1978-1988 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Following the oil crisis of the seventies, General Motors opted to design slightly smaller vehicles to compensate. Already the years had passed when huge American muscle prowled the streets and screamed at the drag strips, a new bread of affordable performance and luxury was in demand. Enter, the newly revised Monte Carlo for 1978.
The new Monte Carlo was destined for victory with the lure of the NASCAR arena. The Monte Carlo, once entered into the NASCAR circuit with the help of legendary drivers and crews has since become a namesake synonymous with "victory".
All GM intermediate-sized cars including the Monte Carlo were downsized for the 1978 model year in response to the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo and CAFE requirements. The 1978 model was 700-800 lb lighter and some 15 in shorter than the 1977 model. The 1978 model also had more interior and trunk space than the earlier 1977 model. The engine compartment was also smaller as the 350 and 400 V8s offered in previous years were dropped in favor of a standard 231 CID V6 built by Buick or an optional Chevrolet 305 CID V8. The three-speed manual transmission reappeared for the first time in several years as standard equipment on the base model with the V6 engine, and the automatic was optional. The optional V8 and all Landau models came standard with the automatic. A four-speed manual transmission with floor shifter was optional with the 305 V8, the first time a four-speed manual was offered on the Monte Carlo since 1971.
1979 Monte Carlo 267 CID V8Only minor trim changes were made to the 1979 Monte Carlo, which included a slightly redesigned grille, tail lights & front park lights. Mechanical changes included a new Chevrolet-built 200 CID V6 (the ancestor of the Vortec 4300) as the standard engine for the base Monte Carlo in 49 states while the Buick 231 CID V6 remained standard on base models in California and all Landau models. A new 125 hp (93 kW) 267 CID V8 became optional and the 140 hp (104 kW) 305 CID V8 continued as an option but was joined by a 160 235 lb·ft (319 N·m) hp version with a four-barrel carburetor. The same transmissions were carried over from 1978, including a standard three-speed manual and optional four-speed manual, or an optional three-speed Turbo Hydramatic automatic. This would be the last year that Chevrolet would offer manual transmissions on the Monte Carlo due to extremely low buyer interest.
The 1980 car had a mild frontal restyle, with quad headlights and amber indicators mounted beneath. An automatic transmission became standard on all models and a new Chevrolet-built 229 CID V6 replaced both the 200 CID V6 of 1979 and the Buick engine offered on all 1978 models and the 1979 Landau as the standard engine in 49 states (California cars still got the Buick engine). A new option for 1980 was Buick's turbocharged version of the 231 CID V6 rated at 170 hp (127 kW). Other optional engines included 267 and 305 CID versions of the Chevrolet small-block V8 with up to 155 hp (116 kW).
The 1981 body was restyled with the other GM mid-size formal coupes (Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, Pontiac Grand Prix, Buick Regal). It featured a smoother profile than the previous models and new vertical taillights similar to the 1970 to 1977 models. Engine offerings were carried over, including the standard 229 CID Chevrolet V6 (231 CID Buick V6 in California) an optional 267 CID V8 (not available in California), a 305 CID V8 in the base and Landau models, and a turbocharged 170 hp (127 kW) 231 CID Buick V6 in the Monte Carlo Turbo. An automatic transmission, power steering and power front disc brakes were standard equipment. While this car was considered by some to be much better looking (and appeared more aerodynamic) than its Buick Regal, Pontiac Grand Prix, and Olds Cutlass cousins, only one team tried to make a go of it in NASCAR cup racing. While the big Monte Carlo was the dominant body style in the late 1970s, winning 30 or so races, the downsized (and cleaned-up) 1981 body would only take three checked flags in the 1981 and 1982 seasons when it was run.
Only mild revisions were made on the 1982 Monte Carlo. All engines, except for the turbocharged 231 CID V6, which was discontinued along with the Monte Carlo Turbo model, were carried over from 1981. New for 1982 were the additions of a 260 CID V6 and an Oldsmobile 350 CID V8, both of which were diesel engines. With the introduction of GM's new mid-size platform that saw the introduction of the Buick Century, Chevrolet Celebrity, Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera and Pontiac 6000, the chassis designations were shuffled up. The new mid-size cars were designated as A-body cars, whereas the cars previously designated as A-bodies were now called G-bodies. A black exterior was not offered in 1982.
1983 was the first year of the resurrection of the 1970-1971 SS model. Only 4,714 were produced.
The first SS model for this generation rolled off the assembly line in late 1983, offered for the 1984 model year. This model featured a smoothed off front end and became a hit with NASCAR teams, winning several races. The engine introduced for the SS was the L-69 305 cubic inch V8.This year is the most rare of this generation. And is the most wanted by collectors.
The 1984 SS was a hit not only in the car-buying public, (starving for some power after the hefty emissions regulations of the late 1970s) but also in NASCAR competition, where it continued to be a winning body style after the 1983 season successes. Production picked up, and 112,730 sport coupes were sold, and an additional 24,050 had the SS option (with an 180 hp (134 kW) 305 V8 that saw a 5 hp (4 kW) boost from the previous year), having an asking price of US$10,700. The Monte Carlo SS was available with Strato bucket seats and floor console as extra-cost options for the first time in place of the standard split bench seat with armrest. The regular Monte Carlo came standard with a 125 hp (93 kW) 229 CID V6 (231 CID V6 for California) and a 165 hp (123 kW) 305 V8 was optional. Available for the last year in a base Monte Carlo was the 350 CID diesel engine, and there were only 168 manufactured. All engines for 1984 got the three-speed automatic transmission with the exception of three SSs at the end of the 1984 production run that received the Turbo Hydromatic 200-4R transmission with overdrive.
In 1984 there were a limited number of Monte Carlo SSs made in Mexico, for Mexico sale. The differences are many in the Mexican to US/Canadian SSs. There was no rear spoiler. The rims are 14" checker style, an option on the base Monte Carlos in the US. The side mirrors are different style and black. The interior is that of a Grand Prix, in blue. The engine is however a 305, 165 hp (123 kW) contrary to popular belief that they came with a 350. They never were produced with a 350 or a 4 speed manual with hurst shifter.
In 1985 T-tops were re-introduced (discontinued after the 1982 model year), and additional SS colors (Black, maroon and silver in addition to white), pinstriping, and options were made available. The (later to be highly sought after) medium blue ("gun metal") color for the SS was dropped. A four-speed automatic overdrive transmission, the Turbo Hydramatic 200-4R, with a revised sport rear axle ratio containing 3.73:1 gears became standard on the SS. Gone for good were the 229 CID V6 and 350 CID V8 diesel engines. Introduced in place of the 229 CID V6 was a 262 CID (4.3 L) V6 that was fuel-injected with throttle-body fuel injection. The V-8's were computer controlled quadrajet carb.
The 1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Chevy's rear-wheel-drive personal-luxury car, got more power, but for the first time since 1981, no diesel engine was offered in the Monte Carlo. The 1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo base model, the previously standard 3.8-liter Chevy V-6 gave way to a larger 4.3-liter V-6 with throttle-body fuel injection. That brought along 20 extra horsepower, for a new total of 130. The optional 5.0-liter V-8 likewise gained some ponies, via a jump in compression ratio. It jumped from 150 horsepower to 165. The High Output 5.0-liter V-8 in the 1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS remained at 180 horsepower.
The V-6 and base V-8 could be backed by either a three- or four-speed automatic transmission, but the H.O. V-8 in the SS came only with the four-speed this year. Though the base coupe carried on visually unchanged, the SS was a different story. Previously offered only in white or dark blue metallic, color choices were expanded to include silver, maroon, and black. "Removable glass roof panels" (T-tops) came on board as a midyear option.
Despite its aging design, nearly 120,000 Monte Carlos found eager buyers in 1985. Though the total was down somewhat from 1984, the SS model saw sales climb from 24,050 to 35,484, a sure sign that performance was making a comeback.
Color choices for the 1985 Chevy Monte Carlo SS expanded from two to five, including a maroon hue.
For 1986, there were four distinct body styles available. The base model Sport Coupe was still available with the same general body panels that it had since 1981, but featured new "aero" side mirrors similar to those on Camaros and Corvettes of the 1980s. New for the 1986 model year was a Luxury Sport model that had a revised front fascia, new "aero" side mirrors, and an updated sleek-looking rear fascia. The LS front fascia included "Euro" headlamps with removable bulbs in a glass composite headlamp housing, versus the smaller sealed beam glass headlights of previous years. The rear bumper of the LS no longer had a "notch" between the bumper and trunk, and the taillights wrapped around so that they were visible from the sides of the car. The Super Sport model for 1986 incorporated the "aero" mirrors, yet still utilized the prior year's styling for the rear bumper.
Also new this year was the Aerocoupe model. The Aerocoupe was created by modifications to the Super Sport body, including a more deeply sloped rear window and a shorter trunklid sporting a spoiler that laid more flat than previous Super Sports. Only 200 Aerocoupes were sold to the public, which happened to be the exact number NASCAR officials required for road model features to be incorporated into the racing cars. 1986 Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe Registry & Information
In 1987, Chevrolet eliminated the Sport Coupe version of the Monte Carlo, leaving the LS, SS, and Aerocoupe. The Super Sport incorporated the "smoothed" rear bumper and tail lamps first introduced on the 1986 Luxury Sport. The Aerocoupe made up 6,052 of the 39,251 total Super Sports that were produced that year. 39,794 Luxury Sports were produced in 1987.
1988 was the last year for the fourth generation Monte Carlo. The 1988 models were actually built in late 1987, with only 16,204 SSs made for an asking price of US$14,320. Appearance and mechanicals were similar to the 1987 model. The SS model came from the factory with 180 hp (134 kW). The 1988 model only came with the lay-down style spoiler, unlike the 1987 model, which came with either the lay-down or stand-up type spoiler. The Aerocoupe did not return, as Chevrolet had unveiled plans to produce the Lumina and race that body style in NASCAR. The new Lumina body style was much more aerodynamic and negated the need for a "sleeker" version of the Monte Carlo SS. The Lumina coupe was introduced as a 1990 model as a Monte Carlo replacement. Total production numbers for the final year of the rear-wheel drive Monte Carlo was 30,174 - almost half of the 1987 numbers.
The final G-body Monte Carlo - a silver SS coupe - was produced on December 12, 1987. Total SS production for '88 was 16,204.
4th Generation SS Street Spotting
Like of the models offered in the mid-to-late 80s, small changes to the body signified more than what was obvious to the eye. The 4th generation Monte Carlo SS was an example of altering a simple, regular 2-door sedan into 'something special' with little more than a nose fascia, a rear wing, striping colors and wheels, and a V-8 with an updated handling package. To distinguish the SS years for this generation Monte Carlo there are two categories:
The rear bumper assembly is the first indication of year the SS. Two different styles were designed. The early style (83-86) had a rear taillamp that was contained in a black trim frame, and the rear bumper was fitted with a black trim strip across the top. Also, the trunk-mounted spoiler was the "stand-up" style - more of a vertical stance spoiler. The '87 - '88 SS's were fitted with a body-molding rear bumper without the top strip, and the taillight lens was redesigned to form with the back of the fender. The '87 model year saw the introduction of the "lay-down" style spoiler, which was more aerodynamic and 'modern-looking'. About half of the '87 SSs received the "lay-down" style spoiler, while the other half received the older "stand-up" style. There does not appear to be a definitive changeover point as there are reported VIN sequences with both styles showing up. However, the '88 model only received the "lay-down" style spoiler.
The '83 - '85 SS cars had "bullet-style" door mirrors. Rounded and more forward-facing, they looked less 'modern' than the "aero-style" mirrors that came with the '86 - '88 SS cars, which are more triangular and rearward-facing.
Gone was the gun-metal blue that adorned some '84 SSs, replaced with a maroon/orange scheme for '85. All '83 1/2 - '84 SSs came either in white or blue, with the interiors following suit. 85 - 88's were offered in white, black, maroon, and silver. The font, or letter-style for the striping changed as well. The '83 - '84 SS's had a computerized, "phased" font, with the Monte Carlo name in upright, rounded letters. The '85 - '86 SSs had a sloped font in a single line. '87 - '88 SS's had similar font lettering, but with the 'Monte Carlo' being placed below the "SS" script rather than beside it.
1978-1988 Chevrolet El Camino
A new, smaller El Camino was unveiled in 1978, with more sharp-edged styling and a slightly (one-inch) longer 117-inch (3,000 mm) wheelbase. It included a single headlight design, until a later revision in 1982 that had a four-headlight design. The El Camino now shared components with the Chevrolet Malibu (The Chevelle name had been dropped) and Chevrolet Monte Carlo. V6 engines (based on the Buick or Chevrolet 90-degree V6) were available for the first time, and from 1982 through 1984, Oldsmobile-sourced diesel engines. Most common engine found in El Caminos of this era was Chevy's 305 cubic-inch small block V8 rated at 150 or 165 horsepower (123 kW).
The 1984-87 El Camino SS shared the more aerodynamic front nose with the concurrent Monte Carlo SS, but did not get the Monte's higher-output 180-horsepower 305 V8.
After 1984, GM shifted El Camino production to Mexico for three more years. Production ceased after the 1987 model year, as sales of the Chevrolet S-10 true pickup truck were outselling its passenger car counterpart.
1985 to 1987 El Caminos (and its twin, the GMC Caballero) were produced in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico. Around 425 unsold 1987 El Caminos were sold as 1988 models.
1978-1983 Chevrolet Malibu
For the 1978 model year, the Malibu name which had been the best selling badge in the lineup replaced the Chevelle name. This was Chevrolet's second downsized nameplate, following the lead of the 1977 Chevrolet Caprice. The new, more efficient platform was over a foot shorter and had shed 500 to 1,000 pounds compared previous versions, yet offered increased trunk space, leg room, and head room. Only two trim levels were offered - Malibu and Malibu Classic. The Malibu Classic Landau series had a two tone paint job on the upper and lower body sections, and a vinyl top.
Three bodystyles were produced (station wagon, sedan, and coupe). The sedan initially had a conservative six-window notchback roofline, in contrast to the unusual fastback rooflines adopted by Oldsmobile and Buick divisions. To reduce cost, the windows in the rear doors of 4-door sedans were fixed, while the wagons had small moveable vents. In 1981, sedans adopted a four-window profile and "formal" pillared upright roofline. The 2-door coupe was last produced in 1981. The 1982 Malibu was facelifted with more squared-off front styling marked by quad headlights with long, thin turn signals beneath them.
Among collectors, the last El Caminos have attracted interest, and the coupe has been sought after by drag racers and sometimes spotted as street machines, though not as prized as the first or second generation muscle cars.
The 4-door Malibu was also used in fleets, especially for law enforcement usage. After the Chevrolet Nova ceased production in 1979, the mid-size 9C1 police option (not to be confused with the full-size Chevrolet Impala 9C1 which was also available) was transferred to the Malibu, filling a void for mid-sized police vehicles. A 9C1-equipped Malibu with an LT-1 Z-28 Camaro engine driven by E. Pierce Marshall placed 13th of 47 in the 1979 Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, better known as the Cannonball Run.
1980 Chevrolet Malibu Wagon
Chevrolet Malibu Classic made and sold in Mexico. There was no factory Malibu SS option available from. The SS only came in the El Camino. A very rare 1980 Malibu M80 was a dealer package for only North and South Carolina in an effort to revive the muscle car era. It was however mostly aimed at NASCAR fans who regularly traveled to Darlington Raceway. To this day, it's unknown how many are left or were actually produced. (Estimates place this around 1,901 cars) All M80's had to be white with dark blue bucket seat and center console interior. The base of the M80 was a 2 door sport coupe equipped with the F41 Sport Suspension package and the normal V8 (140 hp) drive train. The M80 option added two dark blue skunk stripes up top and a lower door stripe with the M80 identification. The package also added front and rear spoilers and 1981 steel rally wheels.
In Mexico, General Motors produced this generation in the Ramos Arizpe plant, and was sold during three years (1979 to 81). Mexican versions came in three trim levels (Chevelle, Malibu and Malibu Classic) and two body styles (Sedan & Coupe) with the 250-cubic-inch (4.1 L) l-6 as basic engine and the 350-cubic-inch (5.7 L) 260 hp (194 kW) V-8 as the optional; this engine was standard on Malibu Classic models, during the three years of selling. This was possible because the Mexican regulations about emissions were more flexible than in the U.S.A.
In 1981, General Motors of Canada in Oshawa produced a special order of 25,500 4-door Malibu sedans for Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government The deal was reportedly worth well over 100-million dollars to GMCL. These special order Malibus carried the unusual combination of GM's lowest-power carburated V6, the 110 hp (82 kW) 229-cubic-inch (3.8 L) engine mated to 3-speed transmission with a unique on-the-floor stick shifter. All of the cars were equipped with an all-white exterior, air conditioning, heavy duty cooling systems, tough upholstery and 14-inch (360 mm) stamped steel wheels with "baby moon" hubcaps and trim rings.
Only 13,000 units ever made it to Iraq, with the majority of the cars becoming taxis in Baghdad (once the cab-identifying orange paint was added to the front & rear fenders). However in 1982 with the balance of ~12,500 additional Malibus either sitting on a dock in Halifax or awaiting port shipment in Oshawa, where they were built, the Iraqis suddenly cancelled the order. Excuses reportedly included various "quality concerns" including the inability of the local drivers to shift the finicky Saginaw manual transmission. This issue was eventually identified as being due to an apparent clutch release issue that eventually required on-site retrofitting by a crew of Canadian technicians sent to Iraq to support the infamous "Recall in the Desert". Later speculation was that the Iraqis were actually forced to back out for financial reasons, due to their escalating hostilities with Iran requiring the immediate diversion of funds to support the ramping Iraqi war effort. Then GM of Canada President Donald Hackworth was initially quoted as stating GMCL intended still try to sell the Malibus overseas in other Middle East markets- however in the end, the orphaned "Iraqi Taxi" Malibus were all sold to the Canadian public at the greatly reduced price of approx. $6,800 CAD and over the years have acquired a low-key 'celebrity' status.
The base 231-cubic-inch (3.8 L) V-6 engine for the 1978 Chevrolet Malibu developed just 95 horsepower (71 kW) with optional upgrade to a 105 horsepower (78 kW) V-6, or 145 horsepower (108 kW) V-8. The largest 170 horsepower (130 kW) 350-cubic-inch (5.7 L) V-8 was only offered in the wagon.
Model Year Engine Options
The Malibu shared GM's redesignated rear-wheel drive G platform with cars like the Pontiac Grand Prix, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and Buick Regal. 1982 was the final year that a Malibu Classic was marketed; Malibus were produced as 4-door sedans (and station wagons, which retained the full options list as the new FWD A-body wagons that would not appear until 1984) until 1983 when it was replaced by the front-wheel drive Chevrolet Celebrity. Although the sedan and wagon were phased out, the El Camino remained in production until 1987.
GM commissioned a 1/25 scale plastic promo of the El Camino from MPC, which was updated annually from 1978 to at least 1982, Kit versions of it were also made, and the tooling was later modified to an El Camino SS. Monogram also produced a '78 El Camino in their then-usual, slightly larger 1/24 scale, as well as a '79 police package sedan as a simplified 1/32 scale snap-together kit. Both have been reissued multiple times.
While the 2nd generation body was widely replicated in many scales as die cast models and toys, this downsized generation was rarely represented, with Maisto producing an El Camino with quad headlights.