Chevrolet Monte Carlo Overview

The Chevrolet Monte Carlo burst on the scene in 1970 as Chevy’s debonair entry in the burgeoning personal-luxury car category. As this article makes clear, the Monte Carlo eventually came to occupy a much wider field.

1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
The 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo was a debonair personal-luxury car.
See more pictures of Chevrolet Monte Carlo cars.

Discover how the Chevrolet Monte Carlo went from the boulevard to the backstretch as it took its place among NASCAR’s winningest racecars ever. And learn how the Chevrolet Monte Carlo sustained the tradition of the midsize American coupe into the 21st century.

The Chevrolet Monte Carlo debuted for 1970 as competition for the Ford Thunderbird. It maintained its two-door configuration throughout a run that, with just one interruption, lasted until the end of the 2007 model year.

Learn about a proud lineage that included the early and rare Monte Carlo SS model with a 454-cubic-inch V-8, a timely downsizing for 1977, the revival of an SS model for 1983, and the last of the rear-drive models for 1989.

Again reflecting the tenor of its times, the 1995 Chevrolet Monte Carlo marked a transition from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive for Chevy's premier personal car. It was still a coupe, still had midsize dimensions, and still was a true Chevrolet.

1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo assembly line
The 1970 Monte Carlo came off a dedicated assembly line.

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
The 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo was Chevy's first "personal-luxury" model.

The 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, an all-new "personal-luxury" coupe, was billed as "a fine car at a Chevrolet price." Stylish and luxurious, the Monte rode a modified 116-inch Chevelle sedan platform but showed little kinship with mid-size Chevrolets -- except at the front, which used two headlights instead of the Chevelle's four -- and was intended as a rival to Ford's Thunderbird.

Long-hood/short-deck styling was sleek and well proportioned despite the car's ample 205-inch length. Monte Carlo's near-classic profile was enhanced by rear fender skirts, and its six-foot hood was the longest ever installed on a Chevrolet.

Plush interiors held an instrument panel with round gauges and simulated burled elm. Drivers faced more than 25 "skillfully grouped" lights, switches, and buttons.

Monte Carlos were offered only with V-8 power: a 250-horsepower 350-cubic-inch engine was standard, with the option of a 300-horsepower 350, a 265-horsepower Turbo-Fire 400 or, for just $111, a 330-horsepower 400.

Every 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo had power front disc brakes, concealed wipers, low-profile 15-inch tires, full wheel covers, Astro Ventilation, and an electric clock. Like most Chevrolets, they could be impressively personalized by scrutinizing the options list, perhaps starting with a vinyl top in five available colors.

Performance buffs weren't forgotten in the rush toward luxury. The Monte Carlo SS came with a load of tempting gear, including a new, rather aggressive 360-horsepower 454-cubic-inch V-8 with dual exhaust system, automatic level control, G70 wide-oval tires on 15x7 wheels, and discreet identification.

Furthermore, the potent 450-horsepower LS-6 version of the 454 was optional, making an SS -- as the brochure stated -- "a very deceptive car."

"Solid gentlemanly comfort without bombast," one ad promised Monte Carlo buyers. The sales brochure called it "a car without pretense" that "pampers you without overdoing it."

Starting at $3,123, it was quite a handsome and tempting machine. In its opening season, Monte Carlos outsold Thunderbirds by a mile. Of 130,657 Montes built, 3823 had the SS 454 package.

1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
The 1970 Monte Carlo was a combination of luxury and performance.

1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight (lbs.)
Price (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo3,460$3,123130,657

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1971 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1971 Chevrolet Monte Carlo front
The 1971 Monte Carlo kept the smart, clean lines of the 1970 model.
The 1971 Chevrolet Monte Carlo was not much different from the 1970 Monte Carlo, as expected of an all-new model in its second season: a new grille with a finer mesh pattern, a stand-up hood ornament, and square parking lights to replace the original round units.

Critics often ridiculed the Monte Carlo's instrument panel with its simulated Carpathian burled elm trim, but the interior satisfied many an owner. As the sales brochure noted, "only termites will know the difference." Essentially, though, gauges were Chevelle-based.

Chevrolet insisted that a Monte was "still the only car of its kind made in the U.S.A.," promising solid value, luxury, style, dependability, resale value -- and craftsmanship. In addition to luxury goodies, the options list contained several performance items.

Like other GM models, Monte Carlo suffered in production as a result of a lengthy strike early in the model year. Output dropped just slightly, to 128,600 cars from the prior year's 130,657.

Only 1919 customers elected the SS 454 option, with a 365- or 425-horsepower 454-cubic-inch V-8 engine, heavy-duty springs, automatic level control, G70x15 tires on rally wheels, and black rear trim panel.

Base Monte Carlo engine was the 245-horsepower 350, with a 270-horsepower version and a 300-horse "396" (actually 402-cubic-inch) also available.

­1971 Chevrolet Monte Carlo front
The 1971 Monte Carlo carried SS badging on the black rear trim panel.

1971 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

ModelWeight (lbs.)
Price (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,488
$3416

128,600

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo front
Refinement continued to characterize the Monte Carlo for 1972.

The 1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo was billed as "America's most attainable luxury car." The personal-luxury Monte Carlo flaunted a cleaner front-end appearance with parking lights flanking a fresh wide-mesh grille. Rear ends stuck with tall vertical taillights but added a horizontal bright trim strip above the bumper.

Top engine was the 270-horsepower (net) 454-cubic-inch V-8, followed by a 240-horsepower 402-cubic-inch V-8 -- still called a "396." The 454 V-8 cost an extra $261, while the 402 added $142 to a Monte's sticker.

Californians had to be content with a 165- or 175-horsepower 350-cubic-inch V-8 because the larger engines failed to meet that state's emissions standards.

"Owning a Monte Carlo is kind of like having your cake and driving it too," Chevrolet insisted, blending the best virtues of the luxury car and the sporty car. Base-priced at $3,362, the Monte Carlo could be fitted with a long list of luxury conveniences to suit its owner.

No more Super Sport options were available as marketers did not want to dilute the Monte Carlo's luxury image. Lack of such fittings as a floor shift or hood scoops was seen as a bonus, rather than a detriment, for this "beautifully quiet, quietly beautiful" coupe.

1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo rear
Only modest changes were made to the 1972 Monte Carlo.

1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

ModelWeight (lbs.)
Price (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,506
$3,362

180,819

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1973 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1973 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo styling followed a curvier muse for 1973.

The 1973 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, fully redesigned inside and out, was promoted as a personal luxury car at a Chevrolet price. Even so, sport options could transform the coupe into a respectable performer.

A tachometer and extra gauges could be installed, and engine selections still included the big-block 454-cubic-inch V-8. Before departing to form his own company in 1972, general manager John Z. DeLorean had ordered that Monte Carlo suspensions be sport-tuned, to become better rivals to the top imported sedans.

Sporting swoopy, deeply sculpted bodysides, these Monte Carlos adopted opera windows in their rear roof quarters. A new wraparound front bumper crossed the fine-mesh grille. Headlights stood inboard of the fenders, alongside the grille, with parking lights mounted at the fender tips.

Overall length grew by four inches, width by two. Styling may have changed dramatically, but the car's basic long-hood/short-deck theme remained evident.

Owners gave high marks to the new Monte Carlo's quiet luxury, fine performance, and excellent handling characteristics. The redesigned suspension also gained the approval of road-testers at the car-buff magazines.

Improved ride/handling came as a result of the car's full-coil suspension, radial-ply tires, and "wide-stance" chassis with front and rear stabilizer bars.

Engine choices began with a 307-cubic-inch V-8 and included a pair of 350-cubic-inch V-8s as well as the big 454 (now rated at 245 horsepower). No more 402-cubic-inch engines were available.

Production totaled an impressive 290,693 Monte Carlos in three trim levels: seldom-seen sport coupe, best-selling "S" coupe, and a Landau sport coupe that ranked in the middle of the sales picture. Motor Trend voted the Monte Carlo Landau its Car of the Year.

Monte Carlo options included a vinyl top at $123 and an open-it-up Sky Roof for $325. Landau editions had special sail-panel emblems, fender striping, custom wheels, and a rear stabilizer bar.

1973 Chevrolet Monte Carlo rear
The 1973 Monte Carlo retained its familiar
long hood/short deck proportions.

1973 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,713-3,722
$3,415-$3,806
290,693

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Landau
The ritziest 1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo was this Landau model.

The 1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Chevrolet's hot-selling personal-luxury coupe, gained a new eggcrate-patterned grille and bigger parking lights as part of refined front and rear styling.

Overall length grew by three inches. Most popular Monte of the year was the "S," which now served as the base model. The posh, vinyl-topped Landau also remained on the market, but those were the only two choices.

The Monte Carlo's base engine again developed 145 horsepower, while the top 454-cubic-inch V-8 stuck with 245 horses. A 180-horsepower rendition of Chevrolet's 400-cubic-inch V-8 also was available.

Manually operated swing-out Strato-bucket seats might be installed, as could a new power-operated sliding steel Skyroof, which cost $325. The radial-tuned suspension system earned some refinements.

"Its elegance is basic," the sales brochure explained. "From the ground up," Monte Carlo was "a car you can be proud of." A new bright-framed, color-keyed instrument cluster was installed. The Landau coupe added a vinyl half-roof along with body accent striping, sport mirrors, Turbine II wheels, and "discriminating" crests.

Options included electric door locks, power trunk opener, power windows, console, Comfortilt steering wheel -- and a child safety seat named the "Love Seat."

1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Landau rear
The 1974 Monte Carlo Landau was
instantly recognizable by its vinyl roof.

1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,926-3,928
$3,885-$4,129
312,217

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1975 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1975 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Landau
Monte Carlo grilles and taillights were restyled for 1975.

The 1975 Chevrolet Monte Carlo coupe, with its vinyl half-roof and narrow rear quarter windows, continued to attract a respectable number of buyers. A total of 110,380 Landaus were produced versus 148,529 basic "S" Monte Carlos, which cost $270 less. Total Monte output dropped by 17 percent from the 1974 figure.

Grilles earned a restyling this season. A new wraparound taillight design brought up the rear. For the last time, Montes could have the big-block 454-cubic-inch V-8, now rated at 215 horsepower. Base engine was a 145-horsepower 350-cubic-inch V-8 with two-barrel carburetor. For a little more oomph, two other options could be checked off: a four-barrel, 155-horsepower rendition of the 350 or a 400-cubic-inch V-8 that eked out 175 horsepower. This year's Monte Carlos were shod with broader, GR70x15 radial tires.

"When it makes you feel good about yourself," the sales brochure insisted of the Monte Carlo, "that's character." The popular coupe was described as "honest, tasteful, with classic design and elegance." A newly available Custom interior included a choice of a 50/50 reclining passenger seat or swivel bucket seats. Standard interiors had a bench seat, and the driver faced a color-keyed instrument panel, steering wheel, and steering column.

1975 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Landau rear
The 1975 Monte Carlo Landau could be fitted with an optional Sky-roof.

1975 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,927-3,930
$4,249-$4,519
258,909

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo side
The Monte Carlo's handsomely sculpted
bodysides were unchanged for 1976.

The 1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo's production set a record, with a stunning 353,272 coupes rolling off the assembly line. While many cars struggled for sales in the mid-Seventies, Chevrolet's personal-luxury coupes continued to move easily off the showroom floors.

Without question, Montes were dominating their mid-size market segment. A total of 191,370 "S" coupes were built, against 161,902 Landau coupes, which cost $293 more.

Revised styling was led by stacked quad headlights and an elegant new horizontal-slot grille. Cleanly restyled taillights were flatter and actually plainer in appearance. Top Monte Carlo engine was the 175-horsepower 400-cubic-inch V-8, followed by a pair of 350-cubic-inch powerplants that whipped up 145 or 165 horses.

A thriftier 140-horsepower 305-cubic-inch V-8 became the standard engine, but the big-block 454 was gone. Three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic was now the standard Monte transmission.

A "Fashion Tone" paint scheme joined the options list, with contrasting colors on portions of the front fenders, doors, and quarter panels -- an attempt at a pseudo-classic look. Landau coupes had standard Turbine II wheel covers, along with a vinyl half-roof and dual sport mirrors.

1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo rear
The 1976 Monte Carlo topped 1975 sales by more than 90,000 units.

1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,907
$4,673-$4,699
353,272

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo front
The 1977 Monte Carlo's front end had
become unappealingly overstyled.

The 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo's sales continued to be hearty -- stronger than in 1976, in fact. More "personal-size luxury" competitors had been scrambling for customers since the Monte Carlo was introduced in 1970, but Chevrolet's example of the concept remained a stalwart contender. Shoppers snapped up 224,327 copies of the "S" sport coupe, along with 186,711 Landau coupes. Prices now started at $4,968, or $5,298 for the Landau. Only the Oldsmobile Cutlass beat the Monte Carlo in the mid-size coupe sales race.

Now that full-size Chevrolets had been downsized, they rode the same 116-inch wheelbase as Monte Carlos. Strangely enough, the Montes weighed more than the "big" coupes and sedans.

The list of available engines had slimmed down considerably. This year's Monte Carlo had only two choices: the standard 305-cubic-inch V-8 with a 145-horsepower rating, or an optional 350-cubic-inch V-8 that put out 170 horsepower. All Monte Carlos had Turbo Hydra-Matic.

Grilles now were divided into small segments, and a new hood ornament carried the Monte Carlo crest. Widened taillights sat lower on the rear panel and were horizontally segmented. Options included a padded vinyl roof, sport mirrors, Turbine II wheels, and Rally wheels. Landau coupes had pinstriping and a vinyl half-roof.

1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo rear
For the 1977 Monte Carlo, taillights were now horizontally segmented.

1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,852
$4,968-$5,298
411,038

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo front
The 1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo was
downsized in the name of fuel economy.

The 1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo coupe's downsizing blended with radical restyling to create a different breed, now aimed at fuel economy. This third-generation model was a foot shorter and 800 pounds lighter than the 1977. Less overhang and a tighter turning circle made this Monte easier to manage and park.

A 231-cubic-inch 105-horsepower V-6 engine was standard -- the first time six-cylinder power was offered in a Monte Carlo. For a little extra vitality, a 305-cubic-inch V-8 could be installed rated at 145 horsepower, but that was the limit. The engine upgrade cost just $150 extra. A three-speed manual gearshift was standard, but California Monte Carlos came only with automatic.

This "trim and timely new edition" with "stately stance and sculptured sides," the sales brochure insisted, "retains the unique personality of Monte Carlos past." It was "beautifully in tune with the times, yet emphatically apart from the crowd." The new front end held a grid-patterned grille flanked by single rectangular headlights.

Chevrolet pushed the interior as a personal "driver's suite," in a car that "demands to be driven." Fresh styling included a delta-spoked soft-vinyl steering wheel and a padded dashboard.

Options included power locks, Rally wheels (for the sport coupe only), Strato-bucket seats, a Power Skyroof, power windows, and a power trunk opener. The Monte Carlo's road-tuned suspension included front and rear stabilizer bars.

Of the 358,191 Monte Carlos produced in the 1978 model year, less than 40 percent were Landau coupes rather than basic sport coupes. The Monte Carlo Landau came with an automatic transmission, deluxe wheel covers, sport mirrors, pinstriping, elk-grain vinyl rear roof cover, and wide sill moldings.

Monte Carlos shared their platform, on a 108-inch wheelbase, with the "new-size" Malibus -- which were a foot shorter and as much as half a ton lighter than equivalent 1977 Chevelles.

1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo rear
The 1978 Monte Carlo retained the general lines of earlier models.

1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,040-3,175
$4,785-$5,828
358,191 (approx.)

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
The 1979 Monte Carlo sported a
cleaned-up grille and wraparound taillights.

The 1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo coupe was nearly unchanged after a dramatic redesign for 1978.

The few changes to the 1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo included a fine-patterned crosshatch grille, segmented parking lights, and wraparound taillights. As usual, color and trim selections were also different.

Landau versions of the 1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo displayed a new canopy-style vinyl roof treatment, described as "an aristocratic arch of textured padded vinyl." Landaus had pinstriping and black rocker panels, as well as deluxe wheel covers and sport mirrors.

Performance might have been meager compared to certain Montes of the past, but shoppers had four engines to choose from: a 94-horsepower 200-cubic-inch V-6, 115-horsepower 231-cubic-inch V-6, 125-horsepower 267-cubic-inch V-8, and the strongman of the quartet -- a 160-horsepower 305-cubic-inch V-8.

The 1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlos sold in California made do with two engine choices: a 231-cubic-inch (3.8-liter) V-6 or the 305 V-8. A floor-shifted three-speed was the standard transmission, but California-bound Montes came only with automatic.

Chevrolet promoted the 1979 as "a car that stands apart," offering "a look, a feel, a personality all its own." Even more tempting was an interior that "massages your spirit with easeful luxury."

Who could resist such an invitation? Monte Carlo coupes could be ordered with removable tinted-glass roof panels that fit into the trunk.

1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Landau Sport Coupe rear
The 1979 Monte Carlo Landau Sport Coupe
gained a new vinyl-roof treatment.

1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,039-3,169
$5,333-$6,448
316,923

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1980 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1980 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Sport Coupe
A subtle facelift freshened up the
1980 Chevrolet Monte Carlo's front end.

The 1980 Chevrolet Monte Carlo received its first facelift since being "downsized" for 1977. The car got a new "eggcrate" grille between rectangular side-by-side headlights, but was little changed otherwise, at least on the outside.

Under the hood, it was a different story. Compared to 1979, there was a slight shuffling of engine displacements and horsepower ratings, with V-6s of 229 or 231 cubic inches, and V-8s of 267 or 305 cubic inches. Horsepower ranged from 110 to 155. But added for 1980 was a turbocharged version of Buick's 231-cubic-inch V-6 rated at 170 horsepower.

Unfortunately for performance buffs, the four-speed manual transmission offered (but rarely ordered) for 1979 was dropped, making a three-speed automatic the standard -- and only -- transmission.

Turbocharged engines typically don't make much power at low speeds, so the automatic transmission coupled with a tall 2.29:1 rear axle ratio meant that off-the-line punch wasn't a Turbo Monte's strong suit. Indeed, its 13.0-second 0-60 time was little if any better than with the 5.0-liter V-8 -- which cost $200 less.

Like any good personal-luxury coupe, the Monte Carlo offered a host of "personalizing" options: Custom Cloth or Vinyl upholstery, a bevy of sound systems (some with built-in CB radios), power windows/locks/seats, power trunk opener, power sunroof, and "Removable Glass Roof Panels," more commonly known as T-tops.

Along with most other Chevys, Monte Carlo prices were up sharply. In 1979, a base V-6 coupe retailed for $5,333; for 1980, it was up to $6,524. A Landau edition was also offered, which added a vinyl top, pin striping, deluxe wheel covers, and visor vanity mirrors. At $250 more than a base Monte, the Landau didn't sell as well.

But then Monte Carlos as a whole didn't sell very well. From 282,000 in 1979, sales dropped to only 126,000 for 1980. Increased prices were partly to blame, but so was the gas crisis that labeled most traditional large American cars as "guzzlers."

1980 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Sport Coupe rear
The 1980 Monte Carlo Sport Coupe
came standard with a 3.8-liter V-6.

1980 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,104-3,219
$6,524-$6,852
148,842

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1981 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1981 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
The Monte Carlo was the only 1981 Chevy to enjoy a sales increase.

The 1981 Chevrolet Monte Carlo received a mild -- but much needed -- reskinning. The nose looked similar to the 1980 edition but was lower, more squared off, and wore body-colored bumpers.

In back, the 1981 Chevrolet Monte Carlo replaced vertical taillights with horizontal lenses in a higher tail that was likewise boxier and adorned with body-colored bumpers. The sweeping fender creases that had long been a Monte Carlo trademark were still in evidence but toned down in a more slab-sided profile.

Engine choices were the same as before, though all were fitted with GM's new Computer Command Control (CCC) emission system.

The base 229-cubic-inch V-6 dropped from 115 horsepower to 110, matching the 231-cubic-inch Buick V-6 substituted in California. V-8s of 267- and 305-cubic-inch returned, with 115 and 150 horsepower, respectively, while the top power option was again the 170-horsepower turbocharged 3.8-liter V-6. Meanwhile, a lock-up torque converter was added to the standard three-speed automatic transmission.

Like other GM cars, Monte Carlo prices rose dramatically for 1981, the base model being up by $775 to $7,299, the top-line Landau V-8 increasing by over $1,200 to $8,056. Yet with the help of new styling, sales went up by over 25 percent to 187,850, making Monte Carlo the only Chevrolet to boast higher volume for 1981.

1981 Chevrolet Monte Carlo rear
The 1981 Monte Carlo was a handsome, if formal, coupe.

1981 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,102-3,228
$7,299-$8,056
187,850

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1982 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1982 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
The 1982 Monte Carlo base model remained smart and handsome.

The 1982 Chevrolet Monte Carlo returned with only detail changes outside, though there was some shuffling going on under the hood.

Moreover, with that year's discontinuation of the coupe version of the Chevrolet Malibu, Chevy began considering the Monte Carlo as much a two-door variant of the Malibu as a model in its own right. Even the Malibu's facelift that year echoed Monte Carlo styling themes.

Finally, 1982 Chevrolet Monte Carlo prices now fell within the Malibu's range. Montes were previously somewhat more expensive.

The 1982 Chevrolet Monte Carlo received a finer-mesh grille, and dropping the bucket seat option made them all six-passenger automobiles.

Powertrain availability was identical to Malibu's, so Chevy's 3.8-liter 229-cubic-inch 110-horsepower V-6 returned as standard, with 4.4-liter (267-cubic-inch, 115 horsepower) and 5.0-liter (305-cubic-inch, 150 horsepower) V-8s optional.

Notable by its absence was the 3.8-liter turbocharged V-6 that had been introduced in 1980. But replacing the turbo were a pair of diesels, a 105-horsepower 5.7-liter V-8 and an 83-horsepower 262-cubic-inch 4.3-liter V-6.

Even without competition from the extinct Malibu coupe, Monte Carlo sales plummeted, from nearly 188,000 in 1981 to less than 93,000 for 1982 -- better than a 50-percent drop. But Chevy had some tricks up its sleeve for the 1983 model year.

1982 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,190
$8,177-$8,247
92,392

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
The 1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo was little changed
from 1982. Pictured is the base model, which was
available with gas and diesel V-6 and V-8 engines.

The 1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, like the mechanically similar Malibu, got only a slightly revised grille to mark this version as an 1983 model. But midyear would bring a whole new breed of Monte. As with Malibu, the small 4.4-liter V-8 engine option was deleted.

Once again, Chevy's 3.8-liter V-6 with 110 horsepower was standard in 49-state cars, while a similar Buick-built engine was used in California. Optional were a 150-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8 and a pair of diesels: a 4.3-liter V-6 with 85 horsepower and a 5.7-liter V-8 with 105 horsepower. Neither diesel proved very popular.

In the spring of 1983, Chevy released the 1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS. This was an effort to rekindle the midsize Chevy muscle car, and it did a credible job of it, given the performance parameters of the early 1980s.

The 1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS packed a high-performance 180-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8 fitted with high-lift cam and low-restriction dual exhaust. It boasted a smoother front fascia than other 1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlos, with integrated bumper and lower lip spoiler.

SS badging, a small rear spoiler, and stiffer suspension also were included in the 1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS. Available only in white or dark metallic blue, it was a real "blast from the past," with spirited acceleration the likes of which had not been seen in a midsize Chevy for a very long time.

1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,220-3,328
$8,552-$10,474
96,319

1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Sport Coupe rear
The 1983 Monte Carlo SS Sport Coupe had impressive performance
courtesy of a 180-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8 and sport suspension.

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1984 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1984 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS rear
With its 5.0-liter V-8 and macho styling cues, the 1984
Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS helped give the
entire Monte Carlo lineup a sporty image.

The 1984 Chevrolet Monte Carlo took over as Chevy's sole midsize rear-wheel-drive car because the Chevrolet Malibu had been scratched from Chevy's lineup.

Changes to the 1984 Chevrolet Monte Carlo were few, encompassing mostly powertrain shuffling, though front bucket seats with a required center console were added as an option.

Engine choices remained the same as before, except that the 4.3-liter V-6 diesel was dropped due to lack of interest. The 105-horsepower 5.7-liter V-8 diesel was still available, though not in California, where it couldn't pass that state's emissions standards. The base 49-state engine was Chevy's 110-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6; California cars got a similar Buick-built V-6.

A 150-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8 was optional on base versions of the 1984 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS returned with its 180-horsepower 5.0-liter. All engines came standard with a three-speed automatic transmission. A four-speed automatic was optional on all but California's Buick V-6.

It's doubtful those disappointed in the demise of the Malibu, which was offered as a sedan or wagon, would now gravitate to a two-door Monte Carlo. So something else must have prompted the 1984 Chevrolet Monte Carlo's 40-percent boost in popularity.

A good part of that "something else" was performance, indicating that quick, good-looking coupes could still attract buyers.

1984 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,165-3,434
$8,936-$10,700
136,780

1984 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS
The 1984 Monte Carlo SS helped fuel a
dramatic rise in Monte Carlo sales.

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe

1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS
The 1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS was the only Monte Carlo model
that didn't get more horsepower for 1985.

The 1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Chevy's rear-wheel-drive personal-luxury car, got more power, but for the first time since 1981, no diesel engine was offered in the Monte Carlo..

In the 1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo base model, the previously standard 3.8-liter Chevy V-6 gave way to a larger 4.3-liter V-6 with throttle-body fuel injection. That brought along 20 extra horsepower, for a new total of 130.

The optional 5.0-liter V-8 likewise gained some ponies, via a jump in compression ratio. It jumped from 150 horsepower to 165. The High Output 5.0-liter V-8 in the 1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS remained at 180 horsepower.

The V-6 and base V-8 could be backed by either a three- or four-speed automatic transmission, but the H.O. V-8 in the SS came only with the four-speed this year.

Though the base coupe carried on visually unchanged, the SS was a different story. Previously offered only in white or dark blue metallic, color choices were expanded to include silver, maroon, and black. "Removable glass roof panels" (T-tops) came on board as a midyear option.

Despite its aging design, nearly 120,000 Monte Carlos found eager buyers in 1985. Though the total was down somewhat from 1984, the SS model saw sales climb from 24,050 to 35,484, a sure sign that performance was making a comeback.

1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS rear
Color choices for the 1985 Chevy Monte Carlo SS expanded
from two to five, including this maroon hue.

1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts


Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,139-3,385
$9,540-$11,380
119,057

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS
The hot 1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS shows off the
wheel design that was new that year.

The 1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo line was joined by a luxurious new LS model with a distinctive aerodynamic nose, flush-mounted composite headlights, and wraparound taillights.

Every 1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo got a new instrument panel redesigned to accept Delco electronic radios, and gauge graphics were revised. Retuned suspensions with stiffer shocks were found throughout the line, while the SS got new aluminum wheels.

Though engine choices were the same as before, power ratings were revised somewhat. The standard 4.3-liter V-6 gained 10 horsepower to 140. The base 5.0-liter V-8 lost 15, dropping to 150. The H.O. 5.0 V-8 in the Monte Carlo SS was unchanged at 180.

The V-6 came standard with a three-speed automatic transmission, with a four-speed automatic optional; the V-8s came only with the latter.

A special Monte Carlo SS model arrived at midyear in very limited numbers. Called Aerocoupe, it featured a sloped rear window that made the body more aerodynamic for use in NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) competition.

In order to make any such modification legal for track use, NASCAR rules stated that the manufacturer had to build 200 copies for sale to the general public -- and that's just what Chevrolet did. Those 200 have since become coveted collectors' items.

1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Aerocoupe fastback coupe
The 1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe was
a limited-edition fastback-glass coupe produced to
qualify the shape for NASCAR competition.

1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,138-3,440
$10,241-$14,191
119,210

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1987, 1988 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
The 1987 and 1988 Chevrolet Monte Carlo closed a
chapter in Monte Carlo history. Shown here are
the 1987 Monte Carlo SS and LS models.

The 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Chevy's rear-drive personal-luxury car, dropped its base model and got slightly revised taillights.

The 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo was offered in LS and SS models. The 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS came in notchback coupe and fastback Aerocoupe versions.

The Aerocoupe was a limited-production special first seen for 1986. Only 200 were built to qualify the design for use in stock car racing. For 1987, production was somewhat less limited: a total of 6052.

Standard engine in the 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo LS was the throttle-body-injected 4.3-liter V-6, now making five more horsepower for a total of 145. It was backed by a three-speed automatic transmission.

Optional for the LS was the base 5.0-liter carbureted V-8 making 150 horsepower. It was tied to a four-speed automatic; this transmission was optional on the V-6. The 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS models again got the H.O. carbureted 5.0-liter V-8 with 180 horsepower.

The 1988 Chevrolet Monte Carlo became Chevy's sole remaining rear-drive six-passenger coupe. This was the result of Chevrolet discontinuing its full-size Caprice two-door body style after 1987.

The 1988 Chevrolet Monte Carlo changes included the addition of a four-speed automatic as standard. And the fastback Aerocoupe version of the The Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS was history. Just over 30,000 Montes were built in this swan-song season, more than half being the SS version.

After a run of some 19 years, the Monte Carlo nameplate was retired -- or should we say, granted a leave of absence. Go to the following pages to see how the name would be resurrected in the 1990s to grace a rather different sort of personal-luxury car.

1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS
The 1987 andd 1988 Monte Carlos were the last of the rear-wheel-drive
Monte Carlos. This is 1987 Monte Carlo SS.

1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,283-3,526
$11,306-$14,838
79,045

1988 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,212-3,267
$12,330-$14,320
30,174

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1995 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1995 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
The 1995 Monte Carlo was the two-door
version of the new Lumina sedan.

The 1995 Chevrolet Monte Carlo revived a name last used in 1988. The new 1995 Monte Carlo was aimed at an audience similar to the one that had been attracted to the personal-coupe rear-drive Montes.

The 1995 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, however, took a somewhat different engineering approach.

The 1995 Chevrolet Monte Carlo was based on the same front-wheel-drive platform as the four-door Chevy Lumina sedan. The two shared powertrains and had much the same interior design.

As a coupe, however, the Monte Carl had a different roofline, and it's front and rear fascias were unique. Dual air bags were standard, as were anti-lock brakes. Inside, the Monte sported a fake wood-grain stripe that ran across the dash and into the doors, a "luxury" trim item left off the more mainstream Lumina.

LS and Z34 versions of the 1995 Chevrolet Monte Carlo were offered, The LS was equipped like the Lumina LS sedan with a bench front seat affording six-passenger capacity. The LS used Chevy's 3.1-liter V-6, which had gained 20 horsepower over the year before and was now rated at 160.

The Z34 was the sporting entry, with standard front bucket seats and console, stiffer suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, body-colored grille surround (versus chrome on the LS), and additional amenities. It used Chevy's 3.4-liter Twin Dual Cam V-6 rated at 210 horsepower, up 10 from 1994.

Standard equipment on every 1995 Chevrolet Monte Carlo included a four-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, power windows and locks, split-folding rear seat, Pass-key anti-theft system, and a tachometer.

Like the Lumina, the 1995 Monte Carlo faced some tough competition. Among domestic manufacturers, Ford's rear-wheel-drive Thunderbird was perhaps the Monte's closest rival, and it scored points with its available V-8 engine.

Chrysler joined the fray with a new front-wheel-drive Sebring sport coupe that was smaller and less powerful than the Monte Carlo, but was years ahead in styling and offered surprising interior room. And then there was the overseas competition, notably the coupe versions of the popular Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

1995 Monte Carlo Brickyard pace car
A dressed-up Monte Carlo paced the inaugural
Brickyard 500 stock car race.

1995 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,306-3,436
$16,770-$18,970
NA

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.

1996 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

1996 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
The 1996 Monte Carlo was essentially
unchanged in its second model year.

The 1996 Chevrolet Monte Carlo personal luxury coupe, like its Chevy Lumina sedan counterpart, had few changes but a handful of new options for its second year on the market.

LS and Z34 versions of the 1996 Chevrolet Monte Carlo were again offered. Both came with dual air bags and anti-lock brakes, though Z34s now boasted four-wheel discs.

Each model had its own engine: The LS came with a 160-horsepower 3.1-liter V-6. The Z34 was powered by a 3.4-liter Twin Dual Cam V-6 with 215 horsepower, five more than in 1995.

Both engines came with new five-year/100,000-mile coolant and 100,000-mile platinum-tipped spark plugs to extend service intervals. Meanwhile, the standard four-speed automatic transmission got Dexron III fluid that never needed replacement under normal driving conditions.

Newly standard on 1996 Chevrolet Monte Carlo LS models were power mirrors. New options included a leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio controls (standard on Z34), dual-zone temperature controls, cargo-area convenience net (standard on Z34), and leather interior with bucket seats. A power sunroof was scheduled for midyear introduction.

Monte Carlo-bodied racers continued their winning ways on the stock-car tracks, taking numerous events including the Daytona 500. Though the racing machines shared little in common with their showroom brethren, the victories cast a halo not only over the Monte Carlo, but over Chevrolet as well.

The Monte Carlo would continue for another decade as a front-drive two-door, making the 1997-2007 Monte Carlos fitting heirs to Chevy's personal-coupe legacy.

1996 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Z34
The Monte Carlo Z34 came standard with a
3.4-liter Twin Dual Cam V-6.

1996 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Monte Carlo
3,306-3,436
$17,255-$19,455
80,717

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  • All Chevrolet Monte Carlos: The Chevrolet Monte Carlo continued in production through the 2007 model year. Learn about the modern history of this stylish Chevy coupe.