Corvair wasn’t Chevy’s only hot Monza model

Pick of the Day is a V8-powered 1980 Chevrolet Monza

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Pick of the Day is this Vega-based but V8-powered 1980 Chevrolet Monza

Hear “Chevrolet Monza” and you likely think of the sporty version of the rear-engine Corvair model from the 1960s. But Chevrolet resurrected the Monza nameplate in the mid-1970s for a Vega-based subcompact that had an engine bay large enough to fit a small-block V8.

Not only could this Monza carry a V8, but the car’s fastback body reminded a lot of people of the Ferrari GTC-4. The Standard Catalog of American Cars termed it “an uncanny resemblance.”

With its Italian looks and V8 power, the Monza became popular with sports car racers on a budget. One of those vehicles, a 1980 Chevrolet Monza 2+2 resto-mod, is being advertised on ClassicCars.com by a dealership in St. Louis and is the Pick of the Day.

By the way, the Monza originally was designed to carry a Wankel rotary engine and was going to be labeled as the Chaparral, but the engine wasn’t ready for prime time so an inline-4 became the standard powertrain in a car that shared its body design with Buick’s Skyhawk, Oldsmobile’s Starfire and Pontiac’s Sunbird.

The Pick of the Day is reported to be a one-owner car originally purchased at Anthony Chevrolet in St. Louis and is one of only 7,589 Monza Spyders produced with a 350cid V8 engine and 3-speed automatic transmission. Spyders got special appearance features.

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The dealer says the car has been “lightly” resto-modded.

The car, which has a factory sunroof, rides on Galaxy R1 VITour radials mounted on American Racing alloy wheels. The engine has some chromed parts, a PowerMaster alternator and MSD ignition and distributor, aftermarket steering wheel AutoMeter gauges, B&M shifter and Alpine AM/FM with CD player.

The car is being offered for sale for $8,500. To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

6 COMMENTS

    • I remember these (graduated ’78)- the 4 cylinder version was laughably underpowered, but the V8 models were often the subject of wild IMSA body kit modifications (check old “Car Craft” magazine covers) and performed at Camaro/Firebird/Mustang levels… which were not exceptional.
      Still, not a bad effort for the time. Lotsa these became dedicated drag cars; some confusion about “aero look” over actual aerodynamics, I ‘spect.
      And, well, in any GM that fits a small block Chevy, it’s also gonna fit a big block. Had a Vega with a 396/TH400/12bolt 3.42 axle. Squirrelly, nose heavy, compromised exhaust and quite likely the worst and most ill advised purchase I’ve ever made; oh, the launch.
      I ‘spect the Monza would feel much the same. Disco-era gaudy, but one could ditch the stock 350 for a built 383 stroker, and back it with a modern, built 4spd auto. Skinnies on the front, mini tub the back.
      Yeah, I can get behind that.

  1. GTC-4, Italian styling? C’mon. I wasn’t a student of this series of GM vehicles, but doubt any ever left a factory with a V8. They were all decals and plastic spoilers.

    • There was a V8 version in ’76, which I thought of purchasing NEW, but went with a NEW Camaro. The Monza had a V8, but not 350 cid, more like 263 cid.

  2. Sorry, that does look like a real V8 in that box. So it must be a blast. Like most cars of the era, 4 cyl Monzas et al could barely make Jimmy Carter’s 55 mph rule. And in those days, decals meant ridiculous profits.

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