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Sleeper Potential? 1975 Chevrolet Monza V8

Not to be confused with the Corvair Monza of the 1960s, the Chevy Monza was in production from 1975 to 1980. It debuted as a subcompact hatchback in a 2+2 seating configuration and was based on the infrastructure of the Vega (which was on its way out). You could get a 1975 Monza with a 350 cubic inch V8, but only if you bought it in California, which was the case with the seller’s car. This 3-owner auto looks to be in great overall condition, and the seller thinks it may be one of just 1,200 built with the 350 and factory A/C. Located in Mather Field, California, this Chevy is available here on craigslist for $8,500. Thanks to Tony Primo for the heads-up!

Except for Cadillac, each GM division would market a version of the Chevy Monza. At Pontiac, it was the Sunbird, while Oldsmobile called theirs the Starfire, and Buick would go with the Skyhawk name. I owned a Sunbird back in the day and it was an okay car, but it only had the “Iron Duke” I-4 with an automatic transmission, so it was no speed demon. I assume since the Monza was a light car, that you could make a little noise with the small-block V8, even with smog controls.

This Chevrolet looks like a well-kept automobile, even at 140,000 miles (a challenge for many cars of the 1960s and 1970s). If you lived anywhere but California in 1975, you could get your Monza with a new 262 V8. But that motor somehow couldn’t pass Left Coast emissions, so 350 was offered there. This Monza has been converted from a 2-barrel to a 4-barrel carburetor and it has a 3-speed automatic. And it’s smog-exempt, which would be important to Californians.

We’re told there’s no rust on this Chevy and photos tend to support that. The white paint has been redone and has held up well. The red interior looks good, though the carpeting in the hatch may be a tad worn and we wonder if the cover on the dash pad is simply a nice touch or hiding some cracks. But there’s no reason to think that this car doesn’t have plenty of life left.

Comments

  1. Nevada1/2rack Nevada1/2rack Member

    Never realized they’d choked down the 350 to 125 HP w/ the 2bbl. The 4bbl must help but it explains the 455 Olds motor powered one featured last week!

    Like 15
    • TehAgent

      That’s so sad…even the sad little (yet extremely durable) 2.2l LN2 put out 140hp in the mid 90s.

      For that matter the TBI Iron Duke of the 80s wasn’t that far off from 125hp…though I’m sure the torque curves were wildly different.

      Like 4
      • Robert Spinello

        Whart’s even more said is the 4-barrel version of the 350 in the 75 Corvette put out only 40 more HP, the lowest ever in a Corvette.

        Like 0
  2. Cooter Cooter Member

    These look great converted to 5 lugs and a set of 8″ Corvette Rally wheels. Most of these were crushed back in the day along with several other models. Example…What happened to all the Grand Am’s? This Monza is very clean…and a V8!

    Like 18
  3. Alec

    Already gone! Also, there are ~3400 350 cars and they all came loaded with AC so he pulled that number from somewhere dark

    Like 2
    • Alec

      But I already own one. It’s on the Travis Black YT channel if you want to see it, it does great burnouts

      Like 0
  4. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    Great Monza V8.. ever change spark plugs on this? Especially the rear ones. I had to jack up the motor. Next time we drill a hole though the fender apron. That was easy to replace the plugs. Unfortunately the Craigslist was removed. I guess somebody jump on this ASAP. 🐻🇺🇸

    Like 12
    • Cam W.

      Back in the day, I remember my mechanic buddies at a large GM dealer complaining about the difficulty changing spark plugs on the V8 Monzas. They were all of flat-rate pay, so the Monza tune-ups always missed one or two plugs. This went along for a few years….. Then Monza V8s started coming in with a misfire. The never-changed spark-plugs were the problem, and often broke off in the head.

      Like 5
      • Ken

        This was my first car in high school. I changed out the engine to a 360 horse 327, it was hell to change spark plugs.!!!

        Like 2
    • Victor Van Tress

      Ever change the spark plug of a 390 Mustang?

      Like 2
      • Gary

        Or a Sunbeam Tiger?

        Like 1
  5. Kenny

    I had a ’75 Monza 2+2 back in the day. It came with a 262 v8 that the cam went bad on. So I dropped in a 350 from a ’73 Chev pickup. It would roast that one 13″ tire and I couldn’t put the hood on since the mid rise intake stuck out. Also had to change the oil pan and pick up tube to the one from the 262 and beat out the oil pan with a ball peen hammer to prevent the crank from hitting it. I was 16 at the time. lol.

    Like 20
  6. cold340t

    Ah Grumpy’s Toy one of my favorite memories at Baylands back in the 70’s.

    Like 10
    • 59poncho

      Along with those cheeseburgers and Jungle Jims wife!

      Like 4
      • Claudio

        Ahhh yes , jungle jim’s woman was quite the eye opener !

        Like 1
  7. HoA Howard A Member

    Okay, you twisted my arm, when I met my ex-wife, she had just purchased a ’77 Monza. She knew nothing about cars, but her older brother raced stock cars at Hales Corners Speedway( now a Menards) and had a big influence on what motor to get. Hers had the 305, which did NOT need to raise the motor for plug changes, but was still mighty close. The car itself was an awful car, the V8, while refreshing, was too much. It plowed in corners, poor brakes and winter? Forgetaboutit. Then the rust set in. We often complain on how the imports rusted, but this car rusted terribly. The BOP V6 was much better suited to the car and I’d recommend this car to no one.

    Like 9
    • Jack M.

      Just like every Ford Pinto write up needs an exploding gas tank reference, so does every V-8 Monza write up require the jack up the engine myth.

      Like 12
      • Alec

        I just did the plugs on my 350 Monza, it did require a lift to move it a *tiny* bit, but the play in the motor mounts was more than enough. A bolt in the head and an engine hoist are all it needs.

        Like 1
  8. Jon Calderon

    Back in the day, I never appriciated these cars. But in retrospect, I love the styling of the Chevy version. Like a tiny Camaro. A better value than the guy selling the Firebird with no drivetrain. I’d take all tbe smog stuff out, straightpipe it, then have some fun. 👍

    Like 11
    • Chris Cornetto

      Neither did I and I ran a wrecking yard and likely handled dozens of these. 35 years later…..looking at choices now. Were they really that bad. I knew guys that drove them for years until they wore out and rusted away. very nice copy here right down to some of the first plastic wheel covers.

      Like 12
  9. Dave

    I had the Oldsmobile version, ’79 with a V6 4 speed. Fun car til the cam went south. Traded it in for the only new vehicle I ever bought.

    Like 5
  10. Stembridge

    As mentioned in the artivle, Monza was based on the same H-body platform as the Vega – however, it was actually in planning in 1971, right around the time Vega debuted – John DeLorean intended it to be an upscale offering from the Vega. Styling of the Monza 2+2 leaned heavily on the Ferrari 365 GTC/4.

    The 1974 Vega was intended to be the first recipient of GM’s RC2-206 rotary engine, but plans were changed and the Monza was slated to receive the engine instead – early production Monzas actually had a wider transmission tunnel to accommodate the engine. Ed Cole put the rotary program on hold in 1974, and his successor, Pete Estes, eventually killed the program.

    In those pre-internet days, Vega’s problems took several years to become common knowledge (1975 was actually the peak for H-body sales), so I’m sure GM was happy to shift focus when Monza debuted in 1975. Vega would soldier on until 1977, but there was actually a 1978-1980 Monza S on offer (no-one has ever seen one, but supposedly there were ~3,000 built in 1978 only) which used the Vega hatchback body with a revised grille and Monza badging.

    Like 7
  11. 59poncho

    Perfect year. Too many cars near me today. Having cash and a car trailer is a curse!

    Like 5
  12. Marko

    I share Stembridge’s insight on the Monza copying the Ferrarri 364. A lot of North American designers in the 70’s were borrowing inspiration from Ferrarri in those days. The early 2nd gen Camaro with the split grille front end and simular taillights. Reat duck tail treatment on Fords Maverick/Comet sisters, and even AMC’s Matador got in on the trend.

    But none of us really caught on to this, as the Internet did not exist, and we had never seen many of the Italian cars on our roads in those days.

    Like 5
  13. Glenn Schwass Member

    I drove a co-worker ‘s Monza of this vintage but with the 4. I didn’t even know a 350 was available, even a smog and bog one…They had improved over the Vega, but still a 70’s disposable car. US stuff didn’t improve much until the 90’s as far as I’m concerned, and only a few models. Japan wiped our noses with cars that make 200k with normal maintenance. It looks like they’re having issues again with that, except some US trucks, if you’re lucky.

    Like 4
  14. HarryQ

    A caution with this platform shared with other brands, such as Oldsmobile is that the chassis and suspension is based on the Vega. Handling wasn’t great but with more weight and more power, the chassis was band-aided, which patches of thicker steel welded on where cracks showed up during testing. The body shape is reasonably attractive, but if what you want is a resto-mod, there are better platforms to start with. I am familiar with these because Herb Adams and his son, Matt, raced an Oldsmobile Starfire. The brands with the 90-degree V6 have their own problems. In their race car, the engine blew on the banking at Daytona, and they coasted around into the pits. When they opened the hood, the forged crankshaft and connecting rods were laying in plain sight where the cast iron block was supposed to be. Powered by the energy stored in the 90lb flywheel the Carillo rods, like a thrashing machine had pulverized the block and left a trail of pieces you could pick up with one hand. By the time it stopped, there was nothing left in the car.

    Like 5
    • Victor Van Tress

      I always got to kick out of Herb Adams. The Trans Am LeMans, the 180° exhaust on the 73 Pontiac Grand Am. Even showed up in the Renault Cup one time that I used to race in. Met Matt then.

      Like 2
    • Fox owner

      Great story Harry. These are the kind of posts I like to see. Not whining about how things aren’t like they used to be. News flash, nothing is the way it used to be.

      Like 3
  15. Frank TA

    Wow, not only does it have a V8, but air conditioning, too!! I like it, except for the color. Darker color like a blue or black, would have been my choice.

    Like 5
  16. Brad chipman

    A friend jn the military had one with the 262/auto. We did a 327/4spd for it. Even with highway gears it was fast. Had 5 lug hubs and I believe they came stock. Fun car

    Like 5
    • Cooter Cooter Member

      Nope, count the lugs on the one pictured.

      Like 1
  17. luckless pedestrian

    Way back when I was in high school a girl I knew had one… parents bought it for her… new I believe. I remember being amazed at how badly screwed together that car was.. Interior fit and finish was just abysmal. A rattle trap… They don’t call it the malaise era for nothing…

    Like 5
  18. 59poncho

    Its gone

    Like 2
  19. Nova John

    Back in the early ’80s, my friend had the Oldsmobile Starfire with the V8. I remember him having issues with tire wear in the front. After some visits to the local alignment shops, it was recommended to him that he check with a body shop to render some correction to the unibody and get the car within build specs so a front alignment could be achieved. The guy he took it to was a very good body guy and even sported a stock car that he personally raced. He looked at my friend’s car and was honest when he said ” I can get your car within spec, you will pay me and if you hit a railroad crossing or some rough road, your alignment may go right out the window. These cars don’t hold an alignment very well”. My friend ended up living with the front end, as it was, and sold the car shortly thereafter. I guess we were getting a preview of the malaise period of American cars and didn’t even realize it. The car wasn’t terrible, but that incident left me with a “no way in hell would I buy one” attitude. Guess it didn’t matter, those cars didn’t stick around very long. It would be cool to get one, and try to modernize the chassis and steering and see if any of the gremlins came back. I liked the body, just needed to have a better feel for its durability ; )

    Like 5
    • HoA Howard A Member

      Huh, I thought Olds had only the V6 too, but you are correct. Olds did offer the 305 in late ’77, and dropped after ’79.

      Like 2
  20. Randy Anderson

    My dad had a 1976/77 like this car it was green it had the iron duke in it.somebody put in a electric fuel pump in it to start up in the cold 🥶 weather otherwise it was a pain to get it cranked over to fire 🔥 it up.i called it the ( frog),because it resembles one doesn’t it lol? Dad didn’t like i called it that but i did love driving it and it was a lot smaller than my 1970 Pontiac Grand Prix lol with better gas mileage too lol!

    Like 2
  21. Corky Aeh

    I had a 1980 Monza 4 cylinder automatic……numerous problems, to numerous to list but basically the car was a POS !!! After a year I noticed the front tires were wearing out , took it in for an alignment …..guy told me to take it to a frame shop ???? Did so, the guy at the frame shop asked me how bad the car had been wreaked ???? I said it hadnt, that I bought it new off the showroom floor ….. He said then the frame is so weak that it is spreading, and wont hold up …..I asked what to do about it …he said get rid of the car , which I did , thank God it was a 4 cylinder instead of a V8 !!!! Last chevy I ever bought !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Like 3
  22. Pete

    Had a 77 Skyhawk with the v-6 and 5 speed. It also had a Panhard rod and sway bars all around, so unlike the other fellow, the handling was pretty good. the buick was pretty solid build, lots of rustproofing.

    Like 3
  23. Don McCuistion

    The 350 wasn’t installed to meet emissions. The 262 was available everywhere in California. The 350 was installed for high elevation areas and only with an automatic to make the car more user friendly with more torque. Pathetic output, but highly sought after now. Chevrolet did the same thing with Novas.

    Like 1
  24. Robert Spinello

    I tracked down a yellow 350 in Calif 10 years ago for $2,500 then past on it because of the shipping across the US. and the cost of a proper repaint which brought the cost well over $10k.

    Like 0
  25. Robert Spinello

    Still quicker than anything except the Corvette that year at 0-60 in nine seconds with a 2.29:1 rear. With a lower axle and a four barrel carb, instant muscle subcompact.

    Like 0
  26. Robert Spinello

    Its the most desirable Monza regardless of the 15 less horses than the 76-79 305.The 350 has more torque. No substitute for cubic inches.

    Like 0
  27. Robert Spinello

    Motor Trend, June 1975 “Power To The People”— Your Monza 350 V-8 is ready. “Chevy’s been offering a 262-inch V-8 in the Monza since its introduction, but the difference those 88 inches make is considerable.” “It is true that a large displacement engine will pass emission tests easier than a small one. And it is probably for this reason that a 350 was introduced at all, since it meets the more stringent California standards, it will be the only Monza V-8 engine sold in that state.” “The 350 version is faster and feels much more responsive. Zero to 60 times for the 350 are under 10 seconds while the 262 runs in the 13.2 second range. Fuel economy is slightly less that with the 262. This hardly justifies the performance. If performance doesn’t interest you, either engine will provide smooth economical operation. On cross-country trips—driving at the speed limit—they will both deliver about 20 miles to the gallon. But if its performance that turns you on, the 350 can be considered a hot car. And, by changing to a four-barrel carburetor and slipping in a less docile camshaft, you could expect 0-60 times in the eight second range. Outside of California, both changes are legal if done by the owner. Now we don’t want to start another horsepower war, but we have to admit that with the Monza 350, Chevrolet has loaded its guns.”

    Like 0

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