It all started for me in 1976 when I decided to buy my first new Monte Carlo. I remember the day I drove it off of the showroom floor. I still have it and it is currently undergoing a restoration. It was repainted the original lime green color. When people see the color, they either really like it or really hate it.
When I met my wife Nancy in 1980, she had just purchased a used 1975 Monte. We became an instant his and her Monte family. The 2 cars looked really good parked in the garage next to each other. She continued to drive her 75 for a number of years and then she started driving my 76. I have a company truck and didn’t need to drive the 76. Shortly after that we gave her 75 to my son to drive as his first car. He literally drove the wheels off of it (broken ball joints) and it was finally retired after 225,000 miles on the original 350 engine (which was still running). We still have it and it is parked next to the 76 in the back yard.
Sometime in the late 80’s, I saw a pretty sharp red 75 Monte in a parking lot. It had the electric sunroof and swivel buckets seats. I stopped and talked to the owner, who proudly proclaimed to be the original owner and that he really loved his car. I gave him one of my business cards and asked him to call me if he ever wanted to sell it. I forgot all about it until one day in April 1992 when I received a call from this guy who started the conversation with “You’re not going to remember me, but…”. It was the original owner of that red 75 Monte in the parking lot and he was finally ready to sell. The car was to be Nancy’s new daily driver.
The restoration started after that. It was a clean Arizona car, so a frame off was not necessary. The underneath of the car was very clean with original primer spots still showing. The original owner had done some ugly things though, like drilling holes into the side of the dash for his CB radio microphone bracket and drilling holes thru the deck lid and frame for the antenna. Needless to say the dash and deck lid were replaced. I also had to replace the radiator core support because he drilled a hole in it to mount a cigarette lighter so he could plug things into it.
I pulled the original small block 400 and 350 Turbo trans for rebuilding. Everything underneath the hood was either replaced with new genuine GM parts or rebuilt. The front end and brakes were also rebuilt. The only part of the car left untouched was the differential. It did have a fluid change.
After the mechanicals were completed, all interior pieces were removed. I then removed all exterior chrome, moldings, lamps, etc and stripped the paint down to bare metal. The car then went to the body shop for repair and new paint. The color was changed from its original factory red to what the body shop called “Hot Rod” red. The car and sunroof were painted with the sunroof assembly off and then both were taken to a nearby American Sunroof dealer for installation & adjustments. The interior was replaced with all black. It was originally red with red plaid insets on the seats and door panels. I found a new dash pad for it still in its original box at a local swap meet. The carpeting was replaced with new aftermarket and the seats and door panels were reupholstered at a local shop.
After the interior was completed, it was time to get the exterior back together. All of the lower, body side, and wheel well moldings were replaced with new pieces. All of the window, door, and trunk weather strips were replaced with new genuine GM rubber. The bumpers were re-chromed. Rally wheels and new tires were installed. The car was ready to come out. The only problem was that after putting all of the time and effort and new parts into it, it really couldn’t be a daily driver. The thought of the car getting beat up in a parking lot at Nancy’s work was too much. She was not happy about that, to say the very least. She did understand and is very supportive of the car.
We have taken it to a few local shows were it does very well. We have also driven it back to 2 NMCOA shows. The first show was in 1997 at Decatur, Illinois. The second show was in 1999 in Louisville, Kentucky. We met some really wonderful people at both shows. We hope again someday to drive it to another NMCOA show, if we could just convince them to move it more central to the Midwest.
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