June 22, 2024
Industry News

Classic Find: Vintage 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon in the Junkyard

Chrysler discontinued the wagon versions of the Plymouth Valiant and Dodge Dart compacts in the United States after 1966. This meant that the only new small station wagons offered through the middle 1970s by American Dodge and Plymouth dealers were the Mitsubishi-built Colt and the Hillman-built Cricket. American Motors was selling Hornet Sportabouts successfully, so a new solution was needed. That solution came in the form of the Dodge Aspen and its Plymouth Volaré sibling, which debuted as 1976 models and included longroof versions.

Aspen, Colorado, known for its ski resorts, served as an aspirational name for the Dodge Aspen, the cheapest U.S.-market Dodge not built by Mitsubishi. The name was later revived by Fiat Chrysler on a luxed-up Durango with Chrysler badges during the late 2000s.

The Aspen and Volaré replaced the old Dart and Valiant models, aiming to be larger and more modern-looking while still being affordable transportation options. The chassis design was all-new, although it still used a torsion-bar front and leaf-spring rear setup. The powertrains were similar to those in the Dart/Valiant.

In 1977, American Dodge dealers offered shoppers four sizes of new station wagons: the subcompact Colt, the compact Aspen, the midsize Monaco, and the full-size Royal Monaco. This year tied with 1964 as the peak of wagon popularity in the United States, with 47 different wagon models available. The decline in wagon popularity began in 1984 with the introduction of Chrysler minivans and the Jeep XJ Cherokee.

For this particular 1977 Aspen wagon, the top-of-the-range Special Edition with a 318 V8 and automatic transmission would have cost $4,758, equivalent to about $25,403 in 2024 dollars. The cheapest Aspen wagon in 1977 started at $3,953, or about $21,105 after inflation.

Options on this car included a three-speed automatic transmission and air conditioning, adding to the overall cost. The rear window did not open, but Chrysler included warning stickers to prevent carbon monoxide exposure while driving with the hatch-style tailgate open.

The Aspen/Volaré platform continued until the 1989 model year, underpinning cars like the Dodge Diplomat and Chrysler Fifth Avenue. The last new Dodge wagon sold in the United States was the 2008 Magnum.

Hey, it’s Dr. Dolittle pitching the Aspen wagon!

FAQ

Q: When did Chrysler discontinue the wagon versions of the Plymouth Valiant and Dodge Dart?

A: Chrysler discontinued the wagon versions of the Plymouth Valiant and Dodge Dart after 1966 in the United States.

Conclusion

The Dodge Aspen and its Plymouth Volaré sibling were introduced in 1976 to fill the gap left by the discontinued wagon versions of the Valiant and Dart. The Aspen, with its aspirational name and affordable pricing, aimed to provide a modern and spacious option for American families. Despite the decline in wagon popularity over the years, the Aspen/Volaré platform left a lasting legacy in American automotive history.

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