(Image of a 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
The Chevrolet Monte Carlo was released in 1970 and designed after the Pontiac Grand Prix, which had considerable success when it was released in 1969. The Monte Carlo had a long hood, due the fact that instead of adding a few inches to the body and adding passenger room, the few inches were added to the front near the firewall. This made the Monte Carlo a unique looking model, and helped it sell well. It did sell well in its first year, but sales were hampered due to a labor strike at it’s manufacturing plant in Flint, MI. 185, 000 Monte Carlo’s were projected to be sold in it’s first year, but sales were just short of 146,000 models.
Only V8’s were available for the 1970 Monte Carlo, ranging from the base model Turbo Fire small block V8 350 ci with two carburetors, to the Turbo-Jet 400 (402 ci) with a four barrel carburetor. The true performance option was the Monte Carlo SS 454, which included a Turbo-Jet 454 (454 ci V8 with a four barrel carburetor), a better suspension, wider tires, and “”SS 454” badging. Only 3,823 Monte Carlo SS 454’s were built in 1970, accounting for about 3% of the Monte Carlo’s. Although formidable against a Chevelle 454, most people wanting performance chose the Chevelle with a lower price and smaller body. The SS 454 would continue through 1971, but after only 1,919 models were built the next year, it was discontinued. The Monte Carlo was marketed as a luxury car, not a performance car, and the SS model did not sell well. The 454 V8 engine was still available through the mid 1970’s. Sales of the Monte Carlo in 1972 were able to reach nearly 181,000 since there were no labor strike issues.
The Monte Carlo design was changed drastically for the 1973 model year, starting the second generation. The standard engine was a 145 horsepower 350 ci V8 Turbo-Fire, but the larger 454 ci V8 was still available. The 1973 Monte Carlo won Motor Trend’s “Car of the Year”, and sold nearly 250,000 models. 1974 brought sales near 300,000, a year where most larger cars had their sales drop significantly due to the oil embargo. Sales dropped to around 250,000 in 1975 due to the release of the Chrysler Cordoba and the Dodge Charger SE. 1976 brought sales that are still a record today, at 400,000 models.
The third generation was released in 1978, and the Monte Carlo was reduced in size by 15 inches and 700 to 800 pounds. For the first time, the standard engine was a V6, a 231 ci sized engine. A 305 ci V8 was optional. A four speed manual transmission was also available in 1978, the first time since 1971. Minimal changes would happen through 1980.
The fourth generation Monte Carlo started in 1980, and is a hot collector model today because of its small profile and clean sharp lines. The model was so successful it ran through 1988. Sales were slumping until Chevrolet released the Monte Carlo SS in late 1983, and sold over 24,000 Monte Carlo Ss’s in 1984. The SS also was having major success on the NASCAR track, helping sales.
The Monte Carlo was resurrected from 1995 through 1999, but was basically a rebadged Lumina with no real performance or styling.