Market Finds: This Dodge Aspen Super Coupe Is Detroit’s Malaise Era At Its Finest

This Dodge Aspen Super Coupe Is Detroit’s Malaise Era At Its Finest

By Andrew Golseth
August 10, 2016

Photography courtesy of eBay

Let’s be honest: the late 1970s were a pretty awful time to be a new automobile. Chances are, especially of the domestic Detroit type, it’d be grossly overweight, wheezy, and…whatever you prefer to call the opposite of attractive. Resource crises, safety regulations, and environmental considerations affected the entire era, not always for the best. But here’s a diamond that sits in the rough…

Somehow, the ’70s managed to give us a few cool automobiles. Today, cars like the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, Ferrari Dino 308 GT4, and BMW 2002 Turbo are commonly craved classics from the Disco decade. Of course, you’ve heard of those, but have you ever seen a 1978 Dodge Aspen Super Coupe?

Neither had I until our Managing Editor, Michael Banovsky, sent me this link and told me to get to work. I was thrown off at first, considering our usual content, but what’s not to love? It’s flared, louvered, liveried, and packing a V8. At first, I thought it was someone’s wannabe Ken-Block-mobile but it’s actually stock. Turns out, this is one of just 351 Dodge Aspen Super Coupes offered solely for the ’78 model year.

The commercial tells you everything you really need to know. It’s got, “hot stripes, ‘blacked out’ where it counts, road wheels, and a whole lot more”. Basically, the Super Coupe was the top-of-the-line trim package for the Aspen Coupe. The “whole lot more” that the incredibly awesome ad is referring to are the fender flares, quarter window louvers, front air dam, rear spoiler, interior trim, sticker package, and… that’s about it.

The Super Coupe was only offered in one color: Sable Tan Sunfire Metallic, or more commonly referred to as… brown. For added sporty appearance, the hood was painted flat black from the factory. It also received a revised “heavy-duty” suspension complete with a rear sway bar and larger GR60x15 inch wheels wrapped in Aramid-fiber radials.

Under the hood is the largest displacement engine offered in the Aspen, a 5.9-liter 360 cubic inch LA-V8 good for about 175 power and 280 pound feet of torque readily available at 2,000 rpm—not the most impressive hp-per-liter but, hey, it was 1978. Offered only with a three-speed TorqueFlite automatic, the Super Coupe may not be fast by today’s standards…but it out-sprinted the aforementioned Firebird Trans Am to 60 mph!

The car offered here looks to be in good shape given its age and rather niche desirability—we’re guessing there aren’t too many of these left in recognizable condition. The seller notes the car is driven regularly and is in good running order with oil and fluids recently serviced. Aside from a few cracks in the dash pad, the interior, fitted with, “sporty bucket seats, naturally, with folding armrest,” looks surprisingly clean given the era’s obsession with cheap vinyl.

Accompanying the car is a clean California title and a month old Smog certificate. The tasteful photos provided show peeling brown, I mean Sable Tan Sunfire Metallic, paint but the car looks straight and complete with all “blacked out where it counts” trim. The tri-colored side stripes and trunk lid badge are faded, but new stripes are included in the sale if the next owner opts to repaint the car.

The factory air-conditioning is non-op, the paint is toast, and the tires are shot. We’d get the AC blowing cold and mount fresh rubber but leave the patina paint and livery as is—it just looks so right in its current presentation, doesn’t it? The seller humorously clarifies the period-correct-dressed model is not included in the sale but the likely stale Malaise Era Diet Coke can is included.

With a clean title and a passing SMOG certificate, this rare Super Coupe Aspen looks like an inexpensive way into the world of oddball automobile exclusivity.

– One of 351 Super Coupes produced
– Unmodified from stock
– Clean California title

~175 horsepower 360 cu. in. four-barrel V8, three-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission, front independent and rear rubber isolated leaf spring suspension, front disc brakes, and rear drums. Wheelbase: 108.7 in.

Vehicle information
Chassis no.: NL29L8B260383

Auction house:eBay
Price realized:Auction ends August 15

Join the Conversation
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tom DesRochers
Tom DesRochers
7 years ago

Makes me hopeful my current project will be eligible for a feature here when / if I ever finish it.

Omer Carrothers
Omer Carrothers
7 years ago

I ain’t gonna lie, I’d buy this and re-spray it in Root-Beer Brown Metallic with the right amount of gold-flake, re-stripe it, and call it done.

The drivetrain can be swapped out when it finally gives up the ghost.

Nicolas Moss
Nicolas Moss
7 years ago

Finally, a Market Find I can afford!

Miguel De Olaso Macgregor
Miguel De Olaso Macgregor
7 years ago

What engine would you drop on it? A modern Hemi? How much $$$ are we talking?

Marty Larson
Marty Larson
7 years ago

That’s just begging for a pro-street style conversion. Modern create engine, reworked suspension, lightened where possible. Same rims, leave the patina, lowered just a titch, proceed to smoke just about everything on the road. Screw the ‘collectibleness’. Make it awesome!

7 years ago
Reply to  Marty Larson

Agreed! I’m all for preserving classics when they are in such limited supply, but let’s be honest: The Aspen was a dumpster fire, like so many American cars of the era. Going pro-street might be the most dignified thing to do to the car.

Petrolicious Newsletter