Among the first of the mid-1960s muscle cars from Dodge was the 1965 Monaco, which was a sports edition of the entry-level full-size Dodge Polara and mid-line Dodge Custom 880. The Monaco was available only as a two-door hardtop, and featured the potent 383-cid V-8 engine with 315 hp, or 330 hp with dual exhaust. Standard transmission was a three-speed manual, but the automatic three-speed TorqueFlite or four-speed manual were available as options. Approximately 13,200 Dodge Monacos were built for the initial model year.
From 1966 through 1968, Dodge took the successful Monaco and made it to be a high-end version of the Polara, replacing the Custom 880. Monaco buyers could now choose between a four-door sedan or hardtop, a two-door hardtop, and a four-door station wagon that carried six or nine passengers. Only the Polara convertible was not represented in the Monaco line. There was also a special Monaco 500, which was a two-door hardtop that carried the DNA of the original Monaco forward. Most Monacos came with the 383-cid V-8 engine with a two-barrel carburetor offering 270 hp, while the Monaco 500 received a four-barrel carburetor with 325 hp. In 1967, the 440-cid Magnum V-8 was optional and delivered 375 hp. The 1968 Monaco 500 models could be ordered with the 383 at 290 or 300 hp, the 440 with 375 hp, or the famous 426-cid Hemi V-8 option at 425 hp.
In 1969, the new “fuselage” styling was introduced, and Monaco was the top luxury trim level of the Polara line. Available body styles remained unchanged. The base engine was still the 383, and now offered 290 hp. Engine options included the 383 with 335 hp, the 440 at 375 hp, or the 426 at 425 hp. Only minor changes were implemented for the 1970 model year. For 1971, the TorqueFlite automatic became standard equipment and the Hemi option disappeared, while other engines lost 10-25 horsepower.
The 1972 model year saw another facelift, and the 360-cid V-8 with 150 hp became the base engine for Monaco. A Magnum 440 offering 280 hp was also an option. While these seem like dramatic drops, remember that 1972 was the year that horsepower ratings changed from gross to net. Monaco remained Dodge’s full-size luxury car, with all modern conveniences. Slight changes for 1973 closed out this generation of the Monaco.
Collectors will naturally be most interested in the high-horsepower cars of the mid-to-late 1960s, with Hemi engines being the most valuable. 1965 Dodge Monacos will have special cachet as the beginning of the line. It’s also wise to be on the lookout for Polaras that have been retrofitted to resemble authentic Monaco muscle cars.