Home Car Stories One Family 1970 CHEVROLET Monte Carlo- Keith Arteman
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Written by Double Dragon
Thursday, 12 May 2011 09:26

1970 CHEVROLET Monte Carlo- Keith Arteman


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown


My first ride in a 1970 Monte Carlo was way back in the late 1980s. The Monte Carlo was packing a 454 (who knew back then that there were only 3,823 of the Monte Carlo SS cars roaming around?). The factory Champagne Gold paint had faded to a faint yellow, but the body had resisted rust despite year round driving in a road salt area. The interior was in good condition and very plush. The Monte moved out like a rocket and in many respects was the equal of many of the scoop spoiler stripe muscle cars of that era, but was understated in appearance and whisper quiet during normal driving. The Monte had automatic level control similar to that found on Cadillacs that still worked. The 17 year old girl owner had inherited it from her grandmother and was quite attached to that old car. Contrasting that old gold beauty to Keith Arteman's immaculate 1970 is interesting.


Keith's Gobi Beige with Dark Gold vinyl top Monte Carlo is close in color to the old gold one I rode in all those years back. However, Keith's car has logged a mere 14,000 miles in 40 years, remaining a factory pristine unrestored original car in every way. Although it only has a 350, it is not the base 9.0:1 compression 2 barrel version of the 350 which produced 250 HP. Keith's car sports the optional 4 barrel 10.25:1 high compression engine. With 300 HP it pulls out hard and easily smokes the tires. Of course that sort of driving is not really what Chevrolet had in mind when they created the Monte Carlo!

Chevrolet released the Monte Carlo Sep 18, 1969 as a 1970 model personal luxury car. Chevy did a good job of disguising the origins of the Monte Carlo. The Monte is essentially a gussied up Chevelle. The Monte Carlo uses the 116 inch wheelbase normally reserved for the four door Chevelles. The two door Chevelles use a 112 inch wheelbase. However, the Monte Carlo is exclusively a two door personal luxury car. In tandem with the longer wheelbase, the hood is incredibly long. Take a look at photos of the engine compartment and you'll see the giant space between the front of the engine and leading edge of the hood.

Pontiac first came out with the six foot long hood on a new ground up version of the Grand Prix for the 1969 model year. This was a pet project of then division manager John DeLorean. Pontiac bragged that they had the longest hood in the industry. Nowadays that claim would be of questionable value, but back then when the world seemed to be still expanding it was a viable selling point. John Delorean was promoted to Chevrolet putting him on hand in time to unveil the Monte Carlo which was essentially another version of his pet project Grand Prix. Chevrolet used Grand Prix proportions for the Monte Carlo while adding in a dash of Cadillac Eldorado to the mix.

I personally prefer the square, taut look of the first Monte Carlo. The later 1973 model is curvier. The 1970 has proportions and squared off corners similar to the classic first generation Cadillac Eldorado. The 1970 seems to straddle the fence exactly between being full size and intermediate while balancing cues of Chevelle and Cadillac in one package. The following year the new expanded wheelbase version of the Impala/ Caprice picked up some Cadillac body cues, too.

The 1973 Monte Carlo with its flowing fender lines is the iconic version of the Monte Carlo that everyone knows so well. This version of the Monte Carlo is so entrenched in the public's minds that its template was copied directly when creating the downsized version in 1978. The 1973 version seemed much larger than the 1970 despite minute differences in body dimensions. On a positive note, the 1973 has its own distinct identity without echoes of other cars and could be argued to be the first 'pure' Monte Carlo.


Oldsmobile created their own version of the basic Grand Prix/ Monte Carlo platform. Olds simply moved the popular Cutlass Supreme name to this body style for 1970. Olds made no attempt to distance themselves from the basic Cutlass, the way Chevy disguised the Monte Carlo's links to the Chevelle. The Cutlass Supreme was already established as a fairly high end car anyways. Buick had the Riviera which had been around since 1963 with a solid identity apart from all other vehicle lines.

The Monte Carlo was good looking and popular but sales were hindered by a labor strike at the Flint, Michigan factory where most of them were slated to be built. The Monte Carlo was in short supply until early 1970. Despite this, 142,153 of the 350s and 3,823 SS 454s were sold.

The OOCC Monte Carlo was built towards the end of the model year in June, 1970 at the Flint, Michigan factory. It was bought new around end of June/ start of July from the Lange Chevrolet car dealership in Chenoa, IL (dealer code 323 in zone 11) by John Arteman. Lange Chevrolet was located just off historic Route 66 which links Chenoa with Chicago. John bought this car for his wife Gennie. The 350-4bbl car has a TH350 transmission. The vinyl roof on the OOCC Monte extends all the way to the windshield. Earlier production Monte Carlos had a vinyl roof that stopped short of the windshield chrome, displaying a few inches of painted roof.

The OOCC Monte Carlo was left strictly factory original with the exception of a rear speaker added to the package tray. John arranged to have this done right away. The Monte Carlo was parked in a heated garage from day one and babied by Gennie. The Monte Carlo served as a second car and was only driven in the small city for shopping and visits to Gennie's mother. Jack D. Rittenhouse's 1946 classic GUIDE BOOK TO HIGHWAY 66 noted the population of Chenoa as 1,400. The current population of 1,800 people demonstrates how stable and small Chenoa is.

Any out of town road trips were taken in one of John's cars which kept the mileage on the Monte Carlo down at a mere 12,000 miles by 1988. In 1988 John's nephew Keith Arteman enters this story. The desire for a new car hit John who was considering calling the numbers on a stack of business cards that had been left under the Monte's windshield wiper blades over the years.

The OOCC Monte Carlo was a very desirable low miles one owner collector car and attracted a lot of attention in every parking lot everytime the car was used for any kind of errand. Nephew Keith proposed keeping the Monte Carlo in the family. Keith showed up at his Uncle John's door with the amount of cash in hand that his Uncle had in mind for the car. They were pleased to see the car well preserved and in the family. Uncle John died in 1991, Gennie in 2003.

Keith brought the Monte Carlo south east 30 miles along Interstate 55 (which parallels and replaced the original Route 66 as the main artery) to his home in Normal, Illinois. Keith took issue with the squirrely bias ply tires on the car and put a set of Uniroyal Tiger Paw P215R70 15 radial tires on. Nowadays you can't find radials with the old 78 series high profiles. Modern radials have low profiles (70 or less) which creates a smaller diameter tire when you stick with the stock width. By choosing a slightly wider tire, Keith was able to maintain the proper tire diameter. See the article about the difference between old and new tire proportions in the GAS LOGS section of this website.


The spare tire is the original which has never been out of the trunk. Keith has shown the Monte Carlo at car shows and driven it sparingly, bringing the mileage up to 14,000 miles as of 2009. Keith exclusively fills up at a full serve gas station in town called Quinn's Shell located at 802 North Main Street, Bloomington, Illinois. Main Street of course, is actually old Route 66. Drive through any small town and Main Street is the old Mother Road.

Bloomington is the 'twin city' to Normal. Normal was originally known as "North Bloomington". Quinn's was originally started in 1941 as Quinn's Texaco. It's the last station in the area still selling non ethanol and high octane gasoline making it Mecca for classic car guys. When Keith and I were there filling up the Monte Carlo a late 1960s full size Ford, and an early 1970s Polara pulled in for gas. Elmo Quinn, the current owner took over the station from his father and uncle in 1978.

Keith's Monte rides like a new car. It is very powerful, smooth and quiet. Incredibly, even the second hand on the clock still works. Anyone who has owned any 1960s or 1970s era car will be amazed by this. The clocks on these cars are always stopped. The fact Keith's is still ticking suggests that the clocks can only take a certain number of hits from the constant jarring and bumping a car in motion creates. The radically low mileage of this car may have saved the clock. It sure saved the rest of the car!



Last Updated ( Friday, 10 March 2017 17:18 )