Here’s a car I totally forgot existed, never knew existed, or purposely deleted from my memory banks. But then it’s no wonder: exactly 2,326 of these 1978 Monza ‘S’ Coupes were ever made. And good luck finding one still in existence via a Google search: zilch.
But it’s clearly the best “Vega” ever, thanks to its proudly proclaimed “cast iron muscle under the hood”, which of course refers to the 2.5 L “Iron Duke”, which of course was nothing more than a “remodeled” and considerably smoother Chevy II 153 four, and is what the Vega should have had from the get-go, if not something even better. Oh well…But it’s nice to know that some 2,326 folks got the Vega hatchback that about a million or so Vega buyers didn’t get.
Having made the questionable dive into the 1978-1980 Monza rabbit hole, I finally found my way out, but discovered some other oddities I had long forgotten, or never knew.
I did know that there was a Monza wagon available in 1978, which of course was nothing more than the Vega Kammback, with a Monza-style front end. I say “Monza-style”, because the actual front end on the Monzas that didn’t have the sleek Endura front ends were different, as were the fenders and hood and the rest of it.
Here’s the “plain” Monza front end, as typically seen on the Town Coupe variants.
But did you know that there was also a version of the 2+2 that had that front end? I’d long repressed that, if I did.
And that the notchback coupe could be had with the Endura front end? Never seen one. No wonder; only 6,823 were ever made. Or is that the number for the one above it? The nomenclature gets confusing.
Here’s the 1978, if it helps clarify the confusion. Either body style was available with either front end. But where’s the wagon? It’s not in here at all.
One has to go to the 1978 Chevy Wagons brochure to find it. “The sporty wagon with cast-iron muscle under the hood”. Now why would they make a point of that?
And hang on there, where’s the featured Monza ‘S’ (Vega) coupe in that 1978 Monza brochure? It’s not there!
That’s because they issued a second 1978 Monza brochure, dated February 1978. And here it is, along with the wagon too. But that raises a serious question: why wasn’t the Vega-body ‘S’ coupe and the wagon in the original brochure? Some conspiracy theorists claim it’s because Chevy found itself with a slew of unused Vega bodies at the end of the 1976 model year, a year when Vega sales fell off a cliff. And so they decided to put a slightly altered grille on them and sell them as Monzas.
I’m skeptical. They don’t build bodies and then store them. And although only 2,326 of these ‘S’ coupes were made in 1978, over 27,000 of the wagons were built. No, they didn’t have a pile of 30,000 Vega bodies sitting out back…
Yes, the wagon sold in higher numbers. But the other unicorn is the woody Estate Wagon, of which only 2,478 were ever built. Another one we’re not likely to find on the streets. In fact, a Google search shows zero results for the estate wagon and the ‘S’ Coupe.
For that matter, this one was the only result I got for a (non-Sport) hatchback coupe.
Now there’s one more oddity, in these brochures and such. The 1979 brochure re-uses much of the first 1978 brochure, including the back page which shows the models and has the July 1977 date on it. Which means once again, the wagon is missing (the ‘S’ Coupe didn’t survive into 1979).
So Chevrolet issued a separate Monza Wagon flier for 1979. Kinda’ looks like someone effed that up. The wagon was selling pretty well, and was carried over, but got left out of the brochure….
In case any of you ever see one of these out in the real world, do make a point to document it. I’d like to know for sure that it really did exist.
More Monza goodness: