Here's a nice shot of Brian's Aspen before installing the new hoodscoop.
The Dodge Aspen is written about by some people as the end of an era. As the replacement for the Dart, many don't give the Aspen the credit it deserves as far as style and even performance go. It came at a time of ailing performance where the muscle car audience had grown up and were looking for something more economical. They should be viewed as the last rear-wheel drive featherweight from Dodge. For its time, it was competitive in the market against the Camaro and even Corvette. These cars are just waiting for someone to swap out the powerplant for something more ferocious.
This '76 Spitfire Orange Dodge Aspen is owned by 23-year-old Brian Wethern. It was formerly owned by his uncle who purchased the car new in 1977. When he went to the lot to buy a black Aspen with an orange stripe, he found that they were sold out. His wife suggested that he get this Spitfire Orange 318-powered F-Body, so he did. It would live a very sheltered life for 15 years while it was driven around town in fair weather and slowly disassembled to be restored. "It was only driven in the rain about six times and 'never seen a snowflake' as they say here in Minnesota," Brian says. He remembers when he would go to his uncle's and see it in the garage. "I couldn't get over how beautiful the car was, and I still get that feeling today."
His uncle ended up ditching the 318 and installed a mildly modified 360 and removed the pesky emissions control. He also replaced the carpeting and repaired and restored a few things here in there to keep the car in tip-top shape.
In 2000, his wife was diagnosed with a rare liver disease that eventually took her life. In her will, she requested that he never sell the car. Instead, he gave the car to Brian when he turned 15. Brian was kind of like the son he never had since he didn't have any children. Coincidentally, the Aspen was hit by rain on the day Brian brought it home. This was only the third time this had happened since it sat tucked in his uncle's garage for so long. "I ended up washing her in my parents garage later that day," he says.
Here's an advertisement from 1976 boasting about the Aspens fuel efficiency. The EPA estim
Now it has been almost eight years and Brian still loves the Aspen. With the help of his uncle, he replaced the automatic transmission with a manual. A hoodscoop was added to the hood to help the 360 breath, and traction bars help him plant the power to the ground.
It now has about 46,000 miles on the body and 25,000 on the engine. The paint is still original, and he and his uncle joke that the only thing original is the paint and seatbelts. The college student's future plans include replacing the Crager wheels with larger 15x8-inch wheels on all four corners and installing a few more 6x9 speakers with an amp. Brian's also thinking green and has contemplated converting the carburetor to E85 if it seems viable. He also wouldn't mind installing a new camshaft if he can get the money together.
The Paddock, located at 7565 S. SR 109, Knightstown, Indiana, has been offering hard-to-find restoration parts for American muscle cars for over 30 years. We strive to supply the best parts and accessories available to help with your restoration project. Our Dodge/Plymouth catalog covers 1962-'76 A-, B-, and E-Bodies, and offers carpet, sheetmetal, weatherstrip, engines, and many more parts and accessories to finish off that restoration.
Call 800/428-4319 or visit www.paddockparts.com to place your parts and accessories order or to get a free catalog.
The Paddock is aware that the Mopar hobby will soon be in the hands of Young Guns, and we encourage these young people to keep the hobby alive and well!
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Do you want to see your Mopar here? Do you want to be immortalized as a Mopar Muscle Young Gun? Is your car the nastiest thing on four wheels at your high school or college? Then send in your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org, or to Mopar Muscle, Young Guns, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619. Here's all you need to do: Send us some photos of you and your car, a description of your car, what you have done to it, and future plans for it. Be sure to include contact information and current e-mail address. Good luck!