Monday, September 9, 2013

Look-alikes: Mid-1970s Ford LTD & Dodge Monaco

Though I'm a firm believer in the existence of styling fads and fashions, there are times that cars from different manufacturers are so similar that even I am surprised.  One instance is from nearly 40 years ago when the last generation of really large American cars was on the road, before the 1973 oil crisis' impact could affect design.  The cars were Ford's LTD four-door sedans that first appeared for the 1973 model year and Dodge's Monaco four-door sedans launched the following year.

At the time the Monacos started appearing, I was familiar with the '73 LTD styling and regarded the Monaco as a copycat design.  Then I began to wonder about Chrysler Corporation's viability if it was becoming a styling imitator rather than an innovator.  Actually, this concern proved to be well-founded, because Chrysler's financial position deteriorated to the point that it had to accept a federal government bail-out in 1979.

In retrospect, aside from the possibility that Chrysler hires of Ford stylists around 1971 tipped off what Ford was planning for 1973, it's likely that similarities were a matter of parallel thinking in terms of product packaging for full-size sedans as well as the prevailing styling zeitgeist.  There must be retired Chrysler stylists active at the time who could step forward to explain what probably did cause the lookalike situation.

For now, let's take a look at the cars.


The upper image is of a 1975 LTD that, aside from grille details, was similar to the 1973 model.  The lower image is a Monaco, also a 1975 model and posed with the principality as background.  Similarities include the upper bodies whose general shapes, window shapes and even the little fender line notches at the lower rear of the back side window framing.  Lower bodies differ in details, but their basic forms are similar enough that they look like they could have been sheet metal variations on the same underlying structure.

The Ford is at the top of this pairing too; it's a 1973 model. The Monaco in the lower photo is a 1975 model. That's the Hôtel de Paris in the background and a bit of the Monte Carlo casino is visible at the left.  Similarities here include the shape of the back windows, the centerline creases on the trunks, and the rectangular taillights.  Side sculpting differs somewhat, but easily might have been a matter of treatments for different brands from the same manufacturer.


AutoPuzzles Blogger said...

The Dodge Monaco is, minus some differences in the hood, almost a clone of the 1972 Buick LeSabre. The falling character line on the side, the greenhouse and backlight, the inset taillamps. There must have been a lot of Buicks in the Keller building parking lot.

Donald Pittenger said...

Auto Puzzles -- Yes, something was "in the air" styling-wise, as often happens. And for some reason Chrysler design was more derivative than I think it should have been.

Phillip Faulkner said...

Sir, the real reason these autos look so much a like is because they were trading body dies! It was not the fault of the designers. When GM would no longer need a certain body die they would send them to Ford, and when Ford no longer wanted them they would send them to Chrysler. This has been a well kept secret.