Curbside Classic: 1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo – All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go

1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois. Friday, August 20, 2020.

It’s a funny thing to look at how much differently my leisure funds have been allocated since the beginning of general quarantine this past March.  My weekly “allowance” had usually fallen into one of several buckets, including for clothing.  It’s interesting now to think about buying new-to-me clothes, knowing that I probably won’t be wearing them out in any places where people can see me in them.  There have been only a handful of instances, outside of semi-regular trips to the grocery or drug store, that I’ve done any kind of leisure shopping inside brick and mortar.

I understand and agree with the idea that self-care can involve doing things simply for oneself, regardless of any other potential impact.  I’ve been a big proponent of that this year, as I’ve spent a lot of time both by myself and away from businesses, in general.  At the same time, I do still pay attention to my clothes and presentation.  I’m one of those individuals who tries to make himself look nice while working from home, even if that normally doesn’t involve video calls.  I also like to take walks around my neighborhood and the surrounding areas once I’ve powered down my laptop for the day, so there is motivation for me to look presentable during business hours so that once I’m done, I can just bounce out the door with my camera.

1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois. Friday, August 20, 2020.

I have heard the first generation Monte Carlo having been described as a Chevelle dressed in formal wear.  When I came across this ’72 in the parking lot of a local supermarket a couple of Friday evenings ago, I remembered this metaphor and agreed wholeheartedly.  A few of my friends have referred to me as the “car whisperer”, and to some degree, it does feel that way sometimes.  When I saw this Monte, it was clear across the street buried in a parking lot full of Hyundais and SUVs.  With one quick sprint across North Broadway, I was there, trying to be inconspicuous as I snapped a few photos before continuing my walk home.

Its shiny, black finish, factory wheels and tasteful chrome accents made this car look as stylish as I would want to for a nice evening out.  Much has been made of the fact that with the Monte Carlo’s introduction, it was Chevrolet and not Ford that had discovered and pioneered a new market segment this time: the affordable personal luxury coupe.

I suppose a few cynics could question why Chevy didn’t simply make the Monte Carlo the “Chevelle coupe”.  I like the 1970 – ’72 Chevelle two-door on its own merits.  Also, doing so would have been beside the point.  Mainstream midsize passenger cars were still the bread and butter of most domestic manufacturers before pickup trucks took over that mantle, and the two-door body style was still a viable choice for small families.  It’s the same principle as how Guess, for one example, can charge several times more than Levi Strauss & Co. for a nice pair of jeans.  People who paid more for a Monte Carlo over a Chevelle two-door wanted to feel more exclusive.

I wonder just how exclusive an owner of one of the early Monte Carlos could feel, when sales averaged over 150,000 units for its first three model years, with 146,000, 128,600, and 180,800 units sold, in that order.  This model’s popularity would then explode with the advent of the next “Colonnade” generation for ’73, a year when 290,700 units found buyers.  That’s the thing about the success of a car or concept like this.  Everyone wants one, and then everybody gets one.  And your prized exclusivity as an owner goes out the window.  The company accountants must have rejoiced, but I’m sure that the product planners and marketers were probably a bit more challenged in pitching this car as an object to set individuals apart from the crowd.

1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois. Friday, August 20, 2020.

I might rather take my ’72 Monte Carlo to the grocery store than my hypothetical Outback or Sonata, if I felt reasonably comfortable that I could get a wide parking space.  Whether or not our physical proximity to other human beings must continue to be curtailed for the unforeseeable future, the seasons will change, and the snow and road salt will eventually be here, so now is the time to enjoy a car like this while one can.  If it were mine, I don’t know that I’d be leaving all the windows down, because I’m just not cool enough to feign that I don’t care or wouldn’t worry that someone might try to steal my classic Chevy.

I wonder sometimes if I’m overly risk-averse, or if other more carefree individuals have simply had fewer unfortunate things happen to them than others over the course of their lives.  That’s not something worth breaking my brain over.  I felt like I had hit the jackpot having found this Monte Carlo in a parking lot simply by walking around the neighborhood.  For the record, I think it’s completely acceptable right now to wear nice things while we’re doing our best to limit contact with others, even if nobody else sees and appreciates how we look.  If a tree falls in the forest, it’s still a good looking tree, even if no one else sees it.

Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Friday, August 21, 2020.
Brochure photo courtesy of