This is a review of the 1978 Dodge Joker Getaway Car (Monaco) Kit#MPC890/12

This is a special review for me, because this car is not only an 80’s TV icon (A-Team, TJ Hooker, Dukes of Hazzard, Hill Street Blues, on and on and on), but also because I owned one of these. The car to the right was my 77 Plymouth Fury and I REALLY liked the comfort and view-ability. That car was liked everywhere. “Nice cop car” and “those are rare” were common and I only got rid of it because the 318 was knocking and didn’t want to spend the money getting the engine done on a car that wasn’t worth very much. I would imagine this won’t be the last review of a personal car, but I try not to build the cars I had because I miss them too much. I would also LOVE to have another non-black-and-white Fury/Monaco again someday.

This car, because of its popularity and overwhelming use, has been reissued twice lately. Bottom right and the one I did have been reissued lately and are really good. The Joker car was the issue when Batman (Keaton’s) came out and is the same as mine – minus the Joker figure. TJ Hooker’s car is becoming more rare by the minute and would be a great investment (though getting pricey). The other kit is one of a half dozen Yodel model kits and they are STATIC (no engine). Not sure of the quality, but they look cheap as well.

CAR BACKGROUND :: Like the Crown Vic of the 80’s+, the Monaco and Fury have been synonymous with 70’s and 80’s police cars despite being everyday road cars. The doldrums of the muscle car scene did a number on police cars as much as the hot rods themselves. The 440s were down to a lethargic 195hp and would have trouble keeping up with a Honda Fit today. That said, the cars were almost unbreakable, had enough torque to spin the tires, and actually had a reasonably good look to them. Biggest problem nowadays is that they have been destroyed in almost every way conceivable. Flips, crashes, explosions, and even a demolition derby or two have whittled these away as badly as the slaughtering of humpback whales.

Mine did have the white top, but I decided to try and keep the blue with blue motif. This is Krylon Short Cuts Medium Blue and it works very well. Some of these Krylon paints have questionable quality, but this one did very well. The rims are from a different Dodge car and the rear tires are a bit wider than the stock kit, but otherwise the car is right from the kit. Note** : the hood is a TERRIBLE fit almost everytime. I’ve done two or three AND a cop car or two, and ALL of the hoods fit like crap. They are usually warped and need a lot of trimming. I’ve also had the cowl be poorly molded/warped and it will make the fitting even more difficult. It IS fixable, but it IS a headache.

Well, it IS a 440, but I cannot say it is one of the better 440 engine bays I’ve done… and NOT because of my shortcomings. AMT/MPC bays leave a LOT to be desired. I’ve made this one work, but it is a lame duck compared to a Revell kit. I replaced the garbage air cleaner and added a decal, but there is a lot of wrong with it. The radiator wall is low-detal; the fender arches are flat plastic; there is far too much room between the fender and the arches – leaving a gap; the firewall is barren and has too small a brake boost; and there is far too much empty space toward the grille. I like this as it is clean and attractive, but it is still disappointing. I would like my next Fury/Monaco to have the 440… the 318 I had was even more of a slug on the road.

For an AMT kit, this one looks the part with a vengeance. Again, where I drove this car for over a year, the interior is a nice facsimile. I don’t remember if the column shift had to be added or if it came with it, but it is here. There is nothing else to add here… unless you want a shotgun from the Joker part of the kit.

I didn’t take a pic of the underside, but needless to say it is a bit on the boring side. Like a lot of AMT/MPC kits, there is a post-with-holes axle – with raised and regular holes – and the axle itself is a one-piece. Low number of pieces and mediocre detail is the story. Adding insult to injury is a molded, single exhaust with catalytic converter. This bottom piece, or at least the design, is used with many mid-seventies MPC mopar kits and for those who’ll have nothing but dual pipes, it is a drag. I added a second full line on the driver side and tips out the back. It came out rather good, but was annoying to have to do so. Bummer.

Idiosyncrasies aside, the car is pure reminiscing magic and should be built by anyone who loved a police show or two. I like mine as the fun sedan I once had, but the Joker car is really fun, and the police car is spectacular. It is also still relatively inexpensive (as long as Shatner isn’t on the box) and a favorite of mine. If only Revell had made the kit… It’d be perfect.

8.75 Very Good

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