Malaise Muscle: 1977 Dodge Aspen R/T Super Pak – Sold?

by | Oct 2021 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Malaise Monday

November 14, 2021 Update – We just confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found we’re assuming this ride “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

Throughout the 1970s, Chrysler Corporation was on the ropes as the company’s product offerings were no match in terms of either fuel economy or quality against the growing tide of Japanese imports. Desperately trying to stay relevant in a rapidly changing market, Dodge launched what was then considered a compact car in 1975 for the 1976 model year: the Aspen. While most trim levels of the new compact centered around value and perceived economy, Dodge tried to appease performance Mopar fans by offering an R/T model such as this 1977 example originally listed in October 2021 on Craigslist in Troy, New York that features a desirable four-speed manual and T-Tops.

A driver quality car currently offered at $8,500, comparing that price against the Collector Car Market Review online valuation tool confirms the ask falls between this guide’s #2 “Very Good” estimate of $5,400 and its #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $9,400 before factoring in a twenty percent premium for all of the desirable options this Aspen originally came equipped with.

As an example of how much the U.S. auto market changed in the late 1970s, consider this:  While the Dodge Aspen and its brother Plymouth Volare launched as compact-sized cars in 1975, by the end of their production run in 1980 the government considered the pair intermediate cars.  As successors to the successful Chrysler A-body line (think Dodge Dart, Plymouth Valiant, and Plymouth Duster) its was big deal when Motor Trend named the pair their “Car of the Year” for 1976.

Chrysler engineers leveraged early computer technology to engineer the Apsen’s body by using clear plastic models showing stress points before any forming any real sheet metal.  Engineers achieved weight reduction to provide maximum fuel economy through the use of thinner glass, lighter weight side door beams, and high strength, low alloy steel (“HSLA”) brackets and reinforcements that were four times as strong as conventional mild steel. A reduced number of stampings resulted in better panel fits and fewer welds. Aspens had improved visibility and compared with the Chrysler compacts they replaced by providing a total glass area increase of 25% on two-door models and 33% on sedans.

While powertrains remained either Chrysler’s tried-and-true 225 cubic inch slant six and 318 cubic inch V8, the most innovative feature was a completely new front suspension replacing the longitudinal torsion bar system most Chrysler cars dating back to the late 1950’s.  The new isolated transverse torsion bar set-up, while not as geometrically favorable, saved space and weight.

Most importantly, the new front suspension system provided a “big car ride” as the suspension had a low or softer, fore and aft compliance which allowed the wheel to move rearward instead of straight up and down when the tire encountered an object, dampening the blow and rolling with the condition of the road.

1977 was the second production year for Aspen. New featured included an optional T-top removable roof panel system for the coupe.  Aspen coupe models also offered “performance” appearance packages that consisted of front and rear spoilers, wheel opening flares, and louvered rear windows. Dodge fitted these items as a “Super Pak” option on the new Aspen R/T trim level.

The MyMopar YouTube Channel features this 1977 Dodge Dealer Promo film that calls out all of the features of all the Dodge Aspen models including R/T that year:

The seller reports they recently traveled cross-country from California to New York in this car with no issues.  However, a number of the pictures provided clearly show Georgia license plates affixed to the car, so we would interview the seller to elaborate on that back story.  A driver-quality car featuring a ’69 vintage 318 cubic inch V8 and in need of floor repair, this Aspen appears to have good bones worthy of bringing it back to its former Malaise Era glory.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“This is a 1977 Dodge Aspen R/T Super Pak T-Top car. It is a highly optioned car with electric windows, bucket seats, the super pak package, including front spoiler, rear deck spoiler, side window louvers, and the orange racing stripe, and more. This car has a 1969 high compression 318 V8 with a moderate cam paired to the legendary A833 4 speed manual transmission with a pistol grip shifter. It leaks a little oil and rattles over bumps, but this beast just drove 3500 miles cross country (California to New York) without a single issue.
It has a ton of new parts including:
* Starter
* Clutch, pressure plate, pilot bushing
* Clutch linkage completely rebuilt with new seals and bushings (Z-bar)
* New front brakes: Rotors, calipers, pads and wheel bearings
* Rear Brakes: New shoes, springs and all hardware replaced, and new axle seals on both sides
* New copper brake line bent with stainless braiding
* Starter harness replaced with a nice original harness from an 89 Chrysler Fifth Avenue
* New oil change, transmission change and fresh differential fluid
* Comes with tons of good parts, including rare best-flowing “302” 318 heads, original mopar dual snorkel air intake, new gaskets for timing cover, valve cover and intake manifold, spare T-Top for passenger side (A very nice set of 1980 Aspen T-Tops are currently installed), and more…

 

The car has awesome removable T-Tops and a spare passenger side top. The car was repainted in the past 15 years and still looks great. There is no rust on the body panels, however it does need a new floor on the rear passenger side. The car also has a bunch more work and thousands of dollars in receipts. Feel free to shoot me an offer if interested.

Show or go: what would you do with this restored Triumph?  Comment below and let us know!

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