Mini Muscle: 1978 Chevrolet Monza

We’ve shown Chevy Monzas in the past and it usually comes up how much better they would be with a V8, well this 1978 Chevrolet Monza has a factory V8, and a 4-speed manual transmission! It’s on craigslist in Sherman, Texas for $2,500. Thanks to Rocco B. for sending in this submission!

You can see that, for the most part, the body on this car looks solid. There’s the dent in the left-front fender to deal with, and in the first photo the front air dam is whacked. But, as far as rust goes, it doesn’t appear to be laden with it. There will many weekends spent fixing and sanding and painting, though. The seller doesn’t mention the condition at all, other than to say that it’s “rare too many projects must sacrifice runs and drives great.” You noticed the mis-matched wheels, hopefully the next owner can track down some OEM wheels to complete the set.

The Monza was made for the 1975 to 1980 model years with a variety of engines from a 140 inline-four to the engine in this car, a 305 V8. As you can see, the interior will also need work, at least on the seats and the speaker hole in the driver’s door. The photos of the dash are too dark to really see anything, but there’s the all-important 4-speed manual! Start your salvage yard search now, you’ll need a few parts for the interior.

Here’s that 5.0L 302 V8 with around 145 hp. As the seller mentions, this one runs and drives great. This is the engine that most people would want in this car along with the transmission that most would want. For $2,500 it could be a good buy if the next owner has the space and the time to restore it without having to have too much work done in a $150 an hour shop somewhere.

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Don H

    Love it had one in the 80s one of my high school cars ,change the heads , intake, and headers with glass packs will get up and go

  2. Rock On

    Don’t want to nit pick Scotty, but that is a 305 cubic inch Chevy. This car would really fly with a 302 in it, only available on the 1967-69 Z28s!!!

    Like 1
    • sir mike

      I thought they came with a 265ci motor??

      • Blyndgesser

        There was a 262 for a couple years, but it was so weak they substituted the 305 to compete more effectively with the Mustang II.

        The Chevy 265 was the original small-block, from 1955-57.

        Like 1
      • TM

        Some were 262 cubes

    • Scotty Staff

      Arrgg! You are correct, Rock On.

    • Monza lover

      All you have to do is hunt down a 327 and put a 283 crank in it.

  3. Bob C.

    They came with a 110 horsepower 262 v8 for 1975 and 76 only. The 305 ousted it from there.

    • EagleFish

      Bring the 305 up to the specs of the 302 and you have the same thing. I’ll give the edge to the 305 in that case.

      In order to sell a V8 Monza in Cali, GM had to go to the 350 engine w/2 bbl carb because the 305 had not yet been certified for emission in Cali. It appeared for one year only. it is an extremely rare car. Even rarer, was this setup with the OEM 4 bbl optioned 350.

      Like 1
      • bob snyder

        bought a 1975 Monza 2+2 with factor 350 and 4spd in 1975 would like to talk to people with similar mine was Marrone with tan interior Mickey Thompson radials 4spoke American mags, custom-made side pipes, and Dave Davies pinstriping beautiful and fast as h—. looking for another sincerely Bob Snyder.

        Like 1
  4. Richard Prokopchuk

    While in the military, I bought a brand new 75 Monza in San Angelo, and a couple months later took it with me to Germany. My post was just a few km from the Czech border. I lived within a click of the border and drove the car to work every day. I arrived in May or June and in late fall, I ran full broadside into a German farmer’s haywagon, bending it out of shape into unfixable condition. The Germans loved the little 262 cubic inch V8, but when it came time to service they did not love that the engine had to be jacked up to get to the back plugs. Then they started complaining. The manual also said no chains on the tires because of lack of clearance, lucky the car didn’t last through to the snow. It was a very good handler though and the Germans loved the looks.

    • tirefriar

      Perhaps the Germans loved the look most likely because this was the Americanized version of the Opel Manta….

      • Blyndgesser

        Similar concept, maybe, but totally unrelated cars. This is a Vega underneath.

  5. Bruce Best

    These handle better than you might think and if you reduce the weight with an aluminum block V-8 you could turn it into a real rock or one of the newer turbo V-6’s These were nice cars. Many of my friend had them and those that took care of them put a lot of miles on them. One of them had over 200K and old sold it because of the second child and the need of a mini van.

  6. Miguel

    Did you mean by Mini-Muscle that is was in a small car or that it really has no muscle at all. I think the later is true.

  7. Rock On

    Some of the best burn outs that I’ve done were in a V8 Monza. It is essentially a factory V8 Vega. Very light car.

  8. fish56

    Weren’t these Monzas the cars where you couldn’t reach at least one of the spark plugs without pulling the engine?

    • George

      factory service manual recommended removing one motor mount bolt and jacking up the engine to access the plugs. used to have to do it too!

    • Richard Prokopchuk

      Yup, that’s what I mentioned in my first post

  9. Dan

    Seems like spark plug issue is brought up every time a v8 monza is discussed. It was a big deal back when gas had lead in it, and plugs fouled at the drop of a hat, but really, nowadays how often do you all changes spark plugs in a car? Especially one that will be driven as little as this. Once every 10 years? If that?

  10. z28th1s

    This would be a fun car with a little work!

  11. Richard Kaltenbach

    My 1979 Black Monza 2+2 Sport Hatchback Had The Pontiac Iron Duke 151 Four Cylinder. Miss That Car Terribly.

  12. Nova Scotian

    Texas must be on another planet or something cause no way ever do these cars survive this long on the Atlantic coast…EVER.
    What a time warp to 1978!
    Maybe a trip Back to the Future in a ’78 Monza…lol

  13. JimmyJ

    Wasnt it a 267 not a 262?

    • Blyndgesser

      No. The 267 came along in 1980, for the Malibu, Monte Carlo, and Caprice. It lasted only a couple of years.

      Like 1
  14. Jay

    I had a 1976 Buick Skyhawk with a 3.8 six with a 4 speed. That car was fun to drive.

  15. Rock On

    You could even get the 267 in 1980-81 Camaros and people call the 307 a weak engine!

  16. Matt

    I just wanted to say thank you to Scotty for putting my car on barnfinds it sold so very fast. Thank you

    • Scotty Staff

      Hey, that’s great news, Matt! It looked like a winner, I’m glad that I ran across it so it could be shown.

  17. Roger

    Didnt they put the 267 in them also?

    • Todd

      No, not Monzas. 267 came out in 78? However 262 was only offered in Monzas and for some reason, Nova’s.

  18. Fred

    I had a 77 Monza Spyder, 305 with a 4 speed. Someone added a Quadrajet and a Hurst shifter before I bought it for $100. It needed a windshield.

    I replaced the windshield, and still have the scar to show for it.

    A week later I cracked the windshield when I dumped the clutch at a light!

    It was fast, but couldn’t corner to save its life. Those mini tires were worthless

  19. Melvin Burwell

    Looks like a great deal. For resto rod restoration or just restore. Sure this ones gone already. No.

  20. V

    I know this is an old post but as someone who owned a 1975 in 1977 with only 16,000 miles when purchased I can give some good info on the car.

    First yes for 1975 it was a 262 V8. For the times it was actually fairly peppy for an affordable car. The things that slowed the car down were the new emmision standards at the time and the fact the car was fairly heavy for it’s size. About 2,800. This car had a resonator, catalytic converter and muffler. There was also an air pump connected to the exhaust manifolds. All of this choked the car. For a high school kid without rich parents it was better than what a lot of kids had but not as fast as your friends more powerful muscle car.

    Still this car had enough torque to squeal the tires (not power braking). The engine actually had too much torque for the unibody chassis. One day I had a clunk sound when putting it in gear. Had a friend watch front wheels because of the movement of the body. Turns out the engine torque and weight causes the unibody extensions to crack causing the Aframe/Control arms to move.

    Had to take the Monza to the frame shop and have 3 steel reinforcement plates welded to each extension. Was told by frame shop that every V8 Monza in town had to have this done at about the same miles 30,000 unless drove by grandma. The fix was easy and cheap at the time.

    Over all the car was nice and had nice looking interor trim when new. The faux woodgrain was a nice touch. Was not too bad to drive except on ice up a hill due to the weight of the front it was easy to get stuck going up fairly steep hills and have to turn around.

    Overall engine performance was fine even with the eariler noted emission changes as well as being one of the first few model years requiring unleaded gas. This car however only got 9MPG at best. That had to be the most dissappointing part of the whole thing. Even rebuilding the carb did not help.

    Still as a teenager I loved the car and if could get a good example today I might just to go to car shows. I sold the car at only 4 years old with 46,000 factory miles. At that time the bottoms of the doors not exterior but between door and sill already had fairly large rot holes.

    It was fun and maybe if the gas mileage was better I would have kept but for the times in the 70`s gas was expensive $1.79 a gallon and at 9 MPG it was time for a different car. Inflation adjusted price made gas the equivalent of more than $7.00 a gallon now. Imagine that.

    Like 1
    • V

      I almost forgot, lifting the motor was not required. The biggest problem was the steering shaft blocking one plug on the left. With patients, flexibility and a ground down open end wrench all plugs could be changed either from above or below on the left. Dealers lifted because it was faster for them.

  21. George Smith

    I had a 79 monza 4 speed that I bought new. Long gone now. Picked up an 80 spider last fall in great shape. Have a 350 that I’m putting a 5 speed manual on. Should be a lot of fun as they are pretty light. Always liked these cars. Not many around anymore. Hard to find parts if you need them. Have S10 discs in front and 5 bolt axles in back so I can put bigger rims and tires on it .

  22. James Fabry

    Hello everyone I’m looking for a 1975 to 1980 monza or Buick skyhawk or any Help body car. Email at chesterbabesmokey2@gmail.com thanks everyone.

  23. Allan Barr

    I had a 1975 coupe with a 400 hp 400 small block in it. It would do a 12.5 second quarter mile at 5000 ft altitude and smoke the tire all the way down the strip. I couldn’t keep traction. I was 17/18. I loved that car. It ended up twisting the body from all of the torque.

  24. George Smith

    I have a 1980 spyder 2×2 monza with a built 350 and a 5 speed. Just getting it back on the road. Parts are nearly unfindable anymore and no aftermarket parts either. I made subframe connectors as the motor will bend the body otherwise. Very light and very quick.

  25. Bobby Longshot

    I’ve read that the difficulty changing all the spark plugs meant that there were a lot of V-7 Monzas driving around.

    Chuckle…”I got a V-7″

    lol

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