Chevrolet Monte Carlo

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 lb·ft (468 Nm) 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 (£2,011), the Monte Carlo cost $218 (£140) 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 (£3,220).

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 lb·ft (515 Nm) 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 lb·ft (542 Nm) 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 lb·ft (515 Nm) 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 (£270), 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 lb·ft (678 Nm) 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 (£142) 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.

Source: Wikipedia, 2012

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