Chevy rolled the dice: Monte Carlo

Chevy's broad strokes take on personal luxury

Chevy’s broad strokes take on personal luxury

When Ford’s Thunderbird grew from two-seat roadster to four-place grand tourer in 1958 the car business took note of the market for “the personal luxury coupe.”  Other makes soon fielded entrants into the new sector, some with great aplomb.  Think: 1963-’65  Buick Riviera, ’62-’64 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk, ’63-’64 Pontiac Grand Prix, ’66-’70 Olds Toronado, ’75 – ’79 Chrysler Cordoba. As Jimmy Durante might have suggested, everybody wanted to get into the act.

A Malibu lurks within

A Malibu lurks within

For the 1970 model year, Chevy adapted its mid-size Chevelle platform to do duty as a snooty upscale personal luxury coupe dubbed Monte Carlo, not to be confused with Dodge’s Monaco the nameplate of which dates back to 1965 — so there!   Monte Carlo followed the personal luxury coupe styling convention of long hood, short rear deck, thick C-pillar and vinyl roof, denoting formal, yet sporting, elegance rather than straight-up muscle car macho.

Monte Carlo was a runaway success with sales of over 130,000 the first year, generating significant profits for the company insofar as development costs were minimal thanks to shared architecture with the lesser Chevelle.  The model’s slogan was “At $3123, a lot more car than it has to be.”  The subtext seems to be that Chevy is doing you a favor selling you such a nice Malibu for comparatively little money.

Did Prince Rainier get to skim any of the profits or did he put the touch on Dodge five years earlier?

Did Prince Rainier get to skim any of the profits or did he put the touch on Dodge five years earlier?

Many surviving first generation Monte Carlos have been customized and/or turned into street hopping lowrider cars as in this video.  In light of that reality, we like this minimally messed-with example, finished in Laguna Gray, that we found sans wheel covers.  Not sure about the red outline around the grill that matches the left rear wheel’s sidewall; they didn’t come from the factory this way.

Here’s a must-see commercial from the car’s introduction, wherein government agents harass a hard working paisan because they confuse his new Chevy Monte Carlo with an expensive imported exotic.   It’s a great example of Nixon era paranoia.  Did someone just say “I am not a Malibu”?

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