1977 was an interesting year on many fronts. It was also the year of some of the worst possible cars ever pushed from a factory due to oil embargoes, tightening emissions standards and quickly implemented fixes from the boys in Detroit.
It was also a year that celebrated the first time a man made vaccine eradicated a virus (small pox), the incorporation of Apple Computers, the release of Lucas's blockbuster Star Wars movie and the death of noted comedian Groucho Marx. Which brings us to today's dual-feature...you are a senior in high school, it is the night of your prom and you've got two cars to chose from. Do you take Dad's 1977 Plymouth Volare Wagon 4spd manual or Mom's 1977 Datsun 810 Wagon Auto either of which can be had for about $2k today. Both cars are tips from fueltruck.
Everybody loves wagons...right? It hasn't always been this way and there was a time that the wagon was the ultimate symbol of the giving up on looking cool. Today, for certain models, the wagon version is even more desireable than the coupe...and these two both qualify.
The Datsun 810 on the left is in very nice condition on the inside and features low miles, but the 125 horsepower L24 engine (borrowed from the out of production 240Z sports car) is mated to an automatic transmission and will be brutally slow. The Plymouth Volare on the other hand has some wear/tear on its sweet 70s styled seats, but that funky looking giant egg beater is attached to a 4-speed manual gearbox that is probably worn to the point that shifting gears feels like stirring egg yolks. But you might get egg on your face if you pick the Volare because that 225 cubic inch slant-6 is rated at 100 horsepower (90 hp if the CA version) and will be only marginally more fun to drive than the 810.
So, the bottom line is you need to pick one of those baby crap brown wagons to take. Instead of picking the one you want, why not focus on what you don't want. A Plymouth badge. Lets face it, Plymouth hasn't built a car you'd want to own for about 50 years. The PT Cruiser you say? The car built for the man who does all his shopping in the Hawaiian shirt section at Costco? Or the Prowler, the car designed for his loser unmarried older brother? The Datsun may be fitted with a slushbox, but it is going to win this competition mostly because has glossy paint and the Datsun name is gonna make a comeback soon. Preparing to onslaught of angry Plymouth and Costco Hawaiian shirt owners in the comments in...3...2...1... email@example.com
Originally published as 2k: What Were They Thinking: 1977 Datsun 810 vs 1977 Plymouth Volare on Daily Turismo.