Few cars, that, on the surface appear very ordinary, are a snap shot in time like this 1974 Dodge Monaco is.
Chrysler got their collective Highland Park bumpers handed to them in 1962 and 1963 when, upon hearing that General Motors was introducing a smaller "standard size" car, they radically downsized their full size lineup. However, Chrysler's intel was perhaps only half correct; rather than downsizing their standard sized lineup, GM came out with a new line of mid size cars. To make matters worse, some of Chrysler's designs, particularly the Dodge models, featured bizarre styling and sold poorly. Chrysler got back in the full size game by 1964 and, never looked back. Well, until the Yom Kippur War of October 1973 led to the OPEC Oil Embargo.
Talk about bad timing; the embargo happened just as Chrysler unloaded a vast new line of gigantic, heavy, gas guzzling full size cars across all their divisions. That new line included our lovely Dodge Monaco here. While Henry Kissinger was able to negotiate an end to the embargo by March 1974, he was unable to reduce the price of a barrel of oil that had nearly quadrupled thus nearly doubling the price of a gallon of gas. While cars that got terrible gas mileage was nothing new, the increase in the price of gas made them all but pariahs.
Because of the embargo and subsequent price hikes, 1974 was a terrible year for The Big Three. Chrysler, though, took the brunt of it since they had made nary a penny off their new lineup to amortize the expense of their development and retooling. Too bad too since, especially in the case of our Monaco, Chrysler had a nice new line up of big cars for 1974 that while derivative in styling detail, at least were solid interpretations of everything else on the market at the time. Again, based on what they experienced in the early '60's, wrong as the information they got was, you can't blame them for going with designs they would assume sell well. The "gas crisis" though, made these cars seem as dated as a Desoto.
Sticking with convention ran more than sheet metal deep. This Monaco, for instance, rode just as well on pin straight, level roads as the cars from GM and Ford that it aped. And just like them as well, it shuddered, bucked and heaved when the going got rough. These cars would also handle around an obstacle course as well as a school bus would.
Just like GM and Ford, under hood was a patchwork of old think thrust through the charcoal filter realities of that long ago present day. That's a Chrysler "B", or "big block", 400 cubic inch engine. The Chrysler 400 was a 383 cubic inch "B" with a longer stroke; the longer stroke added a tad more torque off idle to give the driver at least the impression at throttle "tip in" that the big Chrysler engine hadn't lost a step or two because of lower compression and "smog plumbing".
This near pristine Monaco is for sale down in Virginia and had a reasonable starting price of $2,500. As much as I like this car, I'd be leery of spending too much for it. Parts for it would be very hard to find; not mechanical parts, mind you - I'm talking about fenders, doors, trunk lid etc. Pitty that a minor fender bender could be a total loss for the owner. Last I checked it was at a click over $4000 - fair price to pay for a car as unique as this is and in the excellent shape it appears to be in too. Unique, by the way, not always meaning that an old car is worth more than its contemporaries. Here's the listing with more pictures and a little bit history on it too. Be careful and good luck. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dodge-Monaco-CUSTOM-/262453981712?forcerrptr=true&hash=item3d1b79f210:g:uvMAAOSwNsdXRf0w&item=262453981712