That Time Chrysler Bought a Princess's Dodge 'Endorsement'

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
that time chrysler bought a princesss dodge 8216 endorsement

The seaside city-state of Monaco is no stranger to yachts, but in late 1973 an American barge powered by a smog-strangled V8 appeared on its shores.

Chrysler Corporation was on site to film a TV commercial for the new full-size Dodge Monaco, a conservatively styled model with terrible timing. The model’s name evoked glamour and elegance, and the automaker hoped some of the glitz would rub off on the redesigned ’74 full-sizer.

There was another reason for the location shoot. A very special guest would appear in the ad — Princess Grace of Monaco (formerly American actress Grace Kelly). And the princess would help sell the car, whether she wanted to or not.

As a 1950s starlet, Kelly was the embodiment of glamour and style, starring in box office blockbusters like To Catch a Thief and Rear Window. Her fairytale marriage to Prince Rainier III in 1956 ended her acting career, but her new role as princess elevated her to almost mythical status. Still glamorous, but now with a touch of magic — everything the 1974 Monaco was not.

Obviously, Princess Grace wasn’t prepared to sling Chrysler C-bodies, but her consent wasn’t needed. The automaker had acquired the rights to the promotional film Monaco Now, directed by Francois Reichenbach. It had all the necessary action shots of happy Monacans living the high life, with the added bonus of a narration by Princess Grace.

So, Chrysler ran all the best parts in its ad, kept the princess’s narration (she’s discussing the wonders of Monaco, not the car), then had a Monaco hardtop roll up to the Hotel Metropole to close out the commercial. What a (sort of) celebrity endorsement!

Sneaky, sure. Transparent? Definitely. But hey, it’s the ad business. And the drinking-at-noon, lampshade-on-head era wasn’t over. When Chrysler Corp. turned the upscale Monaco Custom into the Royal Monaco for 1975, Princess Grace unwittingly promoted that model, too.

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Sep 05, 2016

    As long as that Australian is driving a 1975 Royal Monaco wearing a London Fog trench coat just to stay on topic. It is interesting that an article about Dodge Monaco advertising has brought up a discussion about US foreign policy. It would be nice if foreign policy were as simple as a Dodge Monaco, but it isn't.

  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Sep 05, 2016

    Damnit I'm sure there was a car in this conversation somewhere. If only we could find it...

  • Hunter Ah California. They've been praying for water for years, and now that it's here they don't know what to do with it.
  • FreedMike I think this illustrates a bit of Truth About PHEVs: it's hard to see where they "fit." On paper, they make sense because they're the "best of both worlds." Yes, if you commute 20-30 miles a day, you can generally make it on electric power only, and yes, if you're on a 500-mile road trip, you don't have to worry about range. But what percentage of buyers has a 20-mile commute, or takes 500-mile road trips? Meanwhile, PHEVs are more expensive than hybrids, and generally don't offer the performance of a BEV (though the RAV4 PHEV is a first class sleeper). Seems this propulsion type "works" for a fairly narrow slice of buyers, which explains why PHEV sales haven't been all that great. Speaking for my own situation only, assuming I had a place to plug in every night, and wanted something that ran on as little gas as possible, I'd just "go electric" - I'm a speed nut, and when it comes to going fast, EVs are awfully hard to beat. If I was into hypermiling, I'd just go with a hybrid. Of course, your situation might vary, and if a PHEV fits it, then by all means, buy one. But the market failure of PHEVs tells me they don't really fit a lot of buyers' situations. Perhaps that will change as charging infrastructure gets built out, but I just don't see a lot of growth in PHEVs.
  • Kwik_Shift Thank you for this. I always wanted get involved with racing, but nothing happening locally.
  • Arthur Dailey Love the Abe Rothstein tribute suits. Too bad about the car. Seems to have been well loved for most of its life.
  • K. R. Worth noting that the climate control is shared with (donated to) the Audi 5000 of the mid-late 1980s.