General Motors had a serious sales problem with the subcompact Chevrolet Vega. In an attempt to shore up its segment of the half-pint market, the Monza was developed. It would compete against Ford’s Mustang.
|The 1962 Chevrolet Corvair Monza had its engine in the rear.|
|Monza is the capital of the Province of Monza and Brianza. It is situated on the River Po, 15 kilometres north of Milan.|
The name was borrowed from Chevrolet’s Corvair’s sporty Monza and that came from the Italian city, long the home of the famed Italian Grand Prix.
|AMC and GM engineers jointly developed a Wankel engine. A 1975 Pacer is seen here.|
The envelope was sleek, graced with a fast front slope, allowed because the car was to be powered by the new Wankel engine--one that would be shared with AMC’s new Pacer.
|Chevrolet Monza’s standard power plant was the 2.3-litre (140 cubic-inch) aluminum, overhead cam, four-cylinder engine. Optional engine, shown here, was the 4.3-litre (262.5-cubic inch) V-8.|
Despite engineers’ best efforts, the power plant failed to meet emissions standards and delivered sub-par gas mileage. Coupled with the gasoline shortages in 1973, triggered by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, GM officials reluctantly nixed the rotary engine in 1974.
Chevrolet's Vega shared its 2 466-millimetre (97-inch) wheelbase and drivetrain with Monza but the kinship ended there.
Monza’s face incorporated dual rectangular halogen headlights deeply tunneled into front fenders made of pliable urethane. A simple, colour-keyed, eight-slot grille was low profile. Chevrolet was spelled out on the driver’s side of the front and the bowtie trademark was centred above the grille in a circle. Bumpers were hydraulic, overlaid with generous black impact strips to minimize damage in the event of an accident. Below the bumper, long turn signals were balanced under the headlights, separated by a pair of grille slots and finished off with a functional air dam.
From the side, Monza was sleek and gently rounded, with sight lines that promised many sleek, slippery rides. Prominent swells burst from the wheel wells to shout about the speed and power that would rip from steel-belted radial tires.
Side markers were placed at the leading edge of the front fender at bumper level. The roofline was rakish and featured a power ventilation system built into the B-pillar.
From the rear, the slim roof simply melted into the taillights. A vast window dominated the hatch lid. Taillights were long, narrow affairs that doubled as side makers as they curved into the rear quarter panel. The lower lip was graced with a bowtie ensconced in a circular medallion.
Monza could be had in a myriad of Chev colours including: Dark Green Metallic, Bright Blue Metallic, Orange Metallic, Light Red, Bright Yellow, Antique White or Cream Beige. Unique to Monza were Medium Grey Metallic, Silver Blue Metallic and Burgandy Metallic.
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Under the hood lurked Chevrolet’s 2.3-litre (140-cubic inch), four-cylinder, aluminum block, overhead cam, a two-barrel carburetor with an electric fuel pump located in the 70-litre (15.4-Imperial gallon) gas tank. Sales people were primed to pitch the little engine as giving “a nice measure of performance, balanced by a nice measure of tightfistedness.”
Optionally, Chev’s 4.3-litre (262-cubic inch) small-block V8 engine was a sure-fire winner. Advertising bragged that the eight-banger was ‘big enough to move the Monza with effortless ease, yet small enough to let its two-barrel carburetor sip fuel very sparingly the way a small car engine should.”
|The Chevrolet Monza’s cabin was practical and sassy.|
Interiors were surprisingly spacious, incorporating thoughtful touches such as map pockets in the front doors, door locks located in the arm rests and a high-rise centre console that housed a four-speed manual transmission or GM’s three-speed Turbo Hydramatic shifter.
Cut-pile carpeting was the resting place for deep, comfy bucket seats featuring built-in headrests. The driver’s seat back could be adjustable for a few extra bucks. The rear seat folded flat to increase cargo capacity.
Cloth and vinyl colours were Medium Sandstone, Dark Blue, Dark Saddle, Dark Red, Medium Graystone and Black. Monza cabins could be dressed up in genuine, fine-grain split cowhide in black, dark red or saddle.
|Instrumentation for the 1975 Chevrolet Monza included a tachometer. The four-spoke, colour-keyed steering wheel could be had with a tilt option..|
The padded instrument cluster was set in a simulated bird’s-eye maple, rectangular housing in front of the driver. Heater and air conditioning controls were positioned in the centre of the instrument panel above the radio. Air conditioning vents were generous, rectangular affairs with a special one on the lower lip of the panel for the driver's comfort.
There were almost as many options for Monza as there are seal pups on a spring beach. Some of the more popular extra-cost items were the space-saver spare tire, aluminum wheels, power brakes and variable-ratio power steering, numerous radio packages, a rear seat speaker, lights for the glove compartment, engine bay and a warning signal that headlights were on. Tinted glass, Four-Season air conditioning and the Electro-Clear rear window defogger were offered. Then there were protective body mouldings, door edge guards and dual sport mirrors.
When introduced, the price for the 1 233-kilo (2,720-pound) 2+2 was $3,865. The beefier Monza two-door hatchback weighed in at 1 262 kilos (2,783 pounds) and was pricier with a tag of $4,289. Sales in calendar year 1974 came to 617 units. That figure jumped to 4,090 in calendar year 1975.
|The GM Canada plant in Ste-Therese, Quebec opened in 1966. It will close in 2002.|
Monza was built domestically in Ste-Therese, Quebec, Lordstown, Ohio in the US and the Ramos Arizpe plant in the Mexican state of Coahuila.
Dealers invited consumers to visit bowtie showrooms, check out the new Monza and ‘see why more Canadians buy Chevrolet.’
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