By on January 19, 2011


You’d think that all the Malaise Era Montes would have been crushed 15 years ago, but you still see the occasional survivor chugging around these days. I spotted this battered-but-solid example in a Denver park a few months back.

You could get a 235-horse 454 V8 for the Monte Carlo in ’75, but most of them came with a 145-horsepower 350. This in a car that weighed 3,950 pounds. Think about that next time you complain that your rented Cobalt (205 horsepower, 2,783 pounds) lacks power.

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116 Comments on “Curbside Classic: 1975 Chevrolet Monte Carlo...”


  • avatar
    dswilly

    Coolest thing about these cars were the swivel bucket seat option

    • 0 avatar
      SportyClassic

      Agreed, neigbor across the street ordered a white one in 75 loaded with the 454 and white interior swivel buckets. He even had a pool installed at his house in Canada no less. He was livin large.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    Kill it with fire.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    My father owned two A-body coupes a 1972 Oldsmobile Cultass Supreme and a “downsized” 1978 Monte Carlo (later refered to as G-body coupe.)  Oddly the Monte Carlo was replaced in 1985 with a 1982 Chevrolet Celebrity [also designated A-body,in one of GMs strange moves] (later to become my first car, though I was in 2nd grade when he bought it.) 

    I could always tell the Oldsmobile was first in his heart, but that Monte was a close second. 

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Dan: I had a 72 442 almost 30 years ago, and I would still rate it as one of my favorite cars ever. Or, in today’s parlance, EVAH!

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      Dan and Geo: I also had a 1972 442, W 30. In seven years it needed only very minor repairs, and I still miss it.

    • 0 avatar
      John Fritz

      Dan, Geo and William: I had a ’68 442. Dead nuts reliable. And this was a car that got the squirts beat out of it every single day (I was nineteen). That Olds was the best old-school product I ever owned.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @John and William: Yes, mine also took a terrible beating daily from a much younger geozinger. The worst I ever did was to bend a few pushrods and break a couple of aluminum rocker arm shafts due to a missed shift. Three hours and $40 (1982 dollars) later, it was back up and running. And I do mean running. It was wicked for a small block… This might be the only car I would want to have redone (not reinterpreted) by the factory.

    • 0 avatar

      @Geozinger: you a Bostonian? I detect the local dialect

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      Dan: Please tell me “Cultass” was intentional–if not, it should have been.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @David Holzman: Nope, sorry. Just another Buckeye (from Youngstown). A much younger geozinger did spend some time in Boston (visiting friends) though. Great town, I need to go back some time.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      @cfclark; well that’s how the car rode off into the sunset when production of the many Cutlass variants ended but it’s not intentional.  Sorry :(
       
      For all new members of TTAC, my spelling is a MEME.  Please commit that to memory.  You can also tell when I’m using Internet Explorer instead of Firefox cause I misspell more stuff.  Sadly I’m one of those highly educated people for whom the rules of English spelling were impossible to memorize.  :(

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    You might not be able to see over the trunk in a modern car, but at least you can see over the hood.  Sheesh.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    Awesome bug shield!

    I don’t want to be critical, but if you’re going to give “Curbside Classics” any justice, we need to have more history of the car/design/times or at least a memory triggered by such a car.

    Speaking of which, where has Paul gone? He surely can’t be working on house repairs in this kind of weather (according to NWCN).

    • 0 avatar
      ben5

      Agreed. As someone who despises virtually all automotive design of the past couple decades, Paul’s CC’s are what keeps me coming back to this site day after day. Thanks for the effort, Murilee, just not the same. If Paul’s not writing them anymore the CC moniker should be retired.

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      Being such a large city in a relatively dry place Denver is a real game preserve for old cars, much like Oregon or California.  Is there any allowance for collaboration between contributors?
      My father had one of these, but totaled it one night (may have been drunk; it was the early 80s before drunk driving became big, and I was too young to be told details like that, anyway). He bought and rebuilt an MGB to replace it.

    • 0 avatar

      Since Curbside Classics was inspired by my Down On The Street series in the first place, I plan to use the DOTS formula (i.e., many photos, not much text, let the readers tell their own stories of such cars). I’m using the CC name because this is TTAC, not Jalopnik.

    • 0 avatar
      mzs

      Here’s a design tidbit, something I liked about a recent car. Not too long ago (I don’t know ’04 or so) the Monte Carlos had these creases in the sides to mimic the fenders on the older Monte Carlos like this one pictured. Also the tail lights were vertical. I really liked those little touches to remind of the past.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Murilee, this is the Monte Carlo I referred to in an earlier post about being a “Superfly” mobile. Like the rest of the 1973 models, I was downhearted and disgusted at the death of the pillarless hardtop and the bloatedness that came about with railroad track bumpers, opera windows, overly long and extremely heavy doors on coupes and crushed velour faux-luxury interiors. Memories came back upon seeing this of wire wheels, awful two-tone ghetto color schemes, fox tails, mud flaps, purple tinted window film poorly applied, rows of little dingle-balls along the headliner edge inside and all the other sins my memory fails me on, which led to the modern equivalent of stick-on chrome “B” pillar, sharkfin and stationary window separator trim along with thick stick-on wheel-well arch trim. Truly an awful omen for what was to come. The only option I thought might have been remotely useful was the driver’s seat rotating to allow easier getting in and out of the car. This car was a perfect example of why so many people hate GM to this very day. At least bright trim stayed around for years afterward. Yes, the death of the American dream began to make itself manifest in September, 1972. Truly the beginning of the end.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      Many seem to dislike the “colonnade” styling GM came out with in 73. I’m not a huge fan, especially compared to the 78+ mid-sizers. The Olds was the best of the lot, Buick right behind.

      Compared to what was coming out of Ford, these were much better looking. Sadly, I’d probably be like Al Bundy and have gotten a Dodge…simply styling on the Dart and Coronet.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      TEXN3: Interestingly, I was not a “hater” of the Colonnade styling. When I did visit a mall in Sacramento that fall of 1972, they featured the Pontiacs and the Grand Am really caught my eye, especially the way the trunk lid curved down almost to the bumper, leaving just enough room for the tail lights. That was a good-looking car. The large (very large by today’s standard) Chevelle 4 door Colonnade turned me off. In other words, some of the mid-sized(!) models were acceptable to me in terms of the Colonnade styling, others weren’t. I was still in mourning at the H/Top’s disappearance. When I sold my avatar and left the USAF, I eventually wound up with a ’72 Nova. At least the rear window rolled down, although not completely! I know, my pet peeve.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      The Nova did hold up well during the 70s. I shouldn’t have said “everyone”, they sold well but are disliked nowadays (or so it seems).

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Zackman: Back in the day, several friends of mine had the same era Pontiacs, LeMans, Grand Prix, and others had either the Cutlass or the Regal. The one drawback was the sloping trunk lid of the colonnade Pontiacs had less trunk space than the Olds or the later Buicks. Of course, at that time of life we were only concerned with how many cases of beer we could get in the trunk. Along with the occasional ‘stuff your buddies in the trunk to get into the drive-in’ stunt.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      geozinger: I could only get one of my buddies in the trunk of my ’72 Nova to sneak him in to the local drag strip. In August. It was hot. And Humid. Glad it was him and not me! Good times, all!

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      If memory serves, my mother’s ’76 colon-aide Gutless Supreme 4-dr had a trunklid that also went very far down … I was not driving at the time, but I have a memory of a very narrow strip which on either side, just inboard of the tail-lamps, included the rear reflectors and back-up lights … even dimmer memory, but I think this was the car with the shittiest gas flap door in the world, after the rubber expansion strip between the bumper and the body deformed (when the car was like 2 years old), the fuel-door would keep hanging up on it…

      Edit: p.s. Ed, you need to edit your propriety filter to remove “shitty” and “shittiest” from the list triggering “awaiting moderation”.

      Edit 2: Since I’m already in this deep with “shitty”, I might as well extend the metaphor and add that the car was 3-different versions of turd-brown (vinyl roof, paint, velour interior), and this was the last GM car my parents ever owned (not counting the 1985 Buick Century Limited my father had briefly as a company car.) I don’t know what was really wrong with their Gutless, on paper, it should have been OK, front and rear styling was handsome, the IP and gauges was really nice too, but from the size, that torpedo sedan shape and brown paint just conspired to make it look like a big poop… and with the (was it) 260 CID V8, the only way that car could have any get-up and go, would have been to give it an enema! What a stinker!

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Zackman:  When I was shopping for my first car, the early Grand Am was on my short list.  Never really cared for the other GM coupes, but there was something about its sleeker lines that really got to me.  Test drove one with a 455, very quick, but the rust monster had already taken up residence so I had to let it go.

    • 0 avatar
      dave-the-rave

      Regarding the Pontiacs, even as a teen with no knowledge of engineering, they always seemed like they were made BACKWARDS: The front end presented a solid wall to the air, while the back end trailed off aerodynamically. For the best coefficient of drag, put it into reverse.

  • avatar
    Nick

    These were awful, almost worthy of a Deadly Sins column.  The original Monte Carlo looked both elegant and muscular.  This thing looked, well, something, but nothing good.

  • avatar

    Okay, as a child of the 70′s (I was 8 when this car was new), I have a strange, irrational soft spot in my heart for these cars.  A neighbor of my family had one across the street and I always thought they were kind of hip people.  Well, to a second grader.
     
    These cars pale in comparison to anything on the road today.  And they certainly were not models of build quality and power.  But, bear with me here, they had a certain style.  The swoop of the rear quarter panel.  The little rear side opera windows.  Yeah, the hood is huge, the trunk weirdly shaped, and the interior space usage pretty pathetic for the size.  But, in an era where the gas crisis had begun to suck the life out of everything that ran with fossil fuel, the Monte Carlo tried to give average people a sense of class and style as they shambled down the road.  Not so many cars do that today (or at least, in my opinion).
     
    But maybe I’m just nostalgic for my childhood….

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      I have that same soft spot as well. Some of the colonnades like the Monte and Pontiac LeMans, especially the Luxury LeMans were overstyled and bit too Super Fly. But the Pontiac Grand Am and Chevelle Laguna were the nicest of them all and ahead of their time in technology (plastic Endura bumpers)performance and handling. 

      One big drawback, the build quality was somewhat subpar on these 73-77 models. Paint fade, rust and leaks. I had a neighbor with a 74 Regal Luxus coupe in maroon. Nice car but after a few years paint fade and rust pitting that made one rear qtr panel look like a pimple faced teen and the other like new.     

  • avatar
    h82w8

    Perfect reminder of the sordid state of the ’70s US auto industry. And these weren’t even the worst or the worst Detroit had to offer back then, although they were pretty damned craptastic.
     
    Styling, engineering, performance, quality…everything was just dreadful. Hard to believe we actually bought bazillions of these things back then, and thought they were cool. What were we thinking?!

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “What were we thinking?!” I don’t know if you were around back then, h82w8, but if you wanted a car large enough (the Japanese cars were small), you didn’t have much of a choice. The American “economy” cars were the Darts, Novas, Vegas, Gremlins, Pintos, etc. For something more upscale or premium, the mid- and full-sizers were it. It was the way it was.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      What were we thinking? Look at the competition for these cars (and note that, for the majority of Americans, the imported cars still had some major disadvantages in service availability, reliability and lack of effective, reliable air conditioning and automatic transmissions).

      The major competitors were the AMC Matador, Dodge Coronet/Charger, Plymouth Fury, Chrysler Cordoba, Ford Torino/Gran Torino Elite and Mercury Montego/Cougar. People weren’t comparing them to a 2011 Camry or BMW 3-Series.

      Park these next to any GM offering and you’ll see why the GM offerings sold in droves. Then take a test drive and you’ll really discover why these cars were so popular.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Geeber, you said it better than I. So true, so true. One thing that just hit my memory – the inability of Mercedes-Benz to build an automatic transmission that was any good. That’s the reason why most of their cars back then had stick shifts still! American OEM’s still did some things right at that time!

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Thanks Zackman. Funny thing is that I had a 1972 Cutlass Supreme Holiday coupe in the 1990s – it was a nice car, but I always hated how “flimsy” it felt because of the hardtop body style. My friend’s 1976 Pontiac LeMans coupe feels more solid, although the space utilization is even worse than that of my Cutlass.

    • 0 avatar
      sco

      Imports did suffer from lack of availability in the early 70s but it’s instructive to look back at the Curbside Classic review of the early 70s BMW2002 as well as the Peugeot 504, both competitors to the Monte.  I had the opportunity to park my 504 next to a 2002 and this vintage Monte and the 2 euros look like they were dropped from outer space – tight, clean, roomy, the antithesis of the bloated overwraught Monte Carlo.  This is exactly where GM started to get its lunch handed to it. By the late 70s 320s were all over the place.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      No question the imports were more space efficient. But they weren’t more reliable, and their air conditioning was a joke compared to what GM offered. And the majority of people did not want to shift for themselves in the 1970s (just as they don’t today). GM’s automatics were far better than anything available from Europe or Japan at that time. 

      Like it or not, the majority of buyers in those days were willing to trade space efficiency for reliability, effective air conditioning and a smooth, reliable automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      Think of them this way. They were the CamCords of their day. The Monte Carlo was the Camry Solara, and the Malibu was the Camry. The Japanese cars rusted into oblivion pretty quickly, while the domestics rusted as well, they didn’t rust as fast, even in a pretty benign places such as the Dallas/Fort Worth area. We had a brand new ’76 Malibu Classic that we kept outside for 24 years, the trunk finally rusted out and the rear quarters rusted out. In the mean time you could find Honda CVCC and Accords of the same time period would be gone in a few years, and I mean GONE, plus the Texas sun was none too kind on the interiors of those Asian cars. Yep the Domestics had problems, but around here, you were more likely to see mid ’70s domestic cars still on the road 10-20 years after production, but you’d be hard hard pressed to find a similar era Asian car.
       
      I’m still annoyed with Dad for giving away our ’69 Chevelle sport coupe, but I got to drive the car I came home from the hospital in, for 8 years before I finally let it go.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    “Think about that next time you complain that your rented Cobalt (205 horsepower, 2,783 pounds) lacks power.”
     
    Huh? Show me a rental Coby that has 205 HP. I will rent the crap out of it. :)  The base units are 145 HP Ecotecs. The 205 HP motor was the supercharged 2.0L in the original Cobalt SS.
     
    Not picking on ya, Murilee, but keeping the record straight is all.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Actually, the LS4 454 CI engine in ’75 pumped out(?) 215 net horsepower (235 was in ’74). The 454 was discontinued for M/C, Malibu & El Camino use in about March of ’75. Beyond that, it shouldered on in just the big car (Caprice, Impala, Belair) and the 20 & 30 series truck.

    • 0 avatar
      tiredoldmechanic

      The 454 chevs from this era were certainly dogs from the factory, but they were not all that hard to wake up. All you needed was an advance curve kit in the distributor, a straight up timing gear to replace the 4 degree retarded (if I recall, it’s been a long time) unit the factory installed, and block off the EGR. Get rid of the air pump and tweak the old Q-jet and you would be surprised at the improvement. Not an LS-6 to be sure, but the whole deal could be done for about 50 bucks on a saturday.
      Montes were still pigs though. Bad taste even for then.

  • avatar
    Jeffer

    I loved the ’70-72 Monte, the sucessor was a hideous bloated caricature of the original.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    I am with Zackman.  My mom narrowly got in on the last of the good A bodies when she got a 72 Cutlass Supreme coupe in the summer of 72.  (What color was your dad’s, Dan?)  2 years later she was back in the market as the 2 door wasn’t working out so well with teenagers and carpools.  She wound up with a 74 Luxury LeMans sedan.  Honduras Maroon.  Coincidentally, my step mother got a white 74 Cutlass Supreme coupe as well.  I spent a lot of time in those 74 A bodies.  Durable mechanicals, but not much else to recommend them. 
    The classic solid GM door-slam went away after the 72 A bodies.  Cheap interiors, cheap trim and that miserable GM lacquer paint that would turn white and chalky unless you waxed the snot out of it every couple of months. 
    These were the kinds of cars that kept me driving 60s iron most of the time into the early 90s.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “Cheap interiors” JP, you bet. Back then I checked out a new Impala/Caprice, don’t remember which, the door panels were a minimum of, say, 7 pieces and it squeaked like crazy! I thought to myself: “What happened?” I longed for one-piece door panels with the extra trim and all affixed, not multiple sections consisting of an upper piece and lower piece screwed together with all the other stuff glued on top of them! Also, remember the GM “mark of excellence” – the cracked mile-wide dashboards on the full-sizers! All this is coming back to me, thanks a lot!

    • 0 avatar
      gswhiz

      Man, you could hear those early 70′s Pontiac A bodies rust in the quiet of your garage.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @GSwhiz…….The early 70s A cars would rust eh?  Really, and the mid 70s Hondas didn’t rust, or even a Mercedes they didn’t rust either. How about a Datsun 210, immune from rust, were they?

    • 0 avatar
      gswhiz

      @mikey- I never said Japanese cars didn’t rust, I had a ’94 Integra that was mechanically excellent after 12 years and 180,000 miles but the rear wheel wells were shot to hell. Also my parents had a 1980 Datsun 210, and an ’86 Nissan Hardbody that was particularly prone to the tinworm.
       
      But so what? Are you saying if I mention an American car in a negative light I must automatically counterbalance it with a negative comment about its Japanese contemporary? At least all those cars I mentioned drove forever (well ok, the 210 was done after 4 years), while your average A body from that era had endless quality control niggles. We also had a ’75 GMC C15 that rusted before your eyes, and constantly needed brakes, transmissions, u-joints, etc etc.
       
      On balance, every Japanese car I or my family has owned was markedly better engineered and better constructed than any of the American cars.
       

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      My ’77 Malibu Classic still has the miserable GM Lacquer paint, and it still just as lousy as ever to keep it looking decent, though mine is faded metallic green, with black primer showing underneath where it has rubbed through. If I had to pick between my friends ’71 Chevelle convertible (fully restored) or my nearly original-fixed what needed to be fixed, ’77 Chevelle.
       
      I’d pick the ’77 simply because it doesn’t shake like a paint shaker over anything but a glass smooth surface, it has power disc brakes, a climate control that actually simulates arctic conditions, umm sound deadening and a radio you can hear over all the noise, plus the 145hp 305 isn’t any slower than the supposedly 270hp 350 in the ’71. On a road course, or winding road, it won’t leave you tired or with overheated brakes.
       
      Which one I’d rather cruise to be seen in? That’s easy the ’71! But its an awful drivers car, with a funky driving position, ergonomics that aren’t, awful 9.5″ drum brakes all around, that are merely adequate, visibility that isn’t, and you can’t leave it in a parking lot without worrying about it. Plus it can’t really corner hard without dragging the door handles.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Everybody hates the GM Colonnade cars today, but we forget that the previous generation of the A-bodies was on its last legs by 1972. Ford debuted a bloated Torino/Montego in 1972 (with body-on-frame construction replacing the old unit-body method) that was larger and more overstyled than either its predecessors or the intermediates from GM. The Ford intermediates outsold the Chevrolet Chevelle/Malibu for the first time since the latter debuted in 1964.  

    The Colonnade cars helped GM retain its dominance in a key segment. They fought back the challenge presented by the 1972 Ford intermediates, and pretty much put Chrysler Corporation’s intermediate offerings on the ropes.

    By 1976 the only Chrysler Corporation intermediate with any relevance was a Monte Carlo clone with a Chrysler badge sold by an aging Mexican-American actor in commercials we realized were campy even then.

    GM’s Colonnade offerings sold very well right up until the final year of this generation (1977), even though GM’s downsized big cars were roughly the same size and offered better space utilization, ergonomics and handling. We may hate them now, but customers loved them at the time. I remember Monte Carlos from this generation were everywhere when I was a kid in the 1970s.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I don’t get the colonnade hate, either. You are correct, these cars sold like gangbusters. This was the time when the Olds Cutlass became the best selling car in America. In my section of America, those Cutlasses were everywhere. While I never ended up owning a colonnade car, I lusted after my next door neighbor’s wife’s 74 Malibu, with 454. It wasn’t an SS, just a regular Malibu coupe. It was a real sleeper. She let me drive it a few times while I still lived at home. It wasn’t a beast, but it had plenty of torque.
       
      Several of my friends had the lower end Pontiac LeMans’ and other Chevelles/Malibus at that time, but one of my buddies had a 77 Regal Coupe which was loaded and quick with the 350 small block. That was the best one of all of the colonnades.

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      I have to mostly concede here.  While the GM A bodies had lots of faults, the only cars that were worse were all the rest.  The 70s were not kind to the mid-sizers.  When these were the best of the bunch, you know things are bad.

      The only point I could argue is that these were by and large much better looking cars than anything from Ford, Chrysler or AMC during the mid 70s.  Styling sold cars then (as now) and I always considered most of these fairly attractive.  Mom’s Luxury LeMans sedan with full fender skirts was a really nicely styled car.  The Cutlass Supreme coupes were lookers as well.

      I did not know that the Torino outsold the Chevelle in 72, but recall that this was the 5th year of the A body by then.  I would take a 68-72 GM A body over a 73-77 any day.  The older ones may not have been better built, but they seemed so much higher quality.  The 71 B and C bodies followed by the 73 A bodies were the first GM cars of my life that sounded/felt crummy when you slammed the door.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      If I recall correctly, the Colonnades were built with federal rollover requirements in mind, so they were heavier than the 1968-72 generation, but they felt stouter, too. The absence of true hardtops and convertibles – again, in reaction to expected rollover standards that never materialized – also helped in that department.

      The 1968-72 hardtops and convertibles LOOKED great, but body rigidity was not a strong point with GM’s early 1970s intermediates, and removing the B pillar or entire roof certainly didn’t help in that department.

      The need to beef up the structure probably accounted at least partially for the cheaper interior materials and other shortcuts in body construction. And the success of the Colonnades meant that GM was building them as fast as they could, which didn’t help quality at all.

      The Colonnades were also handicapped by the federal bumper requirements, which added weight (both real and visual) to the cars. The post-1973 Monte Carlos, with their front and rear 5-mph bumpers, look especially clunky. The swoopy body work simply did not mate well with the two thick chrome logs stuck on each end. GM’s failure to anticipate this was obviously its fault. 

      Finally, the first fuel crunch hurt these cars. GM quickly began offering downsized engines in  these cars. For 1975 you could get a six in the Cutlass Supreme! The cars were just as heavy. The result was a car that wasn’t all the fuel efficient but was almost agonizingly slow.

      In the end, of course, collectors have the final say, and they agree with jpcavanaugh. Any 1968-72 GM intermediate is worth more than its comparable 1973-77 counterpart.   

      At the time, though, these cars were a big success. People forget that there were two themes in the domestic automobile market in the 1970s. The first was the rise of the imports, with the Japanese driving the cheap European marques out of the low end of the market, and the Germans staking out ground above Cadillac and Lincoln.

      The second was the strength of GM. Chrysler Corporation was already on the ropes by 1974, and Ford simply couldn’t keep up with GM across the board. It could only maintain a position in the intermediate market by slapping two of its most illustrious nameplates – Thunderbird and Cougar XR-7 – on restyled Torino coupes.

      GM was increasingly dominating the DOMESTIC market, and thus holding its own against the import onslaught. And, like it or not, the Colonnades were a key part of its success.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      If I recall correctly, the Colonnades were built with federal rollover requirements in mind, so they were heavier than the 1968-72 generation, but they felt stouter, too. The absence of true hardtops and convertibles – again, in reaction to expected rollover standards that never materialized – also helped in that department.

      The 1968-72 hardtops and convertibles LOOKED great, but body rigidity was not a strong point with GM’s early 1970s intermediates, and removing the B pillar or entire roof certainly didn’t help in that department.

      The need to beef up the structure probably accounted at least partially for the cheaper interior materials and other shortcuts in body construction. And the success of the Colonnades meant that GM was building them as fast as they could, which didn’t help quality at all.

      The Colonnades were also handicapped by the federal bumper requirements, which added weight (both real and visual) to the cars. The post-1973 Monte Carlos, with their front and rear 5-mph bumpers, look especially clunky. The swoopy body work simply did not mate well with the two thick chrome logs stuck on each end. GM’s failure to anticipate this was obviously its fault. 

      Finally, the first fuel crunch hurt these cars. GM quickly began offering downsized engines in  these cars. For 1975 you could get a six in the Cutlass Supreme! The cars were just as heavy. The result was a car that wasn’t all the fuel efficient but was almost agonizingly slow.

      In the end, of course, collectors have the final say, and they agree with jpcavanaugh. Any 1968-72 GM intermediate is worth more than its comparable 1973-77 counterpart.   

      At the time, though, these cars were a big success. People forget that there were two themes in the domestic automobile market in the 1970s. The first was the rise of the imports, with the Japanese driving the cheap European marques out of the low end of the market, and the Germans staking out ground above Cadillac and Lincoln.

      The second was the strength of GM. Chrysler Corporation was already on the ropes by 1974, and Ford simply couldn’t keep up with GM across the board. It could only maintain a position in the intermediate market by slapping two of its most illustrious nameplates – Thunderbird and Cougar XR-7 – on restyled Torino coupes.

      GM was increasingly dominating the DOMESTIC market, and thus holding its own against the import onslaught. And, like it or not, the Colonnades were a key part of its success.

  • avatar
    DeadFlorist

    And now to separate out the true malaise elite here:  Which of the front turn signal lights is the correct one?

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      I just noticed that, great catch!

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      I’m taking a guess, the left side is from a 74? The right side would be the correct..I think.

    • 0 avatar
      50merc

      DF, both lights may be original. Back in the 70′s I was browsing a Chevy dealer’s lot, and saw a new car that had Chevrolet badges on one side and Pontiac badges on the other. I guess even the dealership didn’t give a damn what they were marketing.
       

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      The driver’s side is correct.  The passenger’s side is from a 1973 (had one in 1978, then traded for a 1977 with the cool swivel seats.)  The 1974 turn signals didn’t have a vertical or horizontal bar.  And in 1976 dual rectangular headlights were stacked and the turn signals were generically moved to the bumper.  I loved my ’77.  I traded it only because I thought it had a driveline problem which turned out to be some shitty BFGoodrich Radial T/A’s rumbling.  (Had some later that did the same thing on another GM POS.  I kicked myself.  My ’77 was emerald green with the beige Landau roof and interior.  Gorgeous. And it was NOT sluggish with the 4-barrel.)

  • avatar
    west-coaster

    While I prefer the ’70-72 Montes, I also have a soft spot for these.

    Give me a ’73 or ’74 with the 454 (dual exhaust and no catalytic converter), swivel seats, the F41 suspension and the gauge package. (Even though the big tachometer had a ridiculously low 4700 rpm redline or something, it’s better than the gigantic fuel gauge in the standard pod that’s essentially filling the space where a tach should go.) You could also get a steel sliding power sunroof, so throw that in too as long as it doesn’t leak.

  • avatar
    gswhiz

    For all the distaste expressed here for the ’73-’77 Montes, they did sell in astronomical numbers, despite their overblown under-engineered platform. US automakers were caught in a quandary, that incredibly persists today: At the bottom of the market they couldn’t make a good small car that would remotely compete with Japan, at the top they couldn’t make a well engineered luxury car to compete with the burgeoning German car industry.

    Yet they were rewarded for continuing to build huge, gas guzzling barges with awful workmanship. It’s like they only knew how to cater to the vast middle market of middle americans who were still easily wooed by vinyl roofs, hood ornaments, opera windows and long hoods. But these cars were an evolutionary dead end, and both customer and corporation remained in denial about it for a long time.

    The customer hive mind awoke first in the late 70s, and started buying Camrys, Accords, Civics etc when the realized how much better the product was. The Big Three just could not make a profit on small or even mid-sized cars, and to this day has never really tried. There was false hope that big trucks and SUVs could allow us to carry on the way we’ve always wanted to carry on in America, wrapping our ass in the biggest hunk of metal we could afford monthly payments on. But now with oil looking for $100 bbl, that fantasy is over as well.  Again.

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      I disagree on several points

      “The Big Three just could not make a profit on small or even mid-sized cars, and to this day has never really tried. There was false hope that big trucks and SUVs could allow us to carry on the way we’ve always wanted to carry on in America, wrapping our ass in the biggest hunk of metal we could afford monthly payments on. But now with oil looking for $100 bbl, that fantasy is over as well. Again.”

      Two things I’ll note: The Pinto and Vega, as well as the Mustang, were released well before the 1973 Arab oil embargo, 1975 CAFE laws, or the late 70′s early 80′s oil spike. They did try, and in the case of the Mustang, succeeded wildly in making a profitable small car. Unfortunately for Detroit, but fortunate for consumers, there is a size mismatch between the US market and many overseas markets. A car that would be considered small on our shores is easily a mid-market or upscale car in other parts of the world, and by decontenting some features, a small car can be brought over that doesn’t ‘reek of cheap’ so to speak.

      Second, looking around at the marketplace today, with good products like the Ford “F-cars” (Focus, Fusion, Fiesta) and new GM models such as the Cruze and refreshed Malibu, I’d say that they are putting a strong effort into the small/midsize market.

      Customers are still wooed by silly addons that do little for the car: Giant alloy wheels, fake aluminum interior trim. Is there anything that screams ‘useless!’ more than fog lights that can’t be operated without the headlights and thus are useless as fogs… lets not even get into needlessly complicated ‘luxury’ touches like automatic climate control and the many i-drive knockoffs.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I have to say… dont call it a CC article if its going to be 10 pics and 25 words about seeing a car.  I love reading the history that goes along with these otherwise forgotten cars.

    Murilee, I love some of your writing, you have some entertaining stories.  It just seems like your heart isnt in these though.

    How about a new series… Murilee’s Musings… MM for short.  A few pics and a quick blurb and its over.  Save CC for Paul.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      This story follows the same format as Murilee’s “Down on the Street” series on Jalopnik. Nothing wrong with that – those are fun to look at, too – but I agree that the “Curbside Classic” series were made enjoyable by Paul’s educated reviews of the vehicle, his personal experiences with it and why it struck a chord (or didn’t) with buyers at that time.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Paul’s a goner.  Pity.

    • 0 avatar

      Guys, I promise you, we have an announcement on this coming soon. I apologize for the mystery, we’ve just had a number of issues to hash out. Please be patient with us…

  • avatar
    Zackman

    West Coaster: “as long as it doesn’t leak” Ha Ha Ha!

  • avatar
    K5ING

    I’ve always thought that the Monte Carlos of this generation looked bloated and ugly.  That front end didn’t help either.  That’s why I chose a ’75 Laguna Type S-3 as my first brand new car.  It had the Monte Carlo’s interior including the dash and swivel buckets (the Monte was based on the Chevelle), and I didn’t have to put up with the Super Fly front end.
     

  • avatar
    Bergwerk

    I remember reading a review of the Monte in one of the “big three” car magazines way back when.  The magazine made reference to the Monte Carlo’s “going for baroque styling” and I thought at the time what an apt. description it was.  Seeing this picture, reminds me of how wonderfully over-the-top the second generation Monte Carlo was.

    • 0 avatar
      gswhiz

      Eminem loves these 2nd Gen Montes. Not sure what that says about the car…
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQd9ndcpAGk
      “Tired of having to borrow a dollar for gas to start my Monte Carlo”
      haha

  • avatar
    50merc

    Bloated, bloated, bloated. Sluggish. Gas hog. Poor build quality. Heave one of those massive doors shut and listen to the bucket-of-bolts rattling. Frameless glass to guarantee wind noise. Did I say bloated? It was a good thing the A/C worked well, because GM figured you’d want to run it 100% of the time.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Oh, you reminded me of something … GM frameless glass from the era…

      Really soft foam with a thin skin … this was the ultimate in low friction and decent sealing, that was, until, anything came between the skin and the glass causing the two to stick together, like moisture!  Once this started happening, the skin would adhere to the glass, and peel off of, or tear the foam … a true vicious cycle… then the wind noise would really come thru.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    The 1973 Monte Carlo did not have the ugly bumpers and it was a huge hit. It also had a superior suspension design to previous editions, courtesy of DeLorean’s cribbing from Mercedes.
    ’73 4 barrel duel exhaust 350 Landau was the best handling GM car I have ever driven.  The Europeans staying at our house were amazed such a car was made in America given its handling prowess.  I’d get one in a minute if they made them today.
    …For improved ride and handling, the 1973 Monte Carlo featured a number of innovations (for a large American car) such as standard radial-ply tires, Pliacell shock absorbers, high-caster steering, and front and rear anti-roll bars (previously offered only with the SS package)…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Monte_Carlo

    • 0 avatar
      dvp cars

      I’ve been reading this blog for a long time, but just went thru the registration process 2 minutes ago (it took me 10 minutes, though…..I’m not much of a typist, and the initial password is mind bogglingly difficult)
      at any rate, I can’t agree with Thornmark more…..the ’73 Monte, properly equipped, was an outstanding performer, and, personally speaking, I loved the look.
      from memory, mine, special ordered and picked up under a unique factory delivery program offered by GM Oshawa at the time, was equipped thus:
      Middle line “S” ? coupe
      350 ci 4bbl V8
      dual exhaust
      F41? suspension with front and rear sway bars
      largest tires available at the time
      rally wheels
      tilt steering
      “tall” axle ratio ….for top speed and mpg
      NO a/c….can’t remember if it was a delete option
      Burgundy w/ Burgundy velour buckets and console,am/fm, etc
      …..got to go now, but I’ll write more later on this “Bahn-..
      burner”, and its exploits (I was still in my 20′s)

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    My sister had one of these.  Had the big GM boulevard ride.  Also, laughingly had a vacuum “fuel economy’ gauge which showed the boost coming through the carbeuretor which purported to tell you how efficiently (or not!) you were driving….quite a joke because with her 454 model, I think her mileage varied between 9 and 14 mpg. OTOH, it did have those swivel buckets, in white leather, which were a cool option at the time….

    The coolest of this platform was the Pontiac Grand Prix which was available with the 400 T/A engine with a shaker hood. And a T-top option, which did not become available on the MC until it downsized in ’78….

    • 0 avatar
      gswhiz

      I remember that ride, had a friend with a 76 Chevelle. I swear I’ve never ridden in anything modern that quite replicated that soft American style separate body on frame cushion. The big Cadillacs, Imperials, and especially Lincolns were even softer. Everything was fine until you tried to take a corner at anything above walking pace.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      I had my father’s hand-me-down 76 Grand Prix, and still remember it’s “radial tuned suspension” as having the best ride quality of anything I’ve driven in the last 20 years. 350 2bbl only had 155hp, and I never cracked 0-60mph in less than 15 seconds, but GM still had great qualities like a Turbo-hydramatic transmission, great seat comfort, and powerful HVAC.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      MY 77 Malibu Classic had the boulevard ride up until the last week in December when I finally replaced the tired 34 year old suspension. It now has the F-41 package that was optional, and it still rides very nicely. I just got tired of having to come across a slight dip in the road or something and have it slam into the pavement and start pogoing, even with brand new shocks in it. It rides so much better than even Mom’s Buicks.
       
      The only vehicle that I can think of that reminds me of that ride, is the Envoy/Trailblazer clones.

  • avatar
    Jerry Sutherland

    Back in the day these were incredible road trip cars-great for a Bicentennial tour…
    http://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/2-features/stories/67-1975-monte-carlo.html
     

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      Still are if you can get past the mediocre 20mpg, wind noise and not a whole lot sound deadening compared to new cars.
       
      Though they are still quieter than a Contour.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Hold a family reunion atop the hood.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    Ah, the ’70s. This car is one of many examples of the big three stepping out from between the goalposts, allowing the Japanese to nonchalantly fill the net at will. They have nobody to blame but themselves.

  • avatar
    Joss

    That smooth shifter was the GM Turbo-Hydramatic, quietly hustled into those ubiquitous of rollers the Silver Shadow. So stick that in your pipe Mercedes…

  • avatar
    Kentro

    Had one of these back in 81-82 with a 454, dual exhaust and sunroof. It also had with 5 spoke American Racing wheels with Dunlop GT qualifier tires. Car handled very well for
    it’s size and had great passing power on the highway along with 10 MPG feul economy. Was stolen overnight parked in front of my house and recoverd a few days later well stripped to the bone in the South Bronx.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    The 1973 Monte Carlo did not have the ugly bumpers and it was a huge hit. It also had a superior suspension design to previous editions, courtesy of DeLorean’s cribbing from Mercedes.
    ’73 4 barrel duel exhaust 350 Landau was the best handling GM car I have ever driven.  The Europeans staying at our house were amazed such a car was made in America given its handling prowess.  I’d get one in a minute if they made them today.
    …For improved ride and handling, the 1973 Monte Carlo featured a number of innovations (for a large American car) such as standard radials, Pliacell shock absorbers, high-caster steering, and front and rear anti-roll bars(previously offered only with the SS package)…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Monte_Carlo

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    People don’t always want Ramblers. People don’t always want Valiants. People don’t always want Corollas.

    As long as there have been people in public places, there has been a desire to stand out from the crowd. Before cars, horses and carriages were raced down roads and admired.

    Once having a car lost it’s uniqueness, car manufacturers needed to create a need to continue buying them. We have seen many phases over the century.

    The Monte Carlo above represents one of those phases. Thanks to technologies in textiles and fabrics, we could start appointing dense luxurious looking and feeling materials in inexpensive mass produced cars. What used to be in a Cadillac, could be duplicated in a Ford. By the mid-1960s we begin to see Detroit turn plebian vehicles into customized sedans and coupes. The Caprice, LTD, Gran Fury, Monaco, Monte Carlo, Gran Prix, and Ambassador DL were models that were a step up from their automotive bretheren.

    Detroit discovered that big profitable sedans were created by making them appear luxurious, not sporty. Muscle car engines in a 1970 New Yorker, was not a sales success as a 300. AMC Marlin and Dodge Charger, circa 1966, was not a sales success. While Mustang pointed the way towards small car profitability via the muscle car route, the success of the Caprice, the Gran Fury, and the LTD pointed the way to big car profitability.

    When the muscle car market collapsed, Detroit put the lessons learned into the small car market to bolster it’s profitability. Affordable versions of the popular Lincoln Mark III were churned out and were sold by the millions. What had happened during this time was that the need to look better than the guy next door went from owning a muscle car, to owning a personal luxury car. The need was still there, but during the personal luxury car phase, the need was met with Corintian Leather, shag carpeting, opera windows and lights, padded vinyl roofs, long hoods with a hood ornament, stand up grilles, and CB radios.

    The need still exists. What I read above shows that some bloggers don’t get it. Bashing the Monte Carlo is delusional. Mocking Detroit for building these cars, is really only mocking ourselves. Those of us who never were attracted to these personal luxury cars for one reason or another, can enjoy a moment of superiority over everyone else due to the irony we recognize. But, by the same token, the hecklers are driving what? They are doing the same thing, but instead of faux pleather seats to impress strangers, they are driving foreign brands of hybrid cars. Instead of hood ornaments, their cars have bangled jeweled headlamps and tail lights. Instead of muscle power kudos, their cars have mpg kudos. The need to impress strangers with your automobile remains the same as it did in 1977.

    People don’t change. There was no massive stupidity bug that blanketed the US a generation ago. Those who bash our history, are clearly missing how more similar they are to those they bash and insult, than they are to some elitist perfection they claim to be a part of. It is just that what arrogant sphincters drive today differs from what arrogant sphincters drove in 1977.

    Get over yourselves.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I agree 100% with your analysis.  I must say, that I liked most of these cars (even though I was a pre-/teen) of this era (wasn’t so keen when they down-sized and put a vertical rear window on them though.)  That’s when these cars went from distinctive with some flaws to (although I could still tell, but much closer to) indistinguishable with flaws.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Every so often, a comment or an article comes along on TTAC that cuts through the sound and fury, eviscerating the “experts” and providing a much-needed gut check on groupthink and echo chamber commentary.

      This is one of those times.  I shall cut and paste this, as I have other moments of singular clarity, for posterity.

    • 0 avatar
      FJ20ET

      I am amazed that you guys don’t seem to realize that Japan and germany made GT/PLC’s too. SEC, 6-series,Mitsu Lambda,Nissan Leopard, Toyota Soarer etc.

      Nobody is critizing the idea of these cars. It sucks that they are gone. 

    • 0 avatar
      AnthonyG

      An very well-written and excellent argued post.
      For all all those who think ‘OMG what a hunk of crap what were they thinking’ remember these cars were designed nearly 40 years ago, in a very different era.

      Have a look at Japanese personal luxury cars of the time – they were just as overstyled and garish, with vinyl roofs and useless opera windows. The only difference was that they were still smaller and, as a rule, more reliable, with the exception of the Mazda rotarys.

      Even the sainted Honda got into this market with the first Prelude.

    • 0 avatar
      car78412

      It is amazing how true your words are. The more things change, the more they stay the same. People havn’t changed.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    It’s so easy for the import loving crowd today that is used to generic look alike sedans with boring gray interiors, hard seats and revvy little engines to regard this era with contempt. But take it from someone like me that grew up in this time era that these cars were a sensation right through the 70′s and early 80′s. Just look at the sales figures for these cars from 1973-1977 and you will find the Cutlass right at or near the top closely followed by the Regal/Century and Monte. Compared to what was available at the time such as the T-birds and Cougar and the Chrysler and off looking AMC matador coupes, these were probably the best option at the time. 2 door personal luxury coupes were very very popular from the 70′s right through the late 80′s and sold in droves. These were the vehicles that people purchased that were tired of the cheaper economy compacts from the 60′s such as the Rambler Classics, Darts and Novas of the day. The personal luxury coupes were a large step up in features and luxury with most examples equipped with automatic/AC, Cruise control and power windows. Luxury for an afforable price replaced performance and terrible handling and braking cars from the 60′s cars. I would blame the ever interferring CAFE and the two major oil crisis situations for the lack of HP under the hoods. Insurance premium gouging was another. We can laugh at the 145 HP 2 BBL 350 today but back then it was an adequate base engine that put down plenty of torque to easily move these cars along. Lets also consider that these cars weighted less than many of todays smaller sized sedans such as the LaCrosse and Taurus and the V8′s made more torque back then so they weren’t as slow as some may think. Most 76-77 Montes came with 4BBL 350 Chevys with 170 HP and these made enough power for most consumers to write into Popular Mechanics at the time and list engine power as a plus. Any backyard mechanic could easily push a Chevy 350 well over 220 HP with but a few bolt on parts that cost peanuts back then so more power was as easy as buying a computer chip is today. There were also loads of upgrades for exhaust, suspension, tires and brakes back in the mid to later 70′s when radial tires were brought on the scene so making one of these handle better and perform in a straight line was a cake walk.
    Not to pick a nit but the current Cobalt makes 155 HP for the 09-10 models years and the replacement Cruze makes due with 136 std HP and 138 optional in a 3200 LB sedan so 9-10 second 0-60 times are the norm for today which aren’t far off from a 350 Monte or Cutlass in proper tune back then.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      Yup, my box-stock ’77 Malibu Classic sedan cousin to this Monte Carlo, makes 145hp in it’s 305 cubic inches of 2 barrel fury under the hood, and does 0-60 in 10 seconds or so. Not quick, but not horrifically slow. It gets up to speed fairly quickly despite its now slightly overweight 3800 pound curb weight. That 250ft lbs of torque at 2200 rpm is what really helps get it moving, but by 80mph they are starting to run out of breath, though I’ve clocked mine at 120 flat out. It’s geared to do 160mph if it had the power to run to redline in top gear.
       
      Think about this as well, the vast majority of the cars sold during the 50s, 60s and ’70s didn’t have the tire-burning, big horsepower engines, they had bread and butter small V8s so they weren’t particularly fast either for the majority of the owners.

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      Ever noticed how people who don’t ride refer to all Cruisers as “Harley’s,” but a rider would never mistake a Shadow or Boulevard for a real HD machine? It’s the same way with cars – if a particular genre doesn’t interest you, and particularly if you weren’t in those years in one’s lifetime where new cars make a huge impression, they will seem somewhat generic. To me, these 70′s cars all look quite alike. I think headlights is a large part of it – in modern cars, midcycle refreshes often involve redesigning the headlight fixtures – since all cars used the same old sealed-beam designs, there’s a weird sense of every car having the exact same ‘eyes’ to me. Some details seem pretty garish, but that was part of the fashion at the time. I can’t help but wonder if my kids will look back at the cars of the late 2000′s and think,
      “Really? Did they have to put fake aluminum trim on everything? What’s up with all these weird creases in the bodywork? Why does every car have to have 15 different plastic textures mixed together? Why did anyone think that jeweled headlights and projector beams looked cool?”

      The cars from that era that, for all its faults, is still neat to me: the Pinto. If someone came out with a bargain priced RWD hatchback today with an optional 2.8L V6, they’d have a killer seller on their hands.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I always thought the 70-72 monte was a beauty. A friend of mine that lived down the street back in the day had a nice 70. I helped him change the motor in it. My uncle in Tenn had a really sharp red 70. One thing about those cars that sticks in my mind was how miniscule a small block looked in that big front end, the fan shroud was almost as long as the engine.

  • avatar
    chrisgreencar

    Well, call me biased, but I loved ‘em as a kid and I’ve loved mine for 11 years now (lime green ’76 Monte Carlo Landau). To me, the ’70-72 looked kind of plain. The ’73-’77, on the other hand, was a rolling sculpture that looks like it’s leaping forward when it’s standing still! It was and is a very distinctive-looking car. Yes, they’re long and heavy, but my low-mileage example is surprisingly agile and could almost serve as a daily driver, but I’d never allow that to happen to it. The 350 and 3-speed hydramatic have also been the picture of reliability (that’s partly thanks to the old woman who drove it only 22,000 miles for it’s first 20 years.)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mistergreen/sets/72157622090411332/

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      Your Monte is very nice. I’ve got a mint green/med. green 77 Malibu Classic, that has a not so fresh 150,000 miles on it. It’s in very nice shape for a driver, though the paint is faded almost to silver. I use it as a backup driver when my Explorer needs repairs, but they are fun to drive, especially if you swap in some police spec Caprice sway bars and HD springs. Mine with the stock dinky front bar, HD springs in the front, and the tired original springs in the rear along with the 9c1 rear sway bar out of a 95 Caprice will corner flat. Stock rubber bushings up front, and poly sway bar endlink bushings. Nothing exciting, but it will surprise a few people when the white-wall tires dig in and stick.

  • avatar
    zenith

    I had a ’77 Cutlass Supreme Brougham version of this body. The build sheet I found in the springs of the rear seatback said it had heavy-duty springs  and sway bars.
    The chassis and Rocket350 4-barrel engine were excellent. The body was crap. The trunk space and rear seat legroom practically non existent.
    I got 15-16mpg in town thanks to a light foot and the small primaries of the Quadrajet(which wasn’t at all problematic).
    I’d have liked to have had a 4-door or wagon version of this chassis.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      That 4 inch stretch in wheelbase opens up a fair amount of interior room in the back seat. Trunk space is still laughably small though. 15 cubic feet with a full size spare in there. Swap in a doughnut and you open up a bit more room. They will fit a 6 foot 2″ body in the trunk with room for about 4 more sideways though. (I was in there adding a light to my ’77 Malibu’s trunk)
       
      The 2 barrel 305 I have gets 13mpg in typical city traffic, that’s about the best it will do thanks to the 1950s design of the carb. Been meaning to swap in a Quadrajet for the smaller primaries and open up the intake a bit. On the highway it gets 20mpg on the dot. It matches my Explorer for mileage.

  • avatar
    texan01

    Having just drag raced a Cobalt agains my 145 hp 77 Malibu Classic that’s slightly lighter than the Monte, the Cobalt will show its taillights to you, by two car lengths to 60mph.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    This model was extremely popular with the middle-aged ladies at the time.  The Camaro was equally as popular with the younger ladies and both sold very well.  The Monte was actually one of the better American cars at the time.  These cars handled and rode (floated) much better than earlier models, even though they were elongated.  If I recall, this model had about a foot of empty space between the radiator and the bumper.  Most of us at that time looked at Japanese cars as cheaply built rust buckets, and for the most part that was true.  What good was a car that never broke down if the body rotted at 75k (winter salt) ?  Everyone complained about how difficult it was to work on these “new” cars, but with so many 60′s vintage cars available in the used market, most motorheads didnt care.  Aaahhh, the good old days when you could buy a lightly used ’70 Monte Carlo with a “real” 350 for less than two grand.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      On the contrary, I remember a couple of my post-high-school buddies having a solemn conversation about what car made the best first impression for picking up a date. The Monte was their first choice.

      • 0 avatar
        afflo

        Dad had a 74 Cutlass Supreme when he met mom. They still tell the story about how he pulled into the driveway to pick her up, and her little sister lept over the couch yelling “LOOK! HE HAS A CUTLASS!!!!”

        So… Dad had a Personal Luxury Coupe, lots of leg-stretching room, big long doors, great on the highway, and mom had a VW bug that was easy on gas and easy to parallel park. Fast forward today, and after station wagons, sedans, SUVs, etc., mom is driving a Fit that’s easy on gas and easy to park, and Dad’s rolling around in an Accord EX-L coupe, which is probably the closest thing to a PLC available these days.

  • avatar
    CougarXR7

    Even as highly flawed as the 2nd gen Montes were in both design and execution, I still have a soft spot for them.

    In the summer of 1978, when I was still in elementary school, my parents traded in my mom’s clean and solid yet totally unispiring 1967 Mercury Comet ( with the 1-barrel 200 cube six ) for a gorgeous 1974 Monte Carlo. It was snow white with a navy blue interior and matching blue “landau” vinyl roof. Under the hood was the 350 4-barrel with the turbo 350 transmission. I found out years later that it had the F41 sport suspension. It also sported those weird turbine-pattern composite wheels with the center caps that would pop off if the wheels got hot.

    I remember that it seemed to handle fairly well for such a big beast. Even as a kid I thought the interior seemed rather cheap-looking compared to my gramps’ 72 Caprice Classic, and my dad’s 78 Ford Granada had more room inside despite its smaller size. Also, after a few years the doors wouldn’t shut properly unless you slammed them.

    It gave our family 8-9 years of faithful service, then fell apart all at once. First the transmission went. Then the master cylinder. Then the ignition switch went bad. Then the radiator sprung a leak. Finally the Quadrajet carb crapped out, and the replecement was defective. An incompetent mechanic at a shop belonging to one of my grandfathers’ old buddies installed a new carb ( incorrectly ), causing a fuel leak that led to an engine fire.

    The damage wasn’t severe, but by this time my dad was so fed up with the car and the shop owner’s insurance company’s stalling that he accepted their lowball offer to total the car ( even though it was repairable ) and that was that. Off to the junkyard it went.

    We could have sued, but because the garage owner was my grandpa’s friend, we let it slide. My mom is still a little miffed at my dad to this day because of the poor way he handled it. He should have stood his ground and insist it be repaired.

    I was really bummed at the time because they were planning to pass that car down to me in a year or two. Instead I ended up with my dad’s rusty, non-AC, six-cylinder Granada. I can’t want to ask The Man Upstairs what terrible sin I committed to deserve that.

    Every time I see a disco-era Monte cruising the L.A. streets, I feel a slight twinge of bitterness and think about what could have been.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Cougar – I had the same regret over a Celica with a 5 speed and a sunroof that I didn’t get the opportunity to own (was Dad’s). He sold it in excellent condition, high mileage. Instead I bought an ’81 Mustang that just didn’t seem as sporting with it’s heavier feel and three speed automatic and six cylinder 200 c.i. engine. The price was right from the lady next door. Oh well… ;)

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    I had the misfortune of purchasing a 73 monte from a little old lady who pretty much only drove it to church on Sundays.
    The car was parked in the neighborhood with a for sale sign on it, where my company was doing some work for a few weeks.  This was back in late 97′.  The car was nearly in perfect unmolested condition with the rally wheels, vinyl top, interior vinyl was tear free, paint near new looking (although I do remember her saying it had been repainted).  In short, the car was clean beyond belief for a nearly 25 year old ride at the time.  Since my dad had a  collection of Motor Trends spanning to the late 50s at home, I dug up the review on this sin of a car, and lo and behold the 73 Monte was the “1973 Motor Trend Car of the Year….”    They went on and on about how well engineered it was with quite the section on how the front suspension design was based on what Mercedes Benz was using at the time.
    So by this time, I was basically sold.  Drove the car, and purchased it.  Within about ten seconds of pulling off the down the street, I had the worst buyers remorse anyone can begin to imagine. My heart and stomach sunk to the floor. I literally said out loud, “I  just made the biggest mistake of my life”  I was 22 at the time…..
    Sold it  four months later to this kid in the coast guard who ended up wrecking it into a telephone pole.
     

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I also had a 73 monte for awhile, back in 81. I got a good deal on it because the guy thought that the motor was shot, but it actually only needed a cam, which was a common problem with chevies.
    The front suspension on the monte was the same as on other gm cars. The only thing borrowed from a mercedes design was a thingy that went across the front crossmember, it’s been so long that I can’t recall what it was called. It looked like a shock absorber turned sideways going across under the engine. I believe it was supposed to aid high speed stability.
    It sure didn’t work on cars with the standard suspension setup, mine was pretty wallowy, but if I had installed heavy duty shocks I’m sure that would have helped. But then you also had the flexible gm frame.
    I had to replace the bushings in the door hinges, because the door would drop so far when opened that you literally had to pick it up to get it to close, and you couldn”t close it from inside the car. I remember putting a block under the back of the door to hold it while changing the bushings, and what a pain it was handling that long heavy door.
    I remember how cheap the plain bench seats with no armrest looked in the montes, especially for what was supposed to be a personal luxury car. The driver’s door window got so sloppy that it had what seemed like half an inch of slack. I never took the door apart to see what caused it because I wasn’t really into chevies, and sold it.
    Those cars did have the best steering feel until the box got a bit of wear, then they felt like anything else .

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    Watch this EXACT same car in action on the “Gearjammers Part 1″ episode of The Rockford Files (season 2, I believe).  It’s entertaining to see this Monte take corners it doesn’t want to take and losing its wheel covers in the process.  Here it is starting at 21:48…  http://www.hulu.com/watch/34908/the-rockford-files-gearjammers-part-1

  • avatar
    Vetteman

    GREAT MEMORY JOGGER.  I HAVE FOND MEMORIES OF MY 76 MONTE IN METALLIC SILVER BLUE WITH A DEEP BLUE LANDAU TOP , 400 SMALL BLOCK AUTOMATIC  AND HD SUSPENSION . I ORDERED THIS CAR NEW FOR THE WIFES DAILY DRIVER AND WE ENJOYED IT VERY MUCH.  IT WAS A TANK BUT SO WAS EVERY THING ELSE BACK THEN.  IT WAS A GREAT ROAD CAR. ONE OF MY FAVORITE CARS OF THAT DECADE WAS A 78 CAD FLEETWOOD 425 CU IN WITH FUEL INJECTION.  i HAD ONE IN SILVER WITH SILVER INTERIOR  AND IT HANDLED WELL AND HAD GREAT POWER.  EXCELLENT ROAD CRUISER.  VERY COMFORTABLE. VERY QUIET INSIDE    

  • avatar
    mike

    Drive a 95 Z28 now, but my last GM daily driver was an 1990 Olds Trofeo, mostly for the styling cues y’all have sighted. But it handled too well to be too retro…


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