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Monte Carlo History

Introduced in 1970 as Chevrolet’s entry into the “Personal Luxury” car segment, to compete with cars like the Ford Thunderbird, Buick Riviera and Pontiac Grand Prix. The first generation (1970-1972) was introduced, based on the A-Body Chevelle platform and included a 6 foot hood! A sister car to the Pontiac Grand Prix, it had a 116 inch wheelbase and a large array of drive train options. A total of 130,657 were sold with small block V8’s, either 350 or 400 cubic inch, while 3823 received the 360hp 454 SS package. The SS45 package, option Z20, included the 454 big block engine, a heavy duty suspension, "SS454" badging on the rocker panels and deck lid, a remote control sport mirror, thin black rocker panel stripes, heavy-duty battery, automatic level control suspension, air shocks, dual chrome exhaust extensions, 15x7 inch Rally wheels, and GTO-15B white stripe tires. Most of the SS454's came with the LS-5 454 engine, rated at 360 hp. A few, (very rare) were sold with the LS-6 454 engine, rated at 450 hp.

The Monte remained essentially unchanged for 1971. The SS package was again available, a blacked-out rear body panel was added, along with a heavy-duty front and rear suspension, front and rear stabilizer bars and dash control knobs with international symbols. A few had a new rubber rear bumper insert. The LS-5 454 was rated at 365 hp, an increase of 5 hp. A rare few Monte Carlos were sold with the LS-6 454, rated at 425 hp.

Only 1919 SS models were produced out of the total of 128,600 Monte Carlos that year.

1972 was produced with just minor changes over the previous year, the SS package was no longer available, replaced by a Custom package.

1973 introduced the second generation (1973-1977) with a new look. The 116 inch wheelbase remained the same but featured GM’s Colonnade coupe design and deeper curves. The 1973, 1974 and 1975 Monte Carlo's still featured the single round headlights with slanted tail lights. The Custom package was no longer available and a new Landau package was introduced, featuring a 1/2 or full-vinyl top with distinctive Landau pillar and dash emblems, Turbine II wheels, and a vinyl interior option was available.

The 454 was still available, but with a now anemic 235 hp, due to emission regulation equipment. A swivel seat option was available for the 1975 model year. 1975 was the last year the 454 was available due to fuel embargos and the 400, 350, and 305 small blocks were the only engine options. Fuel efficiency now replaced performance as an important factor when buying a new car. In spite of this, the Monte Carlo broke it's own sales record in 1976 with 353,272 cars sold. Rectangular quad headlights now graced the new Monte Carlo giving it a more luxurious appearance. The 175 hp 400 was the top engine option for this year.

Very little change for the 1977 model year, it looked like last years model, but the grill emblem was replaced with a hood ornament and the taillights were ribbed with a smaller knight emblem. Gone now was the 175 horse 400 small block, but the 165 horse 350 and 145 horse 305 small blocks were still available. The Monte Carlo went from "powerful personal car" to "luxury touring car." This continued through the third and into the fourth generation until 1983.

The third generation Monte Carlo (1978-1980) still retained the familiar curves, but was “all new” for 1978. Single rectangular headlights and horizontal tail lights now graced the Monte Carlo. It was also 700 lbs lighter, the wheelbase was 8 inches shorter, and this was the first time that a V6 had been available for the Monte Carlo. The 350 was no longer available, but the 305 small block was still an option. It was now a more economical personal car. Sales fell to 358,191 units. The only change for the 1979 model year, was the horizontal taillights were now wrapped around the back end.

The turbocharged V6 was available for 1980 and it was also graced with rectangular quad, side-by-side headlights.

The fourth generation Monte Carlo (1981-1988) was the last of the rear-wheel drive, full frame Montes. The third and fourth generations looked very similar, however Chevrolet defined the 1981 model as "A completely new generation of Monte Carlo." The 1981 Monte Carlo was reshaped for less gas-wasting drag. The taillights were more traditional, instead of the horizontal design of the third generation.

In 1983, the Super Sport package, Z65, returned which included, upgraded suspension, dual exhaust, the distinctive, aerodynamic nose and rear spoiler. The sleek, slippery design was made with NASCAR in mind. The 175 hp 305 HO V8 small block was standard for the SS. The 1984 Monte SS package introduced bucket seats and an optional center console, and an increase of 5 hp to 180 hp.

The SS Aerocoupe body style was available for 1986 and 1987, designed mainly for higher top speed on NASCAR supertracks. Only 200 were sold to the public, the required production number to allow it to be used for NASCAR racing. The new '86 LS Monte Carlo bore a smoother Euro-nose with the standard 4.3 V6.

The last rear wheel drive Monte was built on Friday, December 11, 1987 at 5:29PM at the Pontiac Michigan plant. This seemed to mark the end of the Monte Carlo.

After a six year absence, the Monte was re-introduced for a fifth generation (1995-1999) in the fall of 1994. Lacking the traditional lines and curves and no emblems, this bore no resemblance to it’s ancestors. The fifth generation was a front wheel drive, V6 powered Monte Carlo, and there was no Super Sport package.

There were two packages and two engines available: the LS with a 3.1 liter V6 and a sportier Z34 package, featuring a 3.4 liter 215hp dual OHC. For the final two years, the Z34 featured a 200 hp 3.8 liter engine. This car was based on the Lumina and had only minor cosmetic differences and featured 2 doors instead of four.

The sixth generation (2000-2004) was a completely new design, while still FWD and V6 powered, it once again had knight crest emblems and some of the curves of it’s heritage. Built on the same platform as the new Impala and the Pontiac grand Prix, two styles were available: the LS with a 3.4 liter and the Super Sport was again available with the 3.8 liter engine and a sport suspension. 2004 offered a Supercharged SS package, featuring larger wheels and a 240 hp/280 ft lbs torque supercharged 3.8 liter engine.

Thanks Dustin for assisting in compiling this history. Thanks Harold for the historical pics!

Thanks to for all information compiled above. Content used with permission. Copyright 2KMC.