Though Chevrolet was the biggest brand in the 1960s, there’s a lot of me-too conformity with its vehicles. For example, Chevrolet followed the pony car trend, the muscle car trend, and the personal-luxury trend. Our Pick of the Day, a 1970 Monte Carlo SS 454, is a great example of the latter. It is listed for sale on ClassicCars.com by a dealership in Mankato, Minnesota. (Click the link to view the listing)
Personal-luxury cars initially not cheap. Arguably the first was the 1958 Ford Thunderbird, a coupe and convertible that was priced close to the Buick Century Riviera, which was upper middle-class in cost. Others joined the scene, but it wasn’t until the Pontiac Grand Prix that it became more affordable – for example, the 1962 Grand Prix’s base price was under $3,500 while the Thunderbird’s was around $4,200. Other cars, like the Oldsmobile Starfire and upcoming Buick Riviera, were more in line with the Thunderbird’s pricing.
When the Chevrolet Monte Carlo finally appeared in 1970, the market already was full of competitors for the Grand Prix (though not always head-on), such as the Buick Wildcat two-door, Dodge Monaco 500, Chrysler 300 two-door, Mercury Marauder, and even the Ford XL. None of these carried the cachet of the Grand Prix, which was redesigned for 1969 and given a unique body and platform. If it wasn’t for this move, the Monte Carlo may not have come into existence as we know it.
The 1970 Monte Carlo used a modified A-body platform (sometimes called the “A-Special” or “G-body”) that was stretched ahead of the cowl. Wheelbase measured 116 inches, the same as A-body four-doors. Styling was distinct from the Chevelle’s, with several neo-classical touches, especially the sculpting along the sides (best demonstrated with the optional fender skirts). Inside, customers could choose between custom knit nylon and vinyl, or pattern cloth and vinyl bench seats; vinyl buckets were optional. Imitation elm on the dashboard, deep-twist carpeting, fiber sound deadener, and “plump” weatherstripping all helped impart a luxurious drive. Standard power was a 350 two-barrel with a column-mounted three-speed manual; optional was a four-barrel 350, 400 small-block two-barrel, and 402 four-barrel. Available transmissions included Powerglide and Turbo Hydramatic, and four-speed manual. The overall effect was quite luxurious, no different from stalwarts in the market.
However, there was another engine available, the LS5 454. Rated at 360 horsepower, it was only available with the SS 454 package, which included heavy-duty chassis, Automatic Level Control, and G70 x 15 whitewall tires. If you didn’t know any better, you would have no idea what was lurking underneath the hood because identification relied on subtle badges on the rocker panels. The Turbo Hydramatic was the only transmission available with this engine, and the 450-horsepower LS6 was not an option. At the end of the model year, only 3,823 were produced. The package continued into 1971.
This 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS 454 featured a numbers-matching Turbo-Jet 454. Though the Gobi Beige hue looks quite “adult” for 1970 and possibly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea today, it presents well and is complemented by a gold vinyl top to set it off. “Chrome and brightwork looking good overall too,” says the seller. Inside, you’ll find this SS 454 is loaded with gauges, Rally wheels, power windows, bucket seats and console, air conditioning, tilt column, cruise control, and power steering and brakes. “Interior appears it could be original as well due to the discoloring and wear in the piping. Seat belts intact in the front and rear also. Headliner looks good on this too with shoulder belts for the front row,” adds the seller. Sounds come from a Retrosound-style stereo, and an aftermarket gauge cluster has been installed underneath the dash.
The Monte Carlo was a rousing success, becoming a vehicle that many a mature performance car guy and gal moved up to as the decade progressed. However, it is the original SS 454 that was the fastest of the bunch. Seller doesn’t list a price other than “Contact Seller,” but if your blood runs Bow Tie blue, then it’s worth your time to reach out to the seller.