Rare Turbo Model: 1980 Chevy Monte Carlo

While enthusiasts are quick to remember Buick stuffing a turbocharged V6 under the hood, or Ford rolling out Mustang SVOs by the dozens, less often remembered is that Chevy’s venerable muscle/luxury coupe – the Monte Carlo – also enjoyed a short dalliance with turbocharging. The same turbocharged 3.8L Buick V6 lived under the hood of cars like this 1980 Monte Carlo here on eBay, which has an opening bid of $3,000 and a reserve set.

Like so many GM products of the early 1980s, turbocharging created a compelling argument for both improved fuel economy and performance. The corporate V6 with the turbo actually returned acceptable runs to 60 and came within spitting distance of the Corvette’s power output. In the case of the Monte Carlo, this may have changed the recipe of the late 80s Monte Carlo SS and Aerocoupe, perhaps adding a turbocharged rival to the ring of Ford’s Thunderbird SC and Mustang SVO sport coupes.

Unfortunately, the Monte Carlo with the turbo option didn’t distinguish itself from other models in the lineup. You couldn’t order it with Recaros or unique alloy wheels; in fact, it could still be spec’d with wire wheels and the landau roof option if you desired. A small hood bulge with a Turbo badge and a dashboard plaque with the same inscription were the extent of any attempt to promote the turbo option in the Monte Carlo lineup. This example’s interior is presentable but definitely screams more luxury than performance.

1980 is a touch less rare than 1981 models; the earlier model sold about 13,000 units while just over 3,000 Monte Carlos with the turbo mill found homes in 1981. No word on whether this Monte is wearing an original shade of paint, as I can’t recall too many appearing to wear a bright cherry red veneer unless they were custom painted. The seller doesn’t offer us much to go on in terms of any rot or mechanical issues, so hopefully its South Dakota location means it has good bones underneath.


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  1. nessy

    Very neat oddball car. These were produced in limited numbers for 1980 and 1981. Sales were slow. I would guess there can not be many left. This is the same engine that was first offered in the 78 Buick Regal/Century and it was even offered on the LaSabre for a short time. Amazing how this slug of an engine was later worked over to become the powerhouse Buick Grand National.

  2. Vin in NJ

    This car looks like one that was going for sale 4 years ago.


    These cars always seemed to suffer from the chrome strips on the bumpers peeling off

  3. Doyler

    Don’t these engines make their way into Lotus Esprits?

    • angliagt

      NO! – That was the Lotus 907 engine,
      also used in the Jensen Healey.

  4. jeff

    My mother purchased one of these new and had nothing but problems. It was at the dealers garage more than our home. It had issues running very rough, and also intermittent stalling. Finally traded it in for something else more dependable.

  5. ACZ

    Not the powerhouse that the GN was but it had better performance than most other things of this era.

  6. rmward194 Member

    If I’m not mistaken this is an original color called Cinnibar. It is more of an orange color than red which may make it even more rare. It wasn’t a popular color in 1980 when I was selling these things.

    Like 1
    • Chebby

      My former mechanic in NJ had a 1980 Corvette in Cinnabar with matching interior, he said his friends would not stop making fun of him about it it.

  7. curt

    just an awful car, from an awful period in GM history, I worked at a Pontiac/GMC dealership back then, seemed as soon as they left the lot, they were back in the service dept.

    Like 1
  8. PJ

    I used to visit Hot springs alot when I was younger because my mother lived their. Most of Hot Springs’ population are older veterans. When I used to visit I seen this car around a few times. Looked clean and original back then (About 10 years ago) and still looks great now. I always wondered myself if the paint was original and if the hump in the hood meant anything. I have no doubt regarding its originality


    I worked at Long Chevrolet in 1980 while in HS. These cars were total pigs but were nice looking. This one brings back memories of better times, but not for cars unfortunately.

  10. Frank

    Cool ole HotRod regardless of what any of these geriatrics think. Hope it goes to a good home and doesn’t get hooptied up.

    Like 1
  11. Dennis Johnson

    i need to know how rare and how many 1980 turbo t-top Monte Carlos were made if anyone knows please let me know … and if its redone in perfect condition what is it worth??

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