Home » We Want To Meet The Person Who Paid $30,000 For A 1978 Plymouth Volare

We Want To Meet The Person Who Paid $30,000 For A 1978 Plymouth Volare

Plymouth Volare Topshot 3
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Just as it feels like we’re entering a new malaise era, the original decade of automotive sloth is finally getting its flowers. Call it the shifting of the sands, greater perspective in the classic car world, or simple rose-tinted glasses, but some of the ’70s’ more humdrum metal is finally worth money. The Plymouth Volare isn’t a particularly remarkable car, but late last year on Bring A Trailer, someone paid $30,000 for this slab of absolute 1970s brown.

While the decade of disco and prog rock saw some fascinating automotive developments in Europe and Japan, things were quite dreadful in America. A combination of safety regulations, emissions standards, fuel crises, and sheer corporate arrogance led to bloated, underpowered, tacky tat littering domestic showrooms. The same year that Honda released the sharp, well-equipped, and well-made original Accord, Plymouth dropped one off at the pool with the Volare.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Succeeding the legendary A-Body, the Volare ushered in some substantial advancements for Plymouth from computer-aided engineering to drip rail deletion for the pure purpose of aerodynamic efficiency. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite come out of the oven fully baked. Not only did it look like it was wearing its dad’s suit, it developed a reputation as a frequently recalled mode of transportation. The inaugural 1976 model had eight recalls, and here are my four favorites out of those.

POSSIBLE FATIGUE FAILURE CAN OCCUR IN THE FRAME SUPPORT PLATES (FRONT SUSPENSION PIVOT BAR SUPPORT PLATE) THAT CONNECTS A PORTION OF THE FRONT SUSPENSION TO THE VEHICLE FRAME ON THE INVOLVED VEHICLES.

ON THE INVOLVED VEHICLES, DAMAGE TO THE FRONT WHEEL BRAKE HYDRAULIC SYSTEM COULD OCCUR DUE TO FRONT WHEEL BRAKE LINE TUBE CORROSION. FRONT WHEEL BRAKE HOSES MAY BECOME BRITTLE AND CRACK DUE TO PROLONGED OPERATION IN COLD TEMPERATURES.

POSSIBILITY THAT THE AUTOMATIC LOCKING LAP BELT RETRACTOR ON FRONT OUTBOARD SEAT BELT ASSEMBLIES MAY INTERMITTENTLY FAIL TO ENGAGE IN THE LOCKED POSITION WHEN THE BELT IS EXTRACTED FOR OCCUPANTS USE.

POSSIBILITY THAT FUEL VAPOR RETURN LINE MAY HAVE BEEN MISROUTED IN A MANNER WHICH ALLOWS INTERFERENCE BETWEEN THE LINE AND ALTERNATOR DRIVE BELT.

How do some of these issues even happen? You’d think that interference between the fuel return line and the drive belt would never make it past factory quality control, and fatigue in a critical suspension component should’ve been found during the vehicle’s development. Also, that brake line failure recall was issued when the first Volares were around one year old, which is an unacceptably short timeline for brake system corrosion or soft line damage.

Plymouth Volare Front

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Of course, the recalls slowed down as Chrysler learned how to build the Aspen and Volare, but even for the 1979 model year, one profoundly dumb SNAFU slipped through the factory gates, necessitating a recall.

ON THE INVOLVED VEHICLES, THE FUEL FILTER INLET, OUTLET, AND VAPOR RETURN FUEL LINE HOSES MAY DETERIORATE IF CONTINUOUSLY EXPOSED TO UNDERHOOD TEMPERATURES GENERATED DURING VEHICLE OPERATION. IF HOSES FAIL, FUEL LEAKAGE COULD OCCUR.

How did Chrysler not plan for heat deterioration of brand new soft fuel lines, especially since this recall didn’t affect 1976 model year cars? Maybe almost going bust in the late 1970s was deserved, as shoddiness like this isn’t attractive or sustainable. Mind you, there are two sides to every coin. The Plymouth Volare and its Dodge Aspen twin are historically important cars, even if for the wrong reasons. Plus, given their humdrum transportation role, relatively few survived, which could explain why someone paid $30,000 for this 1979 Volare sedan on Bring A Trailer.

Plymouth Volare Interior

Come to think of it, this is likely the nicest Volare sedan in the entire world. It had one owner from new until December 2023, has covered just 2,400 miles, and comes with all the literature and receipts one could possibly want. Sure, there are some minor imperfections like a cracked grille to work around, but this brown-on-brown-on-brown survivor is a slice of the real 1970s. A decade of discontent, distrust, and dissatisfaction.

Plymouth Volare Rear

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This car embodies the decade of malaise, from its stagflation to its lost faith in government to its widespread abandonment of futurism in architecture. Though nostalgia compels us to cherry-pick the best moments in life and keep them under eternal ethereal mist, perspective requires us to remember the bad times too. A pristine Plymouth Volare reminds us of how far we’ve come, and given its sheer rarity, maybe $30,000 is just the right price for it.

Update: The winning bidder of this Volare appears to be a car collector who’s won 77 auctions on Bring A Trailer for cars as diverse as a March-Cosworth 83C Indy car to a 1941 Graham Hollywood Supercharged Model 113. Judging by the user’s screenname, commenter Superfluous thinks the winning bidder may be car collector Vance Kershner, who had a Wall Street Journal feature on his Hellephant-powered 1973 Road Runner. Far out!

(Photo credits: Bring A Trailer)

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Jim Ball
Jim Ball
2 months ago

The author of this article laughingly derides 50 year old Chrysler build quality but drives a 99 Boxster with an egregious design flaw that Porsche refused to acknowledge or address for years, while owners were unwittingly grenading their engines – go figure. The 30 grand was not because it was some sort of masterpiece, it was because it’s a time capsule. Not too difficult to figure out.

Derek van Veen
Derek van Veen
3 months ago

I’m guessing the world’s last remaining Sergio Franchi superfan.

Mike B
Mike B
3 months ago

It’s kind of nice, in a way. Definitely understated compared to some other cars from that era.

I think if I had Bezos money, I’d buy it as a goof, just to have it.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
3 months ago

Found the new owner
https://images.app.goo.gl/GG3GHFLN9F4yXp5i7
Apparently his Dodge finally gave out.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
3 months ago

“How do some of these issues even happen? You’d think that interference between the fuel return line and the drive belt would never make it past factory quality control…”

I’ve had the joy of inspecting brand new cars going down a production line, and when it comes to routing cables and hoses the guys on the line will route them any way that’s possible, regardless of what the work instruction says. Early on in production they’ll be a bit more careful as there will be management and engineers everywhere dealing with issues, but once it’s all running smoothly apathy will kick in and you get a load more assembly issues.

That’s why if it’s safety critical you design it so it can only fit on one way. Even if it’s not critical you design it so it only fits one way: assembly shouldn’t involve making choices, it costs time.

“How did Chrysler not plan for heat deterioration of brand new soft fuel lines, especially since this recall didn’t affect 1976 model year cars?”

This is either the supplier changing material without telling the OEM, or my favourite way of fucking up a car: a post production cost-down without appropriate validation testing.

Mpphoto
Mpphoto
3 months ago

The price is wild, but I’m happy to see a Volare in good condition. I’d make a beeline to this at a car show. Corvettes and Chevelles are a dime a dozen (metaphorically speaking). But hardly anyone saved regular sedans and wagons.

Framed
Framed
3 months ago

To sell for $30k at auction means there was another bidder willing to pay $29.5k. Crazy.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
3 months ago

> one owner from new until December 2023, has covered just 2,400 miles

Did the owner fall into a 45-year coma? And how do you damage the grille when the rest of the car is perfect?

Saul Goodman
Saul Goodman
3 months ago

Those grilles always break and are known to be super fragile

J Hyman
J Hyman
3 months ago

Gotta be the finest remaining example of soft Corinthian leather to justify a price like that.

Saul Goodman
Saul Goodman
3 months ago

I like Volares and Aspens, and a lot of malaise era cars but 30,000 is ridiculous. This is a good 7,000 dollar car at most.

Last edited 3 months ago by Saul Goodman
Luke8512
Luke8512
3 months ago

I had an 78 Dodge Aspen so if this came in maroon on maroon, I’d be tempted.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
3 months ago

There’s got to be more to this story.

I’m thinking a Colombian cocaine cartel leader was trying to smuggle money out of the US. He converted the cash to gold, then had that cast into a copy of the least likely car to be stolen: a Plymouth Volare.

The plan was to put the Volare on a car carrier and have it driven to the port in San Diego where the Volare would be loaded on a cargo ship bound for Fantasy Island, ostensibly to be modified with a striped awning as a second island tour vehicle.

Once on the island, Mr. Roarke (obvious alias) and Tattoo would strip it, melt down the gold, pulverize it, then have Colombian prostitutes (imported for some of the more salacious fantasies) wear the powdered gold as eye shadow when they went for home visits.

Once safely in Medellin, the whores would scrub their faces over a slanting metal trough through which a stream of water is directed. At the base of the trough, an ancient, deaf and dumb, legless prospector stands with a wooden batea, panning for the gold. Fortune recovered, easy peasy.

It all went wrong when the auto carrier driver – Mike “Speedball” Ellis – stopped for burgers and boilermakers at a local choke and puke just off the 210 before making a dealer delivery in Pasadena. Trying to unload a couple cars through his own personal brown LA haze, Speedball mistakenly dropped off the golden Volare at Worthington Dodge where it ended up in Cal’s Corral.

That same day, a little old lady from Pasadena went to see Cal and his dog Spot to replace her worn out Super Stock Dodge with a more sedate ride because:

“If your axle is a-saggin’, go see Cal
If you need a station wagon, go see Cal
If your wife has started naggin’ and your tailpipe is a-draggin’
Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal.”
(Sung to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”)

Spot was a hippo that day and took a “liking” to the brown Volare. The little old lady from Pasadena was charmed by that and promptly bought it. It was no shiny red Super Stock, but she figured she’d do less business with the CHiPs in the low key Plymouth.

The LOLFP drove the Volare for about four months until she stroked out one evening watching an episode of the “Dukes of Hazard” (The one where Luke and Bo convince Uncle Jesse to enter a jug of his moonshine in a government alternate-fuels competition.) while shotgunning PBRs.

Her only heirs were a pair of dope dealers who drive around East LA in a delivery van made from pressed pot panels. They promptly forgot about their inherited property, or couldn’t pay the taxes, whatever.

And so the golden Volare languished, unseen in the little old lady’s rickety old garage for nigh on 44 years before it was discovered during a tax auction.

The Volare wound up on the Bring A Trailer site where the grandson of the cartel leader, who runs a successful landscaping service in SoCal, was able to match its numbers to the family’s legendary missing gold car.

Following a bidding war with a nostalgic and tenacious Boomer who’d “almost lost his virginity in a Volare just like this one,” the grandson secured the golden ride and ran for the border.

We may never know what happened after that.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
3 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Next week: Rare recently imported south American Plymouth surfaces on BAT with a 2.5M reserve…

Covered in Airtags, of course.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
3 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Following a bidding war with a nostalgic and tenacious Boomer who’d “almost lost his virginity in a Volare just like this one,” the grandson secured the golden ride and ran for the border.

Do you know one of my college buddies by any chance?

Oops, couldn’t have been him he actually lost his virginity in a brown Volare.

In the front bench seat.

Assisted by the fact that the steering wheel was ridiculously easy to remove without requiring a puller. Just spin the big nut, and off it popped, leaving the front seat area clear for other activities other than driving. (He kept a wrench under the seat for just that purpose…)

Aside from that highly useful “feature”, he too thought the Volare was a spectacular piece of flaming automotive crap.

Oldskool
Oldskool
3 months ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

Pop your big nut, and lose your virginity. 😀

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
3 months ago
Reply to  Oldskool

Yesssssss 😀

Nate Tonnessen-Marler
Nate Tonnessen-Marler
3 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

This is the most fantastic thing I have read in my life. Mr. Tracy, we have a golden opportunity for a serial fiction spot—one that doesn’t even have to be pulverized and scrubbed off later.

Take all the stars, you magnificent beast.

Madewithgenuineparts
Madewithgenuineparts
3 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

COTD?

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
3 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Hollywood take note. Here is an idea that would make a better movie than most of the crap reboots you push on us.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
3 months ago

CAR MAY SPONTANEOUSLY KILL ALL OCCUPANTS IF OPERATED IN A NORMAL CAR-LIKE MANNER.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
3 months ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

Even knowing that, the real surprise comes when the car pulls a gun to do it. The 70’s, man.

Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
3 months ago

I learned to drive stick in a Volare woody wagon.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
3 months ago

I’m sorry to hear that

Oldskool
Oldskool
3 months ago

A great skill is learning to drive when you also gotta keep the vehicle running. Juggling 3 pedals with 2 feet adds to the challenge.

Steve P
Steve P
3 months ago
Holly Birge
Holly Birge
3 months ago

I follow this seller on Bring A Trailer. Bill has an amazing ability to find these malaise era time capsules. The regular commenters joke that he must have a time machine. Someone asked how this car got listed, and it’s because the seller brings BAT a lot of $$, and he’s built himself quite a following on the site.

If I ever am in Myrtle Beach, I am going to stop into this guy’s showroom just to see some of these cream puffs in person.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
3 months ago

30K for that shiny turd? Jesus, how much was the blue Caddy behind it?

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
3 months ago

Just as it feels like we’re entering a new malaise era…

it does? News to me.

Nycbjr
Nycbjr
3 months ago
Reply to  TXJeepGuy

prolly referring to the crossover apocalypse. but I disagree far from malaise!

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
3 months ago
Reply to  Nycbjr

Good point. Also, a lot of car people are pretty sad about manuals disappearing and the transition to electric.
But DAMN there are so many cool cars right now! Malaise, my ass.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
3 months ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

Agreed. I just got a hybrid SUV that puts out 375hp/475 ft-lbs of torque. Its faster to 60 and in the quarter mile than any of the sports cars I had before it. If this is the future, I’m ok with it.

JDE
JDE
3 months ago

the price is relative to the very low miles and documentation. while some of the 78 model cars are starting to hit this kind of pricing in some instances, even the Smokey and the bandit T/A’s of this vintage are often in the 15-25 range. I suspect this is headed to another museum. that would be the only people willing to shell out that much for a brown more-Door Volare with a slant six.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
3 months ago

There is a market for plain. And something besides another egg shaped CUV.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
3 months ago

Counterpoint: my grandparents had a white one with that metallic blue bumpstrip around it. I know they got it in the early 70s and drove it into the mid 80s. Then gave it to my uncle who drove it in Charlottesville Va on long-expired Illinois tags into the 90s. Maybe they got a ‘good one’

But 30k? Nah: I could see maybe 3k these days.

Last edited 3 months ago by TOSSABL
Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
3 months ago

Unless you have serious emotional attachment, that is crazy money.

Cal67
Cal67
3 months ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

Unless you have serious emotional attachment, that is crazy money.
FTFY.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
3 months ago
Reply to  Cal67

I do know people this was their first car. To get the first car I owned would be 30+ grand. Not paying up nut some…..

Cal67
Cal67
3 months ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

I learned to drive in my parent’s 78 Aspen station wagon. I did a lot of work on that car over the years, and when my dad decided to sell it, I did the work on it to safety it so he could sell it with the safety. I’m not a hater, as they were not actually as bad a car (for the time) as many people say now. Having said that, not one of these cars is worth $30K.

Superfluous
Superfluous
3 months ago

The buyer was profiled in a WSJ article last year about his 1973 Road Runner, he’s a car collector. He heavily modified the Road Runner with a Hellephant drivetrain, Hellcat interior… upgrades to suppport the power increase.

…I wonder if he’s going to drop a crate Hellcat engine in this Volare??

WSJ article link w/o paywall: https://archive.is/20221003152437/https://www.wsj.com/articles/he-dreamed-up-his-own-muscle-car-and-named-it-hellrunner-11664596700

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
3 months ago
Reply to  Superfluous

Ok, that would be awesome, full stop

Otter
Otter
3 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

No, it would just be fast. And still not worth $30K.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
3 months ago
Reply to  Otter

Oh, I wouldn’t want it. But, I spent a fair bit of time in my grandparents’ Volare, so just knowing a hellcat-swapped one existed would be cool. It’s just so damn absurd

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
3 months ago

Wondering if they would be interested in some magic beans and a bridge I have for sale.

I remember when the cops here bought a shit load of these. And seeing on the news that at any given time at least half of them were in the shop for repairs.

Last edited 3 months ago by Col Lingus
Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
3 months ago
Reply to  Col Lingus

Also, I have a WiFi connected juicer I need investors to help build, wonder if this guy would be interested?

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