Cheap Project? 1979 Chevrolet Monza Spyder

It’s always a surprise to come across a particular car that you haven’t thought about in a long time – one that has slipped off of the radar. The find is made more interesting by encountering a model with an unusual array or a limited set of options. Presented here, is just such a car, a ’79 Chevrolet Monza “Spyder”. It is located in Homosassa Springs, Florida and is available here on Facebook Marketplace for $1,500.

This version of the Monza (Chevrolet had used the Monza moniker on the Corvair in the ’60s) was produced from ’75 until ’80. While the Monza was based on the Vega platform, it was designated as an H-body and used the standard Vega engine for a while but employed other GM engines as well. And that’s one of the features that sets this Monza apart from its more pedestrian siblings, it was a V8 equipped model. Note that it “was” V8 equipped as it is now sans engine and transmission. While the Spyder package was more about appearance and suspension mods it did not require a V8 engine but it was an option. And the V8 of choice was a 5.0 liter (305 CI) unit good for 145 net HP. This example carried a three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic automatic transmission too but a four-speed manual was standard with the V8.

The exterior of this Spyder is all still there including the hood graphic and side stripes. It does not appear to be damaged, misaligned or rotted away, just very worn with a similarly worn finish. While this Monza was photographed inside of a shop, it has clearly been sitting outside under a tree for some period of time, note the green moss stains on the sides. The image of the underside shows minute traces of surface rust but it looks pretty solid so there should be no concern there. The underside images also reveal the differential (minus driveshaft) and since this was a V8 equipped vehicle, it should be able to handle the power from a replacement, modified small block (traditional, LS, LT?) engine.

The interior, what can be seen of it, is a throw-back with its lift-up, glass sun-roof. These were all the rage in the early ’80s and were both factory-installed options as well as popular after-market, add ons. While the OEM versions, can’t tell if that’s the case with this Chevy as it was an option on the Monza, sealed well, the aftermarket versions were a frequent source of leaks and succeeding contentiousness. This is the only included image of the interior so it’s hard to tell what kind of shape it’s in, but whatever the case, it’s red like so many GM interiors of this era. Based on the following picture, the interior appears to be pretty well dismantled.

What would you do with this Monza? The seller has a cache of parts and emphasizes the sturdier five-lug axle shafts/hubs so it would seem like the basis for a hot-rod project. This Chevy has already domiciled a small block V8 so it can clearly do that again and at $1,500, it’s a pretty cheap starting point for a do-it-yourself project. One concern, however, is that the seller states that he does not have the title. That could be an issue depending upon the state where this Monza is to be next registered.  Assuming that matter can be resolved, what would you do with this ’79 Chevy Monza “Spyder”?



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  1. Cadmanls Member

    No title so may be tough to get it registered after purchased.

    • Arthell64 Member

      Not a problem in Georgia.

  2. C Carl

    There is a 1978 Olds Starfire 305/auto for sale in San Francisco CL for $1700

  3. AZVanMan

    As someone who installed and sold hundreds of them, I run from sunroofs/Ttops! But a friend of mine (Jack) had a V8 Monza (and a gorgeous GF, Diane!) in 78, and I would have jumped at the chance to test-drive either one!

    Like 14
    • skloon

      We even installed them for dealerships- I think people would think that they were factory- at least then they went to the dealer rather than us when they leaked

    • unclemymy Member

      LOL, the test-driving! All sexist joking aside, guys know that really is a sincere complement to a car or a girl-friend.

  4. Stephen F Sharp

    LT-LS? If your gonna do it, find a SB 400,

    Like 4
  5. Superdessucke

    Assuming I could get it titled, I would fix it up to look stock but put in a hot motor. An LS swap would be nice but I’m not sure one would fit? If it would I would probably go that route. If not, a small block Chevy crate motor.

    This would take a lot of money though. It would definitely have to be a labor of love. There is no way you would get your money back.

    Like 2
  6. Camaro Joe

    A friend of mine had a 78 with a 305. It wasn’t real fast, but not bad for the time. The factory and aftermarket books all said that you can’t change the #3 and #5 spark plugs without taking the drivers’ side motor mount loose and jacking the engine up. The steering shaft comes across both plugs.

    My friend had managed to change 7 of 8 plugs once, but the one he couldn’t get to was original at 55,000 miles. We drank a good chunk of the quarter keg in my beer fridge, but in a couple hours I managed to change all eight plugs without taking the motor mount loose. It might have been faster to go after the motor mount, but that could open another can of worms. The book said it can’t be done so I decided to do it.

    There’s a set of headers in the picture. Don’t do that unless you’re going with a computer controlled ignition and fuel injection. Just hope you don’t ever have to change plugs on one of them with headers. It won’t be good.

    Like 7
  7. Camaro Joe

    I forgot to mention that lack of a title is a big deal in any state. Some states are not much of a problem, others are almost impossible. Do your homework on what it takes to get a title in your state.

    The REAL problem is, if there’s no title with the car, the buyer doesn’t know for sure that somebody else doesn’t have a legal title and owns it. If somebody has a title, they can show up and take it after you spent money on it. At the very least, do as much homework as you can to find out that the seller is the actual owner. No title is always a red flag. If the guy can’t be bothered to get a replacement title, maybe he doesn’t really own it.

    I knew a guy who had a 55 Chevy stolen. The thief sold it with a forged VIN number and wrong title. The new owner admitted he suspected things weren’t right. But he spent a ton of money on a pro street build. The cops caught up with it and the real owner got it back. He wanted a restored car, so he sold it but admits he made a ton of money on the deal.

    Like 2
    • Doug S

      Ls fits fine in an h-body using the correct accessories.

      Like 1
    • Dave

      Connecticut doesn’t need a title on a car older than 20 years, and won’t issue a replacement because it’s not required.

      Like 1
  8. JoeNYWF64

    Too bad they didn’t have IRIDIUM spark plugs back then – they can last close to 100k miles. Well at least you can install them today once & then forget about them, tho how hard is it to periodically replace the spark plug WIRES attached to those “impossible to change” plugs?

    Like 1
    • Guardstang

      Iridium plugs just don’t change the gap over 80,000 miles, they can still be fouled by poor running engines

      Like 3
      • JoeNYWF64

        According to this
        those plugs “offers extreme ignitability, improved throttle response and superior anti fouling”.
        They sure as hell aren’t cheap tho. lol
        I think all they had back in the 70’s was cheap copper core plugs. Yet, my friend’s ’74 8:1 compress pontiac 400 WITH HEI has never fouled a plug in 250k miles on an original motor. Plugs were replaced at required intervals, which were shorter with leaded gas when new & increased when there was just unleaded.
        I doubt a monza small block with HEI would foul plugs.
        These plugs sound like a good idea on big cub inch motors in old mustangs with high shock towers & little clearance.

  9. Howard A Member

    There’s a reason why we haven’t thought about this car, it’s one most would like to forget. My ex had a ’77 Monza V8 she bought new on her graduation. It was a quick car, but miserable in most all other respects.It was a transition car between small economy car and V8 power Americans were used to, and failed miserably on both counts. Iffy handling got many into trouble, and rust killed the rest. No thanks.

    Like 3
    • Dave

      I had a ’79. It handled fine, better than my ’79 Vette that was definitely”iffy”

      Like 2
      • JoeNYWF64

        Wasn’t the ’68-81 vette basically ’63 vette technology underneath, complete with an old ford type slave cylinder power steering system? I rememeber reading that the more advanced 2nd gen firebird with DRUM brakes on back actually stopped shorter than a 70’s vette with 4 wheel disc brakes!

  10. djjerme

    There was one of these I used to see for sale 20 years ago, same color even. Was tempted to buy it since I do love a good fastback/hatchback. They may not have been the fastest thing out there, but loved the look and quad headlight configuration.

    Like 1
  11. SDJames

    My uncle had a non-spyder, plain-jane one with a 5 speed. It was a fun car and we called it the “Monzaradi” :)

  12. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Always thought these were good looking cars that did go with that V/8 !

    Like 1
  13. Michael Leyshon Member

    Love the commentary by Camaro Joe above ! Most of us have been there, great days… This Monza is so much like the Mustang 2 of the day. Same suspension , steering, drive train, etc..Considered a compact with a small block shoe horned in. Lot of potential in both the blue oval and bowtie with a little exhaust and intake work. Grew up in the late ’80s….my friend had the ’77 Skyhawk version of this with the 231 V-6, quick car in the day.

    Like 1
  14. Claudio

    Bought one with a rod knock for $125 in the 90’s, drove it like i stole it , it had a v8 but dont recall wich one
    Burnouts galore, just wrecked it for fun , i liked it but had other cars that i prefered so…i did see a convertible one in montreal on a summer day but wasnt able to catch up to it in the crazy traffic , always hope to see it again …

  15. Jim

    I had a factory 350 (California) 77 2+2.. It was my first “race” car. Yanked the 350 out (was a 4 bolt main motor) and traded it for a 400 SBC. I needed tractor batteries and ladder bars to keep it on the road.

    Like 1
  16. Jim Husband

    I bought a brand new 78 Monza Spyder 4 spd in 1978.
    The spark plug thing is only a problem for people that don’t have a “wobble” extension. I don’t mean u-joint. With a 2″ wobble extention, the plugs in a V8 Monza are not hard to change at all.
    Two months after the warranty ended I put an old LT1 in it. The LT1 was noticeably heavier, but way more fun.
    There is no pin in the speedo of the Monza, and the car was quite capable of starting around the speedo a second time.

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