Chevrolet created an elegant rear-drive V8 coupe, which was both stylish and powerful. Customers were drawn to the Monte Carlo because it was a personal-luxury coupe, with a racing attitude. The Chevrolet Monte Carlo endured two energy crises, and it eventually evolved into a fuel-efficient sedan. To its credit, the Monte Carlo has outlived its competitors, and has taken its place among the best race cars in NASCAR’s history.
1970 to 1972: First Generation
The Chevrolet Monte Carlo was designed to rival the Ford Thunderbird, and it was billed as the “personal luxury coupe.” Designed from the Pontiac Grand Prix’s G-body platform, it was powered by a Chevrolet Turbo-Fire small-block V8 engine. A two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission and a three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic were the popular choices for the car. The Monte Carlo SS 454 package offered a Turbo-Jet 454 CID engine, coupled with a four-barrel carburetor, an automatic load-leveling rear suspension, and a Turbo-Hydramatic transmission with a 3.31 rear axle. In 1972, the Monte Carlo became Chevrolet’s most popular selling car.
1973 to 1977: Second Generation
Standard radial-ply tires, Pliacell shock absorbers, high-caster steering, and anti-roll bars on the car’s front and rear were integrated to the second generation of Monte Carlos to improve its ride and handling. Due to the federally mandated 5 mph bumper safety standards, the car’s bumpers were extended. The 400-cubic-inch V8 engine was replaced by the 305 CID 2-barrel and 350 4-barrel V8 engines.
1978 to 1980: Third Generation
Due to the Arab Oil Embargo in 1973, Chevrolet went back to the drawing board and made the Monte Carlo more fuel-efficient. The car ended up being 800-pounds lighter and a foot shorter. A Chevrolet-built 229 CID V6 with a 2-barrel Rochester carburetor replaced the old engine. The Chevrolet Monte Carlo also adapted the Metric 200 three-speed automatic transmission for all its models.
1981 to 1988: Fourth Generation
A lot of body restyling was done on the Chevrolet Monte Carlo during this generation. From revising the front grilles to interior trim patterns, this gave the Monte Carlo a smoother profile. The Vortec 4300 V6 and LM1 Goodwrench V8 engines were also added as options to the Monte Carlo. The Monte Carlo SS was reintroduced to the public in 1983 which became an instant success. Also, the Monte Carlo won during the 1984 NASCAR racing season. This was the year when Chevrolet announced its plans for a sleeker version of the Monte Carlo SS, the Lumina Coupe.
1995 to 1999: Fifth Generation
Taking a different engineering approach, Chevrolet based the Monte Carlo’s design on the Lumina. It offered a six-passenger capacity and dual air bags were made standard. A Chevy 3.1-liter V6 engine was used to power the new generation of Monte Carlos. The Chevrolet Monte Carlo Z34, on the other hand, had 16-inch alloy wheels, a stiffer suspension, and a 3.4-liter Twin Dual Cam V6 engine. The Monte Carlos faced stiff competition from Chrysler, Ford, Honda, and Toyota.
2000 to 2005: Sixth Generation
Chevrolet drew inspiration from GM Motorsports and the older Monte Carlo models. Knight badges, a full gauge cluster, stylized wheel flares, and vertically oriented tail lamps were integrated once again on the Monte Carlo. Several models NASCAR-inspired and NASCAR Pace Cars were released by GM during each race season. The SS Supercharged Monte Carlo was powered by a 3.8-liter L67 V6 engine, with a 4T65E-HD transmission.
2006 to 2007: Final Generation
The last Chevrolet Monte Carlo to grace the market was powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine. The 4T65E-HD automatic transmission was coupled with a four-wheel drive system. The Monte Carlo finally retired on June 19, 2007.