Junkyard Find: 1976 Plymouth Volare Coupe

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

The A-Body Plymouth Valiant (and its Dodge sibling, the Dart), stayed in American production from the 1960 model year all the way through 1976. Legendary for its sturdiness, the Valiant was sure to be a tough act to follow. The Plymouth Volarés and Dodge Aspens appeared in 1976, never gained the affection given to their predecessors, and were facelifted and renamed the Gran Fury and Diplomat in 1981. Here’s a luxed-up first-year Volaré I spotted in a Northern California self-service yard.

There’s an emissions sticker indicating that this car had the 225-cubic-inch Slant-6 engine, rated at an even 100 horses in 1976, but some junkyard shopper purchased it by the time I got there. You could get a 180-horsepower 360 V8 in the 1976 Volaré, but not in California, where the 150 horsepower 318 was the most powerful Volaré engine.

This one is full of mid-1970s-style affordable luxury, including reasonably deep-pile shag carpeting on the door panels.

The layering of padded vinyl and gold stripes looks classy here.

Volaré buyers could get “ cashmere-like cloth-and-vinyl” seat upholstery in 1976, but this one has the all-vinyl buckets.

With the abundance of faux-wood decor inside, I think this car may be a high-end Volaré Premier Coupe. The Premier with Slant-6 started at $4,402, versus $3,324 for the regular Volaré coupe. Meanwhile, the final-year Valiant Duster coupe listed at $3,216.

It appears to have been a nice car until this happened.

Sergio Franchi was no Ricardo Montalban, but then the Volaré was no Cordoba.

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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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Apr 18, 2018

    I wouldn't say all the 70's American cars were sleds and lacked power. My 73 Chevelle with a 350 would burn rubber and was a great car. The body style was not great being a 4 door but the body was fairly low and the engine had more than enough power. It did not have a catalytic converter and it was a company car--a Baroid drilling mud company car that was broken in on West Texas roads at 100 mph. I took it out West from Texas to California with my brother in 75 and we ran it at 100 most of time time when we were out in the desert. It ran better at 100 than at 55. My big mistake was getting a new 77 Monte Carlo although a much nicer car it did not run as good as that Chevelle. The Chevelle was also a more reliable and smoother running car than my 77 Monte. There were some good running cars in the 70's all the way thru 74 before the engines got more smog-ed up and smaller. You could still get a 454 in most Chevrolets until 1975.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Apr 18, 2018

    My aunt and uncle had one of these Volares in a 4 door brougham which was the same color as this car with a similar padded roof. They had a Chrysler New Yorker which they used as a secondary car and they had a series of New Yorkers before this all being very good cars. I remember the Volare as being a big let down not nearly as nice as the previous Chrysler products with bubbles in the paint and just poorly finished. I always liked Valiants and Darts but the Volare and Aspen were just not as good a cars. Chrysler had some very poor quality cars in the late 70s.

  • ToolGuy First picture: I realize that opinions vary on the height of modern trucks, but that entry door on the building is 80 inches tall and hits just below the headlights. Does anyone really believe this is reasonable?Second picture: I do not believe that is a good parking spot to be able to access the bed storage. More specifically, how do you plan to unload topsoil with the truck parked like that? Maybe you kids are taller than me.
  • ToolGuy The other day I attempted to check the engine oil in one of my old embarrassing vehicles and I guess the red shop towel I used wasn't genuine Snap-on (lots of counterfeits floating around) plus my driveway isn't completely level and long story short, the engine seized 3 minutes later.No more used cars for me, and nothing but dealer service from here on in (the journalists were right).
  • Doughboy Wow, Merc knocks it out of the park with their naming convention… again. /s
  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.