Retro Rod: 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Aero Coupe

This 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Aero Coupe is a desirable car that oftentimes pops up as a survivor kept in a climate-controlled environment. In this instance, the Aero Coupe in question has actually been modified into what one might call a restomod, as it’s been updated with an aluminum block LS engine and full Hotchkiss suspension. The car is incomplete at the moment, clearly being offered up as a half-done restoration, which begs the question: do you keep going, in its transition to a classic Aero Coupe with modern running gear, or do you stop it in its tracks and return it to stock condition? Find it here on craigslist for $10,000.

It’s hard to say whether this is the seller’s vehicle or he bought it as an unfinished project, but either way, he’s not interested in completing it. The Aero Coupe is one of those collector cars that has ebbed and flowed in terms of its value projections. Some low mileage survivors have gone for respectable money, but more average-grade project cars have been stagnant for some time. This Monte Carlo is in the middle and I’m not sure it’s even worth the asking price here despite the money that’s been invested, as most collectors want one that’s been left in stock condition, and if you want to build a hot rod, it’s cheaper to start with a standard SS coupe. Still, it has to be noted that the bodywork looks quite nice even if the aftermarket wheels are a let down.

The engine upgrades are definitely not done, as the LS engine appears to be installed but not fully wired up. It seems as if the builder had big plans, as the Aero Coupe also comes with a disc brake conversion, limited slip differential, and a new fuel tank all installed. There’s no doubt some real money was spent on parts, but what’s more of a question mark is the soundness of the installation. When you buy a project that isn’t done, you’re also buying the quality of the work of the previous owner. Did they do it themselves, or was it in the hands of a shop? There’s no guarantee of quality work in either scenario, so I’d want more color on what stage the Aero Coupe was at before work hit a standstill, and who can answer what it will need next.

Seeing this full Hotchkiss suspension instills me with some hope, however, that the work was done to a high level. It also speaks to priorities being in place as more power without a suitable upgrade to the chassis is fairly worthless, so there was at least a goal at one time of building this Aero Coupe the right way. The seller claims the paintwork could stand to be redone and the interior will need work, and of course, the engine install needs completing. With all that in mind, do you think the asking price for this restomod Aero Coupe is fair considering both the work done and the work still left to do?


  1. Mitchell G. Member

    Ditch the cheesy aftermarket wheels for a set of the factory-style 17 inchers from Year One, build up the LS for decent power, and take this bad boy to an autocross or a speedway

    Like 10

    $10K ask for a non runner with different era wheels that needs half a motor, complete restoration and a trailer for motivation.

    Too much money already spent on goofy mods that won’t help the value if it ever gets off the project train. I wouldn’t consider that a big carrot.

    These were a gimmick when new. Nothing more. They were overpriced and underpowered. Too funny owners thought they had an instant collectible with this limited edition that GM would make as many as they could sell. Needed 200 only but made over 6000. My guess is there are more surviving low mileage examples today then 78 Pace car Vettes.

    I know first hand those 305 engines were NO match for a stock 5.0 Mustang. That being said for $10K one could find any number of used Vettes that would do the same that wouldn’t require a trailer unless you were headed to the track.

    Like 6
    • SirRaoulDuke

      Who cares about original value? This isn’t some highly sought after sports car.

      There’s $5k in suspension parts already in place, LSD, full discs, and you get a likely good starting point as an engine. Just with the suspension you are now paying $5k for a clean aero coupe…try find another for that price. There’s the “value”.

      You complain about performance of the original…well, an LS Monte Carlo would wipe the floor with that 5.0 you mention, in both speed and now handling with that setup. Like most classic cars from after the end of the muscle era, all ills are cured with more power and better handling.

      G-body rods are fairly popular. This is a hell of a start on a nice one. If I had an itch to scratch this one would be very tempting.

      Like 19
      • AMCFAN

        SirRD I can agree on one point. Not a rare sports car.

        Paying $10K for the car see how much that $5000 rear end is worth (your claim) once u get under it and remove it with the already loose bolts and see how much you get for it on the used market. Because someone paid retail for something doesn’t increase the car as a whole the same value.

        Get serious. The LS wasn’t stock in this Frankenstein when new. What you are saying is the same as putting a Coyote in a 86-92 Fox chassis. Compare apples to apples.

        Like 5
      • Ten50boy

        I whole heartedly agree that there is a ton of value here, just based on the clean body, suspension and other goodies….. if the block is good. But….. and I owned numerous 80’s era GM 305 cars….. wiping the floor with a Fox body in stock form…no. Even “heating” up a GM 305 with goodies….. it wasn’t happening. A stock LX 5.0 pulled 0-60 in under 6 seconds…..a quarter on stock tires in low 16’s…. The 305 Monte….0-60 in 8.7 and quarter in 16.7. The Camaro and TA with the same mill was no better. Even back in the day…. Headers, intake, carb, mild cam……we couldn’t come close to an LX with a cam, intake spacer, stock air box silencer removal, gears and headers/exhaust on sticky Street ET’s. If we wanted that, we removed the anemic 305 Quadra-bog or throttle body injection motor and installed a hot little 5.7 or a stroker. Honestly. I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to go light to light against Stangs till that 305 was removed from all of my cars and a 350 or better was in. Trust me….I ran my cars hard on Hempstead Turnpike in the hey days of Hot Rod Burger King on Long Island. From William Floyd to DPA to Franny Lou….. there wasn’t a 305 that stood a chance with a warmed up 5.0 Ford Mustang and a stick. Even after a bunch of $$$$$ and weekends of S/K Speed buying frenzies….. but those 5.7’s…yeah boy….. they were fun. My first 5.7 TPI car with bolt on’s shocked many a 5.0 fan boy. Anyhow, you’re absolutely right on the fact that it’s a great starting point. Ugly wheels, not a huge fan of the rear window (I know….) but damn…. It’s got potential. Just not sure 10k worth.

        Just because someone sinks more than a few grand…. Doesn’t mean it’s worth all that. Maybe 6500-7500 would be more appropriate until it’s a runner.

        Like 3
      • SirRaoulDuke

        AMCFAN, $5k isn’t my claim; I went straight to Hotchkiss’s website and priced the suspension. Detroit Speed also makes some good suspension stuff for the G Body.

        And of course the stock 305 isn’t s**t. And sure you can also build a monster Fox Body if you wish to. I’m not sure I would want to, as it would be better financial sense to just go buy a new Mustang, and they are now stupid fast. Ford still makes Mustangs, you know…but GM no longer builds anything like the G Body, and that is where the appeal is for a built one. And don’t even suggest a new Camaro, I can’t stand their lack of outward visibility. I guess Dodge has kept the flame alive for larger, more comfortable RWD V-8 cruisers, but I am not sure I would fit in with the “image” of Challenger ownership, which seems to me to parallel that of Bro-Dozer ownership.

        Ten50boy, re-read what I said: an LS equipped G Body. Of course G Bodies were built before the LS was released. Personally I would rather have LQ4 truck engine as my starting point than this aluminum block.

      • Ten50boy

        Sorry SRD…..I re-read your sentence “, You complain about performance of the original…well, an LS Monte Carlo would wipe the floor with that 5.0 you mention, in both speed and now handling with that setup.“ And thought you were replying to AMCFAN who wrote “ I know first hand those 305 engines were NO match for a stock 5.0 Mustang.” while discussing past vehicles and drivetrains, particularly the GM 5.0. I was not thinking you meant a modern LS series engine, as he was discussing the older generation, but thinking you meant a Monte Carlo LS with a 5.0!!!!!! Lmao…I guess it was the wording of your sentence and the fact that he was talking about one thing, being the older performance of the original drivetrain and you had said “you complain about the performance of the original….” However, now I realize that you were responding to his comment, referencing the current drivetrain in this car vs an older 5.0 Mustang, which definitely makes more sense. It was just confusing as I said, since he was talking about the performance of past and you responded by discussing the modern LS in this car vs old. Hell, I do agree a modern LS would give the old Ford 5.0 a beating, but in all fairness, even a Sonata N Line or another similar modern 4cyl turbo cookie cutter family sedan would decimate the original 5.0’s in stock form…..but so would anything with an Ecoboost drivetrain. Anyhow, sorry brother…. Again, it was just confusing due to poor wording and a confusing response! But, most importantly…..I love this site and the comments section. It gives all of us car guys a place to bs, reminisce and banter back and forth.

  3. Moondawg00

    Loose bolts under the car is not Awe Inspiring.

    Like 1
  4. Keith D.

    I HATED the “Aero” models, that includes the Pontiac Grand Prix of the 80’s too.

    Like 2
  5. Steve Bush Member

    Looks like it has the potential to be a nice project for a little off the ask, but the goofy seller apparently couldn’t be bothered to take any pics once it was off the trailer.

    Like 2
  6. Araknid78

    Located in Melrose, FL

    Like 1
  7. John Oliveri

    The majority of cars, from 78 up, were sticker pkgs w nice wheels, when it came to performance, Vettes were dogs, Trans Ams got Oldsmobile motors in 79, except for 4 speed cars, then they had the 301 Turbo, which could have been something, but wasn’t perfected till they put a turbo on a miserable 231 V6 motor in the Regal, go figure, performance was dead till Ford put the 5.0 in the Mustang, I had that motion a brand new 88 MK VII LSC, and I beat those ridiculous Monte Carlo SSs and Camaros

    Like 2
  8. Arthell64 Member

    Both these cars are quick. The Mustang is just as fast as the ’84 Corvette with automatic transmission, according to our prototype tests. And the 305H.O. Z28 is faster still, beating the Ford to 60 mph by three-tenths of a second, and then grabbing another tenth by the end of the quarter-mile.

    • Ten50boy

      Yeah, that was 84. The older 5.0 struggled. By 87, it was a whole different game. 87-93, those Stangs were fast. Again, different mill then the early 80’s cars. By 87….. the 305 really didn’t stand a chance vs the 5.0 Stang especially with a 5spd. The Camaro still looked the best IMO though!!!!!! Lol.

    • AMCFAN

      Referencing auto magazines are biased. Most know GM was in bed with the media. I am sure the cars that came for testing were the best prepared from the factory and do not represent what one would get from a dealer.

      In the real world though on the street as others have said the 305 Monte was 0 match for a 5.0 Fox mustang. I had an 88 GT and it was sad. Seemed like the Monte guys were not even trying.

      Like 1

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