Big and topless

1968 Dodge Monaco 500 convertible, spotted in Ottawa, Ontario.

1968 Dodge Monaco 500 convertible, spotted in Ottawa, Ontario.

I’ve said it for years – there’s something about Chrysler products from the late ’60s/early ’70s that make them seen invincible.

It just feels that regardless of what damage they could sustain – even a frame bent 90 degrees – the menacing Chrysler/Plymouth/Dodges would just get mad… and then get even.

Too many car chase movies in my youth, I guess.

The example of Mopar muscle seen here – a slightly battered 1968 Dodge Monaco 500 droptop – was once the pinnacle of luxury motoring for the Dodge division. Not just any Monaco, the massive, top-level 500 was two tonnes of compliant driving enjoyment.

Luxury conveniences were plentiful, while the power any driver of a menacing Hippie-era Dodge needed was instantly on tap. A 383-cubic inch V-8 making 330 horsepower was mated to a bulletproof 3-speed Torqueflight automatic with console shifter.

The Monaco and Monaco 500 coupes, sedans and convertibles were all based on the forgettable Dodge Custom 880 (the division’s hastily-prepared full-size offering), which ran from 1962 to 1965. The Monaco replaced the 880 in the U.S. market in 1966, and in Canada in 1967.

While the American Monaco had a 383 as the standard engine, the thrifty Canadian marketplace demanded that it also come with the 318, as well as the 225 Slant-6.

Doing what a '74 Monaco always seemed to do best (image:

Doing what a ’74 Monaco always seemed to do best… (image:

Looking at the bruised-but-still-kicking convertible pictured above, some of the menace fades from its visage when you imagine a Valiant-worthy Slant 6 under its hood.

While the Monaco soldiered on well into the Malaise Era (earning it lasting fame as The Blues Brothers’ car), the 500 option was scrapped after 1971. After splitting the nameplate into ‘Monaco’ (formerly, the Coronet) and full-size ‘Royal Monaco’ in 1977, a bankruptcy-bound Chrysler Corporation was forced to kill off both the following year.

Serving as the ubiquitous cop car in countless 1970s films and TV shows, the stodgy-but-tough Monaco saw its media presence last well into the ’80s, thanks to its durability and cheap resale value. Look to any episode of The Dukes of Hazzard for proof of this.