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The Carchive: Dodge in 1974

Chris Haining November 15, 2013 Cars You Should Know, The Carchive 15 Comments


Welcome to this week’s final miserable slide into The Carchive, where the lustrous jewels of an automotive yesteryear are fighting a battle against the cobwebs of time. It all lives here, the good, the bad, the utterly irrelevant.

On Monday we passed through Jeep country, 1974 style, en route to Plymouth, same year. Today we make it to Dodge City, and you could be forgiven a strong sense of deja vu.

“Meet the newest, most elegant Dodge yet…Monaco Brougham. What you expect in a big luxury car, you’ll find in Monaco Brougham”

The shiniest, massivest, most colossal Dodge was all new for ’74,  and was considerably more boring to look at than the previous, concealed headlamp Monaco. A two-door hard-top (they hadn’t thought to use the word Coupe yet) and four door hardtop and Sedan could be had, in either straightforward Monaco, ritzier Custom or fully-spangled Brougham flavours.

Who doesn’t love a Brougham? The brochure speaks loudly of an interior where attractive woodgrain abound, carpeting cushions you underfoot and butt-comfort is provided by deep foam bench seat cushions, while wide opening doors “… permit graceful entry and exit“.

“Everywhere you look there’s Dodge luxury, elegance and spaciousness”

Of course, you could have the everything’s-an-extra Monaco Special.

“A luxurious package that has plenty of budget appeal”

Talking of things that weren’t nearly as eye-catching as they were before, let’s have a look-see at what the Charger had morphed into by ’74, where it was by now circling the drain before something even more disappointing arrived.

“Choose Charger SE and you set yourself apart from the crowd. Charger SE says a lot about you. “

The Charger SE was really just a Personal Luxury car, with a “formal vinyl roof “and “unique louvered rear quarter windows”. We as far from the General Lee as possible. If I bought one I’d weld the doors shut, just because. Stylistically you were better off with a regular charger, which had really nice clean-flowing lines, and the only thing that didn’t really seem to belong was the name Charger. The car was, of course, broadly the same as a Plymouth Satellite.

“Family cars don’t have to look like family cars. Charger proves it.”

Charger a “Family Car”?! There goes the excitement. You needed a Rallye or an SE to achieve a 440CI V8, the basic Charger made do with a standard 225 Six or optional 318 or 400. And to throw a further blanket over the dying embers of the muscle car era;

“You can order your own piece of sky with the optional sliding sun roof. What you do with your Charger is all up to you, the family and your budget”

Fun’s over, guys; it’s 1974.

Onward to the Coronet, which was the same as Satellite sedan too. I’ve looked carefully amongst the text and concluded that there really isn’t any excitement to be had here. Chief technological highlights are that:

 “You get fast starts thanks to an electronic ignition system”

This was great news, of course, but hardly likely to cause rapid localised increases in blood pressure. Nor is the fact that:

“Newly designed windshield washer nozzles have been built into the wiper arms to do a better job of cleaning with less cleaner fluid”

Nothing to see here. Move along please. That said, the brochure probably didn’t really do the car justice; you could specify a 400CI V8 in the Satellite, which must have been able to provide at least SOME fun. Never mind; happier times came for the owner of the next car:

“Here’s how to open a sports car, convertible and a station wagon… all on a one-car budget. It’s the Dart Sport 360 Convertriple.  A real tongue-twister maybe, but a great idea”

It is a great idea, with the sunroof and the folding seats. In fact, I’ve got a Convertriple in my garage right now, albeit with a Rover badge on it. Of course the Dart Sport 360 was basically the same as a Plymouth Duster, and had previously been called the Dodge Demon before some killjoys got in the way.

Grown-ups could opt for the Dart Swinger or Custom, which were literally badge-engineered Plymouth Valiants; the two platforms finally having been totally re-aligned and now sharing the same wheelbase.

“More and more Canadians are discovering the special blend of economy, manoeuvrability, interior room and value to be found with Dart Compact Hardtops and Sedans”

I suddenly realised this is a Canadian brochure! Who knew?! Anyway, basically all the public had to do was choose which brand name they preferred.

“Turn on a Challenger and it’ll turn you on, too. It’s more than just a machine”

Challenger was the Sister to Barry The Cuda from Plymouth, but by 1974 it was quite a sad reflection of its former self, though the unmistakeable shape with that long hood remained. and had been downgraded to “sporty compact” status from being the hi-po ‘Stang and Firebird fighter it was conceived as. The R/T had bin chucked in favour of a Rallye package, which gave some sporty features, the optimistic 8K tach and 150mph speedometer. 318 was standard, 360 available, that’s it. At least the 225CI I-6 was gone.

“If Challenger is beginning to turn you on, there’s a Challenger Rallye package that’ll turn you into a true believer”

And then we’re back with the wagons. Full-size Monaco, Mid-size Coronet and Coronet Crestwood. The Monaco was very definitely full-size, the Coronet was really quite as big as anybody justifiably needed to go. Of course, The wagon to have would have been a 440-motivated Monaco, but it’s difficult to overlook this wonderful family scene involving this splendid Crestwood.

“Wagon people are a special breed”

Here’s looking at you, Longrooffan.

(Disclaimer: All images are of original manufacturer publicity material, photographed by me. Copyright remains property of Dodge. Was 1974 the year when everything went horribly wrong?)

  • GTXcellent

    <img src=";

    "It's got a cop motor, a 440 cubic inch plant, it's got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks. It's a model made before catalytic converters so it'll run good on regular gas. What do you say, is it the new Bluesmobile or what?"

    • NotJustDucky

      "Fix the cigarette lighter."

  • Dirty Dingus McGee

    I, me, am in the process of resurrecting a '74 Dart Swinger. And by resurrecting, I mean turning it into a gasser.

    Because 'Murica.

  • Sjalabais

    The Monaco Brougham in profile looks almost ridiculous seen with today's eyes. The passenger compartment is tiny, relative to the rest of the car. Gorgeous waste!

    • tonyola

      Chrylser had bad timing with its big cars. The Monaco, along with all the other Mopar biggies, had been completely redone for 1974, just in time for Fuel Crisis I. Oops.

      • Sjalabais

        They weren't exactly fast learners either. But today, these are unique and very telling period cars, never to be forgotten as a phenomenon, at least. That's something.

  • TheAnnM

    Nope, we're not having any fun at all over here. Don't mind us… 😉

    <img src="; width="575">

    (Okay, yes, he's a 1972, but it's the exact same thing, apart from a few minor details that do not affect fun levels.)

    • Green ones will always be cool, though, and therefore don't count.

      • TheAnnM

        Green ones are cool, but a whole rainbow of 3rd gen Chargers is cooler…

        <img src="; width="575">

  • OA5599

    The picture of the Challenger's gauges is not correct for model year 1974. In 1970 and 71, the trip odometer reset and clock adjustment knobs came through the woodgrain, as seen in the picture. 72-74 had them come out through the speedometer or clock face, like this one.

    That's a picture of a dash from a '71.

    • Vairship

      I think you should write a sternly written letter to the Chrysler Corporation!

  • Maymar

    Now, I sort of expect to see most Chargers of that generation pursued by a Crown Victoria or old Explorer or something else equally disposable you just know is about together blown up, while a voiceover teaches me about spycraft.

    I've watched a little too much Burn Notice.

    • Rover1

      And that one has/had a really nice interior.

  • tonyola

    I had a '75 Duster 360 from 1978 to 1984. Fast, squirrely handling above 80, sturdy as hell drivetrain (mine had a Torqueflite), but the body and interior were poorly put together and the bodywork was so rust-prone it could have been Italian. My nostalgia for '70s Mopar has been more than adequately satisfied.

  • Nicolas Bernard

    All hail the Bluesmobile !

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