo bad that even the tail pipe sucked at W.O.T! It went down the road going suuuck,suuuck, suuuuck!

    • Rando

      Did we know the same guy??? A guy in high school had a tan one too. May have had a brown top though? He was about as exciting as the car was. Probably a millionaire now though…

  15. Rob

    I’d rather have the Bronco in the background.

  16. Stephen

    I’m certainly no 1978 Aspen expert, but that interior looks base, not “Special Edition.”

    • Jason Erickson

      I had a ’78 dodge aspen, and that car has a better interior. Mine had a vinyl bench seat. Same slant six with the 3+OD manual. Other than the screws that held the carb together that kept backing out (until I discovered lock-tite) it was a very reliable driver as a college kid. Rusted through in a few places being here in the rust belt (MN) though.

  17. Tom hetrick

    My Mom had one and it was junk!!!! sold it and they new owner swapped engine to get it to move. had cali emissions.

  18. dj

    My 1983 Dodge Diplomat Medallion is one of 1300 made. Is it rare, sure. Is it worth a ton of money, no.

  19. Mike

    Its for sale again in N. VA. $2750. Just popped up on CL.

    https://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/cto/d/1978-dodge-aspen-classic/6531948508.html

    M

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