Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cars in Yards: 1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

“Why didn’t we think of that?” moments with a 1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. I imagine the designers and engineers in the Pontiac Division of GM were not happy in 1969 when they heard the name of Chevrolet’s new model on the personal luxury platform. “Monte Carlo” would soon be introduced as the new kid in Chevrolet’s 1970 models. The very name fit Pontiac’s image to perfection. I can imagine Pontiac designers snapping their pencils in two pieces, in fits of anger. Monte Carlo was not only a classy upscale place (not unlike the expensive places Pontiac placed their cars in ads), but it was also a race. Pontiac loved to name models and trim levels after races. “Why didn’t we think of that?”

This photo does not do justice to the incredible swivel seats. The flip of a lever actually turned the seat 90-degrees to allow the driver or passenger to sit down without “climbing” in. This shot does show the power window and lock options.

This brochure photo for 1973 Monte Carlos gives a better idea of the Swivel Buckets. Notice the ad color was green. Green was still popular in 1974, although it was on the downhill slide. By 1980, green was associated with grandmothers and bridge players. I would have bought it!

Plush and powerful
   Personal Luxury was the craze. Pontiac’s Grand Prix led the way in 1969 for the taste of a two door model that ran like a muscle car and felt like a larger car. Chevrolet answered the call with the 1970 Monte Carlo. You could have had a V8, and you certainly did, you power hungry consumer, you. A six cylinder was not an option. Don’t even ask. A couple of 350 C.I.D’s , a 400 small block, a 402, and a couple of 454s were on the option list, including an LS6 450-horsepower ground pounder in the Super Sport models. Wearing small SS454 badges, it was discreet and dangerous.

Our first surprise was a near perfect set of 1970 Camaro Z28 wheels on this Monte. Although they did not come on this car from the beginning, they still add a muscular stance to an already good looking car. Any chance of the Camaro still hanging around? Maybe its wearing the Monte Carlo’s wheels.

Monte Carlo redesigned for 1973
   Chevy produced the first generation Monte Carlo from 1970-1972, giving way to a major redesign in 1973. The first of GM’s new “Colonnade” body style didn’t really go over well at first. They were slower and heavier than their older brothers due to government mandated safety standards. Also, rising insurance rates and fuel costs were attempting to kill the muscle car. We still love them, so when The Junkyard Life guys spotted this 1974 Monte Carlo we had to investigate! Was it a 454? It wasn’t, but still we hit Junkyard Green Gold on this one! Ironically, that was actually a color option for 1973-74 Monte Carlos. This baby was decked out too! It had seemingly everything, including the way cool-way limited-way hard to find swivel bucket seats! In green even. Pause to take recovering breath here, you weird forgotten option fans, like us.! It was also packing tilt wheel, cruise control, power windows, air conditioning power locks and originally had a Landau top. Lucky for us Junkyard Life guys, someone ripped it off years ago prolonging the cars life due to the rust vinyl tops promote. Another forgotten weird option was the “Sky Roof” –the predecessor to the sun roof. In a Monte Carlo? Yes! It was in the brochure!

Sky roof baby! GM touted it in their 1973 brochures.

Our first glance from the rear hinted this car was special. Good hint!

How many 1974 Monte Carlos were built?
   Selling 312,217 Monte Carlos in two trim levels, the S Coupe and the Landau, one would incorrectly assume we would see more of these. We don’t. We wish. Can this one be ours? We wish that too!

Happy Hunting – Ron Kidd, 

Dear Prudence, what have you become? The swoopy lines of the 1974 Monte Carlo look great when accented with the thin pin stripe following the body lines. My family had two of these along the way, including one that was Hugger Orange with Rally Wheels – the same wheel I suspect this car was wearing in its younger years.

I (Ron) point out the rear taillights and classy Monte Carlo emblem. This was right before Jody and I hit the dirt to look for other goodies like the optional Posi-traction rear end and rear sway bar (inconclusive). Speaking of which, in 1972 John Delorean was finishing his run as a GM executive and ordered the 1973 Monte Carlo to have a world class handling package. It was to “have the cornering abilities of its European counterparts” as Chevrolet claimed in their brochures.

This Monte Carlo wears a replacement header panel from a white donor car.

Last look at the nearly 40-year-old swivel seat design in the ’74 Monte Carlo.

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