I found this Monte Carlo sitting at a local repair shop. Serious Monte fans will identify it as a 1974 based on the I-beam rear bumper and recessed tail lights.
But before we look into this car, I’d like to point out that there isn’t a full Curbside Classic write up on any generation of the Monte Carlo. When these cars arrived, GM enjoyed a near 50% share of the US market, and they lasted right up to the GM bankruptcy (if we ignore their brief hiatus from 1989 to 1994). Based on that, it seems a tale begging to be told.
I considered a full write up for the second generation based on this car, but there were several issues…
First, the pictures suck. Not only is the car parked too close to others, the sun did not cooperate with my interior shot (as you can see here).
Second, it’s had a number of modifications. A forensic examination of that interior photo brings up this “Landau” badge. If the car is a Landau, it lacks the appropriate vinyl top over the rear third of the roof. As it happens, I prefer the look of the steel top, but we need an appropriately dressed Monte Carlo for a Curbside Classic write up.
Also, if this car is a true Landau, it’s missing the factory Turbine II wheels. In my opinion, those replacement bean hole mags make a poor substitute.
I will say this though- I love the look of this car. Without the vinyl top or any side trim, the body sculpting and overall silhouette is easily distinguished. While it can be called excessive, loud, baroque, silly, extreme, over the top, those criticisms miss the point. It is supposed to be excessive, loud, and baroque. Of all the seventies personal luxury coupes, from 1973 to 1975 the Monte Carlo best symbolized this look.
Having said all that, you may thinking to yourself, “Why only ’73 to ’75? Why not the ’76 or ’77 second generation cars?”
Simple- In 1976 GM wrecked the styling. I refuse to post an example, but you all know what happened. They used STACKED rectangular headlights. I’ve bitched about pasting these headlights on existing vehicles before, and today I’m going to show you a picture that demonstrates my point to perfection.
There – I’ve modified the look of a 1932 Chrysler Imperial to mimic the ’76-’77 car. These grand cars from the early thirties served as the inspiration for the Monte Carlo, and as you can see, stacked square headlights simply do NOT work in this application. Point made. Discussion over. Class dismissed.
Having provided you with my opinion, I’m sure a small minority of you wish to provide your own counterpoints. If so, I fully understand. While I recognize the Monte as one of the best of that era, I’m not looking to own one. But if you’re looking for the best of the baroque, I strongly recommend it.
Before the ’73 to ’77 Gran Prix fans come at me pitchforks, I love that look as well, but in a different way. Where the Monte Carlo is excessive, loud, and baroque, the Gran Prix is subtle, muscular, and restrained (especially in black). Quite a trick considering the two cars share the same body! D/S