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Monte Carlo Cars - Monte Carlo Cars - on Death Row Or in the Break Room?

monte carlo chevy

An insignificant tombstone marks the passage of one of Chevrolet’s greatest creations: the Monte Carlo. The renowned NASCAR legend and muscle car carryover ended life as an unnoticed defender of its former prestige.

The year was 1970. Muscle was in, and that meant absurd horsepower, massive torque and big-block V8 engines. It also meant a certain level of asceticism and disdain for superfluities. However, not all gearheads wanted to bounce on a rigid seat and swelter in the summer heat. Chevy aimed to fill this void with the Monte Carlo. So it fashioned a vehicle with the longest hood ever mounted on a Chevy with voluptuous curves and added a base 250-hp 350 V8. The flag leader, the SS 454 package, boasted a whopping 500 lb-feet of axle-straining torque. Also, deep carpet, faux wood trim, vinyl upholstery, power steering and accessories, air conditioning, and other amenities gave Monte Carlo cars the unmistakable appeal of a luxury vehicle. Score, Chevy.

Youth was glorious. In the second year, nearly 130,000 Chevy Montes had been sold, and in 1973 – the year the Monte Carlo won Motor Trend’s “Car of the Year” accolade – Monte Carlo cars sold well over 300,000 units. Market success.

NASCAR added its acclamation as well. Due to the Monte Carlo’s inexpensive maintenance and stellar traction, it became a signature favorite at NASCAR races. With the spectacular abilities of the Monte Carlo, Chevy’s protege won more NASCAR events than any other vehicle.

But good times must end. Adolescence brought oversight: EPA emission regulations and the ensuing end of the muscle car era. By the time 1980 rolled around, the Monte’s base engine was a lackluster 115-hp V6 leaking out 175 lb-feet of torque, merely a skeleton of its former physique. From 1983 to 1987, the pugnacious Monte Carlo tried to pump some horsepower back under the hood, but, while modified versions still shined in NASCAR cup races, consumer versions flopped and failed. Monte Carlo cars went on hiatus in 1988.

The fifth generation Monte returned in 1995 as a sibling to the Chevrolet Lumina. The wispy two-door coupe offered a maximum of 215 hp and nothing near luxury, only offering fobs like A/C, basic power accessories and cup holders.

Thankfully, Chevy heard the complaining groans of Monte Carlo ghosts from the past and revived some semblance of power in the sixth generation. Buyers could choose between 180-hp and 303-hp with the returning small-block SS V8. However, market sales dropped drastically in 2005.

The final two years watched as the Chevy Monte Carlo thrashed about, but, confused, it could not find the balance of power and luxury that had once made it so popular. It quietly departed in 2007, relegated to a quiet grave. Death? Maybe. According to Chevy, TBA.

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