My 1978 Dodge Monaco 4 door sedan.

Gary P

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Hi guys and gals. Thank you again for my welcomes on my introduction page! You are all very kind. For those that have not read my three page ramblings in the Welcome Wagon forum, I've been looking for a B Body and finally, this weekend in October 2019 I found one. I am a 12 year long classic VW guy, so this shift over to late 70's Chrysler products is going to be a very different world for me, so this forum and your help is VITAL and APPRECIATED! Thanks in advance!

I guess this a story/blog/renovation thread, I hope it's enjoyable.

In the 80's, when those American action shows were super popular, The A Team, Knight Rider, Hunter, Dukes of Hazzard, and movies like Smokey & The Bandit, Cannonball Run and all that crazy madcap caper stuff...I was about 8. I was born in a small country town in England, so all these big American V8's drifting and crashing around excited me so much - a far cry from the smaller less grand cars we had in Blighty. Suffice to say, I spent my Saturday afternoons sitting in front of a terrible quality TV gazing in amazement at these shows, and being a little car guy, wondering what on earth these things were...


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I had no idea. I knew the General Lee was a Charger, and KITT was a Trans Am. These police cars, that kept up with the hero cars easily (even with the commonly portrayed idiot Sheriff behind the wheel) but were destroyed in an undignified way EVERY SINGLE TIME, had me guessing constantly. I wanted one. I wanted one so bad. What the heck kind of car is it?? My folks had no idea, they are not car people. My little school friends knew less than I did, plus they all wanted the General, or the A Team Van, or the Trans Am. I wanted that cop car, but I didn't even know what it was. The internet didn't exist, and being 8, I had no clue where to start finding out about this. Books, yes! Where do I find a book that specific? A "Motorists Bookstore" is where. There was one in South West London, but I wouldn't find that for another twelve years.

I had a lot of toy cars, and Matchbox cars got me pretty close. I had one similar to the one below, that said "Plymouth Gran Fury" on the underside of it. But it wasn't quite right, something about the body shape wasn't the same. I was a very observant little boy with cars, and I thought, in my little 8 year old brain, that maybe it's a different Plymouth. But I had no way of confirming this.

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Fast forward ten years, I had left my silly nowhere town, and moved to the big smoke of London. Discovered girls, beer, and passed my driving test which at the time was the most important thing I had to do, aside from finishing school, and played drums in a band around the buzzing music scene of London. In the back of my mind, the car was still there. But I still didn't know what it was.
Time for my first car. Now remember, I was 18, and dumb.
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A 1980 Fiat X1/9. It was, as I learned the hard way, awful. I drove around in that thing regularly. Not all the time, because it spent most of its time in my ownership, broken down. But what I did find on my travels around South West London was that "Motorists Bookstore" I mentioned earlier. It was in Barnes, SW London, and it was fantastic! A small bookstore with just books of cars. All kinds. Every kind of car you could imagine there was a book about it. Browsing around I found a cop car book, and Praise The Lord I finally saw that cop car I've been trying to know about. It said 1978 Dodge Monaco, and a picture of exactly what I had in my head for ten years! A 1978 Dodge freaking Monaco!! It's fantastic. I had to have one.
 

Gary P

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Now, that Motorists Bookstore opened up a wealth of knowledge for me, but as you can see below it didn't open up a wealth of sensible choices. A 1984 Camaro came along, and shortly after it threw a rod, a 1989 Pontiac 6000 arrived in my life. The 6000, it has to be said, was fabulous, and bearing in mind, old American cars in England just don't exist in a plentiful way. The enthusiasts scene is good, but not huge. The 6000 was "American Sedan" enough for me at the time, and it ran and drove like new.

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The Saab 900 Turbo I had for a while was great too, but this car ticked a couple of boxes mostly for my girlfriend at the time, while I rode a mountain bike to work. Yeah, that.

Life happened, and although I didn't have kids, many other commitments ensued and it was a long time until I owned another car. Another 14 years actually. I had company provided transport that whole time.

The internet was in full swing, and had been for a while by then. I am not hugely proficient even now, but I did discover ebay, Auto Trader, classic car sites and other online classifieds and of course, I searched for a 78 Dodge Monaco, to be greeted with....not much. Absolutely none in England that's for sure.
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The 924S was spectacular, and the Porsche scene dipped me into the Volkswagen scene. This '72 Bug above was sold and the money was used to help me get on my feet as I emigrated to America in 2011. Bye Bye UK.
 

Gary P

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Shortly after arriving in Utah and trying to settle the culture shock, I picked this up, a 1973 Pontiac Grand Am with a 400ci and 3 spd auto. It was fantastic and I felt like I was living the dream a little bit. Before picking this up, I did an extensive search for a 78 Dodge Monaco, and again, came up with nothing, nada, zipp, bugger all, diddley squat. Nothing.

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And from then on, 2012 until 2018, it was all about the Volkswagens. They were plentiful and in better shape here, although the Utah classic car market can leave a sour taste in your mouth.

Now, I am a complete noob to the Dodge/Chrysler thing as I have said, but I will show a before and after of the 67 Bug I restored here, just to show you I am a little bit capable. All of the work was done by me, I am proud of the car and it's just here to remind me that I can do it.

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Gary P

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Roll forward 33 years from the beginning of my story, to 2018, and you find me fairly Americanized, divorced, completely stripped of all I had built up in the 7 years I'd been here, but settled into the ways in this country. I love the States, and I'm proud to call it my home.

One evening, sitting watching The Terminator from 1984, my old love affair began once more...the Terminator steals a '78 Dodge Monaco from a cop, in his quest to kill Sarah Connor. A glorious black and white Los Angeles Police Department one. Probably with that massive 440ci. It's a very exciting chase but of course, as with most Monaco's on the big screen, it doesn't end well, and the car and the killer cyborg driving it, crashed head-on into a concrete wall at chase speeds, destroying the car completely. I remember either saying out loud, or thinking "jeez man, I'd have had that car!" in disgust as another B Body bites the dust.
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That was it. The winter of 2018, I decided enough is enough and I'm going to get one. I don't care how, but it's going to happen. I don't have much money, but I'll find a way! It's going to happen.

Internet. Search. Nothing. Ebay. Nothing. Wait!!! There's one on Hemmings wooooooohooooo....but it's a restored CHP and it costs $12,000.....dang it. Search. Craigslist. Nothing. Ebay. Nothing. Local Classifieds. Nothing. Craigslist......you get my drift...
The occasional realistic car has appeared on Facebook Marketplace, but has been so far away from where I live the transporter fee's or the fuel and truck/trailer rental made the purchase unrealistic to say the least. Plus I run a company, and I can't be away too long.

More searches. More nothing. Nothing at all. At one point in early 2019, I actually started thinking about alternatives. Old Pontiacs, a Ford LTD, Dodge Darts are nice. I started looking at cop versions of the Diplomat. But I had to remind myself the point of the search for a car, is to satisfy a childhood yearning and I should honor that, otherwise what's the point?

2019 saw me join countless Facebook groups dedicated to old Mopar stuff, in the hopes that something would come up. I also joined this fantastic site, the C Body site, and clicked around on the internet some more. Nothing.

Then all of a sudden, in August of 2019, a guy reached out to me via Facebook messenger. He had seen a "Wanted" ad I had posted on one of the many Facebook groups I frequented. He said he had a 78 Monaco that runs and drives, in north Utah, and he might be willing to sell it to me!! To say I was excited, was an understatement. Could this be it? He sent me these pictures via Messenger...
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Well, a little bit of wee came out, it has to be said. That's a Monaco alright. The first one I've heard of that's available. This was simply fantastic! We chatted briefly about it, via messenger, and agreed on a price. This was going to be epic.

And then nothing.
 

Gary P

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The owner was like me, remembers these cars fondly from watching TV shows as a kid and quite rightly, was having a change of heart. I understood that completely. I did message him a couple more times but it was clear to me that he was having a hard time selling it, so I respectfully left him alone. I didn't want to be that guy blowing his phone up every five minutes hassling him to do something he almost certainly didn't want to do. So near, and yet so far.....

Eight weeks passed. During that time, I saw a '75 Coronet for sale up in Washington (alerted to me by a wonderful FBBO member) but unfortunately I didn't have the budget to drive to Washington or have it delivered. I was back at the "Nothing" drawing board again, as the cold weather started reminding me I don't have a Monaco to work on.

One evening in early October 2019 I decided to message that guy one more time, I owed it to myself after 34 years, to try just one more time.
He responded, we talked on the phone and he said the words "I'm gonna sell it to ya". Oh my!!

I had the cash in my pocket, and I am also fortunate enough to have amazing friends who loaned me this rig for the 280 mile round trip to go and get it. My gorgeous girlfriend came with me and at 6am on 12th October 2019 we set off...
 

Gary P

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We arrived up by the Idaho border around 8:45am, and I was greeted by the wonderful sight of a 78 Monaco. Excited was not the word. This was not only the first one I'd heard of that was realistically available for me, but I had never seen one of these cars in real life before!
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I was kinda in awe of it. It's huge. I know there are bigger cars, but it's huge in its presence as well as its physical size. It runs, drives really nice, with some body damage and rust in places, but certainly nothing as bad as some of the VW's I'd had in the past.
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I couldn't pay him quick enough and after some jiggling around with ramps and stuff, we got her up on the trailer.

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" I'll just check that we chained the 4000lb sedan down well enough by giving it a little push!" - yes I was tired and running purely on adrenaline at this point.

Before we started the return journey, I pulled in at an Auto Zone and bought another heavy duty car strap, just to be extra safe, checked all the chains and the trailer, took a deep breath and relaxed.

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Rest/pee stop one, somewhere in North Utah.

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Rest/pee stop 2 somewhere in Central Utah. Checking straps, chains and trailer again.


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Rest stop three, somewhere south of Salt Lake City.


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And then finally, at 12:45pm, home.
 

Gary P

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Although exhausted, I couldn't stop there. My girlfriend was a trooper today, and I kissed her and thanked her for coming with me. She went back home to hang out with her kids for a while, and I got into looking around the car.
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It definitely needs some help with rust in a couple of area on the body, the typical areas around and behind the wheel arches, but mostly this car is solid. I hope it continues to be when I pull the interior tomorrow.

I did find some literature in the glove box, which is cool.

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Gary P

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Sunday morning and time to pull the car apart and see if I have my work cut out for me.

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No build sheet under the seat. That's a shame, I was excited to find that. I guess under the carpets, or in the headliner are other places to look.

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I am very very pleased that the rear floors are superb!



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Driver and passenger headrests were in the trunk.

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Along with this spare...



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...and some jacks. I wonder if they are Chrysler jacks? No markings on any of them.



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I found a receipt that said it had a new exhaust back in 2015. It's only done about 3000 miles since then. Excellent.


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The dark patch on the right is surface rust. I went at it hard with a wire wheel and it's good. It's not rotten through. A relief? Yes!!


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I found this tag under the rear carpet. I wonder what that is for. I'm usually blessed with finding all kinds of bits and pieces of history and character inside cars I've owned but this Monaco had nothing, just a few receipts and this tag.
 

Gary P

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Time ticked on and I had a date with the girly, so all I really had time for was a good clean up of the interior and a dig around.


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That steering wheel is disgusting. I did clean it up nice with a mixture of light rubbing compound and denatured alcohol.


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It's been 34 years since my mind started on this car. Now, aged 42 I am now able to stand in front of a 78 Monaco and feel proud and accomplished, blessed and also, of course, a little lucky.

I checked oil, trans fluid, coolant and power steering fluid, and took her for a drive around my neighborhood. She drove fantastic.


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With 101,023 original miles the 318ci V8 feels strong and sounds good ALTHOUGH when I get on the gas, it does fall on its face for a split second. Nothing a tune up wouldn't help right? There is also a clunk from the right rear corner when I brake. I'll look into that. But for now, the weekend has come to a close and I have prior engagements, and as it turned out, some bacon sandwiches, which made an Englishman even more happy. Work will ensue, and I will post my progress as I go. Thanks for reading this far, I appreciate ya. Gary.
 

Greg Ducato

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Looks like a great start, congratulations on scoring your dream car after all of these years.
 

towtruckAl

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they used these cars up here in Ont . with the police I bot a highway crusier in late 80s to get the 440 and rear gears . they were traded in around 60000 mi . if i remember right they had diamond bearing speedos . lots of old cop car pickins will bolt up in your car. Good luck
 

Gary P

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they used these cars up here in Ont . with the police I bot a highway crusier in late 80s to get the 440 and rear gears . they were traded in around 60000 mi . if i remember right they had diamond bearing speedos . lots of old cop car pickins will bolt up in your car. Good luck

Thanks man!

So this weekend I don't have a lot of time, but what I will do, is run the car, and sit with it, listen, watch, check, repeat, and maybe I'll get enough time to dive into the engine bay and clean it up a bit. Change the valve cover gaskets for a start! I don't expect more than a couple hours of free time so I'll make the most of it. Happy Weekend everyone!

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Gary P

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The last week has been great with the car, and although some leaks have appeared, it's been running superb.
It's getting dark super early now, so I've not had time to get into anything serious, except cleaning some stuff. Here's the door cars before...

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and after....

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I've been battling a seriously etched windshield too, as you can see here...
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I've tried windex, rubbing compound, a buffing machine with both of those products to no avail - a new product is coming in the mail and I'll post my findings up.

Mostly, I've really enjoyed driving the car, and as the winter closes in, I'm making the most of it.
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Gary P

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I took the day off on Friday. Out here in Utah (4500 ft) the weather people say it's going to snow this weekend - I hate winter, might be time to move further south west.

Anyways, I took a minute to see if the paint will buff out, which it did quite nicely. I have some runs on the trunk lid and somewhere on its flanks which tells me it was repainted at some point. Original color though.
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It's definitely blue.

I have five leaks. I wanted to find out what these leaks are, so up she went...

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Leak #1, #2, #3 and #4

#1 was a loose oil filter. I pulled a muscle in my arm tightening it up, because of an awkward angle. Fixed.

Leak #2 I can see it coming from that bolt right there.
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I'm not saying it's coming from it, I'm saying that's the first place I can see "wet". I thought maybe oil is coming through the threads, and I drew on the picture the route the oil takes, so I could ask my friends what they think... Well, after some poking around, I'm thinking my oil pressure sender is leaking up above by the distributor as it's very dirty up there. Seems like it's worth the $15 part just to see.

#3 was the valve cover gaskets. I'll get to those when I have a whole day focused on just that.

#4 all this oil was being pushed back along the bottom of the car by the rushing wind as it drives along, and pooling up further back, then dripping from there. So after this clean up and the fix of leak #2 it should disappear.

And finally, leak #5 was this...
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After reading about the 727 I have found that this speedometer cable housing/adapter has an outer and inner seal that commonly leaks. The speedometer cable was wet all along it, so it's clearly that, and I have ordered a seal kit. Can't wait to try and get the car's *** up in the air so as not to lose all my trans fluid.

The car is driving very nicely, and now I am more familiar with the underside of it, and in the know about the leaks, I feel much happier and less in the dark. None of my leaks are terminal so that's great.

In the last couple of hours of Friday I fixed my hood latch, which wasn't letting go of the hood unless I reached under the dash and pulled on the cable real hard - it needed a grease and a micro adjustment on this end. The handle was also loose. That works nice now.
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Found out why my horn is not working. I didn't get to pulling the steering wheel center panel off, but I'm hoping the wiring is all there and it's just a case of tracing the wire into the engine bay and connecting it back up. I can't find a wire that looks like a horn wire so maybe I'll have to make that.
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What does the 24 mean?
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I started cleaning up a bit. Pulled the two plastic vents below the windshield and pulled out half a bucket load of leaves and "stuff". Wiping the inside of the engine bay made it gleam, so I carried on with that.

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And then on Sunday morning, the weather people were right for a change. Dang it, I don't like snow, and the winter is always a struggle for me. At least I got to dig around in the car and learn some more stuff!

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Don Frelier

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My first car was a 77 Fury.
It had a 360 with a towing package.
9 1/4" rear, 727, trans and power steering cooler, 100 Amp alternator.
A great vehicle.
Looked just like this one.

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halojumper

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Nice. I like the four door cars. I'm waiting for my 383 to get built. I have a '67 Plymouth Belvedere. I took it completely apart, and put factory buckets, console, shifter. The console ,and top trim pieces are repops. It's in the photo garage section of fbbo under 1967 Belvedere.
 
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halojumper

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The two best You Tube sections are Uncle Tony's garage (Tony Defeo), and Nick's garage (Nick Panaritis)
 
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