Mopar taxis, 1935-2003

The reliable 3.5 V6

1997 Plymouth Pronto
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The Dodge Monaco

1966 dodge monaco

by Mike Sealey

The 1965 Dodge Monaco was a hardtop trimline of the “C-body” 1965 Dodge Polara; aimed at the Pontiac Grand Prix and Olds Starfire, the Monaco was easily distinguished from lesser C-body Dodges by its unique taillights. The car, its own model starting in 1966, was at the top of the Dodge lineup until 1976. As one would expect, the 1965 Monaco shared the Polara’s 122-inch wheelbase.

dodge monaco car - 1966

In addition to the two-door hardtop Monaco, Canadians could buy Monaco convertibles. The tradition of giving the Monaco unique taillights continued as long as there were C-body Monacos.

Dodge chief engineer Burton Bouwkamp wrote:

We introduced a premium two-door hardtop named Monaco. I okayed not putting a “DODGE” nameplate on the front and the back of the Monaco. My rationale was that Dodge was a truck – Monaco was a car. When Lynn Townsend found out about it he wasn’t happy with me. (We made a running change during the 1965 model year adding a Dodge nameplate to the car.)

1966 dodge monaco interior

Our problem was that in 1965, Chrysler’s top management decided that Dodge was to be a Pontiac competitor. The Dodge nameplate did not have an upmarket image. You can lower a product’s image, but it’s almost impossible to raise it. That’s one of the reasons I did not put the Dodge nameplate on the 1965 Monaco.

There was no 1966 Custom 880; instead, the 1966 Dodge Monaco line took over from the former Custom 880 as the top Dodge, except for the convertible and 6-window four door sedan, which didn’t return. The original Monaco line became the “Monaco 500,” accompanied again by a Canada-only Monaco 500 convertible.

The Monaco 500 included deep-pile carpet, front bucket seats trimmed out in vinyl, a center console, and wicker inserts in the door panels; chrome was everywhere, tastefully applied to borders and edges. The standard engine was the four-barrel 383, though a two-barrel 383 was available for those who wanted to use regular gas instead of premium (the two-barrel was standard on the lesser Monaco line).

1968 dodge monaco dashboard

Monacos got slightly modified grilles from lesser C-body Dodges in 1967 (from 1967 to 1969 this was mainly done with black paint instead of argent on parts of the grille).

restored 1968 dodge monaco interior

The 1967 Dodge Monaco and Polara were 219-221 inches long, six inches longer than in the previous year; more of an attempt was made to differentiate the models. Every V8 engine in the Chrysler lineup was available; disc brakes were optional across the board, and standard on wagons.

1968 Dodge Monaco

Dodge Monaco police car page

The instrument panels on the Polara and Monaco were redesigned in 1967 to cluster common controls together, and to eliminate projecting knobs for safety in a crash, replacing them with pushbuttons, toggle switches, thumb wheels, and slides. The instrument panel was recessed, and the dashboard painted with nonglare paint.

Weatherstripping was improved by fastening the rubber to the doors with plastic fasteners going into predrilled holes, rather than having it hanging off the door frame. Flow-through ventilation was standard, with air changing four times a minute. Weight ran to around 4,000 - 4,500 pounds.

1968 Dodge Monaco cars

1968 dodge monaco speedometer

In 1969, the Monaco Brougham, a more luxurious variation, was introduced (thanks, Andy from Vancouver), along with the rounded-side Fuselage Look.

1969 dodge monaco

1969 also marked the debut of the Super-Lite on Polara and Monaco; the Super-Lite was a controlled-pattern auxiliary driving light that primarily illuminated the right side of the road, to aid vision without affecting drivers of oncoming cars. The $50 option was the first reported use of the modern day quartz-iodine automotive headlamp that is in wide use today. (Thanks, Bernie Hanssen).

Dodge Monaco Brougham

The 1970 and 1971 had a different grille insert, and the 1972 and 1973 had the hideaway headlights. In 1971, the base Monaco came with a two-barrel 383 powerplant for Brougham or Monaco, with the four-barrel 383 and 440 optional; transmission was a three-speed manual with an optional three-speed TorqueFlite automatic.

Seats had cloth and vinyl trim; standard features were a glove box lock, dome light with built in map light, day/night rearview mirror, fifteen inch wheels, hubcaps or wheelcovers, electronic voltage regulator, ventless front windows, two-speed concealed wipers, heater/defroster with three-speed fan, 11 inch rear brakes, 23 gallon gas tank, padded instrument panel, and front and rear seat belts. Options included FM radio with stereo tape player, bucket seats, cornering lights, clock, electric locks, front power disc brakes, power seats, power windows, power steering, rear speakers, and Sure-Grip differential (among others).

monaco wagons

New for the 1971 cars was the Torsion-Quiet Ride suspension; a new type of rubber isolator was used in a large number of suspension locations in front, in rear, and along the steering gear.

The 1972 Monaco grille was changed to be different from Polara; it included covered headlamps.

1972 dodge monaco

Dodge called the 1973 Monaco “one of the roomiest and most comfortable cars on the road regardless of price.” It included hidden headlights, stronger bumper guards, deep-pile carpeting, a cloth and vinyl seat, and fold-down center armrest. Standard features included power steering and power front disc brakes; automatic transmission; electric clock; armrests; simulated wood-grain door trim and dashboard panels; interior hood release; lighting package; heater-defroster with three-speed fan; two-speed concealed wipers; and wheel covers.

1973 Specs Monaco Coronet
Wheelbase 122 118
Length 226.6 212.9
Legroom, F/R 41.8/39.1 41.9/36.7
Shoulder room 63.2/62.7 59.2/59.3

The 1973 Monaco’s standard engine was the 360 V8, with optional 400 or 440 V8 and various carburetion options. An AM/FM stereo and cassette player were optional. The Brougham package included a vinyl roof, 50/50 cloth seat with passenger-side recliner, fold-down center armrest in rear seat, cornering lights, carpeted trunk, and sill moldings.

The most popular Monacos for 1973 were the high end Brougham, and of those, the hardtop sedan was the top seller with over 26,600 finding buyers. 9,190 two-door Brougham hardtops were sold, roughly the same number as four door sedans.

John Hagen wrote: “The original Blues Brothers movie used many 1974 thru 1977 Dodge Monacos. They were old enough to be cheap. I was a service manager at a small suburban Dodge dealer in 1974, and remember those Monacos and their problems well. In 1979, I purchased a used Milwaukee County police package Monaco. Mechanically everything one would expect from Dodge. A real solid, dependable car. But the body...”

The Polara name was dropped after 1973, leaving the Monaco and Monaco Brougham as the remaining Dodge C-bodies. The 1974 was therefore the first Monaco in common use as a police car (the “Bluesmobile” was a 1974 Monaco), while the Brougham occupied the high end of the big Dodge range as the Monaco had previously.

The 1974 Monaco debuted a factory alarm system, armed by using the front power door locks. If the doors, hood, trunk or ignition were tampered with, the horn would blow intermittently and the headlights, taillights and side marker lights would flash.

Also new for ’74 were 5 mph front and 2.5 mph rear bumpers, and side-impact steel beams in the doors. Given the fuel crisis, the 318 was standard, but engines still went up to the 440. The company made disc brakes and Chrysler’s famous Electronic Ignition System standard. Helping reduce emissions was the “Cleaner Air System,” with featured an exhaust gas recirculation system that routed a varied volume of exhaust gas to the incoming fuel/air mixture to lower peak burn temperatures, and an orifice spark advance (often bypassed by owners due to system issues) and an electric-assist choke (a little electric heater helped the choke fade out more quickly).

1974 dodge monaco

The newly restyled 1974 C-body Plymouth and Dodge looked like each other, and both looked more like the full size 1971 Buick than most fans really like to admit. 1975 saw an attempt to address this problem from the front, by bringing back the hideaway headlights on what became the Royal Monaco.

There was a hefty change for the 1977 cars: the Coronet was “dropped” and the Monaco was “downsized” (or, if you prefer, the Monaco name was transferred to the Coronet body). Thus, the Monaco now had a 117” wheelbase (115” for two-doors). The Royal Monaco, though, continued with the old, larger body — the sole Dodge C-body.

1977 Plymouth Fury and Dodge Monaco

The same game was played at Plymouth, with the Fury dropping down to replace the Belvedere as the name of the B-body, and the Gran Fury continuing on as a C-body. These new Furys and Monacos looked quite similar, with almost no differentiation up front.

monaco

According to “ffd1956,” Car & Driver reviewed the police version of the 1977 Dodge Monaco and achieved a 0-60 time of 8.1 seconds and a top speed of 126 mpg. The price was a steep $5,649, not including air conditioning.

Other news for the 1977 cars was a low-slip torque converter, which increased the area of the oil flow path by 20% to reduce friction losses, increasing gas mileage and torque capacity.

royal monaco

The Dodge Monaco had standard power brakes, color keyed carpeting, day/night rearview mirror, and radials. The Monaco Brougham was the ritzy version — what would have been a plain “Monaco” before the Polara was dropped. The two-door Monaco had a 115 inch wheelbase, while four-doors went to 117”. Engines went from the slant six to 440 V8. The Royal Monaco was, in essence, the prior Monaco — a full sized C body similar to Gran Fury.

monaco brougham car back

The company also adopted new wire terminals, a more reliable starter relay, six-pound-lighter batteries, and various lower-weight parts. The horrific rust issues on the Volare/Aspen led to a running change in 1976, giving all 1977 cars a seven-stage autophretic coating system; more effective than the asphalt-based rustproofing of prior years, it also used less energy and cut fire hazards and pollutants. Chrysler was the first domestic automaker to use that painting system.

Monaco squad

The C-body Royal Monaco and Plymouth Gran Fury were dropped after 1977, but the B-body sedan held on for another year; the sole C bodies for 1978 were sold under the Chrysler brand, but even those would be unavailable in 1979, when the C-body ended and the Monaco was replaced by the R-body Dodge St. Regis.

royal monaco

The final appearance of the Dodge Monaco was a briefly-sold Eagle Premier clone.

For information on the Plymouth version of the Monaco, see our Plymouth Fury pages.

 1966 Dimensions Polara-MonacoCoronetDart
Wheelbase121117106
Length (except wagons) 213.3203196
Width80.075.370.8
Tread (max) 62.059.555.9
Wagon front seatback to tailgate 9692”84
Rear opening max height 29.530.4”26
Width between wheel-wells 44.945.3”43.5
Max cargo volume 97 cu ft 88 cu. ft. 68 cu ft

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Mopar taxis, 1935-2003 The reliable 3.5 V6 1997 Plymouth Pronto