Curbside Classic: 1978 Dodge Monaco – Dark Days For Dodge


Michael B. shot this clean 1978 Monaco SE sedan for sale in North Carolina, and passed them along to me to write up. How could I pass up that opportunity, as these midi-fuselages have become quite rare, especially in civilian trim. I shot and wrote up an ex-cop car Plymouth Fury of the same vintage, and I rather suspect a very healthy percentage of the 20k 1978 Dodge Monaco four door sedans built went into fleet and police duty. 1978 was a very dark year for Dodge.


To put that in perspective, ponder this: the Monaco was the biggest sedan Dodge offered in 1978, in that awkward year after the moribund LeSabre-wanna-be Royal Monaco disappeared, and before the doomed St. Regis appeared. It was going up against the one year old Chevrolet Caprice and Impala (and other GM B-Bodies), and the results were predictable: 47k Monacos (coupes and sedans) sold vs. 613k of the Chevys alone.

For that matter, the whole Dodge Division moved only some 460k passenger cars in 1978; substantially less than just those Impalas and Caprices. Needless to say, the St. Regis might as well have not bothered to show up in 1979.

Dodge 1980 St Regis

Looking (once again) like a Buick LeSabre wanna-be, the St. Regis and its R-Body sister Plymouth Gran Fury were unmitigated sales disasters. In the St. Regis big intro year, it managed 35k sales; then it dropped to just 17k in 1980, and a mere 5,388 in 1981, before they were euthanized. Undoubtedly most of those ended up in police work too. Now where are the shots for one of those, Cohort? I sure haven’t seen one curbside hereabouts.


Needless to say, these midi-fuselages didn’t change much in their eight-year run. The dash looks slightly different than my Mom’s ’73 Coronet, but it all looks pretty familiar. And dull.


But this one’s interior looks to be in very good shape.  The odometer shows 12,577 miles, but it’s turned over once already. Interested? The phone number is 704-795-8257. If it’s already gone, blame Van Week. Michael sent me these shots shortly before.

For what it’s worth, I’d certainly take one of these over a similar year midi-mega Ford. But you all know how I feel about those. This Dodge won’t ride nearly as jet-puffed softly as a Grandiose Torino, an Ultra Elite or whatever other names Ford kept calling them. But there’s something direct and almost honest about these Coronet/Monacos, an image certainly burnished by their ubiquity in police tv shows, as well as in real life.


That’s the face of my CHP nemesis during my speeding days in California, in those wonderful pre-radar days. I could spot this front end three miles away; or so it seemed. But having a 440 powered Monaco incoming at six o’clock (is that right?) with its little single red light on the cowl flashing was the face of doom.


This one started its well-preserved life in Florida, which explains a few things. Someone’s last car, undoubtedly. Who else bought a Monaco in 1978? And who’ll buy it now? It’s not likely that another clean 1978 Monaco will come along again soon.