Mini-Ferrari: 1977 Chevrolet Monza 2+2

By sheer coincidence, reader and Barn Finder extraordinaire Rocco B. sent us this sharp, 42,000-mile 1977 Chevrolet Monza 2+2 as I had the July, 1972 issue of Road & Track sitting on my desk with the Ferrari 365 GTC/4 on the cover. Now, Bill Mitchell-era GM styling was never terribly shy about naming its influences—the ’63 Riviera was said to have been inspired by custom-bodied Rolls-Royce, and the first Toronado paid homage to the Cord 810—but never was their aping quite as blatant as it was with the Ferrari-inspired Monza. Certainly R&T took note when it did a styling analysis of the Monza in January, 1975. All of this is good for you if you have Ferrari dreams but not quite Ferrari scratch. While a ’72 365 GTC/4 just sold at Pebble Beach for $352,000, this Monza could be yours for just $5,000! It’s even red—check it out on craigslist out of Fairdale, Kentucky (archived ad).

Not so Ferrari-esque is the powerplant, a 2.3-liter inline four shared with the Monza’s platform-mate, the Vega, good for 84 horsepower and hooked up to a three speed automatic. No wonder the speedometer only goes to 80, not even as high as the government-mandated 85 of a couple of years later! Although the Wankel twin-rotor engine planned for the Monza never materialized, several V8s were optional, up to Chevy’s 350, so swap options—who knows, maybe a Ferrari V12 would even fit!—are many if you’re not a stickler for originality. If you are, the car is said be ready to drive as-is, too.

The all-vinyl interior looks very original, very clean, and very, very red. Something about red carpet just drives the point home. It looks like there might be a little discoloration of the carpet on the transmission tunnel between the rear seats—or it could just be overexposure in the photo—but the fully carpeted cargo area has suffered no such fate, despite lousy fit, some warping of the plastics back there, and likely fairly indifferent initial build quality.

An early adopter of rectangular sealed-beams, the Monza’s frontal aspect is its greatest departure from its Pininfarina inspiration. In the case of this car, the front end shows off the very nice paint especially well. The seller doesn’t use the phrase “rust-free,” so no promises there, but the body is described as “good” and the underside as “solid.” I think the Monza has a more convincing case as a cut-rate Ferrari than the contemporary Ford Granada had as a Mercedes knockoff, so for $5,000 this strikes me as a pretty sweet little ride.

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Kevin

    Ferrari and chevroley monza are two names that shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath. 5grand for a warmed over vega? Lol. No thanks

  2. Paul

    I owned a V-8 Monza. Fun car, but a bear to work in the engine compartment!

    Like 1
  3. Todd Fitch Staff

    I put over 100,000 on a sister H body the ’76 Buick Skyhawk 3.8L with the rare 5 speed. It wasn’t fast by any measure but it looked sharp and served me well. I always envied the V8 cars but, as Paul said, they were tight. A friend had a Monza Mirage 350 and had to loosen the motor mounts and crank the motor to one side to change the back plugs.

    • Steve

      I first read this and read “100,000 IN”, as in invested $100k in…Whew…

    • 77Vette

      I had a 1976 Skyhawk with a 3.8 and the auto transmission. It went way over 100,000 and while not fast was very dependable. Always wanted a 5 speed. This is a beautiful car and hard to find in this condition but I wouldn’t be a fan of that engine.

  4. Chris In Australia

    Has this one had a 5 stud wheel conversion? AFAIK the H bodies never had Rally wheels. I’d have it, store the original engine and go a 3800 & five speed.

    • Steve

      I had a Monza coupe years ago. Dark blue with a white interior. (Pimpalicious!) It was given to me by a friend of my dad’s after he removed the front spindle for a trailer (???) Installed spindles off a vega in another guys yard I picked up for $20 to get it home The stock 4 cyl engine was blown, locked up, or otherwise nonfunctional, so I dropped in an early 60’s 283, stock except for a four barrel intake, mild cam, and carter 600 cfm carb. Open rear with stock auto trans, IIRC…Man that think was fast! (Imagine it with a posi and beefy tires…) So much so that my dad made me get rid of it shortly thereafter…

    • Steve

      i don’t recall them having five lug either… I thought I remembered swapping 4 lug spindles off a vega….

    • Steve

      It looks like s10 parts are used for conversions…

      http://www.v8monza.com/faq-fsus-S10_front-walk-thru.htm

    • F.A.G.

      Hey Chris in Australia and Steve:

      Read the add before you comment, WOW!!

  5. Big Mike

    I had a 77 Monza in High School for about 6 months, it was a salvage job Dad did and I tried everything in the world to tear it up. It was equipped with a 350 and a 4 speed, man could that little car fly. I agree with Todd it was a pain in the butt to change the back plugs, of course the front ones where not that easy either. Dad sold it to a customer that needed a car in a hurry and I was back to driving one of the old shop vans for the rest of my Junior year, till I got my car finished and on the road for my Senior year. Oh did I tell you I kind of traded up well for some people that is, I finally finished my 63 Chevy Nova SS, of course I had been working on it for 2 years. Still have my Baby. some 37 years later of course it has been apart a few times.

  6. Howard A Member

    Ha! My ex-wife had this same red car, only a 305 V8. It’s fun to see these flashbacks from days of yore. She traded in her,,,you guessed it, Vega, and her brother, who raced stock cars at the time, insisted she order the V8. Sure was a fun little car, handled poorly, especially in the snow, which, btw, was very unkind to it. The doors literally fell off within a few years. It was a fun cruiser, with lots of power to pass. Hatchback, very handy, but equipped like this?? No way.

  7. rustylink

    It’s a shame these never had the power plant to match their clean good looks. Imagine this with a twin rotor wankel (I am sure it would be quite thirsty) but nonetheless an much more spirited performer.

  8. Joe Nose

    Had the near-twin to this, except mine had a 4 speed, to use as a college car in the late ’70’s. I kept the rear seat folded down nearly all the time cuz it seemed sportier. Added louvers for the rear which was the only way to keep the car cooler. And JC Whitney sent me dual air horns which was the ONLY way the thing was going to ever sound Furrari-esque. Had them on an A-B switch so i could use stock or air, or alternate to scare mice.

  9. Rabbit

    My old 78 came with a blown up 305. It got converted to the SBC 400 from Mom’s old Caprice (LOTS of work…), & I had a genuine Sit ‘n Spin. Never could get that thing to hook up, & with the A/C, anything under the hood was a nightmare to work on. Sold it to a kid who promptly let it get away from him & drove it backwards up a tree.

  10. Rustytech Member

    Why would a swap from a 305 ci to a 400 ci SBC be “a lot of work” the are the same engine? I always liked the look of these, but even with the 305 they were a dog. I bet with the 400 it was truly a hand full! Of fun that is.

  11. Brett Kopf

    My first car was a 79 olds starfire with the buick 3.8. I paid 50$ for that car and drove it for years. It already had the trans swapped when i bought it from the 200 to the th350. Good highway car, or tearing around town. I still miss it and ugly misfit 70s style graphics.

  12. charlie Member

    1. It was a very good looking car.
    2. It was a very tight car, compared to its Vega brother.
    3. With the V8 it was FAST.
    4. Yes, changing the spark plugs was a problem with the V8, but, nowadays, with today’s plugs, and a well tuned engine, how often would you do that? Once in your remaining life time? I just changed the plugs for the first time at 127,000 miles on my Toyota (7,000 miles later than the book recommended).
    5. No it did not handle as well as today’s Toyota Corolla, let alone a Subaru WRX, but, then again, it would be fast and fun enough for most of us.

  13. ccrvtt

    Best-looking car of the ’70’s. I bought a 1976 Olds Starfire brand-new. 3.8 & 4-speed, chrome wheels and Firestone 500 tires. The tires were ahead of their time – had steel belts in the shape of a Mobius strip.

    These cars would rust if the weather forecast was for rain, doors especially. 3.8 was an unhappy engine in my version.

    Mine was bright orange with a black interior. Had some of the best seats ever. Piece of crap car. I loved it.

    • Kevin

      Best looking car of the 70s? LOL. Get off it already, talk about something worth while

      • ccrvtt

        Perhaps re-reading the post would reveal that it is primarily tongue-in-cheek.

        Also, “worthwhile” is all one word…

  14. Fred

    I paid $100 for a 77 Monza Spyder, 305 4 speed and posi rear. SOmeone had installed a quadrajet on it before I got it. I got it in New Jersey because it wouldn’t pass inspection with the cracked windshield.

    I still have the scar from replacing the windshield, and it cracked within a few weeks after me romping on it.

    It was fast on straight roads, but those wimpy 13 inch tires made cornering quite a challenge.

  15. Keith

    I just finished mistake my Granada for a Benz, and now my Monza for a Ferrari. Those designers in Detroit sure are slick!

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.