“You traded the Cadillac for this?” “No, for a microphone.” So began Jake’s interrogation of his brother Elwood’s new car at the beginning of the classic 1980 film, The Blues Brothers. The worn, ex-Mount Prospect, Illinois police car was as big of a star as John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, and is fondly remembered by many movie buffs, including your author.
But the C-body Dodge Monaco and its more upscale Royal Monaco version were prominently featured in other late ’70s and early ’80s TV shows, such as Hill Street Blues. It’s been both a blessing and a curse for fans of the 1974–77 Monaco, Royal Monaco, and Royal Monaco Brougham. For while it has led to many cars being saved that otherwise would now be toasters, washing machines, and refrigerators, it has also let to many, many Bluesmobile re-creations. Some well done. Some, perhaps less so.
Over the past few decades, I suspect many a mint, little old lady owned, 1975 Royal Monaco pillared sedan or ’74 Monaco Brougham four door hardtop has been de-chromed, painted black and white, and had the appropriate gigantic loudspeaker added. Some folks don’t even bother with a Monaco. They’re rather in short supply, as so many were crashed back when ex-police units were available for cheap. TV and movie producers snapped them up, so that now they’re not terribly common. So perhaps the most unusual Bluesmobile recreation I have seen was based on a 1979 Chrysler New Yorker, complete with landau roof and electroluminescent opera lamps, to which the owner added cop tires, cop suspension and of course, the black and white paint scheme.
Thankfully today’s car hasn’t fallen to the Bluesmobile treatment, nor is it likely to be any time soon. This ’77 Royal Monaco Brougham was found back in February by my friend in Spokane, Jason Bagge. As he frequently does (his 1972 Bonneville four door hardtop and 1976 Caprice Classic Landau have been featured here previously), he immediately started bringing it back to par.
This was the last year for the C-body Royal Monaco. In 1978, the B-body Monaco, formerly the Coronet, would be the largest Dodge available. And they were whoppers. Riding a 121.5-inch wheelbase (station wagons had a 124-inch span), the base Monaco pillared sedan weighed in at 4125 pounds, and was priced at $4716.
The Royal Monaco Brougham, the top of the line, was 4270 pounds and was priced at $4996 before options. 21,440 were made, and that was that for the truly full-size Dodge sedan.
A 318-cu-in motivated base Royal Monacos, but Broughams came standard with the 360 V-8, with 155 hp. For those who wanted Elwood-style scoot, the hallowed 440-cu-in V-8 was optional, with 195 hp.
It was just one of those deals where a car falls into Jason’s lap and the asking price is so attractive he can’t resist. So the Brougham, looking quite resplendent in burgundy metallic, promptly got the correct wheels, whitewall tires, and deluxe wheel covers.
A short time later he found a very nice set of the optional “Premier” wheel covers, which were promptly installed. He and his dad had a fine time driving around Spokane as winter gave way to spring. But new cars beckoned, and the Monaco was sold to a fellow enthusiast.
I can assure you it is seeing fine care, and will not be modified, ever. As for the next car? Who knows. Though I have it on good authority that a white 1973 Caprice pillared sedan, complete with fender skirts, factory wheel covers, and blue interior may be on the way. If and when it does, I’ll have to write it up. Gotta love those ’70s land yachts!