I’ve absolutely relished my weird side here ever since Brian and Chad decided that I would make a great addition to BangShift. Pushing six years in, that hasn’t changed too much. What has changed is that I’m getting deeper into my builds, I’m spinning wrenches more than I ever had before on any project, and I’m learning the benefits and downfalls of loving the freaks of the automotive world. The love/hate relationship I have with the Imperial says it all…some days the car is running great, sounds badass and I drive it fifty miles (still without any kind of mufflers on it) and other days I’m ready to yank the 360 for a better host and burn the rest in my backyard. I refer to my automotive deal as a sickness for a reason, folks. No rational being, even a Mopar freak, would use an FMJ platform for a build unless they have money falling out of body cavities. The Imperial will most likely be my last FMJ…mainly due to the heartbreak, but also because over the years, I’ve either had or have been closely associated with thirteen examples, in every form. From the 1976 Dodge Aspen base coupe that rolled into the yard too clean, yet went under the knife, to the four-speed Diplomat, I’ve sampled the run. I’m done after the Imperial. Time to move on and try a different flavor out.
While I’m not ruling out jumping from Mopar altogether, I’m more interested in finding a better home for the 360. The choices have boiled down to two options: a 1972-93 Dodge truck or Ramcharger or a 1971-79 B-body of some type. I’m watching two cars in particular, even though I’m not going to move on anything until after tax season next year at least (if I move at all) and I’ve explained my reasoning enough…either route, there are better parts available and better options for a solid build that is actually do-able. Whether it’s a full-roof Ramcharger, a W150 with a dead engine, a 1975 Road Runner or a four-door Coronet. I’ll get much more out of it than I ever will the Imperial on my budget.
Now, let’s focus on the cars specifically. The B-body had a good run, considering how messed up the decade was for Chrysler. From the Coronet and Satellite to the Fury and Monaco and all points in-between, the B-body was one of the few bright spots in Chrysler’s lineup. Cops loved them. The Cordoba was a surprise hit for Chrysler, considering the design was actually supposed to be the 1975 Plymouth Satellite. They were the last Mopars to have a somewhat good name in NASCAR before King Richard packed his bags for good and went to GM. If I went the car route, most any would do. But this one…this one I’m not sure what I’d do with it.
This is a 1978 Dodge Monaco coupe. It’s Canadian field fresh…you know, nice and rusty…but it is the weirdest optioned car I’ve ever heard of. It’s a base model, with a Slant Six and a three-speed manual on the column. I’ve heard of the most stripper pickup trucks carrying the column-shift manual through the mid-1970s and I’ve seen a rare full-size Fury with a six/three-speed combo as new as 1970, but in 1978 this was a very rare package. This was the super-cheap setup, one that I would not be shocked to find out was a special order situation. Most of these were 318/automatics, nothing special either but not like this. This is one of those situations where it’s rare, but really, who gives a shit? Well…I kind of do. The car itself looks too far gone to make pretty. I’d be afraid to see just how deep the rot goes. But watch as they get this thing up and running: the key buzzer works, and the moment the Slant Six gets fuel into the carb, it’s running like nothing ever happened, like it hadn’t started in decades. It smokes a bit, but it’s actually sounding pretty good.
What could you do with it? What would you do with it? I’d just find some mag wheels, make sure the car is safe to drive, and press it into daily driver service because why the hell not? Run it until it won’t run anymore, then find someone restoring another Dukes of Hazzard cop car clone, get your money back, and move on. Take it on Power Tour. Take it to local car shows. Take it to empty parking lots soaked in rain or covered in snow and have a ball. This is an ideal beater.
What did Hunter S. Thompson write? “Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”