This Late-70s Dodge Has The NASCAR Look With None Of The Performance

Image for article titled This Late-70s Dodge Has The NASCAR Look With None Of The Performance

The Dodge Aspen ‘Street Kit’ (and its sibling, the Plymouth Volare) was Dodge’s effort at implying high-speed prowess in dealer showrooms back in 1978. Their compact car at the time, the Aspen replaced the aging Dart, and the highest performance model available at the time was powered by MoPar’s 360 ci small block V8 with a then-massive 175 smog-choked horsepower.


The Street Kit was nothing more than body modifications, including a front lip, an adjustable rear spoiler, tack-on fender flares for all four wheels, quarter window louvers, faux hood pins, and NASCAR-style window safety keepers. Then came the billboard-sized Petty 43s for each side, and the displacement screaming hood decals. The kit provided absolutely zero performance benefit, save a slightly stiffer ride, for Aspen and Volare buyers. It sure looked damn cool, though!

Only 247 Volare Street Kit Cars were sold, all in two-tone blue. Even more rare, the two-tone red Dodge Aspen Street Kit Car was produced in only 145 copies. Richard Petty left MoPar in 1978, and the company issued a stop work order on the car, pulling it from dealers ASAP. This means the Aspen Street Kit is one of the most rare muscle cars in existence, but it’s hard to call it a muscle car with a 0-60 time in the 7-second range. I suppose that’s as good as you could get in the late seventies.

This week on The House of Muscle, host Mike Musto takes this Aspen for a drive to tell us all about the car’s history, and gives an idea of how it drives. He makes sure to comment that the car is quiet and comfortable to drive, but isn’t afraid to point out the horrible steering, not-great braking, and abysmal handling. It’s hardly a great car, but it’s easy to fall in love with.

Taken in the context of the late 1970s performance market, this actually seems like kind of a cool car. The rarity factor certainly helps, and it definitely has the looks.



The best part about all those smog-choked muscle cars is how easy it is to make them pretty potent. Remove all the smog stuff, put an EFI conversion on it, throw on some hotter heads and a cam, and you can easily push that little 360 to a much more respectable 400hp. Or swap in a 400/440 for even more fun. There’s a guy that runs a shop here in Phoenix that specializes in taking the later smog-choked C3 Corvettes and making them into pretty fun cars.