Do you like previews when you go to the movies? Here’s why I ask: an in-depth Monte Carlo CC write-up is inevitable, including for all the generations. But it’s still on the To-Do list, which sometimes feels like a perpetually moving target. So when a lovely round-eyed MC like this shows up in the Cohort (shot by bobloblaw), shall we indulge in it, or avert our eyes and wait for the feature-length version to arrive?
I picked the Monte Carlo because it also ties in to the next CC, the granddaddy of the personal coupe genre. What started out as a tentative (and failed) step into that genre eventually snowballed in the seventies, especially when the Grand Prix reappeared in 1969 on a mid-sized chassis and a slightly reined-in price tag. A monster category was unleashed, and we’ve just unleashed the preview, in more ways than one. Now back to writing that prequel.
Except for the round headlights, I’ve never liked these. Gimme a 1st or 3rd gen every time.
3rd? Come on, man! The 78s were turds on wheels. See my comment below. That is if you have time. It’s rathe lenghty, as it turns out.
I meant rather.
What ever tell me this is not beautiful !
Everyone had these in the mid 70s. I was just glad to get a flashback to 1975 as these are decidedly scarce now. I do not care much for the frilly art or the ugly Corvette wheels, though.
Will chime in here – got my driver’s license in 1975 – this generation of Monte Carlo was tremendously popular. Seemed like most well-heeled people in the mid 70’s usually bought one of these for their wives as THEIR car (seems like the man of the house would be piloting a Lincoln Mark IV in the day).
Yes, a chunk of the memories of this car are walking my elementary school parking lot and seeing many of my teachers (females) driving these.
Every time I say the word “Monte Carlo” I am amazed that Ricardo Montalban wasn’t hired to shill for the Monte Carlo instead of the Cordoba. Monte Carlo practically has his freaking name in it for crying outloud!
Or maybe they should have just gotten Cesar Romero… hmmmmmmm.
Amazingly, Cesar Romero was Cuban/Italian – I thought he was mexican or puerto rican. So, to stay true to your theme, maybe Chevrolet should have hired Herve Velechaize as a spokesperson….
or failing that maybe Peter Sellers
GM found Peter Sellers already committed to the Panther platform. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
Caesar Romero was a native New Yorker of Cuban/Italan parents. I believe Romero’s wheels of choice was Buick. I once saw a picture of him getting out of a ’71 Deuce-and-a-quarter coupe . . . .
My little league team/ sponsor was “Don Collins Buick” !!
Billy, you must look up Sinbad’s riff on the Electra Duece and a quarter. simply awesome.
The Fantasy Island references bring back memories of the 1980 New York Auto Show where I saw one of those red Volare wagons without the front doors that they used on the show.
I could see Peter Sellers doing a Cordoba parody ad…..
The Monte wasn’t “plane” enough for Herve.
Interesting to note, then Ford founded by accident the personnal luxury coupe with the 1958 T-bird. While the T-bird was a price bracket higher. Ford created the Elite from the Gran Torino/Montego to go after the Monte Carlo, the Elite and downsized the T-bird for ’77 to take the Elite place.
Chevrolet could had replied much more earlier to the T-bird if they had taked the “La Salle II” proposal then Cadillac rejected but no. However Buick stepped on the occasion and the La Salle II became the Riviera. We could wonder what if Chevrolet stepped on that occasion?
The rationale of Bunkie Knudsen, then general manager of Chevrolet, was that Chevrolet didn’t need such a car. They already had multiple car lines (full-size, Corvair, Corvette, the Chevy II/Nova, and plans for the Malibu/Chevelle), and at that point they controlled around 25% of the U.S. market — they didn’t need much of a boost. Ford’s example wasn’t necessarily an encouraging one; even as they kept bringing out new models, their market share didn’t really change, so to some extent they were sort of reshuffling their existing market, rather than growing.
That was to some extent what happened with the Monte Carlo. By the mid-seventies, it was selling in huge numbers, but if you compare the figures for the contemporary Chevelle, it starts to look like people were just buying Montes instead of Chevelles. Of course, since the Monte Carlo was undoubtedly more profitable than the regular Chevelle, that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing…
The car that became the Riviera would’ve never happened at Chevy since the bow-tie division already had the Corvette. Buick was the only division in late 1960/early ’61 whose sales failed to rebound as strongly as the other divisons’ sales plummet of the Eisenhower recession. Also, GM hierarchy was still top-heavy with executives who cut their corporate teeth with Buick division. . .
LaSalle II in concept would’ve been a standalone prestige car, but Buick needed the “halo” at the time more than Cadillac.
It was more complicated than that. After Cadillac and Chevrolet declined it, GM offered it to all three intermediate divisions (who were more directly threatened by the Thunderbird than either Cadillac of Chevy), and actually held an internal competition to see who could offer the most compelling proposal. After the first round, corporate management asked for a second round of proposals, and finally awarded it to Buick. Aside from having been on the rocks, Buick put together a better pitch, in part because they got their ad agency to help them with it.
Buick had had a lot of support at higher levels in the fifties — Harlow Curtice remained very interested after he rose up the ranks — but by 1960, I don’t think that was really true anymore. It took a while for Buick to rebuild under Ed Rollert.
Wow, that became very educational! Thanks, Ate Up With Motor from TTAC!
I was a child when they were new and have owned one for 12 years (see my avatar.)
LIke it or not, it was a hugely successful model and emblematic of the US in the ’70s. Not to mention the knight-in-armor emblem 🙂
And they handle better than you might think!
Looking foward to the full CC.
You have that minty green…intriguing!
More shots of it here if you want to check it out:
That is more than awesome! Beautiful!
Thanks! Maybe seeing a low-mileage original will jog some of the negative people’s memories 🙂
I remember that green color. AMC had a similar color called “Limefire Metallic,” if I recall correctly.
Wow, sharp color. I think it was a one-year-only color. I have the 1976 Pontiac brochure, and it was called Metalime Green. Chevy probably had a different name for the same color.
There was a green ’76 in an issue of HCC a few years ago in a comparison test with a Cordoba and an Elite. It was an original condition car that the current owner bought from the original owner’s estate. Was that you?
Yep, that was me in the comparo with the Elite and Cordoba! The Chevy name for the color was just “Lime Metallic”, I think. The color is what took it for me from a “gee that’s nice” to “gotta have it” and keep it for over a decade. Cadillac had a very similar color in 1974 called Persian Lime. In 1976 every GM division but Cadillac had it. I’ve seen it on Grand Prixs, Buick Regals, a Buick Skyhawk and even Buick Electras! And at least one other low-mileage Monte Carlo that people confused with mine. But it’s really pretty rare 🙂
I was surprised with the way these cars handle. comfortable smooth and oozing 70’s cool. These cars are brilliant in that the always evoke strong reactions..people either love them or hate them.
I remember when these came out, what a departure they were from the rest of the Chevy line and especially it’s immediate forbear. I didn’t know how to express it back then, but I realized immediately that a sea change was taking place.
I wasn’t a particularly big fan of these cars (Cutlass, baby!), but I have to give the General it’s due for trying to give us some styling after the debacle that was the first set of cars with 5 MPH bumpers. By 1975 Ford had pumped out the Elite and the new Cordoba from Chrysler; the war was on!
chrisgreencar mentions that they handle better than you’d think and I have to agree to that. One of my buddies in HS had a MC not unlike the car in the pix and it was really good hooning car. With a 350 small block and a THM 350 trans, they were pretty quick (for the times) and would take all kinds of abuse.
If I tried the same stunts in my dad’s Mercurys, you had to hang on for dear life. Those mid-seventies, midsized GM cars all came with pretty stout stabilizer bars front and rear, I think that really contributed to handling better than your average Ford product. I’d say the Chrysler products were better handlers than the GMs, but not by a whole lot.
GM’s 1973 intermediates were noted for their better-than-average handling.
John DeLorean tweaked the suspension of the Monte Carlo to give it even better handling, and the result was Motor Trend naming it “Car of the Year” for 1973.
Believe through ’74, 454 was an option, even in Calif. w/duals. All the Cal 350’s from ’73-’77 were four barrel only. I liked this generation a lot. SBC’s had a fan shroud as long as a football field!!
IINM, the 454 lasted through ’75 in the Chevy A-bodies. (Pontiac and Olds offered the 455 in their A-bodies through ’76.) There can’t have been too many built that way the last few years.
Back in the late 70’s/early 80’s our next door neighbor’s wife had a 1974 or 1975 454 Malibu.
Her husband, was not a motorhead and could never figure out why I was drooling over his wife’s car.
She wasn’t bad looking, either, but I really didn’t want to die from a gunshot wound…
Yes. The 400 small block was as good as it got in ’76, but it was GOOD.
Yeah geeber, five degrees of positive caster kept those 225/70-15s a little flatter on the road. Science!
Not common here and the few I see are pimped to the max looking forward to the full CC
Love those C4 Corvette wheels (which are directional, and they are even mounted properly)!
I briefly drove one of these during college and can attest that for its size, it had really good handling (it surprised me, I think the one I drove had a rear anti-sway bar as well).
The wheels are fugly, but as far as the rear sway bar goes, they all had them. “European” handling was their thing!
My favorite Monte, not everyone’s cup of tea though.
I prefer the taillights for the 73 and 74 better than 75-77 though.
’73-’77 is my favorite too. IMO it had a much more distinctive, sculptured look than the ’70-’72. I love the round headlights and (widely copied) stacked rectanges equally. All the taillight variations were fun, but the ’77 with its chopped-off version seems odd to me. ’77 was the only year for a classy hood ornament, though!
77 was an odd year, even the Malibu was off somehow. Being the end of the run may have been part of it though..
FWIW, I believe that ’77 was the Monte Carlo’s best year ever in terms of production, with over 400,000 built.
Odd because in 1977 the Monte was the biggest Chevy!!
The cut-off taillights may have been a cost-cutting measure. Went from 2 bulbs in ’75 and ’76 to one in ’77.
@Sean: I think the original 1973 tailights attached to the 1975 body would be about perfect.
Attached is a shot of my ’75 Monte bought in 1988 for $1200 as a winter beater. Had 113k on the clock, and after a cheapie body job, remained my daily driver until 2005 with about 270k on the clock. She is currently wintering in the barn until the salt is off the roads. Styling and space utilization is strictly subjective, but that car has been one of the most reliable cars I’ve ever owned, and still can lift her skirts if asked to run. All of the driveline is largely original, consisting of the low spec 350 with the 2.73 rear (converted to 4bbl), as there was only the 350/2bbl option up here in ’75. To me, the Monte was far more solid and reliable than it’s predecessor, a ’75 Valiant with a 318, which was a constant fight against electrical and body integrity issues
Nice looking ride! I like the wheels too! Not many people kept the Turbine II wheels, I remember everyone swapping them out for the Rally wheels.
So those wheels were stock? The first time I saw this style of wheel was on the 1984 Corvette so that’s where I thought they came from (see my post above).
I bought a set of the aftermarket FWD version of this wheel (almost identical except mine had a flush aluminum center cap over the lugs) for my 1988 Electra T-type and they looked great.
The wheels on the beige colored car are stock. The ones on the OP are far from stock. They’re from an early C4 Corvette.
FWIW, the dealer who had my 1973 model had replaced the original Turbine II wheels with a set of Corvette Rally wheels…but they were different widths. I always have rotated tires, so I asked him about this, and he took me to his (small) shop and showed me that he still had the original wheels. After a couple of weeks, I went back and he swapped out the wheels for no charge! I had to supply two centerpieces and 4 trim rings, but I was elated with the beauty and knowing I had the original wheels. And they were called ‘polycast’ wheels; hard rubber cast onto a steel wheel. Ironically, my 1977 had Rally wheels from the factory, all the same width, and I loved ’em!!
That’s a beautiful car!
Thanks. I’m trying to find a picture of it’s twin. About twelve years after I’d bought the original, a family friend mentioned that a neighbour was trying to get rid of an “old GM” car, knowing that I have a weakness for these things. I remember talking to the vendor over the phone…What is it? An old Monte Carlo. What colour? Banana Yellow…Hmmm, What year? 1975. Sold for $400! The car had been sitting in a garage for several years, but managed to start with some priming and a battery, and was able to drive home. Identical car to the picture, with no a/c, non-landau, and regular wheel covers. The odd thing about both cars is that the one pictured is your typical ’75 spec with a catalytic converter, but the other one had no cat, no unleaded warning stickers, restricted gas filler, etc I knew that Chrysler offered special emission options for Canadians that had no cats and could burn leaded fuel, but thought that the General had cats across the spectrum in 1975. Must have been a special Canadian emission package as both were built in Oshawa. Perhaps Mikey or Dave could shed some light on the differences? Oddly enough, the cat equipped car is about 15-20% better on fuel with the same powertrain and axle, and I can’t see any real performance difference. One of my old French road test magazines tested a ’74 with the 454 and 2.73 axle, and was able to do 0-60 in 7.9 seconds. Not too bad for a malaise barge, eh?
Two memories of these cars (my dad had a second generation, can’t remember the year):
1. The utterly ludicrous length of ducting between the radiator and fan. I think you could have dumped a Chevette motor in the empty space.
2. The kinda neat two-tone jobs done for a couple of years, the pinstriped color pods on the fenders. Gave it a bit of a classic (I shudder as I say that) look.
Just the same, this car was indicative of everything that was wrong with Detroit in the ’70’s. A complete piece of crap. And of course it sold well. To quote H. L. Mencken . . . . . .
In all fairness, we have to look at what else was on the market at that time. It wasn’t as though buyers had the choice of something as good as the 2012 Camry in 1975.
Most of the imports of that time, for example, were either relatively expensive and “finicky” (European cars) or small economy cars with lousy air conditioning and automatics that sapped performance (Japanese cars). Most parents at that time had no interest in stuffing themselves and their children in a Corolla or a Rabbit.
The ducting between the radiator and fan, were the result of a long hood all out of relation to the engine length.
With some modding, an electric fan and removal of the ducting, it can be a blessing in giving plenty of room to do any work.
I grant you it’s the result of an excess of styling. But the further back from the front axle is the engine, the better the balance of the chassis.
I remember my YJ Wrangler with a four…the entire engine was behind the front axle, with the same ludicrous fan shroud. That, to make room for the AMC six.
But what came out of that was a rig with better balance than any 4×4 had a right to.
FWIW, those long tubes to the fan were commonplace when the V-6 became ubiquitous. And given where the engine was placed, it was a very, very good thing.
The opposite…another of my Jeeps, a Postal truck with the big six. Engine hung over the front axle; and the weight distribution was such that it was actually possible to put the truck end-over-end.
Here’s where the GM fan shroud thing gets funny. In ’76 , the BIG Buick LeSabre, offered as a no-cost option, the 231 V-6! Big huge expanse under the hood, little V-6. Hoses and fan shroud 100 yards long!!
I don’t know that they were complete pieces of crap. They seemed to be durable, rode well and reliable. Not economical and poor usage of space, audacious designs with all that swooping, long hoods and short trunks but not crap. (maybe build quality was not what it could have been)
But in ’73 when the colonnades were launched, I was 12 and these were a very big deal. The MC/Cutlass/Regal were beautiful and changed the game.
I remember a neighbor Mom who was driving a ’70 Impala (best full size car!) and traded it for the new ’73 Monte Carlo, like trading Tareyton’s for Virginia Slims. Personal luxury and expressing individuality and so forth.
I was 10 in the fall of 1972 when these debuted, and I remember them as being a big deal. All of the GM Colonnade intermediates made virtually everything else in that segment look outdated, particularly the Mopars and the AMC Matador.
I remember being especially impressed with the Pontiac Grand Am and all of the versions of the Oldsmobile Cutlass, and would have been in seventh heaven if my father had traded our stuffy 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88 for one of those.
The space utilization wasn’t the greatest, that is true, but people were willing to trade some space for style in those days (except for my father.)
As for build quality – until 2000, I had a 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Holiday coupe, and the Colonnades I’ve ridden in have felt tighter. The 1968-72 hardtops used better materials, but they felt pretty flimsy.
I guess it’s a matter of taste. I was fifteen, and I remember thinking they looked awkward and ponderous…and heavy. This after the fast, trim-looking 1970-era intermediates and Monte Carlos.
I was surprised, reading here, that handling was a strong point. I never cared for any of the GM cars of that era I’d driven. Maybe it’s a dentist-chair association…I went through Driver’s Ed with a 1974 Nova, and HATED that car. Hated the handling.
Eleven years later, a friend won a cherry 1972 Chevelle in a poker game, and offered it to me for pennies. I drove it for an hour and said, no thanks. Same numb handling, same oil-can twonk out of the floors…yup, that great GM feeling.
Perhaps I missed some really good cars out of that.
Both of mine were utterly dependable. Meticulous and strict maintenance, especially monitoring fluids, is paramount. I was NEVER left stranded in one, nor all but two cars I’ve ever had. (One was a recall I never had fixed, and I learned the hard way, broken down 45 miles from home. ’91 Sentra SE-R Fuel pump recall. Anyone else familiar with that? But Nissan even paid for the towing, and on a rollback at that!)
Oh please, please, please hurry, I can’t wait!!!!!! My 1973 and 1977, both Landaus, live on in my mind in–well, not infamy, but splendor. They were two of the most enjoyable cars I have ever had in my 39 years of driving. (Sentra SE-R would be 1st; another story for another day.) In my ’73, bought used in 1978, the rear seal and rings were gone, but I was too infatuated to notice or care. Soooo, from early January to April, I added two quarts of oil every 3 days. Enough already. Went to the salvage yard (not one of Murilee’s, however) and came away with a 50000 mile small-block 400 out of a 1974 Chevrolet station wagon that had been hit in the rear. Need I tell you what that did for this car? Never used oil, never failed me. When it hit 100,000 though (I’m still kicking myself for getting rid of it so soon; however, I would not have met my next car but for that.) , I traded it in on the 1977. It had swivel buckets and the 350 4-bbl. Full instrumentation, including that goofy “fuel economy” gauge. (There was no such thing as fuel “economy” in those days.) Emerald green with the light beige Landau roof and “Morrokide” interior. Gorgeous. My fun continued. Thank you for your time. And for the poster above who likes the 1st an 3rd gens, I will say that I have the highest respect for the first gen, especially the SS454s. Those damned things must have rivalled a 747 in the thrust department; I can only imagine. My crazy Uncle Roy, who traded for a new Chevrolet every year while I was young, bought a 1970 model. It wasn’t dressed up,but with my being only 13, I fell in love anyway.Of course, I never got to drive it, because he traded it in two years (the two year trend began with this car. Then he mysteriously traded it in on a 4-door 1972 LeMans. ????). But the downsized 1978-1980s were atrocious. The 4th gen in 1981 was a significant improvement, but the engines went away. I never drove one of those, either, but I can imagine the thrust rivalling that of a scooter. Or a Hoveround. Or something like that.
Thanks for y’alls time!!!!
As cartoony as these are I have fond memories of a Gen2 Monte. A friend got rid of his new 1989 5.0 Mustang because it wasn’t needy enough, and bought one of these. Yellow with white interior and swivel buckets.
After an engine rebuild and a 3.42 rearend swap I believe it would run high 13’s in the quarter mile, it’s long nose carried high. A comfy car to drive, but the view out the back opera windows was like being in prison.
The other thing about these was the eee-normous doors, and when they were rusted out at the bottoms you’d get that classic GM Whap-ap-ap-ap-ap sound when they closed.
Mine never rusted, but the windows wore out the tracks. The real key was never to close the doors with the windows down.
I really, really liked the Gen 1 Monte’s, (and DeLorean Grand Prix’s) but these have grown on me. Those front fenders still seem a ‘bit’ to baroque and out of proportion, but the overall style is undeniable. Greatly prefer the round-headlight version.
As for handling, if you grew up driving domestic 4-dr sedans as I did, these were a revelation! Sway bars front and rear made a real difference, as did the (I believe) standard 70-series radial tires. And those fans shrouds would definitely make a fair home for a hobbit – huge!
@Dean Edwards – Love your creamy-yellow ‘beater’ – I’ll bet it can still ‘lift her skirts’ LOL!
80s Vette rims are an interesting choice.
My mother bought a ’73 brand new in the fall of ’72. It was special-ordered with assistance from my brother and me. The cost had to be kept down. The car was the “S” model with standard radial tires, 350 2-barrel, and THM 350. Quite a contrast to the 6-cylinder full-size Chevys we had before. It was dark blue, no vinyl roof. Keeping in mind the things we take for granted today, the car had manual windows, locks, AM one-speaker radio, and (one) outside rear-view mirror that you adjusted by sticking your hand out through the open window!
But it was so stylish we thought, and handled well for the times. MPGs: 8-19 in the winter, 9-18 in the summer with the a/c on (first family car with a/c).
I inherited a 1971 Monte Carlo SS from my brother and it had the optional sliding canvas roof, however it was already worn out by the time I got it. Does anyone have a picture of that limited model?
Had a 74 Monte Carlo always had issues with it not wanting to start,350 4bbl motor not dependable!