CC Capsule: 1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Custom – Green With Envy

This week, the T87 files will be opened on the “1970s Detroiters” tab. Big hoods, huge engines, garish detailing and vinyl roofs – in glorious overabundance. Let’s start with something not too exaggerated, something relatively modest and restrained, albeit with a dash of style.

And a big splash of green, too. Nowadays, you’d be lucky to find a single green colour option for your car. The 1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo had three – this is Gulf Green, the more muted of the three and a very typical early ‘70s shade.

Might as well put up the options list at this point. Whoever ordered our feature car fifty-plus years ticked a number of boxes here, including the Custom package and the Strato-bucket seats. But not the fender skirts (good call), nor the Rally wheels (ditto). No idea about the engine, but I’d wager one of the Turbo-Jets with the Hydra-matic. Just an inkling.

The Monte Carlo was still a recent addition to the Chevy range in 1972, having debuted for MY 1970 as a sort of Malibu-plus with individual styling and a bit more wheelbase. It was essentially a Pontiac Grand Prix without the schnozz, just like the 1970-72 Olds Cutlass Supreme. Pontiac had led the way in reasonably-sized A-Body PLCs, and Chevy and Olds eagerly followed.

It was a winning formula that served Chevrolet (and GM in general) very well for a couple of decades. But as the ‘70s wore on, the styling got increasingly tortured and, in the end, truncated. It went from Monte Carlo to MOntE CArlO, then just “Onte Carl”. But as far as this first generation is concerned, unless one is congenitally opposed to ‘70s Detroit designs, the Monte Carlo is one of the best-looking PLCs of the pre-big-bumper era.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a bit of torture, if it’s inventively done. My personal ‘70s fantasy garage has a 1971 Buick Riviera, for instance. Before I encountered this particular car, I don’t think this generation of Monte Carlo was really on my radar, but it is now.

It’s not perfect, of course. I don’t care for vinyl roofs, on any car. It never ceases to amaze me how widespread these were at the time, and not just on American cars. Never really understood the infatuation with mock-Enlightenment cursive script, either. That one is a very American trait, on the other hand, though one that was often imitated by Japanese carmakers.

But these affectations come with the territory, I guess. And there are plenty of endearing features to compensate for those minor nits, such as this gloriously green interior. That alone might be worth the price of admission.

Speaking of which, I have no idea how much one of these would cost to buy and run in 2024 Japan, but at least finding one is within the realms of possibility: they made over 180k of these for 1972, so a few must have survived.

Affordable, reliable, reasonably-sized and decently-styled – there are a lot of reasons to like the early Monte Carlo. The buying public seemed to be far more infatuated with the later models, with sales reaching over 400k in the late ‘70s. To each their own, but in my view, the first generation is unsurpassed, especially in this doubly green incarnation.


Related posts:


Curbside Classic: 1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo – All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go, by Joseph Dennis

Curbside Classic: 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo – A Modest Beginning To A Huge Hit (and Hips), by PN

In-Motion Classic: 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo – Motor City Monte, by Joseph Dennis

Cohort Pic(k) Of The Day: 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo — The Classics, Now And Then, by Rich Baron