Now the world’s largest producer of motor vehicles, Chevrolet kicked off the Seventies with their Ford Thunderbird chaser, the 1970 Monte Carlo. Hailed as “action and elegance in a sporty personal luxury package,” it was only available as a coupe and came with power front discs, Elm-Burl dash-panel inlays, and a choice of engines that ranged from the standard 350cid V8 to the Herculean SS 454. At $3,123 in base form, it was cheap compared to the $5,000 needed to buy a Thunderbird.
But the T-Bird had become as urbane as Dean Martin, and the Monte couldn’t match the Ford’s élan. Even so, despite a six-week strike that lost Chevrolet 100,000 sales, over 145,000 Monte Carlos found buyers which, compared to a mere 40,000 T-Birds, made Chevy’s new personal luxury confection a monster hit.
The Monte Carlo used the same platform as the redesigned 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix. Stylistically, the long hood and short trunk promised performance and power. The single headlights were mounted in square-shaped housings, and the grid-textured grille was simple and unadorned.
The smooth-centered wheel trims were not popular with buyers and, in ’71, chromed mock-wire wheels were offered.
The radio antenna was hidden in the windshield.
The Monte Carlo’s cabin was Chevrolet’s most luxurious for the year, but was criticized for having limited front and rear legroom.
Prodigious rear pillar made city parking literally hit-or-miss.
Black vinyl top was a $120 option. Buyers could also choose blue, dark gold, green, or white.
Another option available, and used on this car, was rear antisway bars.
The potent SS 454 option was a modest $147 and could catapult the Monte Carlo to 60 mph (96 km/h) in less than eight seconds.
The massive 454 block made it a favorite with short-circuit stock car racers.
In ’72, vertical parking lights were placed inboard of the headlights.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Chevrolet Monte Carlo (1970)
PRODUCTION 145,975 (1970)
BODY STYLE Two-door, five-seater coupe.
CONSTRUCTION Steel body and chassis.
ENGINES 350cid, 400cid, 454cid V8s.
POWER OUTPUT 250–360 bhp.
TRANSMISSION Three-speed manual, optional two-speed Powerglide automatic, Turbo Hydra-Matic three-speed automatic.
SUSPENSION Front: coil springs; Rear: leaf springs.
BRAKES Front and rear drums.
MAXIMUM SPEED 115–132 mph (185–211 km/h)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 8–14 sec
A.F.C. 15–20 mpg (5.3–7 km/l)