Archive for the ‘Classic Car Reviews’ Category

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 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!

1970 Pontiac Firebird Review

Pontiac’s second-generation ponycar was a little late for the party in 1970, but it was worth the wait! The 1970 Pontiac Firebird was a completely new design from the ground up, not sharing any major suspension or body components with the previous model. The car was praised by the car magazines for its bold new styling, sports-car like handling, and excellent acceleration abilities when equipped with the right engine. It had been improved immensely over the first generation cars in almost every way.

The 1970 Firebird rode on a 108″ wheelbase, the same as the new Camaro. It was only available as a two door coupe; the convertible had been dropped from the lineup, and would not return as a factory option until 24 years later. The 70 Firebird came with bucket seats, front disc brakes, and a front stabilizer bar. There were four trim levels available: the base Firebird, the Esprit, the Formula, and the Trans Am.

The base car came with a 250 CID inline six cylinder engine and a three-speed manual transmission, but a 255 horsepower Pontiac 350 V8 and an automatic transmission were available options. The Esprit came standard with the same 350 V8 and three speed manual transmission, and an optional automatic transmission was also available. It had stiffer spring rates than the base car

The 1970 Firebird Formula can be easily identified by the dual forward-facing hood scoops, and it came with a 330 horsepower Pontiac 400 V8 (NOW we’re talking!) and a three speed manual transmission. A four speed manual or an automatic transmission were available options. The Formula came with the same springs as the base car, but with heavier duty shocks, a larger diameter front stabilizer bar, and a rear stabilizer bar. It could also be special ordered with the same suspension as the Trans Am, and you could even get a Ram Air III (also called Ram Air HO) 335 HP 400 V8 in it.

The 1970 Trans Am was all about performance. It came with the Ram Air III engine above, but an optional Ram Air IV engine was available that produced 345 (370 according to some sources) horsepower. The base transmission in the Trans Am was a wide ratio Muncie four speed with a Hurst shifter. It came with 15″ wheels, larger front and rear stabilizer bars than the Formula, the stiffer springs from the Esprit, and the heavier-duty shocks from the Formula.

The 1970 Trans Am also had a shaker hood, which means that there was a rear-facing air intake scoop mounted atop the carburetor, and that scoop protruded through an opening in the hood to draw fresh, cool air into the engine. It had front and rear spoilers, and air extractors on both front fenders to allow hot air to escape from the engine compartment. The 70 Trans Am was only available in two color schemes, either white with blue stripes or blue with white stripes.

There were a total of 48,739 Pontiac Firebirds produced in 1970, including only 7,708 Formulas and 3,196 Trans Ams. The Formulas and Trans Ams were excellent performers due to the 400 cubic inch engine, with 0-60 MPH times in the six second range. When you combine the improved handling characteristics of the new platform with the power of the Pontiac 400 engine, the 1970 Pontiac Firebird was one of the best all around musclecars of the era. It is one of my favorite cars of all time.