By on November 10, 2014

14 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volaré won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award for 1976, and they spent a good decade among the most commonplace vehicles on American roads. Then just about all of them disappeared, no doubt as they depreciated well below scrap value in about ten years. However, the occasional odds-beating survivor shows up in wrecking yards now and then; we’ve seen this ’76 Aspen sedan, this brown-on-beige ’77 Volaré coupe and this ’77 Volaré Premier wagon, and now today’s ’76 Volaré sedan. This one shows evidence of having sat for the last decade or so, but still managed to rack up many more miles than most of its Civic and Corolla contemporaries.
22 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s always interesting to find old newspapers in junkyard cars; they let you know about when the car last functioned as a semi-usable vehicle. This ’65 Chevy Bel Air had a bunch of 1982 Denver papers, this ’60 Plymouth Valiant wagon had a few 1970 issues of the San Francisco Chronicle, and today’s Junkyard Find came with a trunk full of 2004 issues from the now-long-defunct Rocky Mountain News.
24 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCertain topics haven’t left the editorial pages for decades.
20 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis comic was important enough to the car’s previous owner to have warranted clipping and stashing in the glovebox.
04 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinChrysler used this style of AM radio for most of the 1970s; I had one in my ex-water-company ’73 Plymouth Fury.
06 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Aspen/Volaré was the successor to the incredibly successful Dart/Valiant series, but its quality problems and notorious recalls nearly destroyed Chrysler.
09 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSlant-6 engine with great big two-cylinder air-conditioning compressor. A friend of mine used to make and sell cut-rate shop air-compressors using these things.
02 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe steering wheel was a lot snazzier than your typical Valiant’s.


Toyota used the Volaré as an example of what not to buy in their ’78 ads. This one must have made Lee Iacocca livid.

A “special” suspension!

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

75 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1976 Plymouth Volaré Sedan...”


  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Ah, the Slant 6.

    Three cheers.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Except for the slant 6 this was a junkyard find the day it was built

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Was the Chrysler slant 6 also forced upon AMC products? And which vehicle last had the slant 6? I’m guessing the 1990 Diplomat.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        No, the AMC straight-6 was an equally good engine that powered many of the older Jeeps that are still plentiful and a common sight in my area

      • 0 avatar

        The leaning tower of power was phased out of cars in ’83 and trucks in ’87. They still made them for boats up til ’91 or ’92.
        By ’83 they’d mostly consolidated the car line, with the coupe and wagon having ended in ’82, and by that point the 6 was a rarely-ordered option so they just quietly ended its availability.

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          My Gramps and long-time Mopar buyer bought a new 83 Diplomat Salon with the Slant-6. Tried to get him to go for a New Yorker 5th Ave but no dice. When he passed away in the mid-90’s family members kept the car running but the Lean Burn was problematic. Ended up selling it to a happy customer for $800.

  • avatar
    mankyman

    Lie2me,

    I spent a good deal of my youth being driven around in the cargo area of a Volare wagon. We used to tow a 4×8 trailer with it all over the upper midwest. It had the slant 6. My Dad always went on and on about how great the engine was. To this day, he’ll talk about the engine and he’s had a lot of cars in the last 30 years!

    Just curious; what made this engine so good?
    Thanks

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Did they strap you up so you wouldn’t fall through the rusted floor boards?

      “what made this engine so good?”

      Chrysler did some things very well, the slant 6 was one of them

    • 0 avatar
      bfisch81

      I too spent some of my youth in the awesome blue vinyl interior of a Volare wagon AND the red vinyl of an Aspen sedan.

      Seeing that blue vinyl and that hubcap brought back some very early memories. That Volare ran and ran on that slant six but ultimately a rusted pan and a rusted out exhaust combined to force a trade for an early Plymouth Voyager…. with awesome red velour interior.

      The slant six and AMC/Chrysler’s 4.0L Jeep engine were extremely stoutly designed, well engineered and generally well made engines. Some of the advantages that a a straight six has over a V6 is the inherent smoothness of an inline so there is lessened stress on all of the engine’s components.

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      The Slant 6 (and other inline 6 engines) were very reliable. They were smooth, too. The only downside was that they didn’t love speed the way a V8 did.

      If you want to cruise smoothly, an Inline 6 is the way to go.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      The slant six was designed to be made of aluminum or iron using the same mold. This resulted in the iron-cast ones (most of them) being very rigid and overbuilt. The slant design also had more nearly equal length intake and exhaust manifold lengths, resulting in even performance amongst the cylinders. I believe most modern BMW I6 engines are also slanted.

      • 0 avatar
        greaseyknight

        Bingo, even performance and an even fuel/air mixture. Thats why modern engines are lasting so much longer with fuel injection and electronics. No cylinder wash from to much fuel. Log manifolds on 6’s tend to starve the outer cylinders and the middle runs rich.

        Although, I’ve heard that the Chrysler LA (318/360) had an even lower number of warranty claims during that period.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Overbuilt? Golly, yeah! When the water pump went out in my ’63 Dart wagon (brown) I unbolted the cover to find it was cast iron like the rest of the block! When I saw the pot metal replacement at the parts store, I refused to turn it in. Then an old timer told me the pump was rebuildable and I got a kit for it and put the cast iron cover back on.

        BTW the slant six was an under-square (long stroke) engine so it put out higher torque at low rpms. That’s what made it great for hauling trailers.

  • avatar
    Sobro

    I had a ’78 Aspen, Sunrise Edition, slant six of course. The carburetor was garbage but apparently improved over the earlier models. When the A/C clutch went out I learned that the clutch assembly was the same price as the entire compressor/clutch. During the Bush 1 years some woman told me it was the ugliest car she’d ever seen. I thought it looked OK for a car well past its design life. At the time I was lusting after the Ford Probe.

    http://www.hemmings.com/hcc/stories/2012/10/01/hmn_feature5.html

  • avatar
    autojim

    My neighbors back home traded a ’70 Demon 340 on a ’78 Volare wagon as their family grew. It was not the best move. After the paint on the upward facing surface started to go prematurely, they discovered the car had been damaged in transit and had had the roof and much of the glass heavily repaired (like structural repairs), everything above the SimuWood(TM) was resprayed (badly), and the car was sold as-new.

    Disclosure laws were different in those days, but this particular dealership (Tink Wilkerson) had a reputation for pulling these kind of shenanigans. (They later got sued for diverting funds by Chrysler Credit and Tink turned to supporting evangelist ministries to try to whitewash his name clean.)

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    My grandfather had an Aspen wagon from this year, which my father inherited.

    The engine worked very well.

    Thew **whole rest of the car** was awful. It would stall on quick left turns, was rusting from new and nearly every accessory failed.

    This, and a rental Citation, drove my family into the welcoming arms of Toyota. That must have been hard for my grandfather, who was a loyal Chrysler buyer since he got off the boat. He worked at a Chrysler supplier (which was tough on my dad, as many people in St. Catharines were GM employees or related to a GM employee, at the time) and loyally bought whatever the base trim of whatever eminently sensible car Chrysler made at the time (Plymouth Savoy; I still have the carb as a pencil cup), then a Fury wagon, then the Aspen). Anything else was too showy.

    I think he found the Aspen a bit of a betrayal, frankly. I know he had views on Lee Iacocca.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I had to take a traffic school class in 1979, and the trooper who taught it complained that their Dodges would stall if they pulled a quick u-turn. I guess that really was a thing with Malaise Mopars.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Psarhjinian, interesting you mention the stalling on left turns thing. I’ve heard of other people having this problem, and we had it with a 1976 Dodge Coronet (V8, can’t remember which one) that my parents bought used around 1977 or 78. They were never able to get that issue fixed and the car was traded in a year later. Wonder what the heck caused that…the lean burn carburetor, perhaps? But why only on left turns? Weird…

  • avatar
    bk_moto

    Oh man I grew up in one of these. I was born in ’76 and I guess my dad figured that his ’73 Pontiac Ventura wasn’t going to cut it anymore for child transport duty.

    He bought a ’77 Volare wagon, silver paint. Being that my dad was a cheapskate, he went for total poverty spec. I remember it well, it had the blue vinyl as seen above. Slant six. No air conditioning. No power steering. 4-speed manual on the floor. AM-only radio. Dad did eventually buy one of those FM converters.

    I still vividly remember just how hot that vinyl got in those DC-area summers. We always used to have to bring towels along to put on the seats in the summer. Dad got one of those mesh seat mats to be permanently left on the driver’s seat.

    I do remember falling out of the back (open tailgate) once while being driven to the start of my paper route. Tuck and roll, no problem.

    The only time I ever recall that thing dying was one time I was out with my dad and the engine just shut off. Dead ballast resistor. Walked to the auto parts store, got a new one, and we were on our way again.

    I don’t know what was up with Chrysler’s silver paint of the era, but it was terrible. Faded quite badly and started to look rusty after a few years. My dad maintained the thing well but I’m quite sure he never adjusted the valves. I remember that thing sounded like a clattering bucket of bolts near the end but it still ran great.

    In ’85, with me then having two siblings, he donated the thoroughly worn out Volare to Salvation Army and bought a Dodge 7-passenger van. He special-ordered it with a 4-speed manual on the floor. But at least it had air conditioning and cloth seats. That was a light blue over dark blue two-tone. Unfortunately Chrysler’s light blue paint of the mid ’80s was not any better than their silver paint of the late ’70s.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    I still recall getting stuck with these Aspen/Volaré turds as rentals back in the day. Even by the not very high standards of American cars of the time the steering and handling were horrifyingly vague.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Once saw a Volare on eBay roughly this color combo, California car, with the very rare 360 V8. It had been lovingly cared for.

    I’ll admit, I was tempted.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t be tempted. It’s not the Volare Dean Martin sang about…

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Yeah it’s the crappy Volare’ that Dean Martin wannabe Al Martino sung about

        • 0 avatar
          bomberpete

          “Vo-lar-ey, Uh-oh….Broke down again…Uh-uh-uh-oh”

          The Dean Martin wannabe in this commercial is Sergio Franchi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergio_Franchi

          Al Martino played Johnny Fontaine in “The Godfather.” He’s the one Vito slapped around, and for whom they made that horse-loving movie mogul “an offer he can’t refuse.” Supposedly, that’s pretty close to the truth of how Sinatra got that Oscar-winning role in “From Here To Eternity.”

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Al Martino also sang and looked like Dean Martin and did this Plymouth Volare’ ad in 1979

            https://www.google.com/search?q=Volare+car+ad+song&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb

          • 0 avatar

            I remember there was a Volare wagon in “Fantasy Island” but Ricardo Montalban was too proud to shill for it in a commercial. Guess they Sergio Franchi and Al Martino were all Chrysler could afford leading up to their bankruptcy.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Good memory…

            http://www.imcdb.org/i001049.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            Superdessucke

            Volare! Oh no!
            Junked car yea! No no no no!

            When new you were up in the clouds
            Surrounded by admiring crowds
            You basked in the glow of the bright auto show
            And buyers all eager to sign
            But you left them confused and all disillusioned
            As Chrysler fell further and further behind
            With Corinthian Leather its only big seller
            A bailout it had to find!

            Volare! Oh no!
            Junked car yea! No no no no!
            Your memory makes my heart sting
            Your engine’s perplexing sharp pings
            And your rusty rear quarters
            Bad front control arms
            And gasoline leaking behind!

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Now that Chrysler is Italian perhaps more can be done with that parody

        • 0 avatar
          56BelAire

          Actually Domenico Modugno was the artist who had the original hit recording of “Volare” in 1958. Then in 1960 Philly teen idol, Bobby Rydell also had a huge hit record with the same tune.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        When the car is already 30+ years old, all the bugs have been worked out. It’s like if you see a surviving one today it was one of the well constructed ones.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I’m surprised the fenders are still intact as those were the first thing to rust away. My high school friend had a 1979 white 4 door much like this car but in base trim and it had the super rare sure grip, heavy duty package and 2 BBL Super Six. We knick named it the Super slow because it was turtle slow getting up to 30 MPH and nobody could ever figure out why. The carburetor was rebuilt and replace numerous times. The heads were re-done and compression was excellent. No vacuum leaks were found. He even had the torque converter replaced thinking it was bad. Nothing he did made any difference on the sluggish 0-30 power. In contrast his 1974 Scamp with the 1BBL Slant Six felt like a race car in comparison as did my 1981 105 HP 260 Cutlass coupe.

    His wife’s parents, whom he purchased the car from, said when they bought this car new it would peel out and never had any trouble getting up to speed. He sold the car in the early 90’s with a mere 90K miles on the clock and we never solved that mystery.

  • avatar

    Such a shame that Chrysler couldn’t program an EVA unit to belt out “Vo-lar-ehy!” every time you turned the ignition.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I kind of like the paneling and gold scrolling in here. It’s not too overdone!

    It would also seem you sit pretty low down with high sills for this era of car. Very cockpit like.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Classy, huh?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Compared to what other Chrysler interiors of the time were wearing, yeah!

        Like this!
        http://www.newyorkeronline.org/membercars/74-78/darrylskerman/InteriorRear.jpg

        Also, this advert is hilarious.
        http://hooniverse.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/1990-Imperial-Advertisement-700×481.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          … and those cost twice as much. That pleasant little brick-a-brac you find so tasteful was Chrysler’s way of saying, “You poor slob, here’s a taste of what you’re NOT getting, Ha, ha, ha!”

  • avatar
    wmba

    Love that gold filigree in the sixth photo down. Mmmm, mmmm.

    Of course the front transversely mounted torsion bars with different length cranks from the lower A arms on either side were just pure engineering genius too, adding only a couple hundred lbs of extra weight in gusseting.

    Guy in the office next to me had a 318, and the engine stalled for no apparent reason at town speeds, put out that burnt-lacquer smell of bad combustion all the time, hiccuped on a random basis cruising down the highway which could be a bit of a thrill in trying to guess whether it was going to stop completely or burp and f*rt, cough and resume its almost normal slightly uneven running.

    Path guidance was approximate even in a straight line, just two pinkies needed though on the overboosted power steering, so no great effort to weave along between the lane lines, with the occasional drop of the right wheels off onto the gravel shoulder when a light puff of wind caught the car unaware. I had to drive it over 200 miles once, arriving with my sweated shirt-back stuck to the vinyl seat due to the intense concentration I felt it needed to be driven safely. My then current Audi 100 tracked straight and true, and actually had way fewer problems over the years – they just cost more to fix. Plus that smoggo 318 had no more straightline zip what with hauling the additional thousand pounds. Handling? Yeah, it had some.

    Volare was an overweight dog compared to the Dart, and as the word gradually got around about the rust as well compared to the Dart, it contributed to Chrysler’s almost bankruptcy by selling fewer and fewer as time went on.

    Yessir, a classic all right.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    What a coincidence, the first Volare I ever saw was in a junkyard. If I remember correctly, this one is a 1977.

    http://i257.photobucket.com/albums/hh222/rockmanDX3/0623141157.jpg

    And yep, it’s a Slant Six.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Lol, judging by the surrounding Mopars that’s not a junkyard, that’s your local Chrysler Dealer’s used car lot

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        There’s a lot of Neons, cloud cars, LHes, and K-car derivatives in the Chrysler section, that’s for sure. Only RWD Chryslers on my last trip were two M bodies (a Fifth Avenue and a pre-Fifth Avenue New Yorker) and that Volare. Granted, I’m not expecting to see the rotting carcass of a ’76 Newport 4 door or something like that, so I’m not exactly surprised.

        Also, I swear every single Sundance Duster was green with gold wheels. I might have seen a red or white one ONCE.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Sometime you’ll have to explain this interest in dead Chryslers you have.

          The Sundance Dusters were only available in Green, Red or white. Green was very popular with all cars, especially Jeep/Chrysler

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I took loads of other pictures of dead cars if you want them, including some 1st gen Town Cars, some random FWD Cadillacs, and some MN12s…if it was dead and it was more interesting than some disposable dark ages GM product, I took a picture of it.

            I can get the green Jeep, I feel like 1 in 3 1990s Jeep products are green.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I had a ’96 Green Grand Cherokee

  • avatar
    ex-x-fire

    So… what’s in the ammo can?

  • avatar
    buffknut

    After I junked my 73 vega in1978, I bought a used 76 Volare. Talk about going from bad to bad! The fenders rusted so bad, I had to put the antenna inside the car. Then Chrysler put new fenders on and within 6 months those rusted completely through because the paint was put on so poorly.

    I do recall stalling on left turns sometimes and having to replace the ballast resistor. The slant 6 ran well. I had the 3 speed on the floor and the throw on the shifter was incredibly long and got to be very hard to shift from 1st to 2nd.

    I made it through a couple Buffalo winters so I guess that’s not too bad.

    Fun times!

  • avatar
    fiasco

    My grandfather (lived near Hartford, CT, car theft capital of the world in the 70s) had his 73 Torino stolen three times. After the third theft wrote the thing off, he got a Volare. Stolen car problem solved.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Poor old unloved thing .

    As much as I like MoPars , these things were nasty , I bet Chrysler Co. was trying to ” do a GM ” ~ snatching defeat from the jaws of victory
    .
    =8-) .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    JimC2

    The car that killed Chrysler. Hard to believe, hindsight or no, they screwed up such a good thing as the Dart/Valiant but they did.

    The spare ballast resistor and the Chrysler Electronic Ignition system was well known, not just for this car but all Mopars. It was a pain but it didn’t greatly detract from the vehicles (the good ones, not including the Aspen/Volaré, and the bad ones, including the Aspen/Volaré).

    And it’s hard to believe that these cars evolved into Diplomats (et. al) a few years later.

    As for the Aspen/Volaré, I will say that I actually like the plain styling (but I was always a fan of the likes of the Ford Fairmont and the Volvo 140/240).

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    “Lee must have been livid”

    Lee I. had nothing to do with the F body design, and wasn’t hired by Mopar until late 1978, or early ’79. He did get money’s worth from this design, by keeping the identical M bodies alive until 1989.

    Also, don’t assume that the slant 6 was ‘crap’ kids, by saying stuff like “was his forced on AMC?”

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • watersketch: What a scam. And the worst part is that insurance rates are (still) so high in Michigan that many go...
  • 28-Cars-Later: That’s interesting, a strong October and November coming after a really weak August and...
  • Matt Posky: It’s unclear to me how this taxes the rich.
  • dal20402: Why the f#%@ would I pay more when my complaint is that I’m already paying more than people a lot...
  • Matt Posky: The ladder still technically exists. Any other automaker has or will continue to have the ability to...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber