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Highly Optioned Project: 1971 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS 454

The Monte Carlo moniker was only a year old when the 1971 cars arrived, but right from the get-go Chevrolet offered a Super Sport package, and fortunately for buyers, it was a good one.  The seller calls his SS a Brass Hat example, as it was built for the Oakland, California Zone Chevrolet Office to be an executive car and used for press material, so it came well-equipped but has since fallen into a state of disarray and needs restoring.  If this one’s calling your name, it’s now located in Surprise, Arizona, and can be checked out here on Craigslist, where an asking price of $12,500 has been laid down.

Numskal, thanks a lot for the fun tip here!  Stepping up to the SS in ’71 got you a 454 as standard equipment, which is interesting that with a lowered compression ratio from the previous model it received a slight jump in horsepower.  This was achieved by Chevy incorporating a more aggressive cam than before, but unfortunately, the big block here is no longer running and from the looks of things under the hood probably quite some time has passed since this one’s made any power at all.  It is good to see the A/C system still intact, but it’s a mystery why all the belts and shroud were removed in the distant past unless someone was going to replace the timing chain, and maybe this was as far as they progressed.

Something I bet lots of our readers knew that I didn’t until today is that the steering wheel you see here is actually from the factory.  My first thought was this had been borrowed from a Camaro, as I didn’t recall seeing one of these on a ’71 Monte Carlo before, but the 4-spoke unit was indeed available as an option.  The photo above is the sole shot we get from the interior so it’s difficult to tell about the overall condition, but I’m pleased to see those buckets and a console with a floor shifter, although the fabric is looking pretty worn and the door panel is missing on at least the passenger side.

The seller believes he’s the third owner, and has been the Chevy’s caretaker for over a decade.  During this period, several parts that will be helpful to get this one back to its former glory have been sourced, even though it doesn’t appear that much work has taken place yet.  But the Monte Carlo does seem complete on the outside, although there are a few rust areas and some bodywork that needs to be performed before it’s ready for a fresh coat of paint.  The car was hit at some point on the driver’s side quarter, and the seller blames a poor repair caused the corrosion here, but a replacement panel is one of the items included with the sale.

No pictures are provided of the platform, but we do get to peek inside the trunk and it appears reasonably solid as do the floorboards, so if the south side looks the same this one may be structurally sound except for the body rust.  The idea of driving a 454-equipped Monte Carlo is appealing to me, and while this one certainly needs work I believe it would make a worthwhile project.  What are your thoughts here?


  1. Cooter Cooter Member

    If this car in fact spent it’s life in California and Arizona, and if that engine is numbers matching and will turn over, then there’s good reason to purchase this and restore it. It looks pretty complete and I would replace that quarter panel. A thorough inspection would be a necessity but being what it is would be worth the effort to bring it back.

    Like 22
  2. 8banger 8banger Member

    My brother left me his ’71 Monte SS 454. Mine had the same staple shifter and not-so-common cloth bucket seats like this one instead of pleather. It was a fun car, and back in high school, got into a ton of trouble with it.

    Like 11
    • Randy jones

      My cousin in 1974 had a black.71 ss Monte-Carlo for a few months. With a 454 auto carlo..like this one..it was a 71 to..very nice car

      Like 0
  3. Cattoo Cattoo Member

    Just out of high school in ‘86 my friend Bob (RiP) bought on of these and we would rip around town and have a blast. Gasoline was cheap then and a $20 bill filled the fuel tank.

    Like 16
  4. Will Fox

    These `70-`71 “SS” model Montes are way too far and few between today, making this a prime candidate for a frame-off. Plenty of replacement parts are being made for this gen. Monte Carlo too. I spotted a missing door panel, and hope all the ‘detached’ parts are still around. I was in sixth grade when this rolled off the line, and remember being surprised Chevy made the “SS” pkg for these. This was also about the time I saw a GM artist’s rendering of a proposed Monte Carlo convertible! But Fed. crash standard revisions were on the horizon for the entire car industry which killed off convertibles eventually so there went that fantasy.

    Like 15
    • kenneth w raney

      I guess it’s good I’m broke or I would be buying another project.

      Like 9
  5. Oldschoolmuscle

    Flood or not if all matching Numbers its worth it..
    Full restoration I would do if i had the money .Damn Im broke…

    Like 10
  6. kendall

    My friend had a Beautiful black 72 & we had a blast in that thing so much fun ! but with all the work this one needs that rice is way to high, for my liking.

    Like 4
  7. Matthew Dyer

    I loved my 70 back in the 70s. Good luck to the seller, the ask is pretty high.

    Like 2
  8. Jamie

    Looks like the belts are missing due to someone trying to replace the alternator and not finishing the job. Alternator is missing.

    Like 2
  9. John

    No matter what car it is … If you are starting 10 to 15 thousand in the hole on something that need a complete nut and bold restoration, which costs a 60,000 you’re nuts.
    Nothing that’s basically just a vin is worth it. This car when completed might get 60 to 70 thousand sooooo… Yeah it’s time we get a reality check on theses skeletons.
    It takes what should be the “fun’ out of being a enthusiast

    Like 14
    • Ashtray

      I would have to jokingly say, it’s been a long time since a GM Executive sat in this rust bucket.
      The driver’s side quarter panel would be my least concern. The extensive rust through on top and rear end is serious.
      I realize this is a very desirable car to own, but going into it, you must realize it’s going to take a lot of dollars to make it right.
      It has serious rust issues.
      I don’t believe it spent a lot of time in either California or Arizona?
      Cars don’t look this way if they’re truly from either of the previously mentioned states.
      Just my oponion!

      Like 5
  10. HC Member

    How does seller know that this car was made for a dealership or office in California? Can that be identified in the Vin or other documentation? It’s certainly, highly optioned. It would have been a good idea to at least install an alternator and new belts and its fan to confirm its a running car. I’m sure that 454 would sound great if it’s in running condition.

    Like 2
  11. Tony

    I allways liked this car, just the SS.
    To restore or not restore??? If Al you were going to do is flip it maybe not.
    Try buying a level one, you might change your mind

    Like 1
    • Stephen

      I had a ’72 with bench skirts and I put Corvette wheels and duals. It had 25k on the odometer had 56k on it when I sold it .Got it from dad’s gas station customer. It was willow color vinyl top loaded and beige gut. My roommate had a ’70 in college w/402 4speed red white top and gut factory 8 inch rallys it screamed.

      Like 1
  12. Neil R Norris

    These were the bomb! Somebody needs to step up and restore this gem. However, it won’t be me.

    Like 1
  13. Danny G

    Although it’s a rare gem, this guy is California Dreaming if he thinks that anyone is stupid enough to pony up $ 12,500 for this non running rot box. 6-7k tops, and that’s being generous. GLWTS…..

    Like 3
    • Ashtray

      Danny G,
      That’s pretty much how I see it also.
      Very serious rust.
      Just my oponion!

      Like 1
  14. Andrew V Shawn

    I currently own a 71 monte carlo ss.purchased in1999.
    It is a pleasure
    81000 original.It seems to me
    As rare as the 70 and 71 ss are..about 5000 total were produced out of 350000 Montes…they were a huge sales success
    NOT THE SS however
    12500 is to much unless more information is available. Best to all

    Like 1
  15. Rick pyle

    I agree with a few others 12 is way to much for all that work especially not running I’m thinking more like 6,500 tops but good luck

    Like 0

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