We were a GM family. For better or for worse, there was time when everything that my parents drove was a product of The General. Lots of Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles, and Chevrolets ranging from Monte Carlos to Corvettes to Bonnevilles to Delta 88s. The nostalgia and tradition worked well when the family was trading every couple of years, but began to fail after the FIRST GM diesel purchase.
In this shot, circa 1972 or 1973, I stood in front of my grandparents Grand Safari wagon. Growing up in a car culture, it’s funny that THIS is the car that carries so much love. Mom and Dad swoon about their times borrowing this car from the grandparents; and loving its’ reportedly swift 455 engine and its’ “loaded to the gills” option list. They speak of this car as the last great wagon the family ever enjoyed. The replacement 1976 Olds Custom Cruiser was hearse-like and its replacement 1979 Custom Cruiser diesel began the unraveling of a decades-old allegiance to The General. And then there’s the family Monte Carlos:
Above is my father’s 1970 Monte Carlo SS that he purchased new. This shot was taken in late April 1971, the week following my birth. The very small “SS454” is barely visible at the far right of the picture. I never really caught the drag racing bug, but as I understand, the car was a serious performer in the Richmond drag racing scene.
The 1972 Monte Carlo in the background stayed in the family for over a decade and spent the next 20 years with a close friend of the family. The Monte was originally purchased new in 1972 from the family friends at Hechler Chevrolet in Richmond, VA. It was a mildly-optioned car with a 350, 4 barrel, auto trans. A/C, AM/FM radio, rear window defogger, black vinyl bench, and rally wheels. Family tradition has it that the grandmother “had to have it” after loving the style of my father’s 1970 Monte Carlo SS and my mother’s 1971 MC.
The car was still relatively new when the rainy spring season came around in early 1973. The grandmother is reported to have picked up a smudge on her London Fog raincoat from the non-tilting steering. By early afternoon, she had a new metallic brown 1973 Monte with ALL the options, including the 454 big block. This 72 was then sold to a cousin who drove it until 1981. The car was re-purchased by the grandparents in 1981 when the 1973 MC’s engine failed. By 1982, my parents had it and later sold it to family friend who restored and lightly modded it to make a decent street car and 1/4 mile performer.
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