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1965-1968 Dodge Monaco and 500

Dodge's New Styling in 1965
A view of the snazzy, wedge-style taillights on a sleek 1965 Dodge Monaco.
A view of the snazzy, wedge-style taillights on a sleek 1965 Dodge Monaco.

Dodge's new styling in 1965 included a taillight treatment that was conjured up literally overnight by Diran Yazejian, who joined Chrysler in 1959 after studying at Art Center School in Los Angeles.

"I was laboring on the back end of the clay buck," Yazejian recalls, "trying to translate a sketch of mine into clay. From dead rear, the design turned downward at the ends, but it just wasn't working out and studio management was getting nervous. One afternoon, as my boss, studio manager John Schwarz, was leaving for the day, he said he'd give me until the next morning to work out something acceptable or they'd move on to another design," he continues.

"I came up with the idea of mirroring the downward shape at the ends, thereby creating a symmetrically wedged taillight. Working with clay modelers Dick Bernock and Don Kloka, we roughed it in on overtime and by next morning, when Schwarz and Brownlie came in, we had something I felt would work. Brownlie liked what we'd done, and I was allowed to refine the design, which went into production." With variations, this widely admired cue soon spread throughout the Dodge line.

Those first delta taillights carried a bright horizontal divider bar intersected by a circular reflector -- except on the new top-line Monaco hardtop coupe. There, the concave back panel was traversed by a bright horizontal die-cast piece (originally narrow, but thickened at Engel's request) that "floated" in red plastic and extended halfway onto the taillight lenses.

The idea was to create the illusion of full-width lamps. Although cost prevented any lighting behind the plastic, one determined designer, Frank Ruff, retrofitted his own Monaco with tiny bulbs that gave a continuous red glow.

The 1965 Dodge Monaco had other nice features as well -- not just taillights. Continue to the next page for details.

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