The Dodge Monaco was produced during two periods of Dodge's history, the first was in 1965 and lasted until 1978. The second time was in 1990 with production lasting on a short while, ending in 1992. When it was first introduced in 1965, the Dodge marque had intended the car to be a personal luxury vehicle aimed at competing with other luxury cars built on a similar platform, such as Pontiac's Grand Prix. It was based on the Polara and Custom 880 two door hardtop coupes and giving unique badging to help differentiate it from its siblings. It was offered as a hardtop coupe and a standard V8 engine that displaced 383 cubic-inches and produced 315 horsepower. Other differences between the Monaco and the cars its was based on were its front grill area and different taillights. The interior featured foam seats in the front and rear, electric clock, remote-control outside rearview mirror, console, three-spoke steering wheel, and padded instrument panel. On the outside, there were special wheel covers with the Monaco name on the front fenders. A variety of options were available, included engine and transmission choices, as well as a host of convenience features.
As was often the case, the Monaco was used in certain export markets such as Canada, where it differed from its domestic version in certain details. In Canada, the car was available in hardtop coupe or convertible bodystyle. The interior featured a dashboard from Plymouth and under the bonnet was either a 318 cubic-inch V8 or the slant six, depending on the customers requests.
The Custom 880 Series was replaced by the Monaco, becoming the Monaco 500, in 1966. The list of available bodystyles increased with the base configuration being a hardtop coupe and the list of options including a four-door pillared sedan, four-door pillarless hardtop sedan, and a four-door station wagon. The Monaco 500 version was available only as a hardtop coupe.
In 1967 Dodge gave the Monaco a face-lift, greatly changing its styling, and the hardtop coupes were given a reverse slanted rear quarter window and a roofline similar to that of a fastback. With all the changes made for 1967, little was changed the following year. 1968 would be the final year for the Monaco 500 option in the United States. The name would continue until 1970 in the Canadian market.
As the 1960's came to a close, the horsepower output produced by the engines reached a climax. This would drastically change in the years to come as safety concerns, government regulations, and an oil embargo would continue to rain havoc on this potent powerplants.
In 1969, all Chrysler vehicles, the Dodge marque included, were given a new 'fuselage' styling design. The Monaco received a new 'Super-lite' option which featured a quartz road lamp on the drivers side that helped improve visibility. The option was popular but it was discontinued at the end of the year due to lack of consumer interest and legal claims made by certain states.
In 1970 Dodge gave the Monaco a slight update to its styling, featuring a bumper that wrapped around the grill and headlights, and minor changes to the front and rear facia.
For 1971 the Monaco name continued to be the luxury model of the Polara line. It was given all the amenities and features of the Brougham line plus nylon carpeting, dome/map lights, upper door frame moldings, and cornering lights. The steering wheel had a padded hub and convenient horn tabs.
1972 was another big year for styling changes on the Monaco. For the first time in its existence, the Monaco was given concealed headlights, which helped to further distinguish itself from its Polara sibling which still had the fixed headlamp design. The concealed headlights would remain for a few years, ending in 1974.
Another redesign occurred in 1974, this time it was given an all-new chassis. Dodge discontinued the Polara and Polara Custom models and replaced them with the Monaco and Monaco Custom lines. The prior Monaco's were replaced by the Monaco Brougham which was now its own model line instead of just an optional package on the Monaco nameplate.
Little changed in 1975 on the Monaco; the big changes were to the naming schemes as the Monaco Custom was now the Royal Monaco while the Monaco Brougham was replaced with the Royal Monaco Brougham. The name 'Royal' was Dodge's way of remembering and memorializing the legendary 'Royal' and 'Custom Royal' models of the 1950s. Both of these Monaco models featured concealed headlamps. A limited number of Royal Monaco Brougham coupes were outfitted with the Diplomat package which included a landau vinyl roof with opera windows and a wide steel roof band.
The four-door pillarless hardtop sedan was no longer available in 1976. Changes to the Monaco's styling were minimal.
Production of the Monaco would continue until 1978; in 1977 due to the energy crisis the Monaco was moved from the C-Boy to the B-Body platform. It would remain on this platform from 1977 through 1978, at which time it was replaced by the Dodge St. Regis.
The Monaco name would lay dormant for several years until it was resurrected in 1990 and was basically a rebadged version of the Eagle Premier. Only minor differences differentiated these two models, the most visible being different crosshair grilles, taillights and badging. The Eagles outsold the Monacos, mainly because the Dodge Dynasty attracted consumers when they came to Dodge dealerships and 'stole' sales away from the Monaco. The Dodge dealer network was larger than Eagles, but the Eagle Premier did not have to compete with similar siblings to attract sales as they model range was much smaller.
Production of the four-door sedan Monaco, with its 3-liter V6 engine and four-speed automatic gearbox, was continued until 1992. It was assembled in Brampton, Ontario but never sold in the Canadian marketplace.By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2007