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How Chevrolet Works

Chevrolet Monte Carlo
The sharp 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo sold well in the personal-luxury market.

Chevrolet entered the personal-luxury market with the Monte Carlo. A 65-day strike kept the division from outproducing Ford, but its 12-month total of nearly 1.5 million cars was hardly bad. For the model year, Chevy built 1.46 million cars to its arch rival's two million-plus.

A kissin' cousin of Pontiac's all-new '69 Grand Prix, the cleanly styled Monte Carlo rode the Chevelle's 116-inch four-door chassis but came only as a hardtop coupe with the longest hood in Chevy history. A 250-bhp 350 V-8 teamed with Turbo-Hydra-Matic as standard, and all sorts of luxury options were offered. Alternative engines ran to a 300-bhp 350 and a new 400 V-8 with 330 bhp.

Base-priced just below $3000, the Monte Carlo sold well: over 145,000 for 1970 (against only 50,000 for Ford's considerably costlier Thunderbird). Among them were a mere 3823 equipped with the optional SS 454 package -- an iron fist in a velvet glove if ever there was one.

Listed as RPO Z20, the Monte SS package delivered the division's huge new 454 big-block engine, a stroked 427 tuned for 360 bhp in this application, plus square-tip dual exhausts and a chassis fortified with auto-leveling rear shocks, stiffer front shocks, and power front disc brakes. Discreet badges and black rocker-panel trim were the only clues as to what lay beneath that long hood.

Acceleration was vivid: just 7.5 seconds for 0-60 mph. But luxury was this car's forte -- after 1919 more in '71, the Monte Carlo wouldn't take another run at performance until years later.

Corvair's demise after 1969 left Nova as Chevy's only compact. The 1970 edition was mildly face-lifted, but saw no substantive change. That year's Chevelle, still on the split-wheel-base 1968 A-body platform, was restyled to look more like full-size Chevys, gaining a divided grille, bulges around each wheel opening, and a more-rounded, massive look.

Super Sport packages were again offered for both Nova and Chevelle, the former built around a 350 V-8, the latter around the big-block 454 and 396 (which was actually a 402 now). None saw very high sales, what with rising fuel prices and insurance rates putting a big damper on muscle-car demand throughout Detroit.

The big-car sales emphasis was still on the luxurious Impala and Caprice; Biscayne and Bel Air were now reduced to just one four-door sedan each.

For more on Chevrolet cars, old and new, see:

  • Chevrolet New Car Reviews and Prices
  • Chevrolet Used Car Reviews and Prices