Under 10,000 Miles: 1977 Dodge Aspen

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Years later, the Dodge Aspen remains a fairly unremarkable vehicle. But finding one with under 10,000 original miles like this example here on eBay is quite unrepeatable, so we’ll make an exception for this cream puff in New York with an $8,000 Buy-It-Now and the reserve unmet. 

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This example makes do with the smallest engine in the lineup, the 225 cubic inch slant-six. This modest power plant has somewhat of a legendary reputation for reliability and durability due to its sturdy design and components. In fact, I have a colleague who is big into 1980s-era Dodge trucks and swears by the slant-six as one of the best Mopar engines ever offered. The engine bay does look like one of a nearly-new car, but you’ll still want to perform preventive maintenance where needed.

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One of the most profound benefits of low-mileage survivors is the near-perfect interior. Sure, the original paint and unmarked bodywork is nice, but all too often interiors in cars of this vintage become truly funky places to operate from within. The seat fabric is groovy, the carpets unmarked and the dashboard free of any cracks and retaining bright colors on the gauge faces. The seller says the interior is free from stains and the headliner is in perfect condition.

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While I generally take offense to sellers modifying survivor cars, I do like the one change he made: upgrading to period-correct yet slightly more aggressive wheels and tires. I dig the look, and the original steel wheels on hubcaps are included. The wheel spats are pretty slick, too! I’d love to know the history of how this Aspen came to be driven so infrequently, wouldn’t you?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Luke Fitzgerald

    I thought it was a v8 ’til I read the script – plumbing! Ain’t no 63 valiant under there – good find

  2. Blindmarc

    A perfect candidate for the 300’s hemi!

  3. Mitch

    Don’t change the wheels-steelies & dog dishes are the way to go-that’s what I did with my ’77 Volare wagon.

  4. Kincer Dave Member

    That thing looks sooooo cool! I don’t know why I like it but I do!

  5. Cassidy

    an amazing amount of smog equipment covering that poor little engine! I like the looks of the wheels and tires, but its hard to get excited about that agressive stance with an overburdened 6-banger. So disappointing when it gets revved. It needs a license plate frame that says “I could have had a V-8!”

    Like 1
  6. Mark S Member

    There’s nothing wrong with the leaning tower of power. I’d take that smog emission crap off, shave the head, rejet the carb, or go to a 60’s carb and change the advance curve of on the timing by either changing ditributor weights or weight springs. ( lower base timing with a quicker advance timing ) those over sized tires might get you more top end but will rob this car of accelerating power significantly. These were well made cars for their day and being a Mopar fan I’d take this car if it were possible in a second nice find.

    • David Martin

      I saw on YouTube what the Motor Trend guys did to a Slant Six, way over 200 hp.

    • Chebby

      Good ideas on the engine mods, yet these were anything but well-made cars for their day. The Volare/Aspen were huge POS’s, especially as replacements for the indestructable Dart/Valiant, and these were a big part of Chrysler’s slide into bankruptcy.

      • Mark S Member

        I can assure you that not much was changed I the manufactoring process from dart valiant year to aspen Voltaire years bodies got made the same way engines got made the same way etc etc etc. Yes changes were made such as emissions, compression ratios. So how do you see these as being POS’s. I’ve work on both era of these car as a mechanic and have to say that I think you are dead wrong. These cars held up just as well as anything before them.

      • Ed P

        @Mark S: Something certainly did change. My 78 Aspen started to self destruct the day after I bought it.

    • Chebby

      @ Mark S:

      I say that because they were documented POS’s. This is directly from Allpar, a Mopar enthusiast site:

      “In 1977, Volaré/Aspen accounted for 51% of corporate sales. Chrysler had found its savior cars, it seemed, then.. .oh, oh. By 1978 fenders on many ’76 models began showing rust, hoods began flying up and even the “indestructible” Slant Six and 318 V8 seemed to have caught a virus from the body and began faltering and stalling. In all, the ’76 Volarés and Aspens were subject to five mandated recalls on suspension, ignition and fuel systems, brakes, steering and the body. Chrysler launched a voluntary recall on all front fenders and adjacent sheet metal, which cost them $109 million they could ill afford. The problem was in quality control on the assembly line, rather than design. The Volaré/Aspen twins became the most recalled vehicles in history…for a couple of years, that is, until General Motor’ X-cars took the “honor” from them.

      Lee Iacocca himself said:

      “The Dart and Valiant ran forever, and they should never have been dropped. Instead they were replaced by cars that often started to come apart after only a year or two….
      I can’t think of any cars that caused more disappointment among customers than the Aspen and the Volare.”

      • Am

        You are correct. I loved this car. But it was always in the shop

  7. Steve B

    Was this stored on a freezer? Amazing condition especially given that F-bodies were unpopular for so many years. Time machine back to the disco era.

  8. Roselandpete

    I can’t believe it’s not rusted through. Nice car though. I’d keep it as is.

  9. Charles H.

    If it only had the 360 4bbl. Interceptor, very interesting time capsule! Would love to know the history, looks like it was stored in climate controlled warehouse!……love it

  10. Ed P

    I drove my ’78 Aspen 60k miles before I had enough of it. These cars are like recurring nightmares.

  11. Daniel Burns

    My dad purchased a brand new Aspen in 1976, first model year.
    It was two tone, gold over yellow with black and silver interior.
    It was…different looking.
    The front suspension was a transverse mounted torsion bar set up which gave a good ride but heaven forbid you should have to do any kind of emergency maneuver. The car would just slide on drive pavement. Going around a bumpy curve was a white knuckle ride at normal speed.
    I was the chief detailer of dad’s rides. I was washing and waxing the Aspen about a year after we got it and noticed rust bubbles on the tops of the front fenders. It took about 3 months but Chrysler finally agreed to replace them.
    The folks decided to take it on a road trip from northern MA to Myrtle Beach NC. ON 95 in NJ someone cut off my dad and the car did it’s little dance. The car ended up impaled on it’s driver’s side by the rear passenger bumper of a NJ Trooper’s cruiser on the median.
    After that episode we got a recall notice from Chrysler. It seems the front k member could crack and have and adverse effect on handling. Huh, go figure.
    At the three year mark dad couldn’t trade it in fast enough. He got himself a nice 1979 Chevy Malibu coupe with a and aluminum 283 V8. It was a nice replacement!

  12. Nick G.

    At least it’s a “Super Six” with the 2bbl carb and intake. I scored a Super Six setup to put on my ’65 Belvedere. I believe it added 20 or 30 horsepower over the standard six back in this Aspen’s day so it’ll be fun to see what it does to mine.
    I just broke a few teeth off my reverse gear, and damaged first in the process, in my 3-speed manual. I looking for a 4-speed for a slant if anybody around N.C. or S.C. knows where one is at.

  13. Bruce Best

    My family had the same car only in white. I was the worst car the family ever owned. The handling has been described accurately but our biggest fear was a sudden leaning and stalling. I can not count the times we would pull out into traffic and it would try to stall on us. We can very close many times to what would have been some severe accidents. I never trussed it after it did that to me a couple of times.

    Nice size, comfortable but unless you do something for the breaking, handling, and most of all the lean surges and stalls I would recommend anybody and everybody stay away unless they are going to up date these parts.

    I have owned some very weird cars but this is one of the very few I would consider to be dangerous.

  14. Paul Bellefeuille

    POS?? Yes.. why? well I’ve told this story at least once here.. I had a ’76 Aspen Special Edition.no a/c..bought it in September ’76. Slant 6 had to have the carburetor repaired early in my ownership. I didn’t have the handling problems that are mentioned above.. however….At around 28,000 the rear end quit. I have always been a careful driver so it wasn’t as if I was hot rodding around in it. I checked the wrecking yards and most of the Aspens or Volares available all had busted rear ends…except for one. Interior-wise the carpeted panels on the backs of the bucket seats fell off.. They were stapled on. Under that rear carpet I found a treasure.. an extra car part that I can’t recall at this point almost 40 years later. And of course the tops of the front fender began to rust out in Spring of 1979. The dealer refunded the cost of the rustproofing ..the major recall by Chrysler hadn’t begun at that point.. later that spring I dumped it with about 32,000 miles on it.
    ( I had a ’73 Dart Swinger and thought with all the hoopla that the Aspen was “Unbelievable” as Rex Harrison said in the ads.. it was.. just not a good kind of unbelievable..

    • Roselandpete

      I knew it had to be Motor Trend’s car of the year for a reason

  15. mark

    Only way to make it cool is to slide a 6ltr LS under the hood!!!

  16. Doc

    Unfortunately the ’70s produced some crappy cars.

  17. Marvin

    Aluminum 283? In 1979? What??

    • Utes

      Exactly !………

      On what planet was that year drivetrain available?

  18. robj Member

    Well, I must have bought one of the only good ones.

    1979 Volare, Slant 6, automatic.
    It was a 4 door plain work car that I was getting paid mileage.
    It was totally bullet-proof. I was 25 and working as a private investigator and it was my surveillance vehicle. I ran the heck out of it to the tune of about 45k miles a year.
    At about 180,000 I used it to tow a pop up tent camper from Maryland to the Keys. It didn’t miss a beat and used about 1 quart of oil each way.
    Changed the oil every 3000 and every 6 months screwed in a new set of plugs. Trans fluid and filter every year.
    I think it had about 225,000 when I traded it. And it still ran good.
    robj

  19. John b

    Im currently in fort bragg california….from philly in my 84 dodge van 4 on the floor slant-6 1 barl. First tampa to texas to colorado to nevada to cali. 1 quart of oil. Even climbed pikes peak. Now headed north to see the spruce goose. I clocked over 6k without an issue. This engine is indestructible. Enough said.

  20. Doc

    Complaints were not about the engine, it is well known the slant six is a PREMIERE engine. Ever heard of the slant six club? Ya gotta have 200,000 miles in order to join. It was trying to shed weight and comply to the new smog standards that caused the demise. By the ’80s this was pretty much squared away. K cars? Don’t even get me started!

  21. John b

    I learned the slant 6 was a good motor when my father bought an 80 Aspen wagon. Yes, i said Aspen….. Never gave him and issue on anything with that car. 80 was the last year, so ill throw u all a bone- maybe all the bugs were worked out by then.

  22. Ed P

    Before Iaocca, there was no quality control at Chrysler. Very early in Iaocca’s reign (79), he learned of this and ordered changes. Cars built after were improved.

  23. Doc

    The only real issue with the slant six was over heating in the early ’60s engines. Why u ask? The blocks were not boiled out well so the water jackets in the head got plugged with debris. It was a common problem.

  24. 68custom

    Parents bought a new Aspen wagon in 77/78. the very next morning it would not start. dealer said we should turn on some lights to (warm) the battery. still did not start. equipped with super six power brakes but no power steering, it was a wagon and power steer would have been nice. Always had carb problems the dealer could not fix under warranty. after the warranty expired we took it to the local gas station with a mechanic and equipped with a jiffy kit he rebuilt the carb and it started right up and ran like a dream. less than two years old the tops of the fenders started to rust (a recall as I remember) once the year end started howling we could not get rid of it fast enough. did a dead even trade for a refurbished 68 Beetle and we felt we had made out like bandits! that particular one featured looks nice though, for a Mopar

  25. jaymes

    beautiful low optioned example, at least its a 2dr.too bad it wasn’t the RT model

  26. Lee Sousa

    I have a 1976 Dodge Aspen “NL29” base coupe with 7900 original miles. It is equipped with the 318 V8, 4 speed and 2:94 sure grip 8-1/4 rear axle drivetrain. The car is wearing special order extra cost R6 “Claret” red paint with the VERY RARE “under 27 cars” “V1 Halo” vinyl top in black and also black and print bench seat interior. It is most likely the only 1976 “V1” halo vinyl top car to be equipped with the 318 and 4 speed drivetrain.

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