Names aside, the 1966 Dodge Monaco 500 was easily the handsomest of the big 1966 Dodges. This vehicle had a cleaner line, too, as the upper-body molding gave way to a simple fine-line paint stripe available in four colors. Circular "500" medallions (shared with Polara 500s) appeared on the front fenders, and smoother new full-length rocker moldings turned up at the front to match the bumper. A trio of slim chrome oblongs filled with black paint suggested louvers on the lower front fender and door.
The 500 retained the 1965 Dodge Monaco's distinctive wicker trim, but sported new "shell-type" front bucket seats. Standard upholstery was all-vinyl in a choice of seven colors (including a new olive shade named Citron); black cloth-and-vinyl was optional.
It was still a striking interior, but some "thrifting" occurred as the rear buckets gave way to a conventional three-passenger bench seat, which dictated a shorter, redesigned center console. "After Townsend grew more confident," former Chrysler planning executive Gene Weis remembers, "Product Planning came under tremendous pressure to reduce costs." There were several new options for the 1966 Dodge Monaco 500, however, including six-way power seat and a tilt/telescope steering wheel.
Deep-dish wheel covers were also new for the 1966 Dodge Monaco 500, but they were shared with Polara 500s and the 1966 Charger -- and they were only covers as opposed to the Grand Prix's aluminum wheels. Although the studio had designed a unique Monaco 500 cover with a die-cast "sunburst" applique, it was canceled before production. (The design resurfaced on the "spring special" Sundance trim package for the 1974 Plymouth Satellite Sebring.)
The standard 1966 Dodge Monaco sold well at nearly 50,000 units for the model year -- a little over 5,000 more than the final Custom 880s. But that might have been at the expense of the specialty hardtop, because U.S. builds for that model plunged to 7,332 (some sources list 10,340). Another factor might well have been the Chrysler 300, whose 1966 two-door hardtop started $21 below the $3,604 1966 Dodge Monaco 500.
The stylists at Dodge continued to innovate and evolve their car designs throughout the 1960s. Learn more about Dodge design in the middle of the decade on the next page.