The Chevrolet Monte Carlo was an American-made two-door coupe introduced for model year 1970, and manufactured over five generations through model year 2007. It was marketed as a personal-luxury coupe through most of its history, with the last model version being classified as a full-sized coupe. When it was discontinued in 2007, it had outlived many competitors that were either discontinued many years earlier or changed in concept to either a four-door sedan or small sport coupe. The Monte Carlo endured five design generations. The first three (1970–72, 1973–77, 1978–80 and 1981–88) were of a rear-wheel-drive, V8-powered (V6 available beginning in 1978) coupe style, utilizing separate body-on-frame construction. The later rear-wheel-drive generations bucked the trend of unit-body construction, along with smaller engines, that became more prevalent in the early 1980s as automakers downsized their vehicle lines to meet increasing stringent fuel-economy regulations in the aftermath of two energy crises that led to gasoline shortages and skyrocketing pump prices in 1973-74 and 1979-80. Despite those trends, the Monte Carlo remained a popular seller and even regained the SS version (initially offered for 1970-71 with 454 cubic-inch V8) from mid-1983 to 1988 with a high-performance 305 cubic inch V8.
Following a several year hiatus following the discontinuation of the rear-drive Monte Carlo after 1988, the nameplate was revived for 1995 on a front-drive, V6-powered coupe based on the Chevrolet Lumina sedan. It was succeeded by the sixth and final-generation Monte Carlo in 2000 that was built along-side of the Chevrolet Impala, which succeeded the Lumina as Chevy's mid-sized sedan. The Monte Carlo SS was revived from 2000 to 2007, initially powered by 3.8-liter V6 (supercharged in 2004-2005), which was replaced by a 5.3-liter V8 for 2006-2007.
The Monte Carlo was originally created as Chevrolet's counterpart to the then new G-body Pontiac Grand Prix, which had been introduced for model year 1969. For the 1968 model year, GM had instituted a split-wheelbase policy for its A-body intermediate cars: 112 in (2845 mm) for two-door models, 116 in (2946 mm) for sedans and 121in for station wagons. The Grand Prix was a two-door coupe riding a special 118 in (2997 mm) version of the A-platform (known as the "G-body "). Rather than add the extra length within the body to increase passenger space (as was customary on sedans) the G-body (also known as the A-body Special) spliced the extra length between the firewall and the front wheels, creating an unusually long hood. The look was very successful, and the new Grand Prix greatly outsold its larger, B-body predecessor despite higher prices. The Monte Carlo was conceived by Elliot M. (Pete) Estes, general manager of Chevrolet, and Chevrolet's chief stylist, Dave Holls. They modeled the styling on the contemporary Cadillac Eldorado, although much of the body and structure were shared with the Chevrolet Chevelle (firewall, windshield, decklid, and rear window were the same). New exterior styling featured concealed windshield wipers. A light monitoring system was optional.
A mid-1990s article in the magazine Chevrolet High Performance stated that the first generation Monte Carlo was known to Chevrolet management under the working name Concours (a usual practice was that all Chevrolet model development names started with a "C"). At one point, the proposal called for a formal coupe, sedan, and convertible. It has been noted that the sedan resembled a full-size Oldsmobile 98 prior to the use of the GM G platform with at least one photo showing the pull-up door handles that would be introduced on the 1970½ Camaro and 1971 Vega and full-sized Chevys, but not appear on Monte Carlos until the second-generation model debuted in 1973.
Though the Monte Carlo was developed at Chevrolet under the leadership of Pete Estes, it was formally introduced in September, 1969 by John Z. DeLorean, who succeeded Estes as Chevrolet's general manager earlier in the year after previously heading the Pontiac division, where he led the development of the similar-bodied 1969 Grand Prix introduced the previous model year. The standard powertrain was the 350 CID (5.7 L) Chevrolet "Turbo-Fire" small-block V8 with a two-barrel carburetor, rated at 250 hp (186 kW) (gross) at 4500 rpm and 345 ft•lbf (468 N•m) of torque at 2800 rpm, mated to a column-mounted 3-speed Synchro-Mesh manual transmission. Front disc brakes were standard equipment. The dashboard was basically identical to the Chevelle except for fake wood trim, according to Holls a photographic reproduction of the elm trim used by Rolls-Royce, and higher grade nylon (or vinyl) upholstery and deep-twist carpeting were used. Base priced at US$3,123, the Monte Carlo cost $218 more than a comparable Chevelle Malibu.
Various options were available. A two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission (on 350 CID engines only), three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic, or a four-speed manual; most Monte Carlos carried the Turbo-Hydramatic. Variable-Ratio Power Steering, power windows, Four Season Air Conditioning, power seats, Rallye wheels, Strato bucket seats, center console, full instrumentation, and various other accessories were also available, bringing the price of a fully equipped Monte Carlo to more than $5,000. Optional engines included the four-barrel carbureted Turbo-Fire 350 CID small block V8, rated at 300 hp (224 kW) at 4800 rpm and 380 ft•lbf (515 N•m) at 3200 rpm, the Turbo-Fire 400 (400 CID/6.5 L) with a two-barrel carburetor, rated at 265 hp (198 kW) at 4800 rpm and 400 ft•lbf (542 N•m) at 3800 rpm, and the Turbo-Jet 400 (402 CID/6.6 L) with a four-barrel carburetor, rated at 330 hp (246 kW) at 4800 rpm and 410 ft•lbf (515 N•m) at 3200 rpm). Note that the two Chevrolet 400 CID V8s offered this year were actually two different designs. The two-barrel carbureted Turbo-Fire 400 was a Small Block Chevrolet V8 engine, similar, but very different internally, to the 350, while the Turbo-Jet 400 was a slightly enlarged version of the 396 CID big block V8 and had an actual displacement of 402 CID.
The most sporty and powerful option was the Monte Carlo SS 454 package. Priced at $420, it included a standard Turbo-Jet 454 of 454 CID (7.4 L) with a four-barrel carburetor, rated at 360 hp (269 kW) at 4800 rpm and 500 ft•lbf (678 N•m) of torque at 3500 rpm. It also included heavy-duty suspension, wider tires, "SS 454" badging, and an automatic load-leveling rear suspension. The Turbo-Hydramatic transmission (with a 3.31 rear axle) was a mandatory option with the SS package, although it still cost $222 extra. Weighing only a bit more than a comparably equipped Chevelle SS 454, the Monte Carlo SS was quite a fast car, although it accounted for less than 3% of Monte Carlos sold in 1970.
A labor strike at Chevrolet's Flint, Michigan assembly plant (where most Monte Carlo production was scheduled) during the early months of the 1970 model year immediately following the car's introduction on September 18, 1969 limited overall model-year sales to 159,341; short of the projected 185,000. During those early months, Monte Carlos were in short supply, with full-scale production not happening until February 1970, leaving many would-be buyers disappointed after going to their Chevrolet dealers and finding no Monte Carlos in stock. However, once full production got underway, Monte Carlos sold briskly and mostly at full list price (usually being ordered with many extra-cost options), making it a very profitable model for Chevrolet and its dealership networks. SS 454s, however, did not sell so well in 1970, with only 3,823 of the 1970 Monte Carlos being the most sporty and powerful model in the range.
The '71 year saw only modest styling changes. Inside, the SS model got new "European symbol knobs", and a four-spoke steering wheel became optional. 1971 Monte Carlo also saw the addition of a stand-up hood ornament. Mechanically, it was largely unchanged, although the small-block Turbo-Fire 400 two-barrel engine was dropped. Other engines had compression ratios lowered to allow the use of regular leaded, low-lead, or unleaded gasoline, per a GM corporate edict. Engine ratings fell to 245 hp (183 kW) for the base Turbo-Fire 350 CID (5.7 L) two-barrel, 270 hp (201 kW) for the Turbo-Fire 350-4V, and 300 hp (224 kW) for the Turbo-Jet 400. The SS 454 engine was actually raised to a nominal 365 gross hp (272 kW) despite the reduction in compression ratio. This increase in horsepower was a result of the 454 engine using the more aggressive camshaft from the 390 hp 454 used in the 1970 Chevrolet Corvette and full-sized sedans.
Chevrolet listed both gross and SAE net horsepower figures in 1971 with the impending change to SAE net ratings in 1972.
There has been no documented case of a 1971 Monte Carlo SS car with the 425 hp (317 kW) LS-6 version of the 454, with solid valve lifters and a longer-duration camshaft, previously found in the 1970 Chevelle SS 454 (where it was rated at 450 hp (336 kW)); however, they did come with an LS5 454. The Turbo Hydramatic officially remained the only transmission for the SS, but a heavy-duty clutch option on the order form suggests that it may have been possible to special-order a 454 LS-6 with a four-speed manual transmission (the four-speed wasn't listed officially as an "SS" option but was available as an RPO in regular Monte Carlos with the 350 and 400 engines). The exact number of such combinations, if any, is unknown since they were not officially listed as factory options but possibly assembled through Chevrolet's "Central Office Production Order" (COPO) process that had previously made possible model/engine combinations not officially available. However, there has never been a documented case of such a combination. Chevrolet records indicate that the factory only installed the LS-6 installations in Corvettes that year. The SS 454 package would be discontinued after this year following production of only 1,919 units, but the 454 CID V8 engine would remain optional in Monte Carlos through 1975. The reason given for discontinuing the SS was that the Monte Carlo was marketed as a luxury vehicle instead of a muscle car. The SS nameplate would be resurrected 12 years later. Yet, at the same time that the Monte Carlo SS was judged a failure in the marketplace and discontinued, the Monte's reputation as a performance car on the race track was gaining strength because Ford and Chrysler were ending their factory-backed racing support due to declining muscle car sales and the need to divert dollars to meet costly Federal safety and emission regulations (General Motors' official policy had prohibited factory racing efforts since 1963).
As factory support ended at Ford and Chrysler, the stock-car racing mantle switched to independent teams and sponsors, who overwhelmingly chose Chevrolets over Ford and Chrysler products due to Chevy's much greater availability and affordability of over-the-counter racing parts through the Chevy dealer network. And the Monte Carlo was considered the best suited Chevrolet model for stock car racing by most NASCAR teams due to its 116 in (2,900 mm) wheelbase (only one inch above NASCAR's minimum requirements at that time, the Chevelle 2-doors had a shorter 112 inch wheelbase) and long-hood design which placed the engine further back in the chassis than most other vehicles for better weight traction. Thus the Monte Carlo became Chevy's standard-bearer for NASCAR from 1971-1989.
Like its 1970 predecessor, production of the 1971 Monte Carlo also got off to a slow start due to a labor strike, this time a 67-day corporate-wide walkout that coincided with the introduction of the 1971 models in September, 1970, leaving dealerships with only a small shipment of 1971 models (built before the strike) in stock until the strike was settled in mid-November, 1970 and then slow-going in reaching normal production levels until around January 1, 1971. Model-year production ended at 128,600 including the 1,919 SS models. AM/FM stereo radios with 8-track tape players were optional.
A Cadillac-like egg-crate grille similar to the 1971 Chevrolet Caprice and a metal rear trim molding highlighted the changes to the 1972 Monte Carlo, the final year for the first generation design. The SS was dropped, but a new Monte Carlo Custom option appeared as a one-year only offering that included a special suspension and other items previously included with the SS option. Unlike the departed SS package, it was available with any engine on the roster. The Monte Carlo Custom badging was similar to the Impala Custom.
The engines were largely unchanged, but an industry-wide switch to SAE net hp numbers led to a reduction in the rated power of all Chevrolet engines. Chevrolet did not list gross horsepower figures for 1972. Compared to 1971 figures, only the 402 and 454 had a decrease in power. The new ratings for the Monte Carlo were:
- 350 CID (5.7L), two-barrel: 165 hp
- 350 CID (5.7L), four-barrel: 175 hp
- 402 CID (6.6L), four-barrel: 240 hp
- 454 CID (7.4L), four-barrel: 270 hp
In California, which had emissions standards more stringent than federal law, the 4-barrel carbureted 350 was the standard and only available engine. Also, the only transmission offered in California was the Turbo Hydramatic.
For 1972, the four-speed manual transmission was discontinued from the option list as a line in the Monte Carlo brochure describing its market position as a personal luxury car stated "Sorry, no four-on-the-floor." The standard three-speed manual and optional two-speed Powerglide automatic transmissions were offered only with the base 350 CID two-barrel engine, with the three-speed Turbo Hydramatic also available with this engine and a mandatory option with each of the optional engines. Mechanically, the most significant change was that variable-ratio power steering became standard equipment for the first time. Interior trim was relatively unchanged from 1971 other than the availability of all-vinyl upholstery with the standard bench seat in addition to the optional Strato bucket seats. Cloth interiors were also offered with both bench and bucket seats.
Monte Carlo was a very popular seller during the 1972 model year as production increased significantly to 180,819 to set a new record in the final year for the first-generation G-body. Monte Carlo and other Chevrolet models were promoted as part of a new ad campaign in which Chevys in print and broadcast ads were featured at various tourist attractions and sites around the United States under the tagline "Chevrolet: Building a Better Way To See The USA."
A redesigned Monte Carlo was introduced alongside other GM intermediates. Like other GM mid-size cars, the 1973 Monte Carlo was no longer a hardtop, but a pillared coupe with rear side opera windows and frameless door glass. Prominent styling features included dual headlights flanking an egg-crate grille with a Monte Carlo emblem in front and vertical taillights above the bumper. The front bumper was a large federally mandated 5 mph (8.0 km/h) bumper that was among the required 1973 federal safety standards for all passenger cars sold in the U.S. with the 5 mph (8.0 km/h) requirement extended to rear bumpers on 1974 models. Also new was a double-shell roof for improved noise reduction and rollover protection along with the flush-mounted pull-up exterior door handles first introduced on the 1970½ Camaro and 1971 full-sized Chevrolets and Vegas. The separate body-on-frame construction carried over for 1973, as was the basic all-coil suspension.
For improved ride and handling, the 1973 Monte Carlo featured a number of innovations (for a large American car) such as standard radial-ply tires, Pliacell shock absorbers, high-caster steering, and front and rear anti-roll bars (previously offered only with the SS package). The standard Monte Carlo with manual transmission, retained "traditional" steering and bias-ply tires, but the radial-tuned system was included when the automatic transmission was ordered, earning the Monte Carlo S label.
A new model for 1973 was the Monte Carlo Landau, which was basically an "S" with a rear quarter Landau vinyl roof, Turbine II wheels and driver and passenger-side sport mirrors.
The interior of the 1973 Monte Carlo featured an all-new, wraparound cockpit-style instrument panel, similar to that found in some contemporary Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles and Buicks, in which gauges and various instruments were centered within easy reach of the driver. The simulated burl elm trim was retained. A split bench seat was standard, but "Strato Bucket" seats of a new design were optional, along with a floor console featuring an equally new shifter with knob and button similar to Pontiac's Rally Sports Shifter replacing the Buick-like horseshoe shifter of previous years, and storage compartment. The bucket seats were of a one-piece high-back design with built-in headrests, and could swivel some 90 degrees to permit the driver and front passenger easier entry and exit. Cloth and vinyl trims were offered with both the bench and bucket seats. The standard engine was a 145 (net) hp (108 kW) 350 CID (5.7 L) Turbo-Fire V8. Optional engines included a 175 (net) hp (30 kW) 350 CID V8 with a four-barrel carburetor and a four-barrel carbureted 454 CID Turbo-Jet V8 rated at 245 (net) hp (183 kW).
The 1973 Monte Carlo was named Motor Trend's "Car of the Year", due to its new styling and emphasis on Euro-style ride and handling. The 1973 Monte Carlo set a new sales record for Chevrolet, with nearly 250,000 sold for the model year. The success of the Monte Carlo and Pontiac's similar Grand Prix led to several new personal luxury cars from competitors, including subsequent Mercury Cougar, the Ford Torino Elite, the Chrysler Cordoba and restyled Dodge Charger, and even high-line versions of the AMC Matador, which got a swoopy new coupe design for 1974.
The 1974 Monte Carlo received only minor detail changes from its 1973 predecessor, most notably a revised egg-crate grille in the front and taller and slimmer vertical taillights in the rear, along with a relocated license plate and larger 5 mph (8.0 km/h) rear bumper.
The base Monte Carlo with manual transmission, standard suspension and bias-ply tires was discontinued, leaving only the "S" and "Landau" models equipped with radial-ply tires and upgraded suspensions along with standard power steering and front disc brakes.
A three-speed manual transmission was listed as standard equipment on 1974 "S" and "Landau" models equipped with the standard 350 CID V8, and an automatic transmission was a required option with the larger 400 and 454 CID V8s. However, a number of sources indicate that Chevrolet built virtually all 1974 Monte Carlos with the Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission.
The standard 350 CID Turbo-Fire V8 was again rated at 145 hp (108 kW) with two-barrel carburetor in 49 states. For Californians, the standard engine was a 350 Turbo-Fire V8 with a four-barrel carburetor rated at 160 hp (120 kW) that was not offered in the other 49 states. Reappearing on the Monte's option list for the first time since 1970 was a 400 CID Turbo-Fire small block V8 rated at 150 hp (110 kW) with a two-barrel carburetor (not offered in California) or 180 hp (134 kW) with a four-barrel carburetor. The top engine was again the 454 CID Turbo-Jet big block V8 rated at 235 hp (183 kW).
Despite the Arab Oil Embargo of late 1973 and early 1974 that greatly cut into sales of standard and intermediate-sized cars in favor of smaller compacts and imported subcompacts, the Monte Carlo went the other way on the sales charts by setting a new sales record this year of over 300,000 units despite the long lines at gas stations and record-high gasoline prices. The Monte Carlo continued to lead in intermediate personal luxury car sales with the Grand Prix placing second and the arrival of new competitors this year, including an upsized Mercury Cougar, Ford Torino Elite and AMC's Matador coupe. Chrysler would introduce its entries in this field for 1975 including the Chrysler Cordoba and redesigned Dodge Charger.
The 1975 Monte Carlo received only minor styling changes from the 1974 model, including a new grille with the Monte Carlo emblem moved to the center section and new vertically shaped taillights with horizontal louvers.
All models received catalytic converters to meet the latest federal and California emission requirements that included bonuses such as improved fuel economy and drivability, along with longer spark plug and muffler life, but required more expensive and lower-octane unleaded gasoline.
Engines were carryover from 1974 except for the addition of GM's High Energy electronic ignition being made standard equipment. However, power ratings for all engines were decreased due to the addition of the catalytic converter. The 454 CID V8 no longer offered on California cars, leaving the 400 CID four-barrel the top engine in the Golden State. The base 350 CID two-barrel was rated at 145 hp (108 kW) (standard in 49 states), the 350 CID 4-barrel was rated at 155 hp (116 kW) (available only in California), the 400 CID 4-barrel 175 hp (130 kW), and the 454 CID 4-barrel 215 hp (160 kW) (now equipped with single exhaust with dual exhaust as an option). A three-speed manual transmission was standard equipment with the base 350 CID V8 used in 49 states and California-only 350 four-barrel V8. The Turbo Hydra-Matic optional and a required option for the 400 and 454 V8s. Chevrolet sources, however, report that virtually all 1975 Monte Carlos were equipped with the Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission, which became standard equipment for 1976.
New for 1975 was a Custom interior option that included a plusher cloth 50/50 bench seat with recliner on passenger side and lower door panel carpeting. The standard interior still consisted of a bench seat with knit-cloth and vinyl or all-vinyl upholstery. The swiveling Strato bucket seats plus console and floor shifter were still optional with knit cloth or vinyl upholstery. Also, white all-vinyl interiors were available for the first time this year with either bench or bucket seats with contrasting colors for carpeting and instrument panels including black, red, blue and green. A gauge that showed if one was using to much gas, a part of the "Economider" Gauge package, became optional.
Sales dropped off a bit from 1974's record-setting pace due to higher prices resulting from the addition of the catalytic converter, double-digit inflation and new competition from Chrysler's Cordoba and Dodge's Charger SE. Monte Carlo production ended up at around 250,000 units but would rebound to set a new record in 1976.
A 1975 Monte Carlo was featured that year in a Chevrolet TV ad with the patriotic theme of America's favorites including "Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet".
A new crosshatch grille and vertically mounted rectangular headlamps, along with reshaped taillights identified the 1976 Monte Carlo (the reshaped taillight pattern was later incorporated into the fourth generation Monte Carlo). Under the hood, a new 140 hp (104 kW) 305 CID 2-barrel V8 became the standard engine with the 145 hp (108 kW) 350 2-barrel V8 and 175 hp (130 kW) 400 CID V8 both optional. California cars got a 165 hp (123 kW) 350 4-barrel as the base engine (not available in 49 states), and could be equipped with the 400 4-barrel V8. The big-block 454 CID V8 was discontinued from the option list this year.
The Turbo Hydramatic transmission became standard equipment on all 1976 Monte Carlos. Interior trims remained the same as 1975 with both base and Custom levels, but the instrument panel and steering wheel featured a new rosewood trim replacing the burled elm of previous years. A new option was a two-toned "Fashion Tone" paint combination.
A revised grille with the Monte Carlo "Knight's Crest" emblem moved to a stand-up hood ornament and revised taillight lenses marked the 1977 Monte Carlo, which was the last year for the 1973-vintage design before the introduction of a downsized 1978 Monte Carlo. Engine offerings were reduced to two engines for 1977. The base engine for 49 states was the 140 hp (100 kW) 305 CID 2-barrel V8 and the 170 hp (130 kW) 350 4-barrel V8 was optional (standard in California). The 400 cubic inch V8 was dropped as an engine option. The Turbo Hydra-matic transmission was included standard equipment.
Interior trim received only minor revisions this year with upholstery choices including cloth, velour and vinyl in both base and Custom trims. This model year marks the only time in history when an intermediate model was larger in every dimension than a full-sized model, as the B-body Chevrolet Caprice/Impala had already been redesigned and downsized for 1977.
Monte Carlo sales hit an all-time record with production of 353,272 units this year. 191,370 "S" Coupes were made. 161,902 Landau Coupes ($293 more)
All GM intermediate-sized cars including the Monte Carlo were downsized for the 1978 model year in response to the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo and CAFE requirements. The 1978 model was 700-800 lb lighter and some 15 inches shorter than the 1977 model. The 1978 model also had more interior and trunk space than the earlier 1977 model. The engines offered in previous years were dropped in favor of a standard 231 CID V6 built by Buick or an optional Chevrolet 305 CID V8. The three-speed manual transmission reappeared for the first time in several years as standard equipment on the base model with the V6 engine, and the automatic was optional. The optional V8 and all Landau models came standard with the automatic. A four-speed manual transmission with floor shifter was optional with the 305 V8, the first time a four-speed manual was offered on the Monte Carlo since 1971.
Only minor trim changes were made to the 1979 Monte Carlo, which included a slightly redesigned grille, tail lights & front parking lights. Mechanical changes included a new Chevrolet-built 200 CID V6 (the ancestor of the Vortec 4300) as the standard engine for the base Monte Carlo in 49 states while the Buick 231 CID V6 remained standard on base models in California and all Landau models. A new 125 hp (93 kW) 267 CID V8 became optional and the 140 hp (100 kW) 305 CID V8 continued as an option but was joined by a 160 hp 235 lbf·ft (319 N·m) version with a four-barrel carburetor. The same transmissions were carried over from 1978, including a standard three-speed manual and optional four-speed manual, or an optional three-speed Turbo Hydramatic automatic. This would be the last year that Chevrolet would offer manual transmissions on the Monte Carlo due to extremely low buyer interest.
A 1979 Monte Carlo was used by Michael Platt and Bill Matix during the 1986 FBI Miami shootout. A 1979 Monte Carlo, modified to a lowrider, was also heavily featured in the 2001 movie Training Day. The car was owned by the main character Detective Alonzo Harris, played by actor Denzel Washington.
The car had a mild frontal restyle, with quad headlights and amber indicators mounted beneath. The metric 200 3-speed automatic transmission became standard on all models and a new Chevrolet-built 229 CID V6 with 2-barrel Rochester carburetor replaced both the 200 CID V6 of 1979 and the Buick engine offered on all 1978 models and the 1979 Landau as the standard engine in 49 states (California cars still got the Buick engine). A new option for 1980 was Buick's turbocharged version of the 231 CID V6 rated at 170 hp (130 kW). Other optional engines included 267 and 305 CID versions of the Chevrolet small-block V8 with up to 155 hp (116 kW). There were a total of 13,839 turbo Monte Carlo's for 1980.
The body was restyled with the other GM mid-size formal coupes (Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, Pontiac Grand Prix, Buick Regal). It featured a smoother profile than the previous models and new vertical taillights similar to the 1973-1977 models. Engine offerings were carried over, including the standard 229 CID Chevrolet V6 (231 CID Buick V6 in California) an optional 267 CID V8 (not available in California), a 305 CID V8 in the base and Landau models, and a turbocharged 170 hp (130 kW) 231 CID Buick V6 in the Monte Carlo Turbo.
There were a total of 3,027 Monte Carlo Turbos for 1981. This would make the Monte Carlo Turbo one of the rarest Monte Carlo's built, even rarer than the 1987 Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe. The Monte Carlo Turbo appeared slightly different than other Monte Carlos that year because in addition to the turbo motor it also was equipped with a small hood scoop on the left side of the hood. It also had Turbo 3.8 badges with Chevrolet bowtie on the sides of the hood scoop, on the trunk lid, and on the right side of the dash. An automatic transmission, power steering and power front disc brakes were standard equipment. While this car was considered by some to be much better looking (and appeared more aerodynamic) than its Buick Regal, Pontiac Grand Prix, and Olds Cutlass cousins, only one team tried to make a go of it in NASCAR cup racing. While the big Monte Carlo was the dominant body style in the late 1970s, winning 30 or so races, the downsized (and cleaned-up) 1981 body would only take three checked flags in the 1981 and 1982 seasons when it was run.
Only mild revisions were made on the 1982 Monte Carlo. All engines, except for the turbocharged 231 CID V6, which was discontinued along with the Monte Carlo Turbo model, were carried over from 1981. New for 1982 were the additions of a 260 CID V6 and an Oldsmobile 350 CID V8, both of which were diesel engines. With the introduction of GM's new mid-size platform that saw the introduction of the Buick Century, Chevrolet Celebrity, Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera and Pontiac 6000, the chassis designations were shuffled up. The new mid-size cars were designated as A-body cars, whereas the cars previously designated as A-bodies were now called G-bodies. A black exterior was not offered in 1982 and also not available in 1982 for the first time in Monte Carlo history was a sportier interior option with Strato bucket seats and console, as only the standard notchback bench or optional 55/45 bench were offered this year. Weight distribution was 57% in the front and 43% in the rear.
Receiving only minor updates, the '83 Monte Carlo gained a revised grille and interior trim patterns. The standard engine continued to be the 229 in³ V6, and the 165 hp 305 in³ V8 was optional. The Super Sport Package, Z65 was once again made an option in 1983. The Monte Carlo SS was reintroduced in 1983, following twelve years of being discontinued. One of the last carbureted, rear-wheel drive ‘muscle cars', the Monte Carlo SS featured European body color-coding, a new front fascia, a rear spoiler and a V8.
The SS was a hit not only in the car-buying public, (starving for some power after the hefty emissions regulations of the late 1970s) but also in NASCAR competition, where it continued to be a winning body style after the 1984 season successes. Production picked up, and 112,730 sport coupes were sold as 1984 year model coupes. An additional 24,050 had the SS option (with an 180 hp (130 kW) 305 V8 that saw a 5 hp (3.7 kW) boost from the previous year), having an asking price of US$10,700. The Monte Carlo SS was available with Strato bucket seats and floor console as extra-cost options for the first time in place of the standard split bench seat with armrest (the Strato buckets also returned as an option on the regular Monte after a two-year absence). The regular Monte Carlo came standard with a 125 hp (93 kW) 229 CID V6 (231 CID V6 for California) and a 165 hp (123 kW) 305 V8 was optional. Available for the last year in a base Monte Carlo was the 350 CID diesel engine, and there were only 168 manufactured. All engines for 1984 got the three-speed automatic transmission with the exception of three SSs at the end of the 1984 production run that received the Turbo Hydramatic 200-R4 transmission with overdrive.
In 1984, there were a limited number of Monte Carlo SSs made in Mexico, for Mexico sale. The differences are many in the Mexican to US/Canadian SSs. There was no rear spoiler. The rims are 14" checker style, an option on the base Monte Carlos in the US. The side mirrors are different style and black. The interior is that of a Grand Prix, in blue. The engine is a 350, 265 hp (198 kW) (unconfirmed) and 350 lbf·ft (470 N·m) of torque (unconfirmed), and got a 4-speed manual with Hurst shifter. Additional Information about the Mexican SS.
T-tops were re-introduced (discontinued after the 1982 model year), and additional SS colors (Black, maroon and silver in addition to white), pinstriping, and options were made available. The (later to be highly sought after) medium blue ("gun metal") color for the SS was dropped. A four-speed automatic overdrive transmission, the Turbo Hydramatic 200-R4, with a revised sport rear axle ratio containing 3.73:1 gears became standard on the SS. Gone for good were the 229 CID V6 and 350 CID V8 diesel engines. Introduced in place of the 229 CID V6 was a 262 CID (4.3 L) V6 (RPO LB4) that was fuel-injected with throttle-body fuel injection. The V-8's were fitted with computer controlled quadrajet carburetors.
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 L Chevy V-6 gave way to a larger 4.3 L V-6 with throttle-body fuel injection. That brought along 20 extra horsepower, for a new total of 130. The optional 5.0 L V8 likewise gained some ponies, via a jump in compression ratio. It jumped from 150 horsepower to 165. The High Output 5.0 L V8 in the 1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS remained at 180 horsepower. 10.5" front disc brakes were standard.ref> World Cars 1985. Herald Books. 1985. ISBN 0-910714-17-7.</ref> The V-6 and base V8 could be backed by either a three- or four-speed automatic transmission, but the H.O. V8 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. The 1985 Monte Carlo SS also came stock with a 35 millimeter sway bar which added extra support for the high performance rear end. Color choices for the 1985 Chevy Monte Carlo SS expanded from two to five, including this maroon hue.
For 1986, there were four distinct body styles available. The base model Sport Coupe was still available with the same general body panels that it had since 1981, but featured new "aero" side mirrors similar to those on Camaros and Chevrolet Corvette of the 1980s . New for the 1986 model year was a Luxury Sport model that had a revised front fascia, new "aero" side mirrors, and an updated sleek-looking rear fascia. The LS front fascia included "Euro" headlamps with removable bulbs in a glass composite headlamp housing, versus the smaller sealed beam glass headlights of previous years. The rear bumper of the LS no longer had a "notch" between the bumper and trunk, and the taillights wrapped around so that they were visible from the sides of the car. The Super Sport model for 1986 incorporated the "aero" mirrors, yet still utilized the prior year's styling for the rear bumper.
Also new this year was the Aerocoupe model. The Aerocoupe was created by modifications to the Super Sport body, including a more deeply sloped rear window and a shorter trunk lid sporting a spoiler that lay more flat than previous Super Sports. Only 200 Aerocoupes were sold to the public, which happened to be the exact number NASCAR officials required for road model features to be incorporated into the racing cars. 1986 Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe Registry & Information.