Categories: Automotive

1970 Monte Carlo – The First Year

Chevrolet introduced the 1970 Monte Carlo as an answer to the restyled 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix, and to compete with the Ford Thunderbird. Both cars were based on the mid-size GM A-Body platform, and rode on the same 116 inch wheelbase as the four-door Chevelle and the El Camino. The 1970 Monte Carlo was only available as a two-door coupe, and it holds the distinction of having the longest hood ever installed on a Chevrolet! It was billed as a “personal luxury” car, or a “gentleman’s performance” car.

The standard engine was a 250 HP 2-barrel version of the ubiquitous small block 350 CID V8. It could be ordered with a 300 HP 4-barrel 350 small block, a 265 HP 2-barrel 400 CID small block V8, or a 330 HP 4-barrel 402 big block V8 that Chevrolet for some reason marketed as a 400. There was also a Monte Carlo SS version available that came with a 360 HP version of Chevrolet’s brand new big block 454 V8 engine with a stiffer suspension, front disc brakes, and some discreet badging. The SS-454 was a lively performer, with a zero to sixty time of 7.5 seconds. There were reportedly ten cars that year special ordered with the 450HP LS-6 454 engine. The small block equipped cars generally came with the Turbo-Hydramatic 350 transmission, while the big block cars typically had the heavier-duty Turbo-Hydramatic 400.

The base 1970 Monte Carlo weighed in at 3460 lbs, about 200 lbs. more than a comparably-equipped 2-door Chevelle with the shorter 112-inch wheelbase. Many Monte Carlos however, were equipped with more luxury options than the typical Chevelle, such as air conditioning (yes, in 1970, air conditioning was considered a luxury option, unlike today!), power windows, and other items that increased the vehicle weight. Fender skirts were also a popular option.

There were somewhere between 130,000 and 146,000 Monte Carlos produced in 1970, depending on what resource you reference. Only 3,823 of those had the SS-454 package, and those cars are highly sought after today by enthusiasts. The early cars (1970-1972) have an active following, with several clubs and online forums dedicated to them. Since it shared the same platform as the Chevelle, many aftermarket high-performance parts that were designed for the Chevelle will fit the Monte Carlo. Even though it was marketed primarily on the basis of luxury, it became a popular model for stock car racing. Several big names in NASCAR drove Monte Carlos, such as Bobby Allison and Neil Bonnett.

The 1970 Monte Carlo succeeded very well in its original purpose: to compete with the Pontiac Grand Prix and the Ford Thunderbird. There were more 1970 Monte Carlos sold than the Pontiac Grand Prix and the Ford Thunderbird combined! The sculpted body, long front fenders and slight “Coke Bottle” shape made it a muscular-looking, classy car, and to me it is much better looking than the Chevelle. It is one of my favorite body styles; I just wish they had made a 9/10 size version of the car!