Repaint or Preserve? 1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS

Every generation jumps on the retro bandwagon, and each focuses on a different era. In the 1970s, people craved the cars, music, and fashion of the 1950s. The current generation has turned its attention to the 1980s, which helps explain why classic cars from that era are climbing in value in the current market. The 1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS is no exception, and spotless examples will fetch prices undreamt of only a few years ago. Our feature SS is a tidy survivor, but the seller states that a fresh coat of paint would lift its presentation enormously. Barn Finder Pat L. spotted this promising project, so I must say a big thank you for that. It is listed here on Craigslist in Tipp City, Ohio. Handing the seller $16,900 could see you driving away behind the wheel of this gem.

Motoring trends come and go, but a few are instantly recognizable for a particular era. When you see a car with fins tall enough to accumulate snow, the chances are you are experiencing a vehicle from the 1950s. The “Coke-bottle” styling of the late 1960s and early 1970s eventually gave way to a squarer and more aggressive look through the late 1970s and 1980s. That makes it easy to determine where cars like this 1985 Monte Carlo SS fit into the automotive big picture. It possesses all the aerodynamic efficiency of a barn, but it still looks attractive and aggressive. It rolled off the line wearing Code 19 Black paint, and it appears it has never undergone any form of restoration. The seller states it would benefit from a repaint, but the healthy shine and lack of panel issues suggest the buyer could retain the car as an original survivor. If the exterior looks clean and rust-free, the underside shots reveal the same to be true below decks. Close examination shows the occasional small spot of surface corrosion, but the grinder and welder can stay in the cupboard with this classic. The distinctive stripes and graphics look okay for a survivor-grade car, while the wheels have no issues. The flawless glass rounds out an exterior that makes a positive first impression.

The Monte Carlo’s exterior might benefit from a refresh, but the buyer won’t need to splash much cash on its interior. The carpet under the driver’s feet is slightly discolored, but the lack of wear would probably motivate me to leave that aspect untouched. The Gray cloth and vinyl upholstery is in excellent order, with no significant wear or other problems. The dash and console are trouble-free, and there is no mention of the sagging headliner that can be common in these cars. Someone has added an aftermarket radio/cassette player, but I can’t spot any other changes. Comfort features include air conditioning, power windows, power locks, cruise control, a tilt wheel, and remote exterior mirrors.

Okay, I’m willing to admit that classic cars from this era were not the fastest on the planet, but vehicles like this 1985 Monte Carlo SS offered the lure of a V8 rumble and good low-end torque. SS buyers in 1985 received the 305ci “HO” V8 that produced 180hp and 235 ft/lbs of torque. The solitary transmission offering was the four-speed 200-4R auto, giving the Monte Carlo the ability to cover the ¼ mile in 16.4 seconds. That may seem unimpressive by modern standards, but it was what buyers expected in the mid-1980s from a vehicle of this type. Looking beyond that, the news appears optimistic. The seller claims the SS has a genuine 28,000 miles on the clock, although they don’t mention verifying evidence. The only non-original items are the battery, plugs, and tires. Otherwise, this classic is as it left the factory. They say the car runs and drives extremely well, making it a turnkey proposition for its new owner.

I begin to understand how age is creeping up on me when I look at cars like this 1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS. I remember when buyers used to purchase shiny new examples off the showroom floor, but realizing that nearly four decades have elapsed since is pretty sobering. When you examine the big picture of motoring history, cars from this era don’t stand out due to their performance potential. However, the “square-rigger” styling is distinctive, and like the fins of the 1950s, it shows no signs of making a comeback. Today, manufacturers focus on aerodynamic efficiency to squeeze the best mileage possible from every drop of fuel. Car bodies feature smooth curves to achieve this. The trend will almost certainly continue as the industry and buying public continue shifting their sights to hybrid and zero-emission models. We will never see the likes of this 1985 Monte Carlo SS again, which makes it worth preserving.


  1. Walter

    I remember really liking these back then but the wife and it went for a 88 Mustang LX with the 5.0 and 5 speed. No regrets.
    Clean car nit nostalgia is really expensive. As you said, a few years ago was the time to buy.

    Like 4
    • Walter

      Jeez I hate the autocorrect on my phone.

      “..but the wife and I..”
      “Clean car but nostalgia..”

      Like 5
  2. joenywf64

    With such low mileage, but such high age, i would have replaced the spark plug wires instead of the spark plugs.

    Today’s “cars” don’t seem aerodynamic to me when it comes to their huge ugly MISMATCHED!!! unevenly parked! exposed wipers(vs hidden ones from the late 60’s thru the 80s), & huge ugly door mirrors vs. the much smaller, for ex, bullet style ford racing mirror of the ’70s. Think of the shape of a rocket or jet main body.

    Why no manual trans available on the USA Monte SS?!
    & was there a shortage of Chevy 350 motors in ’85? I find that hard to believe, especially when i see this!!

    Like 2
    • Big C

      Why no manual trans and 350? In the 80’s, the auto industry was still running scared from the insurance companies and Uncle Sam. And it’s happening again, unfortunately.

      Like 7
      • Dasve

        Yes, alot of people won’t believe it but Congress dictates the design of our cars. The automakers are left to stuff the envelope our government creates.

        Like 2
    • Bick Banter

      The only performance 350 available in ’85 was the Corvette-only L98 TPI. That motor did not become available in non-Vettes until 1987, when the F-body (IROC, Trans Am, GTA, and Formula) got the iron head version. That was a big to-do at the time. No way Chevy would have put the 350 in the aging and declining G-body first.

      Maybe the SS could have gotten the new for ’85 215 horsepower LB9 TPI 305 offered on the Z28/IROC and T/A . But maybe GM just figured they didn’t need to because the SS was selling well enough, and it was getting near the end of its life cycle anyway. Or maybe it was a supply issue? Who knows.

      Plus, it was well known at the time that the L69 was nearly as quick (or quicker with manual) than the LB9. They had the same cam. The main difference was fuel economy. Indeed, once the LB9 came out, the old L69 remained technically available in ’85-86 on the F-body with the five speed, but very few were built. GM cited fuel boiling problems at the time, even though the engine continued to be offered on the Monte Carlo SS until 1988.

      Not sure on why the SS didn’t get the manual. It easily could have as a 5-speed was available on the F-bodies with this L69 engine.

  3. Mark

    The reasonable price seems at odds with the extremely low mileage. Why keep a car so long, not drive it and then not profit from the hoarding ?

    Like 1
  4. Claudio

    It really doesn’t need much
    New LS engine
    New 6 speed manual trans
    Better yet
    A paddle shift auto
    New disc brake detup
    New wheels and tires
    But i never really liked these as they drove like a big american car
    But their looks pleased my eyes …

  5. Emel

    Same body as the same era Buick Regal, my sis had.
    Saw that big center area, where the radio/heater controls were.
    Yep that’s it.
    Hers was a real dog though….especially going up Pennsylvania hills.
    So it must have been a 6 cylinder. It was pretty though, pretty slow.

  6. Troy

    I think it would be fun just to keep it original. No repaint yet in a few more years original survivor like this will bring more money at auction than a semi restored one

    Like 8
  7. angliagt angliagt Member

    I still think that’s one of the ugliest/cheapest looking
    front ends that I’ve ever seen on a car.

  8. george mattar

    I owned an 88 Monte SS in Dark Claret Metallic. Luckily, I bought mine in 1991 and it had been stored in a warehouse for an upcoming drug forfeiture auction with sealed bids. I won the car for $5,500. It had 30,000 miles and absolutely no fade on the matching bucket seat interior. Every option including t tops. Being a professional auto detailer, I spent two days detailing the car and using state of the art wax at the time, there was no ceramic or graphene crap on the market, overrated by the way, put like 4 coats on it. Under my ownership, the car never saw extended sunlight or bad weather driving. The paint was still as good as could be when I sold it in 1993. Yes, the paint in those days was junk, but original cars are original only once. If this guy would take my 1973 Corvette on trade, I would do it a heartbeat and keep this Monte original. Yes, a few years ago, these were being given away. One sold last week at Mecum for $56,000. Oh well.

    Like 3
    • Bick Banter

      I definitely would Not repaint this car. As you said, they’re only original once and a new good paint job would cost 5k at least, and wouldn’t add that much value (if any). I’d just clean it up as best as I could (clay bar maybe even protect it with a ceramic coat), get rid of the window tint, and drive it.

      Like 1
    • joenywf64

      I’m having trouble these days even finding a bottle of Turtle wax liquid car wax! (& forget about finding my favorite – Simoniz Vista liquid car wax in the white plastic bottle.) Then again, when was the last time i or you seen anyone waxing their car in the driveway? & when it rains i see on a lot of “modern cars” that the water is not beading up on the surface of the paint. Makes you wonder.
      I have found that the liquid turtle wax(it is a cleaner too; i have a very old bottle tho) takes off the least amt, if any, of the original bucanneer red ’74 GM paint when you apply it.

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