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Roadwork: Which Monza is Right for Me?

Chris Haining September 3, 2010 Friends of Hooniverse, Roadwork 28 Comments

Monza Brochure

My formative years pre-discovering girls were made up of mostly Lego and cars. Obviously, until I was 17 I couldn’t drive them, but I could read about them. Books were fine, but they were too full of opinions and inaccuracies. They didn’t necessarily depict cars how the manufacturers would have wanted. So I started collecting brochures, not obsessively in a Pokemon collect ’em all way, but if it was interesting, I’d take it. I’ve probably, embarrassingly harvested a few thousand brochures, which serve to bow my study floor quite impressively.

And now, providing they’re no larger than A4 size and therefore fit on my scanner, I’d like to share some of them with you.

Roadwork is a budding automotive publication written, shot and laid out by Chris Haining, aka “RustmyEnemy”. Simply put, the caliber of his work is astonishing, more worthy of your attention than whatever you were just reading. Haining’s exploits around the UK and abroad can be read in their entirety in the full .pdf issues of Roadwork, which he’ll send you if you email him directly here. He posts individual pieces on his personal blog: roadworkuk.blogspot.com

Starting with a lil’ sumthin sumthin for all you across the pond, today I present the ’77 Chevy Monza. The H-Body was whored out across the whole of GM but we’ll concentrate on the one with the bow tie.

Monza BrochureMonza Brochure

So, fire up the database, or rather grab the Standard Catalog off the bookcase and let’s go configurating.

I’m gonna go for Towne Coupe spec, I was always a glutton for a notchback, at $3359, plus $224 for the 305 4bl V8 with its almighty 140 low compression horsepower. I’m feeling that I need to make the most of all that thrust, so another $244 nets me a five speed manual box. Awesome.

Time to dress her up a bit with the Spyder equipment pack at $430, including that radical spyder decal on the bonnet. Keep cool inside with a/c at $424, and crank up the 10CC with an AM Stereo Tape Player at $196.

Yeah, that oughta do it. Rustys’ Monza weighs in at $4877, or an inflation adjusted $17,545.21. That’s 11,300.59 dear old English quid.

Monza Brochure

If I’m honest, I probably would have had the Oldsmobile Starfire instead, especially in Firenza trim. But I don’t have the brochure for that. I was born four years after this brochure was published and here I am torn as to which H-Body I should have bought, if I had lived in America. If anybody knows a good therapist…

  • Alff

    My grandparents handed me down a '76 Skylark that looked much like the red "2+2" above. It was amazing how much wallow GM could fit in such a small package.

    OTOH, ownership was enjoyable. Sometimes it's nice to have a car you don't care the least bit about.

  • I (well it's the wife's but I allow it to share display space) have a promotional dealer model of a 1980 Monza. 1/32 by Lindbergh IIRC. The Monza hatchback was always one of my favorite GMs of the era, a very clean design that looked racy without the mulleted business of the contemporary Camaro, et al.

    Another thing that helped my affections was an insane street racer that lived a couple blocks away when I was a tyke. Despite having not seen this thing in 25 years, I can still picture it clearly: monochromatic yellow base, blackout grille, trim, and window louvers, massive snorkel blower intake, fat Mickey Thompson drag radials, and a wild orange/blue/red/purple striping pattern as was en vogue at the time (a few HotWheel cars used similar themes). Actually, it *was* pretty much a HotWheels car brought to life. I had no idea how it was built or what tech went into making it special, but it was.

  • Smells_Homeless

    When you take delivery of your 305-powered Monza, be prepared to take a holesaw to the strut towers, because that seems to be the only way to change the spark plugs without a hoist. I rarely say this, especially about GMs as I'm a bit of a fanboy, but these are awful, awful cars. I have a lot of experience with them in all of their forms, since they were everywhere in my high school's parking lot.

    That said, the one you really want is the Monza Mirage, complete with IMSA style fender flares and spoilers. They're still awful cars, but they're FANCY awful cars.

    Apologies to the Monza fanciers out there.

    • Number_Six

      When I was a teen I was all set to buy a 5-speed 305-equipped Monza until a buddy who was apprenticing as a mechanic told me about the plugs issue. Everything I've learned about the breed since then has confirmed I was smart to walk away.

    • Alff

      "Apologies to the Monza fanciers out there."

      Yeah, he's gonna be mad.

      • HTWHLS


  • Having never known of or really noticed the H-body until recent times, my largely post-malaise brain processes it as "hey, mediocre RWD compact…how bad could it be?"

    But the level of total engineered-in crap on these is apparently bad enough to keep even the most crap-of-philes away. I guess I'll just have to invest that part of my brain into a Bobcat Cruising Wagon instead.

    • voodoojoo

      I do sometimes wonder if my now completely deep-rooted love for malaise-era cars will just be a minor complication in my life plans, or if it will really leave me stranded, life ruined, mind reeling amongst rusted 70s dreams. Syd Mead isn't dead yet – maybe I'll be okay.

      • The good news is the Malaise Era was a golden age for Vans, meaning you'll never be completely homeless.

  • scroggzilla
    • Holy heck that's a monster. Put that on my "Wish I didn't have to wait twenty-nine years to learn about" list.

    • HTWHLS

      That's the biggest NACA duct I've ever seen!!

  • Ha, that's not a Monza Spyder.
    <img src="http://i615.photobucket.com/albums/tt237/jskitter/hooniverse/1962CorvairMonzaSpyder.jpg"&gt;
    Now 'at's a Monza Spyder.

    The Colonies

  • Sure, they're handsome cars, but believe me when I say you Brits didn't miss out on much, especially since you got the similarly-styled Manta B/Cavalier Coupe (which got a great writeup in the latest Hemmings Sports & Exotic's "Famous Over There" section). Lucky bastids.

    • Absolutely right. Up to 110hp of Cam-In-Head fun! Actually, one of my first automotive memories (I was about four) was that our health visitor had a silver Manta GT/J. Amazing how some things stick in your head.

      • Alff

        WTF is a "health visitor"? Sounds painful.

        • In retrospect it does sound a bit sinister…. She visited families with pre-school kids doling out advice to help us grow big and strong. May have overdone things, I was 6'2" by age 13. Her fault.

  • My grandparents had the Buick version of the Monza. I think they may have traded their '71 Riviera in for it, which would have been a damn shame.

    • From Boat-tail to Skyhawk. Ouch. That 'Riv was by far the highlight of Due South.

  • TurboBrick

    I'm sorry to ruin your.. err.. "dream", but if I'm reading the brochure right, the 5-speed is not available with the V8. Now, the good news is, is that the 4-speed manual is standard equipment.

    • Dear James M. Flammang of the Standard Catalog of American Cars.

      You Bastard. My vision of a perfect Monza lies in tatters and shreds due to you omitting a simple "*: Not On 305 V8."

      Yours Sincerely, etc.

    • Smells_Homeless

      That's probably true. I think they came with the Saginaw four-speed. I'm also certain that I've never seen a Spider town coupe. But I'd love to see one. It would be like a donkey with a horn. Even the rarest of Monzas isn't worth the term "unicorn."

  • MattC

    In the early 1990's , my girlfriend's car died. Her father had a blue (baby blue) Monza that was surprisingly rust free and fairly reliable (the car had the lackluster 2.3L). Her father also had an Austin Sprite so he knew his way around vehicles. I was actually surprised by the aesthetic lines of her car (notchback) and it lasted long enough until she could afford a newer one. While the Monza was not a good car during that time, it did provide relaitively reliable transportation for my girlfriend.

  • 80Monza

    Careful what you wish for. It's a polished turd if there ever was one. Handling was nonexistent, even more so in the V8. All that weight up front and no compensation, not even an anti-sway bar. The front suspension was held in by box sections on the unibody. On my 4-cylinder they collapsed over time with absolute care and maintenance. It shook nervously above 60 from new. V8s needed the holes cut in the firewall BTW due to the way it was shoehorned in. Even the factory documentation started plug changes with "Remove engine partially from vehicle". There were no strut towers – regular shocks all the way around. The Saginaw 4-speed is indestructible, but the 5-speed option is rather fragile no matter what engine it's behind. It's not even the 5-speed you'd think it'd be. The positioning of the gears was well….odd. 1st gear was left then down like a 3-speed, reverse left then up. Most of the 5-speeds grenaded long long ago. Plastics that turned to dust with exposure to sunlight. Doors so heavy the hinge pins and bushings had to be replaced every 50k or so. Malaise era GM absolutely. No redeeming qualities whatsoever.

  • I need to be careful. People are getting the impression I actually want one of these things. Curiosity only, folks.

  • Mad_Hungarian

    The hatchback version is very obviously cribbed from an early 70's model of Ferrari, and actually nicely done. I was in high school when these came out and I wanted a Skyhawk bad. I think the V6 in the Buick was a better choice for these cars than the gutless four or the heavy, hard to service and still somehow gutless V8. Skyhawks had a very nice interior and a full set of gauges which was damn hard to find on a cheap 70's car. Unfortunately they all rusted away much like their Vega cousins.

    • HTWHLS

      Well, to give credit where due, they were "pre-rusted" from the factory.

  • 1

    Finally a smart blogger-man…I love how you’re thinking…and writing!