The Dodge Monaco hardtop's base price was $$3,446 and $3,588 when equipped with the optional 5.2-litre (318-cubic inch) V-8 engine. A total of 2,068 of the posh Dodge flagships were built during the 1965 model year.
Long popular with Canadians, Dodge entered its 51st year with a fresh-from-the-ground-up model line. The Windsor-based Dodge Division of Chrysler Canada fielded thirteen full-sized beauties, in four series for 1965, every one of them just itching to knock the socks off the competition.
An open letter to prospective purchasers promised that the newest Dodge was “a lot more car for your money.” The folks in marketing weren’t kidding. “Dodge has a longer wheelbase then ever before.” Now, it was stretched to unprecedented 3 073 millimetres (121 inches) in length. Inviting people to come and look, the letter read, “It has a wider tread between the rear and front wheels: over five feet (1 524 millimetres). It has hundreds of extra pounds of solid strength. Dodge is big.” In an era when compact cars were king Dodge boldly proclaimed, “thrift comes in a big new size.”
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The envelope was a massive, squarish unitized body punctuated with deep full-length creases at mid-body and the upper door line. The overall look was lean and uncluttered. Quad headlights were imbedded horizontally in an attractive ribbed pattern grille that took on a barbell look. Trapezoidal taillights were the end song of a long, rectangular rear deck cove, called the “Delta.” Bumpers, fore and aft, were appropriately angular.
Every car in the Dodge line carried the economical Slant-Six engine as standard equipment. This year, the mill was rated at 145 horsepower @ 4000 RPM. The extra-cost 5.2-litre (318-cubic inch) V-8 with its dual carbs was rated at 230 horsepower @ 4400 RPM. Also available was the Dodge High Performance V-8 with 325 horses and a four-barrel carb set up. Finally, there was the Maximum Performance 6.7-litre (413-cubic inch) V-8 with a 360 horsepower rating @ 4800 RPM. These engines were all mated to a three-speed Easy-Shift manual transmission, though a four-speed manual shift was also available to harness all that power when either of the two larger V-8 mills was ordered. For the shiftless, there was the optional Torqueflite automatic transmission, floor or column mounted.
|The 1965 Dodge Polara 880 Convertible weighed in at 1 5680 kilos (3,705 pounds) and carried a list price of $3,585. Workers in Windsor produced 8,116 cars in the 880 series during the model year.|
Leading the Dodge pack for 1965 was the magnificent new Monaco. Appealing to the “man who likes the pride that goes with owning a rare car,” a convertible and a hardtop were the exclusive offerings. Dubbed the “rare pare,” Monaco was Dodge at its “most luxurious” and “its breathtaking best.” While the thrifty slant-six mill was standard equipment one was encouraged to upgrade to “318 cubic inches (5.2 litres) of V-8 silk.” The big engine was fast enough that, “You can turn fence posts into a white blur with a nudge of the accelerator.” “His” and “hers” bucket seats, finished in glove-soft, grained vinyl and a smart centre console were part of the elegant Monaco package, too.
|The centre console offered with the Monaco included an electric clock. The three-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission is featured here.|
There was initial confusion about how to pronounce the word Monaco. Was the accent to go on the first or second syllable? An informative press release was issued that that putting the accent on the first syllable was the preferred way to pronounce the name. Regardless, Monaco was hyped as being ‘red hot.” Advertising purred, “Turn it on. Let her out—and it goes by anything on the road.” The wordsmiths waxed on. “You move. You feel the ‘G’s’ pressing you into the seat. You reach 60 mph (100 kph), and a mere seven seconds have passed.”
There was no confusion about how to Pronounce Polara. The Polara 880 family was made up of a two- and four-door hardtop, a convertible and a four-door sedan. Nicely priced, the 880s were trimmed inside with any one of four pastel nylon and rich vinyl interiors that co-ordinated with colour keyed deep pile carpeting. Outside, the body was given upper frame and centre pillar mouldings on the sedan; plenty of brightwork on the body and a textured appliqué was applied to the rear deck cove between the tail lamps.
Taking up just as much parking space but more modestly priced was the Polara 440 series. A two-door hardtop and a four-door sedan were joined by six- and nine-passenger station wagons. Even at this low price six passengers got the Dodge Velvet Ride; those on board were cradled in a carpeted and custom styled cabin so large that nary a gown was crinkled nor a collar crimped.
|The 330 four-door sedan was the least expensive full-sized Dodge offered in the 1965 lineup with a starting price of $2,887.|
Billed as the “next best thing to money in your pocket,” the lowest priced Dodge 330 didn’t even get the Polara name. It was offered as a four-door sedan, a six-passenger and nine-passenger wagon. Gone were the carpets, replaced with rubber matting. The upholstery was a highly durable Jacquard fabric with silver metallic threads offered in one of three colours. Rear arm rests disappeared but there were still two sun visors and dual horns. The practical 300 was positioned in the price range of many of the “jazzed up compacts” but staked its reputation on being bigger, roomier and more powerful.
|The instrument panel gave the driver a warm, wonderful welcome with dials and controls front and centre for easy operation. New Glare-free night illumination eliminated the “hunt-and-peck distress” of nighttime driving.|
Taylor Field in Regina was just about the right size for holding all the possible options available for this year’s Dodge. A few of the add-ons included the Adjustable Tilt-Type Steering Wheel, the Three-Spoke Steering Wheel (standard on Monaco), a black or white vinyl roof for the Monaco and Polara 880 hardtops, Auto-Pilot, bucket seats, power steering, power brakes, padded dash, front and rear bumper guards, tinted windshield, variable speed windshield wipers and washers, rear window defogger for sedans and coupes, numerous mirrors, radios with or without push buttons in AM or AM-FM and stereo form, an electric clock for the more modestly priced models, the Sure-Grip differential, trunk and glove box lights, backup lights, a parking brake indicator lamp, spinners to dress up the wheel covers and many more comfort and appearance options that the Dodge dealer would be only too pleased to add for one’s driving pleasure.
|Even the lowly Dodge 300 was nicely finished with embossing on the vinyl upholstery. Seat belts were optional equipment in 1965. Production of the 330 series reached 10,306 units during the model year.|
It would be an excellent year for the Dodge Division. Production rose significantly to 36,237 units for the model year. Part of that increase was due to the new AutoPact agreement that permitted trans-shipment of vehicles without duty or tax between Canada and the United States. AutoPact or not, the domestic sales story was a happy one. Dodge jumped from seventh position in the sales race to pass Volkswagen, knock Rambler out of the fifth spot and raise the Dodge banner.
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Copyright James C. Mays 2005
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