1970 CHEVROLET Monte Carlo- Robert and Marilyn Print
Written by Double Dragon
Monday, 29 October 2012 14:42

1970 CHEVROLET Monte Carlo- Robert and Marilyn


70 chev monte carlo 400 vinyl roof logo

Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown

70 chev monte carlo 400 robert

In 1970 Chevrolet introduced the new Monte Carlo. Despite strikes crippling factory production, the new Monte Carlo was a success for GM. See the ONE FAMILY story low miles 1970 Monte Carlo for more background regarding the development of the Monte Carlo. The 1970 Monte Carlo offered new styling in a size that really worked for many people, including Robert who bought his Monte Carlo new. Robert's tale has a bit of a twist to it that rarely appears with a long term owner.

Robert never really liked his car. What a strange thing to say about a car that he has owned for more than 40 years. Why did he buy it? Robert was excited about the wonderful styling of the first generation Monte Carlo. That was one of the main appeals of the car. Robert appreciated the luxurious full size car type interior in an intermediate sized body.

70 chev monte carlo 400 interior

He kept it because it had an excellent engine which although returning poor gas mileage was reliable. But in most ways the car didn't live up to his initial expectations of it.

70 chev monte carlo 400 top view

Robert's day to day ownership experiences were negative. Robert drove a lot in winter weather and was never confident in this car. It didn't handle well in bad weather and Robert's memories of the car include many harrowing hassles. His final word on the car,

"The ride wasn't good. It was terrible in snow."

Before becoming frustrated with the car, Robert entered into his 40 year connection to the Monte Carlo on a high note. He and his father bought two 1970 Monte Carlos together. Robert is appreciative of nice cars (in fact he still owns a 1925 Model T that he drives in an annual parade) but his wife describes him as a moderate person,

"Robert isn't a car nut like his father was."

This goes a long way to explaining how Robert is able to honestly asses the car's merits and faults without the bias that blinds many of us car nuts. We will excuse many sins if we like the style and image of a car. Maybe because Robert's father was crazy for cars, he defined himself against that standard and took a step back to look at cars more rationally.

Every year without fail his father bought a new car. At the close of the 1960s Robert and his father were in a business together that was doing well enough to inspire Robert to partake in the yearly ritual. When it was new car time, he accompanied his father to share the new car excitement.

On Dec 24, 1969 Robert bought himself an early Christmas present off the Red Wing Motors car lot in Mabel, Minnesota. This dealer is gone now, although there is a Red Wing Chevrolet dealer in the city of Red Wing, MN currently active. Robert wanted a worthy replacement for his four year old 1965 Mustang. The red 1970 Monte Carlo on the Red Wing Motors lot looked really great.

Robert's red Monte Carlo was well optioned by the dealer. Instead of the base 350 two barrel 250 HP engine, the dealer opted to equip this car with a 400 two barrel 265 HP engine coupled to an automatic transmission. Like all Monte Carlos the interior is upscale and packed with extras. In addition to the usual Monte Carlo touches, it had a white vinyl top, black cloth bench seat interior, radio, clock, power steering, power brakes, door edge guards and rubber bumper guards. Since this Monte Carlo was an early build date, it has the border between the vinyl top and the edge of the windshield. See the ONE FAMILY Monte Carlo that was built in June of 1970 to contrast the new style of vinyl roof used later in the year for Monte Carlos.

70 chev monte carlo 400 vinyl roof border

His father's green Monte Carlo had an all vinyl interior instead of cloth like Robert's Monte. The big difference between the two cars is the handling. Robert noted that his father's green Monte Carlo was a much better handling car than Robert's Monte Carlo for unknown reasons, but perhaps related to Robert's heavier 400 up front. Putting a lot of weight up front leaves the back wheels free to break loose on snow.

Immediately, Robert's new Monte Carlo was pressed into service for the 60 mile trip to and from home in Minnesota to a hospital in Lacrosse, Wisconsin where Roberts' mother was in the hospital. The car made numerous trips to and fro the hospital. Part of the souring of the relationship between Robert and his new car may be traced to the fact the car's first duties were during an unhappy period in his life and in horrible weather.

Unpleasant memories aside, the main issue was practical. The car made life difficult in snow. Robert's business soon necessitated the use of a truck anyways so he stopped driving the Monte Carlo. His wife Marilyn used the Monte Carlo to take the kids about.

When the kids were grown up the Monte Carlo ferried them to and fro college in Winona, Minnesota 50 miles away. One day there was a windstorm on the college campus in Winona blowing a heavy dumpster right down the street. It crumpled the fender on the Monte Carlo. By now Robert used the car infrequently, and decided to leave the fender alone since the car still steers fine. The contributing factor here is that at this point the car was no longer new and had seen many winters as well as accruing its share of dings and dents.

70 chev monte carlo 400 pass fender dents

Once the kids were finished college, the final straw for the Monte Carlo came in 1979 when it got stuck in a mere 4 inches of snow. Robert retired it from service and parked it at 94,020 miles. The license plate displays a NOV 1979 expiry sticker which is one month shy of exactly ten years from the first registration of the Monte Carlo.

The photographs show the Monte Carlo sitting in a covered garage where it has been preserved from the elements over the years. The Monte Carlo still looks good after all these years. The body held up well despite nine and a half years of winters and a rogue dumpster. A lot of cars from this era had reached the end of their lives when the clock hit the first 100,000 miles. Despite causing Robert some aggravation this car did well in its decade of use.

70 chev monte carlo 400 robert front

Robert recalls that the engine was good, using absolutely no oil at all for the first 50,000 miles of driving which would have fallen around 1975. An old oil change record indicates the Monte had travelled 74,345 miles as of March 28, 1977. That works out to an average of about 10,000 miles per year. The car was only used in town. Robert's work kept him in town year round. He couldn't take summer vacations which also kept the mileage down on the car. The average USA car traveled about 12,000 miles a year during this period of time.

The 400 didn't get good gas mileage despite the small two barrel carburetor. The shot below captures the insane length of the hood. The large 400 engine looks like a pipsqueak in that long wide engine bay. Note the crazy extension on the fan shroud needed to bridge the gap between the radiator and fan.

70 chev monte carlo 400 fan shroud extension

There are no tears in the driver's seat but the ribbed cord that defines the corner of the seat seam has become exposed in one spot where the seat belt rubbing across it has removed the vinyl covering.

70 chev monte carlo 400 driver seat

There is missing glass in an outside rear view mirror, two cracks in the driver's door pull pad, and the rubber brake pedal pad has gone missing. The gas gauge pointer is askew. Aside from these minor defects, the interior is in pretty good condition under the dust.

Funnily enough, despite his negative experiences with the 1970 Monte Carlo, Robert was still drawn to the terrific looks of Monte Carlos. In the 1980s he bought one of the new downsized Monte Carlos! Ever practical, he now uses a Geo to get around in conjunction with a work truck.

Robert and Marilyn's 1970 Monte Carlo has remained frozen in time since 1979 and ironically owes its continued existence to the hassles it caused Robert. If not for that 'straw that broke the camel's back' snow incident, the Monte would have been kept in use and eventually worn out or rusted out. The Monte Carlo is still a good looking car and Robert can enjoy seeing it without subjecting himself to the hassles of actually driving it!

Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 March 2021 14:10 )