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TexRiv_63

1966 Dodge Monaco Station Wagon Preservation

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My hobby car thinking started to shift from "shiny car" restoration to originals when I had my 34 Packard from 2013 to 2015. I spent too much money on a truly restored 67 GTX and the result was great disappointment and more money lost. I've always loved station wagons and had been half seriously looking for a good one for quite a while. Most of the family haulers from the 50s and 60s were used up by multiple owners and junked or Demo derbied out of existence. Wagon rarity made them popular so my  search turned up either very expensive restored cars, very expensive modified cars, or terrible rusted out projects that were still too expensive. Then in 2018 I found this car on Ebay and it hit all the buttons - 95% original, reasonable price, southwest rust free, wood sides, and a massive C-body mopar, just about at the top of my list. The Las Vegas owner provided me with lots of extra photos, car history and details so I took a chance and bought it sight unseen. Here it is coming off the transporter - and I was not disappointed!

 

 

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About 20 years ago I turned down / walked away, from a yellow, doe skin velour interior, Chrysler, maybe 1978??. Imperial Crown, station wagon in mint condition.

Was parked. 1 owner. 440 cid., power everything. Was just another huge , ugly, old car, owned by a skating rink owner.

Parked out back.

If I'm not mistaken, it was the largest production, station wagon made by Chrysler.

2500.00

It haunts me.

When I see a station wagon , I immediately shake my head, with the remorse.

 

Beautiful wagon you have. What a head turner.

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8 hours ago, Bill Harmatuk said:

About 20 years ago I turned down / walked away, from a yellow, doe skin velour interior, Chrysler, maybe 1978??. Imperial Crown, station wagon in mint condition.

Was parked. 1 owner. 440 cid., power everything. Was just another huge , ugly, old car, owned by a skating rink owner.

Parked out back.

If I'm not mistaken, it was the largest production, station wagon made by Chrysler.

2500.00

It haunts me.

When I see a station wagon , I immediately shake my head, with the remorse.

 

Beautiful wagon you have. What a head turner.

I'm not sure but I don't think the factory ever made an Imperial wagon, Chrysler Town and Country was the top line. If I'm wrong I'd love to see some photos!

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This car is in very nice presentable condition and has been nicely preserved over it's life. It is a 3 seat 9 passenger fairly loaded with PS, PB, power windows, 6-way power seat, remote mirror, roof rack, rear grab bars, factory A/C plus the fairly rare rear roof mounted A/C. The body and paint are about 90 % original with a few worn spots, some work has been done to the tailgate and lower spare tire well and they have been repainted. I think the drivers side woodgrain has been redone, it just looks too nice.  All of the chrome and aluminum trim is original in very nice shape. Southwest heat has affected the interior a bit, about 25-30% of the seat upholstery has been replaced and the carpet and windlacing are new. All of the "vinyoleum" inserts on the cargo floor panels are gone, but the dash, door panels and headliner are original and quite nice.

 

The car has 123, 000+ miles with 23,000+ showing. Mechanically, it has the 383 4-barrel engine, torqueflite automatic and a 2.76 open rear end, all of which appear to be original and untouched. The PO did the brakes and put on a new tires, muffler and tailpipe plus added a new antenna, passenger side mirror and the deluxe wheelcovers, but then basically parked the car for 3 years. My initial drives after receiving it were interesting, I have not driven a stock bench seat 60s car for well over 30 years , so the "Boat" analogy really applied here! It floated all over on the little bumps and bottomed out on the big ones and the brakes felt very - leisurely. But the engine ran well, no smoke, trans shifted great, and the low rpm cruising experience was incredibly smooth. I knew I needed to get busy. Here are some of the pictures taken by the PO:

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Have I mentioned how much I dig this car? I'm a wagon guy and I love the unusual ones that are all loaded up with options. There's still no better vehicle for a road trip!

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Cool car.........since it and I are the same year of manufacturer, I don't consider it old..................😎

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Posted (edited)

I LOVE IT!!!  Nice find, looks like a time capsule.  Just beautiful.  Only disappointment was no burnout after rolling off the trailer. ;) 

And yes, Ed, same birth year so it isn't an old car... just coming into prime.

Edited by Luv2Wrench (see edit history)
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Tex, this is a beautiful long roof!  Love the C-body Mopars. Had a '66 Plymouth Fury hardtop, and it was the best riding older car I ever had. 

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22 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

Have I mentioned how much I dig this car? I'm a wagon guy and I love the unusual ones that are all loaded up with options. There's still no better vehicle for a road trip!

The neat thing about the C-body wagons was that they were all built on the same long 121" wheelbase platform. Even the more plebian Plymouths and Dodges were the same general size as a Chrysler Town and Country and close to the same weight. Not sure but I think that was true from 1965 to the end of wagon production. My car is 18'-3" long and just barely fits inside my garage...

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19 hours ago, Luv2Wrench said:

I LOVE IT!!!  Nice find, looks like a time capsule.  Just beautiful.  Only disappointment was no burnout after rolling off the trailer. ;) 

 

With a 2.76 rear gear and about 3000 lbs in back I doubt a burnout is ever in the cards.

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Up in my area of Western Mass, we didn’t call them station wagons. Back in the 60’s &70’s we always referred to them as “Beach Wagons”. Interesting wording from the Bay State.........like Package Store,  and Rotary.........

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We called them Beach Wagons as well...but RI is not far from Springfield.

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Soon after I got this car I jacked it up to check everything out. The first thing I noticed was how solid the body structure was, the C body cars use a hefty bolt-on front subframe attached to the unibody shell. When I had my B-body GTX which used a complete unibody structure there was a lot of flex but on this wagon I can jack up the front and lift a rear tire and the doors still open like it's sitting on the ground! I pulled off all the wheels and brake drums, it has the heavy duty 11" by 3" wide front brakes. All had been rebuilt and looked good. The front suspension bushings all looked good except for the sway bar connections which were terrible. The rear had aftermarket shocks with helper springs and they were leaking. While I had it in the air I greased it and changed the oil and filter, although it looked pretty clean. 

 

So my to-do list had sway bar bushings, shocks, and finding out why those good looking brakes didn't stop the car that well. The first thing I fixed was the 6 year old battery, which died a few days after I got the car!

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On 4/17/2020 at 12:41 PM, TexRiv_63 said:

The neat thing about the C-body wagons was that they were all built on the same long 121" wheelbase platform. Even the more plebian Plymouths and Dodges were the same general size as a Chrysler Town and Country and close to the same weight. Not sure but I think that was true from 1965 to the end of wagon production. My car is 18'-3" long and just barely fits inside my garage...

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Barely is right.

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20 hours ago, John S. said:

Barely is right.

I actually have to kind of drive up against that tire stop and set the brake so the door doesn't graze those rubber steps on the rear bumper.

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Pretty  wagon. I have a small garage built in the late 40's. I usually back my car in so, if I need to look under the hood, I can open it without being a contortionists.

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Here are a few photos of the underhood area of this car. I have owned a few B-body big block cars but this is my first full size C-body. The first thing I noticed was how enormous the hood and underhood space is. Because of the large front subframe there is no structural metal in the way and that 383 looks small in the wide space. Of course with all the A/C plumbing for the front and rear units you don't actually see much of the basic engine!

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After finishing my initial checkover and driving the car a bit I found that it started easily but ran very rich and hesitated on acceleration so I started with a  carburetor inspection. I took it off the car and disassembled it, found some interesting issues. The accelerator pump and the choke unloader were both shot so someone had bent the sh-t out of the linkage so the choke plate stayed half closed all the time. This richened the mixture and crutched the missing pump shot. This wise move locked out the secondaries so they had not opened in a looong time and were gummed shut. The inside of the carb was actually pretty clean except there was a pile of what looked like coffee grounds in the bottom of one float chamber. When I see stuff like this I'm always amazed the car ran as well as it did - also a testament to the AFB design. Next, cleanup and reassembly.

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Looking forward to the post-rebuild drive report! :)

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I think you'll probably find 40 or 50 missing horsepower with that carbruretor working correctly...

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I took the carb apart and cleaned it up using aerosol carb cleaner and an air hose, it actually was fairly clean other than that gunk pile shown above. I started with an old can of STP carb cleaner but quickly switched to my old favorite Gumout. It worked much faster and dried quickly. I put it together using a kit from Daytona Parts plus two new floats, a rebuilt choke unloader, and a NORS well choke unit. The kit included new Daytona inlet valves using a flat shutoff instead of the stock cone shape, have not used this design before. What took me the most time was trying to get the choke linkage reset as the PO had really screwed it up, glad the FSM had plenty of pics. I put it on the car and started it but it did not work well at all, the choke is binding somewhere and it was not running smooth. I kept fiddling for the next week, removed and replaced the carb multiple times with little improvement. Finally I removed the new floats and inlet valves and reinstalled the old ones, put it back on and it ran much better! I could never get the choke to work properly though and fully open when warm. I even tried hooking up a manual choke with no success. Not happy! 

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Don,

 

If it ran better before, the kit is likely not correct for your carb.  I suggest you call Jon (Carbking on this site) at the Carburetor Shop, give him your carb number and he will provide a kit specifically for your car.  Jon only answers the phone on Mondays and Tuesdays.

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Mike. I should mention that I am bringing this thread up to date slowly so what you are reading happened more than a year ago. You will see how this all works out.

 

I kept messing with the AFB. The new floats were not moving freely which was why I put back the original floats.  Float levels were right on. I put the carb back on and then replaced the spark plugs. The old ones were seriously gas fouled, no surprise. I checked the points, cap and rotor which were all good and the car now ran quite well. 
Unfortunately I could not get the choke to work so had a car with no choke for awhile. I did find out that the carb on the car was not the original but was in fact from a 65 Chrysler 413. At this point it ran well and cruised great but had some obvious suspension issues so I shifted gears to solve those.

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My next project was working on the front end, I replaced the shocks and all of the sway bar rubber. I bought all new Moog replacement bushings and basic Monroe gas shocks. I was happy to see that there were no rusty bolts and everything came off easy. The sway bar had been done before as both the frame supports and end links were the bolt-on type, the stock originals have to be cut off. The bar was a pretty easy install, although I forgot and tightened up one side then was surprised when the other side wouldn't fit! The shocks looked fairly new but one had no gas in it and squeaked when the rod was moved, definitely shot. Front shocks on these cars are not easy to do and at first I made it harder by trying to manually compress the shock. The trick is to wire it compressed then cut the wire once it is in place. I took it for a ride and there was a big improvement, no more bottoming and porpoiseing and no more tire squeal on turns. The rear shocks are next.


General comment - this under the car work is tough for us old guys. I turned 70 right before doing this job. I have to plan my projects in small doses and the recovery time is directly proportionate to how many times I have to get up and down from the floor! This job kicked my butt pretty good, I probably should have stretched it out over three days instead of two. I plan to keep it up though, since if you stop moving who knows what might happen!

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I'm turning 74 in a few weeks.  I feel your pain!  I find I can get down okay, it's getting up that's the real difficulty.  A knee replacement at the first of the year didn't help anything when it comes to this type of work.

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