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.

Know of a junkyard I need to visit or want to send me photos and info about a car or junkyard?  Send emails to


Anonymous said...

I have a 1973 S coupe I bought new.

Junkyard Life said...

Wow! Original owner. How many miles, options?
The 73 was a better design in my book. Love to see it. Send us photos or a video even.

Gary said...

Nice write-up guys but I just wanted to add that the LS6 454 was never an option on the Monte Carlo, only the LS5.

Anonymous said...

I have a 74 Landau that I bought from my mom in 1988. My folks bought it in 1978. It started out as factory 350/350 auto, 273 gear, 2 bbl weakling. But, what a great car for cruising and parking. Since then, it has gotten a dual quad 454, racing TH400, 3.42 gears and limited slip. I crippled it on it's last run of about 140mph aroun the year 2000 and it has been lawn art ever since. I refuse to sell it because of the sentimantal and emotional value I have for it. I love that car and will one day do a frame off resto to it and probably go back to near stock with it. If I want a hot rod, I still have my 86 Monte SS that is 500+HP LS3 powered beast. Monte's forever!!!

Anonymous said...

Lower it, stuff some NASCAR-look-and-sized rolling stock and these cars look really good.

Grow a Dale Sr-spec fu-manchu, slip on a set of aviator glasses, and watch the hot honeys come a-runnin'.

Anonymous said...

Thanks!You are right! I really believed when I wrote that story that I had seen a documented one in a magazine, but now after research, I can't find substantial proff of that. One source told me the 402 was never offered with a four speed, but an older gentleman here in Alabama seems to have one. Then again, I have not seen documentation of that car either. Thank you for reading it-stay tuned Jody and I have more cool stuff to follow!

Anonymous said...

ow yeeaaahhhh..!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I need to get parts for 1974 Monte carslo front seat bucket

Anonymous said...

I'd want to be buried in it so I can drive in heavan
Sun roof open and eagles playing

Anonymous said...

How many sky roof cars were built in 1976?

Anonymous said...

Do u have a set of swivel seats and console for a 73 monte carlo