by Mike Sealey
Dodge Monaco police car page
The Monaco was a C-body car at the top of the Dodge line from 1965 to 1976; it moved to the B-body in 1977, for two short years, replacing the Coronet on that body (the Royal Monaco, introduced in 1975, remained on the big body until the end in 1978). For some of this time, the Monaco was a model of the Dodge Polara.
In the early 1990s, the Dodge Monaco nameplate was revived for a clone of the Eagle Premier to try to boost sales of that car, given the much larger Dodge dealer network.
When the Monaco was first introduced in 1965, it was only offered as a 2 door hardtop in the US (Canada had Monaco convertibles as well, but these were never offered in the US). It appears to have been conceived as a specialty hardtop along the lines of the Pontiac Grand Prix and Olds Starfire. This was the top of the Dodge line in 1965; other C-body Dodges included the Custom 880, Polara 500, and Polara. The Monaco was most readily distinguished from lesser C-body Dodges by its unique taillight treatment, a tradition that continued as long as there were C-body Monacos.
The Custom 880 was dropped in 1966 and the Monaco line expanded to include all of the former Custom 880 body styles except the convertible and 6-window four door sedan. A Monaco 500 two door hardtop was introduced to take the place of the original Monaco, accompanied again by a Canada-only Monaco 500 convertible.
It sat at the top of the Dodge line with “posh, power, and pizazz;” available as a hardtop, wagon, or sedan, the line was topped by the Monaco 500. The Monaco 500 interior 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 which could take regular gas instead of premium was also available. All Monacos had a standard 383 in 1966.
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). In 1967, the big Dodges - Polara and Monaco - rode the same 122 inch wheelbase, not much longer than the Coronet series’ 117 inches, and not much shorter than the Chryslers’ 124 inches. Length was 219-221 inches as with the similar Chrysler models. The bodies featured, depending on the model, convex, concave, and convex-to-concave side styling; the Polara and Monaco both grew six inches longer than in the previous year, but more of an attempt was made to differentiate the models. Every V8 engine in the Chrysler lineup was available for the Polara and Monaco; disc brakes were available across the board on these models, and were standard on wagons.
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 as well, 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.
In 1969, the Monaco Brougham, a more luxurious variation, was introduced (thanks, Andy from Vancouver), along with the rounded-side Fuselage Look.
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).
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).
New for 1971 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.
In 1972, the grille was changed to be different from Polara’s; it included covered headlamps.
In 1973, Dodge called the 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; Torqueflite 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.
The Monaco now came with a relatively small engine, the 360 V8, but it could be purchased with the 400 or 440 V8s. An AM/FM stereo was optional, with or without cassette player. 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, many 1974 thru 1977 Dodge Monacos. They were getting old enough to be very cheap (especially as the cars bodies were known as pretty poor quality-wise).
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 the first Monaco in common use as a police car (the "Bluesmobile" was a 1974 Monaco) and the Brougham occupied the high end of the big Dodge range as the Monaco had previously.
For 1973, a security alarm system was available; when the front power door locks were activated, the system was armed. 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 were 5 mph front and 2.5 mph rear bumpers, and side-impact steel beams installed in the doors. The 318 was standard, and engines went up to the 440. Disc brakes were made standard, and Chrysler's famous Electronic Ignition System became standard on all engines (actually starting late in the 1972 model year). Helping reduce emissions was the Cleaner Air System which 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 and electric assist choke.
The newly restyled 1974 C-body Plymouth and Dodge were very much 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 (and reverting to single headlights on the Gran Fury Brougham).
When the Coronet became the B-body Monaco in 1977, the Royal Monaco continued on as the sole Dodge C-body (in the same year, the Fury replaced the Belvedere as Plymouth's B-body, while the Gran Fury retained the C body). Washington State Patrol used Royal Monaco squads in 1977, big white sedans with big wheels and meaty tires that went particularly well with the hideaway headlights.
According to "ffd1956," Car & Driver reviewed the 1977 police-edition Dodge Monaco and achieved a 0-60 time of 8.1 seconds and a top speed of 126 mpg. The price was a royal $5,649 (quite high for the time), not including air conditioning.
In 1977, a low-slip torque converter was adopted; by improving the oil path from the impeller to the turbine and back (by way of the stator), increasing the area of the oil flow path by 20%, oil flow friction losses were lessened, increasing gas mileage and torque capacity. (This was not the lockup torque converter, which was launched just one year later, in 1978.)
The Dodge Monaco was a twin to the Fury, with standard features including power brakes, color keyed carpeting, day/night rearview mirror, forced ventilation, and radials. The Monaco Brougham was the ritzy version. The two-door Monaco's 115 inch wheelbase was not much longer than Volare's; four-door models used a 117" wheelbase. 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.
The company also adopted new wire terminals, a more reliable starter relay, six-pound-lighter, more durable batteries, a more efficient torque converter, and various parts designed to have higher strength with lower weight. The horrific rust issues on the Volare/Aspen, led to a running change in 1976, so that all models in 1977 had a new, more effective seven-stage autophretic coating system including baking and curing; more effective than the asphalt-based rustproofing of prior years, it used less energy and cut fire hazards and pollutants. Chrysler was the first domestic automaker to use that painting system.
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.
For information on the Plymouth version of the Monaco, see our Plymouth Fury pages.
Dodge Monaco forums
All Mopar Car and Truck News