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Gary8878 New Reader
7/31/21 1:50 p.m.

Hello Grassroots Motorsports Members,

New to the forums here from CT. I am really getting the itch for a Chrysler product. I never owned a Chrysler product and the only experience I have with them were my mother's Plymouth Voyagers and Dodge Caravans LOL

I really would like to build a solid street car semi-daily driver (fair weather only)... somewhat of a pro-touring style with decent handling (for an old American car) performance and drivability. Under $20k...

In the Mopar world that doesn't leave me with many options. I'd love an A body but even these are climbing well above the $20k range. 

That leaves my choices to a similar but ill-fated Chrysler.... the Aspen/Volare. I actually like the look of these cars. Would love to do a 318 or 360 build. My big concern is parts availability and performance upgrades for steering, suspension, and braking. 

Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

psteav (Forum Supporter)
psteav (Forum Supporter) Dork
7/31/21 2:00 p.m.

The Aspen and Volare rust like you wouldn't believe.  Compared to the "glory era" cars,  very little is reproduced as far as trim, body panels, and the like.  Given those two things, buy the cleanest one you can find or get ready to make patch panels and beat the bushes for parts cars.

Suspension-wise they're pretty similar to the earlier cars with the exception of the transverse torsion bar setup.  Most everything else is stanrdard RWD Chrysler - steering boxes interchange (and fast ratio manual boxes are being reproduced now), rear suspension is just leaf springs on a live axle.   Doctor Diff is a good place to look at rear end upgrades and cheap brake upgrades - a set of their caliper mounts and you can go to the 11.75" front rotors off the Cordoba/St. Regis in the front, and they offer several options for rear discs as well.  Firmfeel.com is a good place to start looking at what's out there as far as suspension upgrades.  I think the torsion bars off of a police package M-body (Diplomat/Gran Fury) will bolt onto an Aspen/Volare, and will give you stiffer springing.   

As far as engine/transmission/other mechanicals go, they're about the same as any other RWD Mopar.  Parts are out there, but you will generally spend about half again as much for speed parts as you would on a Chevy.  The easy button to build a small-block Mopar is the 5.9 Magnum from the '90's trucks.  The heads will crack, but there are replacement cheap iron heads available from enginequest that supposedly flow much better than the stockers (although apparently they have changed their casting recently).  Carb manifolds are available from Edelbrock or eBay chinese knockoffs.  Hughes Engines is a good repository of information for the Magnum mopar motors, but they're really opinionated about what works.


chandler UltimaDork
7/31/21 3:16 p.m.

You should be looking for a Volare Kit Car a Magnum XE or a Little Red Truck. Or anyway, that's what I would be doing

bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
7/31/21 3:38 p.m.

You can get early A bodies for under $20K. Any of the the LA engines will swap in. I put a 318 in mine. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
7/31/21 4:36 p.m.

If shopping for some old Mopar vibe but with some updated mechanicals with the potential of spending $20k+, I think I'd just be shopping for a '12 Challenger 

ShawnG UltimaDork
7/31/21 4:54 p.m.

I've owned two Chrysler products. A Jeep MJ and a Caravan

Consider yourself lucky. 

They're the Ralph Wiggum of the auto industry.

1988RedT2 MegaDork
7/31/21 5:41 p.m.



Sidewayze Reader
7/31/21 7:06 p.m.

I'm liking this idea.

A 2 door Aspen/Volare could be fun.

Sidewayze Reader
7/31/21 7:18 p.m.

Or a 4 door maybe.

Folgers New Reader
7/31/21 9:21 p.m.

I have an 1982 Córdoba. 360, four barrel, tall geared rear end, something like 2.11, not sure anymore. 

Not quick by modern standards, but it’s like driving a couch. Suspension upgrades can be found in ex cop cars, any power upgrades are the same with any la engine, transmissions are the same 904, 727 that have been well established  

I ran into title issues early on, so the project has stalled for now. That’s all I have to offer at the moment. 

pointofdeparture UltimaDork
7/31/21 9:31 p.m.

If you can find one I'd try to track down a Dodge Diplomat or Plymouth Gran Fury with the police package. They aren't as common as they were 10 years ago but you start out with a fair number of performance parts that you'd otherwise have to install yourself.

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/31/21 9:42 p.m.

My aunt bought a brand new first year (1976?) Volare Premier wagon just like this one:


The whole area below the fuel filler had completely rotted away by about 1980.

I can't imagine that there are any of them left.

914Driver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/1/21 6:43 a.m.

Welcome Gary. 

I've had a couple of Mopars and no difficulties with parts, most are readily available at NAPA.  Even things like engine block machining, not as common as SBCs, but they're tooled up for it.  (it's not like you drag in a Merlin or something).  Some thing may be a little harder to find or a tad more expensive, but I've never had a problem


ddavidv UltimaDork
8/1/21 7:51 a.m.

Go to YouTube and find Uncle Tony's Garage.  After you've spent a month watching all those, try Dylan McCool's channel.

Mopars aren't as easy as GM or Ford. While the aftermarket is better than it was 20 years ago some things just aren't available. They are more expensive to build as a result. Even as a Ford guy I will concede that Mopar made some of the best engines and transmissions of the 60s-70s. If you can start with a solid, complete, slightly-off-the-radar base you can build a very cool project.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
8/1/21 10:53 a.m.


After years of Mopar curiosity, I dove in and bought a 1979 W150 Power Wagon in early 2019. It's been a trip so far. Mopars of that era are a strange lot, but not too far off from what the other US manufacturers were doing at the time. I have, however, spent A LOT of time fixing previous owner hacks and repairs. Anything that old, no matter the manufacturer, will likely require the same. They have their quirks, but Malaise Era Mopars can be made into fun vehicles with a bit of work. Happy hunting!

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
8/1/21 11:29 a.m.
1988RedT2 said:



Now that I know what it means, when I see a red stripe license plate, I think of people driving around on temp tags because their E36 M3 is too broke to pass an emissions test.  It's a badge of pride but only for people who are trying to turn their failings into a positive.

Gary8878 New Reader
8/1/21 12:33 p.m.
pointofdeparture said:

If you can find one I'd try to track down a Dodge Diplomat or Plymouth Gran Fury with the police package. They aren't as common as they were 10 years ago but you start out with a fair number of performance parts that you'd otherwise have to install yourself.

I dig the early 80/81' Diplomat/Fury/Lebaron coupes. 

This one was from CT and sold back in 2012. Had a 1968 440/727 drivetrain

chandler UltimaDork
8/1/21 1:03 p.m.

Those are silly rare now, had a 78 

1988RedT2 MegaDork
8/1/21 2:05 p.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

I had not considered the tag at all when I selected that pic of a Dajiban.  I had no idea of the meaning of the red stripe, and now that I do know, I find that I still very much do not care.

But thanks for bringing it to my attention.

JBruin GRM+ Memberand New Reader
8/1/21 7:10 p.m.

Had a 1977 Volare' Road Runner in the early 80's. 318, 3sp w/OD. We found that the Aspen/Volare wagons has limited slip rearends in them. Every one we found had one but not sure if every one came that way. Salvage yard shopping. Had many friends with Mopars so access to many factory parts. Pulled the top half off the 318 and replaced with 340 bits. X-heads, intake, cam-lifters, double roller chain-gears and exhaust manifolds. Really woke that 318 up.

 Later I pulled the trans and had a spare bigblock trans from my old Superbee and gutted both and swapped gears. Had a real 4-speed in a O/D case and a 1970 bigblock RR got a trans with O/D. Everything inside matched up and interchanged.

I was a early 20's broke kid so parts swapping between the small block family was common.

Had a few other Mopars back then. 69' SuperBee, many 70' Challengers, (bought a 70 Challenger, rust free, running, complete car $35. guy needed it gone-wife) 68'Dart GTS convert, 74'Road Runner, 74' Gold Duster, 78' Power Wagon, 79(?) LeBaron. I know there are a few more I cannot remember. i used to know the ins and outs of everything Mopar but it's been so long now. sigh...


MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
8/2/21 2:14 p.m.
Sidewayze said:

I'm liking this idea.

A 2 door Aspen/Volare could be fun.

Especially if that hood callout means somebody put a big block in!

Being both a Mopar fan and an enabler, let's see what I can find in the way of good starting points.

First up, we've got a pretty complete early Dart with V8 power for $3800. Or a $5500 Duster.

Prefer a B-body? Here's a running, driving, if ratty 1973 Charger for $5900. Or a little less would get you this 1967 Belvedere wagon.

Dark horse option: Buy this RWD Colt, make a Pro Stock clone.

psteav (Forum Supporter)
psteav (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/3/21 8:52 a.m.
Sidewayze said:

Or a 4 door maybe.

That might be the best option if you could find it.  Even a clean four-door Aspen or Volare isn't gonna be worth much relative to the other Mopar options.  Bonus sleeper points as well.  

M-body coupes are awesome as well, but they were thin on the ground when new.   PM board member Cooter if you're interested - he's had a couple and seems to always have his ear to the ground.  

C-body (fullsize) stuff seems to still be sanely priced.  I've always had a soft spot for the early 60's non-letter Chrysler 300. Neat interiors, big block power, and  you are very unlikely to park next to another one at a cruise night.  Here's one I like that seems to be pretty complete.  

Gary8878 New Reader
8/4/21 12:22 p.m.

Looking deeper it appears there ARE plenty of good A-body drivers out there in the $10-15k range. Parts availability seems much better than the Aspen/Volare and build quality I would say is probably much better. I will try and focus on these more.

The Slant-6 builds also catch my eye. It seems there is quite a bit of hopup opportunity for these as well. Coming from a 12v VW VR6 I wonder how a performance Slant 6 would compare...

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
8/4/21 12:51 p.m.

Ive owned my 70 duster for 25 years now. Owned a few other a bodies as well. 

Theyvall drive about the same until you throw good money at the suspension and steering, so pick the body that appeals most to you. Duster and dart will have most aftermarket for the rest of the car, but they all have some these days. 

My personal favorite would be a scamp with an injected 5.9 autonpackage from a durango. Complete with air and serpentine accessories. Do 1.08 tbars, bilstein shocks, fitm feel steering box, offset uce bushings or tube ucas, qa1 strut rods, subframe connectors, and circle track leaf springs on sliders. 8.8 rear with 3.73 gears, mustang bullet wheels, and f/m/j spindles and brakes up front.


bluebarchetta Reader
8/4/21 1:47 p.m.

The pre-'67 Valiants don't seem to have taken off in price like the other A-bodies, probably because they have styling you either love or hate.  Two years ago I had a chance to pick up a nearly rust-free bare-bones '60 Valiant with the 170ci slant 6, three-on-the-tree, and less than 70k miles for $4000 and I passed.  I'm still kicking myself in the ass.  Fast?  No.  Cool, quirky as hell, easy to wrench on?  Yes.

I love the slant 6 for its durability and longevity, but Dusterbd13-michael has a better idea with the Durango 5.9.

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