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Back in early 2017, I drove a Chevrolet Monte Carlo into my garage for storage. At that time it drove absolutely perfect – but what about two years later?

The car was a running restoration project, and I drove it into storage for the owner who had clear intentions of restoring the car to its former glory at a later stage. Just as all of us always have. But for him, that time actually arrived a few weeks ago, where I received a phone call from him explaining that a flatbed truck would be dropping by to pick it up. Clearly, he no longer trusted driving the car some 150 miles back home. And of course, the big question was: Would it even start? I promised to put a charger to the battery and crank over the Monte Carlo to see whether it would ignite and perhaps even idle – which happened to be a demand from the transport company. The car had stood absolutely still since that early day in 2017, and I was somewhat pessimistic in relation to its chances for resuscitation without further notice.

I was able to get some power into the battery though. On the third attempt the old Chevy lump coughed lightly, and from then on I started to believe. And quite rightly so: My wife was at hand too, and gave it just a sniff of starter gas straight into the carburettor (I had removed the air filter cover), and that was all it required. It fired – on all eight cylinders, even – and after warming up a little, it could also idle without my right foot gently massaging the throttle. Succes!

Admitted, it did not run as smoothly as my XJ12, but then again: It probably didn’t back in 2017 either. Or when it was brand new for that matter. The fact that it started without major hassle was impressive enough for me. Then I carefully ventured out onto the street and rolled gently up and down the street once, and found to my own great surprise that everything worked. In fact, I honestly think the owner could have driven the Monte Carlo back to Zealand under its own power. He mostly chose to stick with the transportation company because it involved less of a risk.

However, they did not arrive as advertised. I assume they do not drive Chevrolets? Because now I know that if you do, nothing can stop you. If they’d driven a Chevy, they’d have arrived on time, wouldn’t they? I was impressed, to say the least – uhmm… with the Chevrolet Monte Carlo that is. Just as I had been when I drove the car before putting it into storage last year: Very comfortable, very silent, very airy. Stylish even. But would I want one?

I love Monte Carlo of the Seventies.

Not really: I sort of like it, and there’s certainly no denying that it has both presence and style. It’s just not MY style. As much as I love Monte Carlo as a city, the Monte Carlo from Chevrolet falls somewhat short of what I usually prefer. I actually even value the way it’s so different from my usual suspects – and not least, I really appreciate a car that starts after two years of standing still.

Strangely enough, while I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t experience such reliability here, I’d still prefer the Montecarlo from Lancia. Which I suppose says a lot more about me than it does about either of these two cars.


4 Responses

  1. Dave Leadbetter

    See, I’d happily roll around in that. They’re quite a manageable size for an American car too, they probably classed it as a micro-compact or something. The only danger is that faux wire wheels can make them look at bit “apprentice Huggy Bear” but the deep dish wheels on “yours” are perfect. I can’t quite tell from the photographs but does it have a partial vinyl roof as well?

    It’s a good job I’m over the Channel or I’d be round your house and all over this.

  2. YrHmblHst

    Shoot, you coulda let that car sit til 2027 and it woulda started.
    Imagine that being from illinois, the poor thing is a bit ratty, but basically, theyre very good old cars; maybe not the fastest or the best handling, but reliable and comfortable. The Monte Carlo is the same basic platform as the Chevelle / Malibu ; this is a post 77 downsized car [G body] that appears to have T Tops. Hope theyre GM / factory tops as opposed to Hurst hatch – parts like latches and weatherstrips are nearly unobtanium for the Hurst units. It WILL need seals. Cant tell which engine, tho I can see some aftermarket stuff from the photo, but it should be either a 305 or a 350; hope its a 350 and not the little 267 or something that they had for a couple of years. Either way, its just good ol smallblock Chevrolet – it will be reliable, easy to work on and source parts for, and you can do anything from getting unbelievable gas mileage from that displacement of an engine to making 1000 horsepower… you choose.
    Im guessing this is a 78 or 9 – cant tell for sure and I never paid a lot of attention to these years anyway. If so, its easy to remove all the smog crap and it still has a tuneable carb and adjustable distributor. Certain trim parts might be a bit rare, but you can keep it running and driving nearly indefinitely.
    Personally have a ‘thing’ for 70 – 72 and the 83-87 SS models. Owned a 75 for a short time – theres a story there – and my wife had a 74 before she was my wife. Thats the only car I ever met that didnt like me…Story there too, but I won’t subject yall to any [much] more of my prattling today.
    Understand what youre saying about the choice of the Lancia or the Chevrolet version; comes down to what sort of driving you want to do and whether you want to drive more or repair more… :)

  3. Claus Ebberfeld

    @dave, absolutely agree on the wheels: The wide steelies are perfect for this car. Vinyl roof there’s not, though – it’s a rather smart glass-roof arrangement which considerably adds to the airy and pleasant atmosphere in the car.

    And yes, @yrhmblhst , it is a factory top and in fact the cars seemed completely untouched since it left the factory. Which was also one of the things that I admired about the Monte Carlo: For an unrestored car of that vintage it drove really well.

    As I recall it the owner planned to restore the car to pretty original specs which seems to be rather the exception these days.

  4. YrHmblHst

    @Claus – fortunately those are GM tops ; the likelihood of finding new seals and latches [if ever needed] is greatly increased. The Hurst Hatch tops were indeed quasi-factory actually, just an aftermarket supplier. I am far from expert in the matter, but I THINK that the tops on the post 77 G body cars were all GM; double check carefully should the need for parts ever arise.
    Understand the owner wanting to go back ‘factory’ , but thats one of the beauties of an SBC – you can build it ‘factory stock’ in several stages of tune, and, one can refresh it with many different combos of internals – leaving it bone stock appearance-wise – and make tremendous power. Just fiddling with the heads can yield significant gains. Look at what the guys in the PSMCD series [pure stock musclecar drags] are doing; serious power with factory parts. Wanna really make a sleeper? Look into what the F.A.S.T. group is doing – factory appearing from the outside, and there are guys in the low 10s…with cast manifolds and full exhaust! recoup some of his inve$tment late in the evening from punks in their jap cars. :)


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