Junkyard Find: 1977 Plymouth Volare Premier Station Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

The successor to the incredibly successful Dodge Dart/Plymouth Valiant was the Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volaré. These simple rear-wheel-drive cars sold fairly well, but for every Aspen or Volaré I see in high-turnover wrecking yards today, I find ten Darts and Valiants. Part of that reason is a short production run, part is (arguably) lower build quality, but I’m guessing the main reason is that Americans just didn’t love the F-body Chryslers the way they did the A-body. When a Valiant got sick (which wasn’t often), it got fixed; when a Volaré came down with some expensive problem, it got crushed. Now these things are almost nonexistent, but here’s a very rare Volaré Premier wagon I spotted in a California yard a few months back.

Strange to think that there was once a time in which station wagons outnumbered SUVs and minivans for family-hauling use, and even stranger to recall that small station wagons were once fairly good sellers.

Slant Six power, not much to go wrong here. Still, this car with the Slant Six was quite sluggish. If only Chrysler had installed the Hemi-6 in this car, Things Would Have Been Different.

So sensible!

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Allan850glt Allan850glt on Feb 25, 2014

    These and the Aspen were very popular in our middle-class suburban Buffalo neighborhood back in the early '80s (as far back as I can remember). Our family had a couple. My aunt had a '76 Aspen Wagon that she intentionally killed (used to luxo-boats, coming from a richer family) and my uncle rewarded her handy work by bringing home a rust-spotted yellow '78 LTD Wagon, much to her dismay (lol). She didn't have the Aspen long and I was young. What I do remember, it was an Aspen Custom, burgundy in and out. 318. Nicer upgraded vinyl interior. That and she hated it. My grandmother also had one, she traded her mint '71 Dart Swinger on a low mileage base '77 Aspen in '82? Same burgundy, white cheapo pleather. NO AIR. FM mono radio. PS/PB and the 225 Slant "super six" 2bbl with auto. Had the lame rear defogger-blower which is useless in the winter. The front fenders rotted away almost instantaneously however the dealer was good about replacement. It was actually a good car. More than ample power with the "super six" option and economical for its size. Rode well and looked far more modern than the Swinger. She and my mom both drove the Aspen due to my parent's "winter car woes" and not wanting to ruin Mom's Camaro. Eventually Mom grew up and got rid of the Camaro and somehow the Aspen became ours. It served us well, even starting on the coldest of Buffalo winter days..even days when the carbs froze on Dad's '86 Accord. The Aspen started rusting again, quarters this time. That and it started looking dated so later in '86 mom got herself a new Taurus LX Wagon which with its styling, digital dash, power amenities and front drive traction, made the Aspen take place as back-up car until '88 when it was given to one of my cousins. He was an ungrateful wretch and sold it to replace it with an awful '77 Regal. That little Aspen provided us with six years of faithful service. I hear horror stories about them, but we never had any such bad luck. Sort of an ugly sucker but a tough little car and actually kind of fun. Compared to the Taurus it was tough as nails, lasting our family 'til the eleven year mark whereas the Taurus was toast before seven years (although 198,000 miles). Who knows how long it still drove around WNY after cousin schmucko disposed of it. Probably through the mid-late nineties at least if she was cared for. That's saying alot, cars don't last that long in this climate.

  • Laserwizard Laserwizard on Feb 22, 2016

    My family had a new 1975 Dart once - it was the absolute worst vehicle my family had ever had. It was a disaster on build quality and the engine vibrated wildly. The front seat was a disaster - leaned too far back. The car was so unloved that my Mom talked my Dad into getting another car after 2 years and the car had 8k miles on it when we offloaded it. We got a three year old Ford Torino station wagon with 75k miles that looked like new (was a contractor's car) - saw primarily highway miles - we had that for a decade and put nearly 150,000 miles on it and it was one of the best cars we ever owned. Mom got tired of how big it was!

    • VoGo VoGo on Feb 22, 2016

      Yeah, your mom got tired of how big it was.

  • Calrson Fan Jeff - Agree with what you said. I think currently an EV pick-up could work in a commercial/fleet application. As someone on this site stated, w/current tech. battery vehicles just do not scale well. EBFlex - No one wanted to hate the Cyber Truck more than me but I can't ignore all the new technology and innovative thinking that went into it. There is a lot I like about it. GM, Ford & Ram should incorporate some it's design cues into their ICE trucks.
  • Michael S6 Very confusing if the move is permanent or temporary.
  • Jrhurren Worked in Detroit 18 years, live 20 minutes away. Ren Cen is a gem, but a very terrible design inside. I’m surprised GM stuck it out as long as they did there.
  • Carson D I thought that this was going to be a comparison of BFGoodrich's different truck tires.
  • Tassos Jong-iL North Korea is saving pokemon cards and amibos to buy GM in 10 years, we hope.