Chevrolet Monza

The Chevrolet Monza, introduced for 1975, was basically a Chevrolet Vega dressed for a night at the disco. This article lays out the Monza’s brief but entertaining history.

The Monza used the conservative rear-wheel-drive Vega chassis. But as the pictures in the following pages make clear, the Monza had swoopier bodywork than the Vega. This was especially true of the Monza hatchback with its Ferrari-inspired tail.

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The 1975 Chevrolet Monza 2+2, part of the 1975 Chevrolet Monza line.
The 1975 Chevrolet Monza offered OK performance for
 emissions-strangled 1975. See more pictures of classic cars.

The styling of the Chevrolet Monza was intended to complement the use of an innovative rotary engine. But Chevy shelved that idea amid concerns about the rotary’s relatively high fuel consumption and potential inability to satisfy ever-more-stringent exhaust-emission standards.

So the Chevrolet Monza instead used as its base engine the Vega’s rather anemic four-cylinder but surprised consumers by being one of the few small cars in its class to also offer a V-8 alternative.

Solid but unspectacular described both Monza’s performance and its early sales, which split about evenly between the hatchback and a conventional-roof coupe. By model year 1977, when the former Vega station wagon joined the line rechristened a Monza, sales of the car had begun to shrink. Continuation of V-8 power and several trendy trim themes couldn’t do much to boost overall demand.

Monza’s last model year was 1981, and its demise marked the end of Chevy’s efforts to produce a fun-to-drive rear-wheel-drive subcompact. Just around the corner was the Chevrolet Cavalier, which had front-wheel drive but little of Monza’s sporty spirit.

The 1979 Monza 2+2 Sport, part of the 1979 Chevrolet Monza line.
The Monza 2+2 had an attractive hatchback body style.
This is a 1979 model.

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