Getting to see Dylan McCool’s 1969 Dodge Charger on Power Tour this year left me feeling proud…for no real reason, really, except that I was happy to see the progress that he has made, from cleaning it up to actually putting the lust-worthy Dodge out onto the road. A lot of work has gone into the Charger and we’ve shown quite a bit of it here. In person, it’s a proper ratty musclecar: the mechanicals are stout, the body is rough but useable, and he’s got a plan to keep working on the car post-Power Tour, including getting the interior back into shape and eventually, paint and polish. All well and good, and we can’t wait to see what comes from that. But the Charger is, in a way, a personal project. And personal projects don’t pay the bills…in his case, what pays the bills usually involves a Chrysler Corporation product that needs serious help. He hinted about this car while we were talking in Sparta, and now, here it is…a Dodge Aspen. A bone-stock, 318-powered 1978 Dodge Aspen sedan, wearing a lovely shade of blue that you can see if you squint past the layers of lichen and leaf detritus.
I can hear the groans and the typing of phrases that will start with the word “why”, so let’s look at the car objectively for a moment. The F-body Aspen and it’s Plymouth Volaré twin were supposed to take the torch from the Dodge Dart/Plymouth Scamp A-bodies and run with it into the 1980s. Unfortunately, this occurs when Chrysler is in financial hell and has a leadership group that is barely more than monkeys in the middle of a fertilizer fight, so instead of taking one more year to dial in the F-cars, they are rushed to production for the 1976 model year and almost immediately, it becomes evident that rusting issues exist. Recalls are issued, the reputation is tarnished, and that is that…the Aspen and Volaré are killed off in 1980, with the M-body, a slight reworking of the same platform, taking over and running through 1989 with almost no changes after 1981.
Now, my background is with FMJ Mopars…that’s where I really dived into the deep end of the wrenching spectrum and where I stayed for years. But I’ve said time and time again that I am not a fan of the Aspen…they’re just too bare-bones, too…I don’t know, there’s just something about them that I don’t like compared to their platform cousins. But in 2019, how often do you come across an untouched Aspen of any kind that was kept dead stock for forty years? This particular car was left alone in 2002 when the owner could no longer keep the car up, and now it’s time for Dylan to get to work on getting one of the most unloved Mopars to wake up and return to the land of the living. My suggestion is a pressure washing, an interior gutting (at least that disgusting-ass carpeting) and a set of Cragar S/S mags once the 318/904 combination is actually useful. Is it rare? Eh. Wanted? Hell no. But could it be a cool driver? So long as the subframes aren’t Swiss cheese, yes, it can be.