Chevrolet’s Monza was so handsome that most people totally forgot it was based on the vilified Vega. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe 2+2 is still a total looker, but is it priced to make buyers keep on looking?
During its development John DeLorean dubbed the Monza 2+2 the ‘Italian Vega’ owing to its visual kinship with Ferrari’s short-lived 365 GTC/4. Based on the Vega platform, the Monza had a lot of cool features that its predecessor did not.
Those included rectangular sealed beam headlamps intended to offer a lower frontal profile and hence better aerodynamics and fuel economy. The Monza also was one of the first cars offered with plastic wheel covers over steel wheels. That gave the car fancy alloy wheel looks at only a fraction of the cost, but as Road & Track discovered in their heavy braking tests, they did not match the real thing in durability, melting and fallen off due to the heat. Oops.
Another update over the Vega was the design of the bumpers. With the new 5-MPH standards enacted to mollify insurance companies many manufacturers were forced to hang massive battering rams on the outside of their cars’ to allow for compression space, including on the '74-plus Vegas. In contrast, the Monza had urethane end caps that masked the space for bumper movement and allowed for elegant and simple blade bumpers as the contact medium.
The Monza was supposed to debut one other really big technology and that was GM’s two-rotor Wankel. Unfortunately, just like everyone else at the time GM was unable to overcome the Wankel’s proclivity for fuel use and poor durability and the engine was shelved right before the Monza’s debut.
That decision also left AMC in the lurch because the Kenosha company had been planing to float the engine in their fishbowl-shaped Pacer. In the end the Monza came with the usual suspects of ‘70s Chevy small car motors, starting with the Vega’s aluminum block 2.3-litre four and topping off with a couple of V8s, a first for the Vega platform.
This 1975 Monza 2+2 rocks a V8, and it’s the 350 not the even weaker kitten fart 262 that served to disappoint enthusiasts back in the ‘70s. The 350 was offered in the Monza in ’75 in California and high altitude areas as a result of the smaller mill’s inability to meet the more stringent emission standards there. That 5.7 sported a 2bbl carb and - are you ready for this - only 125 factory horses. Yeah, that's woeful, but considering the potential inherent in any SBC, that, and a JEGS catalog are a good starting point today.
This one already has the ball rolling with an aftermarket and shiny chrome air cleaner housing, but beneath that it’s still the stock two-venturi, which sucks for not really sucking. Further on the downside, the rest of the engine compartment looks pretty beat up, with much of the wiring loom now covered in electrical tape and a brake booster that looks like it would give you tetanus.
Behind the tepid eight should be aTHM300, and this one has been gifted with a cue-ball topped B&M ratchet shifter in its stock center console. The rest of the interior is original down to the high-backed and shapeless buckets and need to know basis instrument cluster. There is a dash cover which makes you wonder what is the condition of the pad beneath, as well as just exactly where do you find a small enough maid to vacuum those things? The carpet on the floor is about as done as you could imagine, but at least it’s there.
On the outside things are equally serviceable but not extraordinary.This is a survivor not a restoration and as such the flexible end caps are in amazingly good shape for their age. The paint is an obvious respray, the door jams and under hood areas showing off a darker hue that the car obtained from the factory.
Still, the paint’s not bad and the bodywork… well, suffice to say that the Monza 2+2 is one of the best looking cars that Chevy has ever offered. Oh, and those crappy hubcaps? They’ve been replaced here with some period-correct and cool looking Cragars. Underneath it’s all there, including the driveshaft accompanying torque arm, and there’s no sign of rust in this bucket.
Strangely enough for a dealer ad, there’s no mention of mileage, but in a car this old does that really matter? One number that does matter is the price, which is $4,500. That of course gets you a car that’s drop dead gorgeous, but still with performance not matching those looks so figure in a few hundred to boost that 5.7 a bit.
With that in mind, what’s your take on this fancy Vega for $4,500? Is that a price that could have you racing the Monza? Or, does that price make this Monza a mockery?
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