Small-Block V8: 1979 Chevrolet Monza

Disclosure: This site may receive compensation from some link clicks and purchases.

Chevrolet first used the Monza nameplate as the more upscale version of its Corvair compact in the 1960s. They resurrected the moniker in 1975 and applied it to a sporty subcompact rooted in the ill-fated Vega. Although available as a “Town Coupe,” the fastback version like the seller’s 1979 edition would be more popular. Located in Windsor, Colorado, this Chevy has a small-block V8, which should provide a little extra zip to the lightweight auto. With spare body panels to sweeten the deal, this Chevy is available here on craigslist for $4,500. We can thank Rocco B. for another nifty tip!

While Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick would all get their own versions of the Monza, the Chevy product ran for six years through 1980. At one point, a rotary engine was planned to help differentiate the car, but that didn’t pan out so a V8 was offered instead as an option over the standard inline-4. When Chevy cooked up the vehicle, it was intended to compete with Ford’s reinvented Mustang II, but sales numbers wouldn’t dethrone the competitive “pony.” In 1979 Chevrolet sold nearly 57,000 Monza fastbacks with nearly 20% of those having the Spyder trim package.

The seller’s car has a 105 hp 305 cubic inch V8 which wasn’t as peppy as the next step up, the 350 that was common across many Chevy lines. This little motor is paired with a TH-350 automatic transmission, this pint-size Chevy was well-equipped including factory air conditioning and power steering and brakes. The car has been treated to some maintenance, which includes a new battery, fuel pump, new tires, and a tune-up. And the hatch struts have been replaced, a common source of trouble.

We’re told the overall condition of Monza is “fair” and that sounds about right from the photos. The paint is worn and what little we see of the interior suggests it’s well-used at an estimated 100,000 miles. The Chevy just passed an emissions test, and a clean certificate goes with the sale. The seller says extra parts come with the deal such as a hood, fender, and hatch, but we don’t know if they will be needed if you decide to restore this Chevy. This car might better serve as a daily driver.

Auctions Ending Soon

Comments

  1. Derek

    The glasshouse of this car is a bit similar to what we had; the Opel Monza. It was the 2-door GT version of the Senator/Carlton saloon. There was an earlier coupe called the Vauxhall Royale, but that was a bit of a tart’s handbag of a car; all chrome knobs and buttons and velour upholstery.

    The Opel was a nice thing; 3.0L six and a 5-speed. I think automatic was available, but why would you?

    There wasn’t a Lotus Monza. Why not??

    Like 1
    • Stan

      Monza-Madness 😵‍💫🥴

      Like 2
  2. Connecticut mark

    105 hp, 305? I bet the 6 cylinder hp was almost the same.

    Like 6
    • Jack M.

      You really have to compare the torque between the two engines. Torque is what gets you down the road.

      Like 15
    • Greenhorn

      An old saying, ‘You buy horsepower but you drive torque.’

      Like 13
    • Henry DavisMember

      I thought the V-8 in these was 262 cubes, the smallest of the small blocks? But I also think that a 400 cube small block would bolt right in, and that’d make a neat little car!

      Like 9
      • jwzg

        There were two V8s — the 267 and 305. The 267 had 105 hp, and was the most gutless turd of a small block there ever was or will be. Square bore/stroke, small valve heads, soft cam….the list of bad attributes goes on. The 305 could easily be upgraded with a hotter cam, 4bbl intake and dual exhaust to make at least 200 hp at the flywheel.

        A 383 will sit in the same place, have no external clues as to what it is, and will turn that frown upside down.

        Like 11
  3. Driveinstile DriveinstileMember

    After about 40K miles and the owners not replacing the spark plugs that couldn’t be easily reached with the V8, you are probably right, you basically had a 6 cylinder at that point. My Grandpa had a 79 Monza 2 door wagon with the 3.8. I took my driver’s test in it. It wasnt a bad car, I do remember it handled well at the time, it sat low.

    Like 4
    • Philo

      The 3.8, was that a Buick engine? Could you get that with a 4 sp?

      Like 0
      • Robert Atkinson, Jr.

        A qualified yes, since I’m not sure which transmission was available with which engine. Wikipedia lists either a Saginaw M-20 four-speed, or a T-50 five-speed manual, withe either a THM200 or a THM250 as the automatic transmission choices. I’m guessing that the four-speed was the base transmission, with the five-speed and automatic gearboxes as options, but the five speed may have been limited to the four- or six cylinder engine options, I don’t know.

        Like 0
      • Robert Atkinson, Jr.

        Here’s a link to the Wikipedia article:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Monza

        Like 0
      • Stevo

        I had a 78 Monza Spyder with the 3.8 5 speed, put headers dual exhaust, rejetted the carb WOW , what a ball to drive,the Spyder had tunned suspension ,z28? , scared v8s up to a 100 mph, then the v6 kinda topped out would do it again

        Like 0
  4. Rustytech RustytechMember

    My 65 Monza is 110 hp. 6 cyl. They were optional to 180 hp. Talk about malaise era. So sad!

    Like 4
    • randyS

      110 HP gross (1965) is around 75’ish net hp (1979).

      Like 1
  5. Herbert

    I actually liked these, but the above is right when duscussing the plugs on a V8. To be avoided ar all costs.

    Like 5
  6. Roland

    To change the two plugs near the steering box you had to unbolt the motor mount and jack up the engine. My 2014 Ram 3.6 V-6 requires the top half of the intake to be removed to change all the plugs on one side. I think this may be easier than my Ram.

    Like 9
  7. CCFisher

    The ’79 Monza 305 was rated at 145HP, per the ’79 Monza brochure. The 3.8L V6 was rated at 105HP.

    Like 8
  8. Aussie Dave Aussie DaveMember

    It looks a lot like the Opel Monza, but they didn’t offer a V8, but 105hp from a 305????
    Holden (GM Australia) tried the Opel Monza with a V8 but it died before it was born.

    Like 1
  9. HoA HoAMember

    Eeep, well, it was bound to happen. While the green Nova brought back wonderful memories, this car, sigh,,my ex-wife had this exact car, only a ’77, and it wasn’t all bad. Got 2 wonderful, successful kids,( no grandkids, tho :(,, ) thanks in part to her, but when I met her back in 1979, at a watering hole called “The Tracks”, she had this car she bought new. Initially I thought it was a cool car, the V8 gotten courtesy of her older brother that raced a ’65 Chevy at Hales Corners. She never knew the difference what motor did what, but the car had plenty of steam, fo’ sho’. It was certainly a dependable car with the V8, unlike the 4 she would have gotten, and now the shortcomings. While GM addressed the spark plug issue from the 262, it was a miserable car. A Vega on steroids, as if, and ironically, her previous car was a Vega, that “Ma” inherited. Good heat, no A/C, so hot, very poor in the winter, poor handling all around, crummy brakes, then the rust set in. Hatch was handy, but there are several cars in my history, I never cared to see again, but here we are.

    Like 9
    • Hans H

      Familiar with the Hales Corners race track. Had a friend with a V8 Monza.

      Like 2
      • HoA HoAMember

        Hi Hans, yeah, now a Menards, but at least it’s called “Speedway Menards”. We had a lot of fun.

        Like 0
  10. Rw

    My buddy had one in the mid 80s, had a built 350, 4sp,stock wheels and tires,was original drift car,used to go up interstate 71,80 mph smoking tires..

    Like 0
  11. Cooter CooterMember

    Always thought these looked like a Pacer and a Firebird had a baby. But not in a bad way. Dump the anemic engine, 350 crate or LS, 5 bolt hubs with a set of 8” Corvette Rally’s and BF tires, new interior, repaint…etc and you have a little land rocket that will garner attention at Saturday morning Cars and Coffee. You just don’t see em any more.

    Like 8
  12. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    We had a 76 Monza with a stick and 4 banger. It was ok .. but this one I would pull out the 305 and drop a 383 450hp detail the Chevy and have fun. I know the rear end wouldn’t last long😂. But it would be fast! As for the spark plugs. The inner fender drill a nice hole to get to them. Then use a body plastic plug to cover the hole. . Good luck to the next owner. 🐻🇺🇸

    Like 9
    • Robert Atkinson, Jr.

      That is essentially what Chevy did, as part of a recall. They drilled a hole in the front wheel wells and plugged the hole with a rubber plug, so you could get to the back spark plugs without jacking up the engine off of the motor mounts. Another good reason to like a turbocharged V6 instead.

      Like 0
  13. duaney

    A fable that you can’t reach all the plugs

    Like 4
    • HoA HoAMember

      Well, it was partially true. The original 262, you did have to raise the motor, but the 305 I think, had a redesigned head, and maybe a swivel or 2, but I never remember having a problem with the ex’s.

      Like 0
  14. Jack M.

    With today’s improved spark plugs (platinum or iridium), how many times in your life are you really going to have to change the plugs on your hobby car?

    Like 9
  15. CadmanlsMember

    In California the 305 wasn’t smog approved yet and the V8 was the 350.

    Like 1
  16. FireAxeGXP

    My best friend’s Mom had one.of these when we were in junior high. It was silvery blue and I believe had this same trim level with the V8. It looked so futuristic to us that we constantly asked to sit in it when we were playing space warriors. Still looks that way to me. Oh nostalgia!

    Like 1
  17. Big C

    I’m taking it that this Monza is in Canada. Because when the owner says his 45 year old car has to pass an emissions test, I chuckled. And yes, you had to jack the engine up to change the plugs. My cousin owned a Spyder, one the first ones, and he told me the horror story, when he found out I was considering a Monza Mirage. Remember those?

    Like 2
  18. Robert Atkinson, Jr.

    GM’s ill-fated attempt to build a car with a Wankel engine. The engine was stillborn, but the car soldiered on. Yes, GM managed to cram a small-block V8, into it, barely. They started with the 262, but when some genius discovered that any small block would fit in the same hole, they could be had with a 350 from the factory, and the hot rodders managed to get a 383 into one. I was partial to the Buick version with the V6, myself. Almost as much power as the 262 V8, but with less weight in the nose, it had less understeer. What the Vega could have and should have been.

    Like 0
  19. John

    The Monza Spyder was my favorite new car they offered while working at a Chevy dealer in ’78-79. I seem to recall all were 305 with an automatic, but the best part was the dual-tailpipe system with a big transverse muffler! Sounded great and the car fit you like a glove. Even then I remember the mechanics complaining that they had to loosen the motor mount to get to one plug. Regular Monzas were poorly put together, always took dealer prep extra time to deliver.

    Like 2
  20. MrMonza

    Monza’s are usually only interesting to a select group of people, with myself being one of them. I am the proud owner of not 1 but 2, all original, unmodified, 1975 Monza’s with the 5.7 (both have the original, numbers matching engines). 1 is a Towne Coupe, the other is the 2 + 2 Hatchback. My Towne Coupe is the one you see on the internet when you Google “1975 5.7 Monza.” It’s the Blue one with the white vinyl top with the blue and yellow California license plate. Both Monza’s sit in my temperature controlled shop. I have owned several other 5.7’s in the last 35 years of collecting cars, and can attest to the fact that their are less than 100 of these cars left that are registered and driven that are bone stock and original. Yes, they may not be the fastest, or expensive, but when I take both of them to car shows, they always draw a huge crowd around them, and a million comments about them. To the nay sayers about the value of these cars, I say to you, I’ve been offered $20,000 for each one, and I have replied, “I’m going to hold onto these little gems for a long time”. Money isn’t the issue, it’s the rareness and the coolness of these that makes me love them even more than my ’68 big block Camaro or my ’76 Camaro, or my other car show cars.

    Like 1

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.

Barn Finds