Every connoisseur of the American auto industry is well aware of the two-door coupe – Chevrolet Monte Carlo. This legendary car began its history in 1970 and lasted till 2007. For all the years of production, 6 generations were released, which were constantly updated and modernized.
Monte Carlo was created on the Pontiac Grand Prix G-platform, which was introduced back in 1969. The car was the brainchild of Elliot M. Estes, Chevrolet general manager, and chief designer Dave Holls. They designed the style “under” the contemporary Cadillac Eldorado, although much of the body lines (the bumpers, windshield, and side windows were interchangeable) were borrowed from the Chevelle model.
Source: Mecum Auctions
Since its release, the Monte Carlo had become one of the most popular and best-selling models in GM history. With strong sales, successful performances in NASCAR, and an incredibly popular SS series, the Monte Carlo solidified its position in the personal luxury vehicle market. Interestingly, General Motors was not new to this segment. Earlier, at the start of the 60s, the corporation already produced Buick Riviera and Pontiac Grand Prix models. While the Riviera was aimed at more affluent customers, Pontiac’s highly successful (and affordable) GP captured a large market share and bit off Chevy’s sales, making its “older sibling” division wonder and worry. By 1965, Chevrolet was busy developing a rival for the Ford Mustang – the Camaro. The company was at a disadvantage not having a strong model to compete with the Mustang, Ford’s extraordinarily posh (and cost-effective) Thunderbird, or Pontiac’s luxury/sporty Grand Prix. So, Chevrolet’s management decided to release their own personal car. The Monte Carlo, codenamed Concours, was based on a slightly elongated “A” body or “G” platform like the Grand Prix. Some design details from Bill Mitchell’s newly designed 1967 Cadillac Eldorado were specifically used to add a touch of polish and luxury to the car. Thus, it was intended specifically for the luxury market.
From the beginning, by 1969 Chevrolet planned to release 4-door and convertible versions. However, some big financial spending that occurred while replacing the small Corvair with a new Camaro and other replacements in the company’s line in 1970, made the budget for a new personal luxury vehicle tight. As a result, the 4-door version and the convertible were abandoned, and the model came out in only the hardtop coupe version.
The last model year of the first generation (1970-1972) saw more changes than the previous two. In that year, the developers removed the 4-speed manual transmission from the list of options, leaving only a 3-speed “mechanics” and a 2-speed “automatic”. 1972 was marked with the SS version discontinuation. However, the new Custom version appeared as a one-year-only offer that included special suspension and other items previously included with the SS option. Unlike the legacy SS package, it was available with any engine on the list. The Custom badge was similar to the Impala Custom.
In California, where emission standards were stricter than federal law, the only available engine was the carbureted 350 4-cylinder one. In addition, in California, the only offered transmission was the Turbo Hydramatic. From a mechanical standpoint, the most significant change was that variable-ratio power steering which became standard equipment for the first time. Interior trim had been relatively unchanged since 1971, except for the inclusion of all-vinyl upholstery with a standard bench seat in addition to optional Strato bucket seats. Fabric saloons with benches and bucket seats were also offered. In the 1972 model year, the production increased to 180 819 to set a new final year record for the first A-body generation. The Monte Carlo and other Chevy models were advertised in print and TV broadcasts across the United States under the slogan “Chevrolet: The Best Way to See the USA.”
Controversially, this model year car looked more expensive than it cost, and the manufacturer took great care not to label it as Chevy (there were few company emblems on the model) to emphasize its upscale image. Sales were wonderful, and in 1972, “Monte” brought the corporation the largest income.
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