What makes a machine “amazing”? Is it sheer power? Timeless looks? Almost universal approval? Perhaps, but I think, even moreso than any of those by themselves is when everything comes together just right.
A turbocharged Civic Type R is in its element on a race track where it can carve corners and stretch its legs on the straights—but it’s a small, relatively bouncy car in rush hour traffic on the way to work.
A Quigly 4×4 Econoline is in its element conquering almost everything in its path as it delivers all the comforts of home to secluded campsites in the wilderness—but it’s a bit cumbersome in the city.
There’s more to it than that, of course. And I’ll admit I don’t have any hard or fast rules for what is and is not an “amazing” machine. Most of the time, I start by looking for something interesting, then drill down into the hashtags until I find something that speaks to me.
Today we have a 1972 Chevy Monte Carlo that spoke to me. I wasn’t even looking for this generation Monte, but when this one crossed the screen, I knew I had to reach out. The more you look at it, the better it gets. It’s a big, black, badass packing more than a few pleasant surprises.
It’s an amazing machine!
[tgp] Introductions: My understanding is you live in New Mexico and have an absolutely sinister Monte Carlo. Is that correct? Anything else you’d like to mention?
[JS] Yes, that is correct. I’ve owed the car for eight years and daily drove it in high school. It is a little different now—under the hood is a 6.0L LS with a ProCharger. Behind that is a 4L80E transmission.
On Monte Carlos
[tgp] The most important automotive opinions are those of real, actual owners. As a Monte Carlo owner, could you share a little unvarnished truth with the rest of us? What do you love about them? What do you not love about them?
[JS] The thing that I think everyone loves about the Monte Carlo is the body lines. Especially the quarter panels. There’s really no car with the same design. I first saw one in Tokyo Drift and knew I had to have one some day. There’s not much that I don’t like about the car, but the biggest issue is the turn radius. These cars definitely aren’t made to set lap records.
[tgp] “A-Special”, A-body, G-body. Monte Carlo, Grand Prix, Cutlass… could you illuminate us with which might be best for whom and why? Any in particular to stay away from or whatever? Just thinking about the early evolution of the platform.
[JS] A-bodies are definitely the ones you want to get your hands on. No matter what the model is. They are built solid and there’s countless ways to build them. I’m not too familiar with G-bodies, but I know they weren’t built as tough as the older models. With that being said, I have always wanted a Grand National too. I would just say do your research and see which best suits your interest.
[tgp] How did you end up in this camp? Why have you stuck around as long as you have?
[JS] Like I mentioned earlier, I first saw a Monte in Tokyo Drift. That scene showed a Monte beat a Viper so, as a kid, I figured they all must be faster than Vipers. I soon learned that’s not the case, but that scene showed me the potential these cars have. That’s why I’ve stuck around so long. There’s never a dull moment driving this car. You can’t leave a gas station without at least one person asking about it.
The Monte Carlo Community
[tgp] How’s the Monte Carlo community doing these days? Where do y’all hangout, share tech, and whatnot?
[JS] The Monte community is actually pretty strong. There are tons of nice builds on Instagram. From what I’ve seen, Northern California has the most. I try to learn from those guys online as much as I can. It’s cool to see what they do to their cars and that gives you ideas on what to do with yours next. Unfortunately, where I live, there are only a few Montes that I know of and I don’t personally know the owners.
This Gearhead Life
[tgp] When you think about automotive culture in general, what stands out as being the biggest issue we should be working on together? What’s your biggest concern and what should we be doing about it?
[JS] The biggest issue that I see is people not respecting each other’s builds. We need to remember that people all have different taste and we’re all on different stages of our automotive journeys. I would suggest that next time you’re at a car meet, go up to the owner of a car that you’re not particularly familiar with and ask them questions about it. Maybe you’ll leave wanting one as well. At the end of the day, we all share the same interest.
[tgp] Who’s made the biggest difference in your life with cars? How so?
[JS] My dad, definitely. I grew up riding in his ‘66 Mustang and that’s where the love for cars was born. We built my car together, so I credit all my car knowledge to him. This is a hobby and skill that now I can pass down to my future kids.
The world was simpler back in 1972. Cars have come a LONG way since then. Much a 2020 Toyota Camry would likely smoke a box-stock 1972 Monte Carlo in every conceivable performance metric—they’re two completely different machines. Which is to say that, if you’re just looking at numbers, you’re missing out.
The Monster Carlo was built for cruising. It shows up ready to rumble. With its supercharged 6-liter LS and heavy duty 4L80E, this machine no doubt puts a smile on every face lucky enough to take a seat between those big, steel doors.
Monte Carlos are probably one of the more memorable machines out of Detroit. They’re timeless classics. I like all the subtle ways this one comes together. What do you think?