1970 Dodge Monaco just needed someone to care

Farm Forum

During the 1970 model year, Dodge manufactured 543,000 vehicles. One of those cars — a Monaco four-door hardtop — was purchased by the late Leila Eley of Washington, D.C.

The 1970 Dodge Monaco is loaded with striking design elements from the chrome grille molding, which wraps around the headlights and forms the front bumper. At the other end of the lengthy car the backup lights are mounted behind slotted body-color housings. Turn signal warning lights set atop the front fenders. The rear window is concave, and “Monaco” is cleverly inscribed on the lower side trim.

Eley bought the handsome sedan on Aug. 21, 1970 with a base price of $3,743, but with all the optional extras the total came to $4,361.90. Some of those extra cost accessories included: Air conditioning, TorqueFlite transmission, Gator-grain vinyl top, Tinted glass and dual pin stripes.

She — and she alone — drove the 18-foot, 4-inch-long Dodge until the odometer showed about 36,000 miles. After her death the car remained in the garage until 2009 when it was towed to a garage in Maryland. There the long-dormant 383-cubic-inch V-8 engine was brought back to life. With that task accomplished the dusty Dodge resting on H78x15-inch tires was rolled out to the curb with a “For Sale” sign in the window.

Nearby resident, Ray Hummel, drove past the “For Sale” sign daily, until one day he felt obliged to stop and inquire about the car. Before leaving Hummel had made an offer to purchase the 1970 Dodge, which was accepted by the son of the original owner. Hummel managed to drive the big Dodge Monaco home on its 122-inch wheelbase where he administered a long overdue cleaning and polishing.

“The gasoline had turned to molasses,” he says, “so the first thing I had to do was the fuel system, including a new fuel tank, fuel pump, filter, fuel lines and rebuild the carburetor.”

Hummel also replaced was the water pump, thermostat, hoses, shock absorbers and tires. The master brake cylinder and all four wheel cylinders were replaced and rubber brake lines were installed.

“After some coaxing I got the car running,” he reports, “just not very well.” Hummel then set about performing a major tuneup. “When replacing the eight spark plugs I was surprised to find four different brands of spark plugs of various ages and wear,” he says.

“It’s a pleasure to work on,” the current owner says with pride. There is plenty of room under the hood. Hummel believes his Dodge would perform better with a four-barrel carburetor.

“I can tell the engine is starved for fuel,” he says. “Still, it gets great gas mileage.”

By the back seat is the “Astrophonic” speaker for the AM radio. Beside the power steering and power brakes the expansive windshield is kept clear by the three-speed wipers. Unusual on an otherwise well-equipped car, all six of the side windows are operated by hand cranks.

Now that the Dodge Monaco is running as it did back in 1970, Hummel has no fear of taking trips in the car. All he has to do is fill the gasoline tank with high test fuel. The odometer now reads 39,000 miles.

“All the car needed was for someone to take care of it,” Hummel says. “Now it’s mine.”

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