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By: Kevin Dagle (aka supercoupe)


By 1975 Chrysler was thinking that it needed a replacement for the successful A-body line, so for the 1976 model year the new F-bodies (Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare) were sold side-by-side with the A-bodies, and won Car and Driver’s “Car(s) of the Year” for 1976. The cars had longer wheelbases and more refined looks and features, though the noses were quite similar to the A-bodies. They came in 4-door sedan and 2-door hardtop (coupe) models, but also re-introduced a “small” station wagon back into the brands (not seen since the mid-sixties).


The suspension was all-new too, with a transverse torsion bar setup, L-shaped, with the short “dog-leg” attached to the LCA and the other (hex) end anchored on the opposite side of the k-frame. The k-frame and each torsion bar were all isolated from the frame with rubber bushings, to offer a “big” car ride. Front anti-sway bars and front disk brakes were standard on all F-bodies. The rear suspension was also cushioned by “iso-clamps” which sandwiched rubber between the shackles and the frame to minimize vibrations to the occupants.


These cars unfortunately were rushed to market, so the public was used as the test group. Many “bugs” were found, but were taken care of under warranty, with most due to poor build quality, rust issues in the fenders and rough idle. By 1978, most of these problems had been worked out, and the cars were great values, but the buying public was wary, due to the previous years’ offerings.


In 1976 the venerable slant six (and a “Super Six” with a 2 bbl carb) and the 318 were typical standard engines in these cars, but a 2 bbl 360 was also available. The next year a 4 bbl 360 was available (1977-79), followed by a 4 bbl 318 (1979-80). No big block was ever available in these cars from the factory.


Plymouth again used the “Roadrunner” name, which gave the Volare a sporty look and feel and an added “Super Pak” (1976-77) option (in Spitfire Orange only) could be ordered to add louvers and spoilers to its V8 muscle. The later “Sport Pak” option came in Black or White only and added the same exterior treatments, though the regular Roadrunner option could be in various color/engine combinations.


Dodge mirrored these cars with its “R/T” Aspen, which also had a 1976-77 “Super Pak” (Black only) and later a “Sport Pak” (Black or White), in addition to regular R/Ts.


In 1978, these cars got a mild facelift, with new grilles and taillights, but also the Super Coupes and #43 Kit Cars (a tribute to Richard Petty) were introduced. They were met with a cool buying public, due in part to their higher price tag (in some cases nearly double) and questionable looks. The fact that the magazines were not very complimentary also did not help. They sported HD police suspension pieces, larger brakes and a 360 4 bbl/727 (auto only) drive train. They held their own against some of their peers of the day, but they were heavy cars, with smog engines and no available 4-speed. The low production numbers (531/494 for Dodge/Plymouth Super Coupe, 145/247 for Dodge/Plymouth Kit Car) make these sought-after cars today.


1979-80 saw the end of the Sport Paks, Super Coupes and Kit Cars, but a cool station wagon option, the Sport Wagon, was available with cool colors, custom wheels and wheel flares. These are as sought-after today as any F-body. 1980 was also the end of the available 360, with only 318s and 225 slant sixes available in all cars, Roadrunners and R/Ts included.


The F-bodies were cancelled after the 1980 model, which had an updated front end (with square headlights and squared-off fenders), but the basic car (with different sheet metal) was carried over to the Grand Fury/Diplomat M-body line and Mirada/Cordoba J-body line, which continued into the 1980s.


Photos of the F-Body racecar

You don't see a lot of F Body racecars -- but they do real well and can be build for far less than most other body styles




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