Junkyard Find: 1976 Plymouth Volare Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

The 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.

It’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.

Certain topics haven’t left the editorial pages for decades.

This comic was important enough to the car’s previous owner to have warranted clipping and stashing in the glovebox.

Chrysler used this style of AM radio for most of the 1970s; I had one in my ex-water-company ’73 Plymouth Fury.

The Aspen/Volaré was the successor to the incredibly successful Dart/Valiant series, but its quality problems and notorious recalls nearly destroyed Chrysler.

Slant-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.

The 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!








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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  • JimC2 JimC2 on Nov 10, 2014

    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).

    • Lie2me Lie2me on Nov 11, 2014

      "The car that killed Chrysler." ... There were SO many

  • Chicagoland Chicagoland on Nov 21, 2014

    "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?"

  • ToolGuy Honda is dreaming. And resting on its 'laurels' (French for 'posterior').
  • SCE to AUX Here's some advice - slow down. That's a great way to arrive home safely, without a ticket, with lower blood pressure, and more economically.
  • Dartdude They need to rebrand the models, The standard model should be Wagoneer and long version should be Grand Wagoneer. There should offer the Ram Rev powertrain in these
  • Irvingklaws Seems more like they're adopting Honda styling queues. Now if they would just adopt their reliability...
  • FreedMike "Obsidian Edition."Oooooh, obsidian is really, really hard stuff.
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