Certain cars become emblematic of a time and a place, perfectly encapsulating the values, priorities, and obsessions of their eras. For America of the fifties, it’s the 1955–57 Chevrolets and the 1959 Cadillac; for the sixties, the Mini, the Beetle, and the Mustang. For the seventies, we’d make a strong case for the Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Generally reviled by critics, staggeringly popular with the public, and much imitated, the Monte Carlo remains as powerful a symbol of the period as disco balls, platform shoes, and The Brady Bunch. This week, we explore the history of the Monte Carlo and consider the reasons for its immense — and ultimately ephemeral — popularity.
THE BIRTH OF THE PERSONAL CAR
We freely admit that we didn’t really get this one. Spotting a Chevrolet Monte Carlo at a recent car show, our Baby-Boom-generation companions all agreed, with some conviction, that the Monte Carlo was “a really nice car.”
Frankly, it left us scratching our head. We’re well aware, of course, that Chevrolet sold an amazing number of Monte Carlos — close to half a million of the first generation, 1.6 million of the second — so our friends were not alone in their appreciation. That a lot of people loved the Monte is obvious; the question of why is a little more elusive. The Monte Carlo was, as Car and Driver aptly (if rather derisively) characterized it, a dinner-jacketed Chevelle: that is, a perfectly ordinary domestic intermediate dressed up with exaggerated proportions and vaguely neo-Classical ‘formal’ design cues. Not being overly fond of Chevelles to begin with, we were a little puzzled as to why so many people would pay extra for the fancy-dress version.
To understand the Monte Carlo’s rationale, we must first go back to the 1958 model year and Ford’s introduction of the first four-seat Thunderbird. The Square Bird, as its fans have come to know it, inaugurated a new genre of American automobiles, the personal luxury car. (Ford had actually coined the term “personal car” with the launch of the original two-seat Thunderbird in 1955, but the concept didn’t really find its métier until the T-Bird grew a back seat, putting an end to any presumption that it was a sports car.)
What’s a personal luxury car? To answer that requires that we first consider a more basic question: What is a luxury car? If we dispense with the press-booklet arguments about advanced engineering, meticulous craftsmanship, and lavish comfort — all of which are nice, but not strictly necessary — the ultimate aspiration of the luxury car is to make its buyers seem rich and successful whether they actually are or not.
Some buyers, though, are not content with merely looking affluent; they want their possessions to express their taste and distinction (and set them apart from their peers, who are trying to do the same thing). Before the war, the wealthy could always send off their new luxury cars — or even a bare chassis, if they were feeling especially extravagant — for custom coachwork. Such bespoke jobs were for the few and with the Depression and the outbreak of war, the number of buyers who could justify such expense dropped sharply. After the war, European automakers like Alfa Romeo took advantage of a surfeit of underemployed carrozzerie to offer stylish, low-production coupe and convertible versions of their normal sedans. In America, automotive customization became a mostly amateur sport.
In the early fifties, GM offered a couple of stylish, limited-production convertibles, the Cadillac Eldorado, the Buick Skylark, and the Oldsmobile Fiesta, that reflected the growing influence of the “Kalifornia Kustom” movement. The idea of a factory-built car with the flair of a custom job struck a chord, but the GM offerings were labor-intensive to produce and sold in limited numbers for daunting prices. Ford followed them in 1955 with the original Thunderbird, which looked not unlike an attractively shortened, sectioned, and chopped Ford convertible. The Thunderbird was attainably priced, if not cheap, but with only two seats, it was still not a practical proposition for most buyers.
Ford finally put all the pieces together with the Square Bird. In four-seat hardtop form, the Thunderbird was reasonably practical, but it was in no danger of being mistaken for a mundane sedan. It was cheap enough to put it within the reach of middle-class buyers, but not so cheap as to seem common. Moreover, while the Thunderbird’s odd mix of formal roof and sports car design cues failed to impress purists, it successfully bridged a wide array of tastes. The Square Bird quickly outsold its sportier predecessor and became a lucrative profit-maker for Ford. Within a remarkably short time, it became a clearly established brand even with the critics who decried its so-so performance and extravagant styling.
During this period, Ford and General Motors — and most particularly Ford and Chevrolet — were engaged in open war. Their battle for supremacy resulted in continual one-upmanship and aggressive sales tactics, which hastened the demise of many of the beleaguered independent automakers. Any move by one side was frequently met by a hasty counter-move by the other.
Curiously, however, Chevrolet consistently lagged behind Ford in product development. It took Chevrolet two years to respond to the Ford Ranchero car/pickup, two years to respond to the intermediate Fairlane, and two and a half years to respond to the Mustang. In the case of the Thunderbird, Chevy almost didn’t respond at all. GM began making tentative stabs in the four-seat ‘bird’s direction from 1961 to 1963 with the Oldsmobile Starfire, Pontiac Grand Prix, and the Buick Riviera, but Chevrolet had nothing to offer.
The reason, curiously, was that the Chevrolet organization didn’t want to play. Then-general manager Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen could have had the design that became the Buick Riviera, but rejected it on the grounds that Chevrolet already had too many cars. Moreover, while Chevrolet dealers undoubtedly wanted a Thunderbird rival, the division’s sales organization, then led by Lee Mays, didn’t see the point. Mays, an extremely conservative man who likely bore considerable responsibility for the Chevrolet’s rather dated advertising and marketing of the mid-sixties, was stubbornly resistant to what were then known as “specialty cars.” (In this, he was not alone within GM; Pontiac sales manager Frank Bridge resisted the GTO for very similar reasons.) Chevrolet dealers became increasingly frustrated that the division seemed out of step with market trends, but Mays remained unmoved. Knudsen could not have been pleased with that, but he had his sights set on upper management and probably preferred not to antagonize the well-connected Mays.
By 1967, however, Chevrolet was under new management. Pete Estes, the dynamic general manager of Pontiac, replaced Bunkie Knudsen as general manager in July 1965. Estes, who had made Pontiac No. 3 in the industry, was under considerable pressure to improve Chevrolet’s market share and profit margins, which had been slipping badly. He was also more conscious than many GM executives of the value of high-profit image leaders.
Estes and Dave Holls, then group chief designer for Chevrolet cars and trucks, were well aware of the Thunderbird and of the growing popularity of coupes in general. In the mid-sixties, two-door hardtops were the most popular models of most lines, even the family cars. The most popular car in America in the late sixties, by a substantial margin, was the Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe. Furthermore, by 1967, Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and even Cadillac all had big, stylish personal coupes, each acclaimed for its dynamic styling. Chevrolet had the Camaro and Corvette, of course, but those appealed to a different audience, as did the intermediate Chevelle SS.
Holls and Estes concurred that there would be a market for a stylish ‘personal’ Chevrolet, especially if it were reasonably priced. The problem was that the division’s tooling budget was already stretched thin. While Chevrolet had deep pockets, it also had an abundance of products and more than two dozen different models. As Bunkie Knudsen had told Bill Mitchell six years earlier, it appeared that the last thing the division needed was another car.
THE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX
In the spring of 1967, Pontiac product planning chief Ben Harrison proposed a radical revamp of that division’s personal luxury car, the Grand Prix. The Grand Prix had previously been based on the B-body (used by the Pontiac Catalina and full-sized Chevrolets), but its sales had slumped badly and Pontiac general manager John DeLorean was seriously considering axing it.
Harrison suggested moving the Grand Prix to the intermediate A-body instead, albeit using the long-wheelbase chassis of the sedan rather than the shorter wheelbase of the two-door coupes. Pontiac design chief Jack Humbert and designer Wayne Vieira developed an aggressive-looking coupe with a very long hood, a short deck, and a formal-looking roof with broad sail panels. It would share much of its structure with the intermediate Le Mans, but it looked distinctly different.
DeLorean loved the design, but the tooling costs of the new roof were a stretch for his 1969 budget. However, DeLorean presented the “A-Special” concept to Estes — who had been DeLorean’s boss at Pontiac — who agreed to split the tooling costs for the additional panel in exchange for allowing Chevrolet to use the same roof starting in 1970.
DESIGN OF THE MONTE CARLO
The design Dave Holls selected for Chevrolet’s “G-car” (as the Grand Prix was known internally) was the work of a young designer named Terry R. Henline. Henline had made an impression at GM while still in high school through his participation in the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild Model Car Contest, a program sponsored by GM’s Fisher Body division from 1930 through 1968. About one-third of the Craftsman’s Guild participants went on to careers in the auto industry, including Bob Cadaret (who designed the 1956 Corvette), Virgil Exner Jr., and future GM styling VP Chuck Jordan. Henline, a finalist in both 1957 and 1958, joined GM Styling in 1961 and by 1967 was part of the Chevrolet studio under Dave Holls.
Taking the Cadillac Eldorado as a loose conceptual starting point, Henline’s design had bulging, flared fenders that evoked the separate fenders of prewar cars. Those fenders ended in sharply pointed caps, which at the rear incorporated thin, inset taillights and a “floating” bumper. The jutting grille, inspired by Rolls-Royce, was offset by single headlamps rather than the quad lamps of the Chevelle and other contemporary GM cars. Henline’s G-car rendering was enthusiastically received by Pete Estes and Styling VP Bill Mitchell and the full-size clay was subsequently approved for production.
The Chevrolet Monte Carlo’s design was criticized by some contemporary reviewers as too retrograde, but it was in keeping with a broader trend to more formal — and decidedly more ornate — design. As the Monte Carlo’s commercial success made clear, the American public responded to that idiom with enthusiasm. The Monte Carlo would become one of the most profitable cars Chevrolet had yet introduced, a thorough validation of Estes’ and Holls’ original concept.
The main reason the Monte Carlo was so profitable for Chevrolet was that it had a great deal in common with the A-body Chevelle/Malibu intermediates. In fact, the Monte Carlo differed from the Chevelle only in its front clip, rear fenders, sail panels, and outer doors. Even the upper roof panel was shared with the Chevelle hardtop.
The dashboard was cribbed from the Chevelle as well, but to make it seem more like a luxury car, Chevrolet interior designers covered with woodgrain appliqué, allegedly a photostatic copy of the burled-elm trim of the contemporary Rolls-Royce. While bucket seats had always been part of the Ford Thunderbird’s image, the Monte Carlo came standard with a bench seat in front, mostly to keep the price down; buckets were a $121 option. The Monte Carlo did have somewhat nicer upholstery than the Chevelle, however, offering slick nylon, vinyl, or a combination of the two in a variety of color schemes.
Mechanically, the Monte Carlo was almost pure Chevelle. The Monte’s base suspension was slightly stiffer to account for the extra weight of the longer nose, but extra sound insulation made the ride seem smoother than that of the Monte’s A-body siblings. Monte Carlos also had standard front disc brakes, which still cost extra on most Chevelles. The engine lineup, too, was similar to that of the A-body line, although the Monte’s base engine was a 350 cu. in. (5,733 cc) V8 with a two-barrel carburetor, a $26.35 option on V8 Chevelles.
The upside to all this parts-bin engineering was a reasonable price tag. Starting price for the 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo was $3,123, about $200 more than a similarly equipped Malibu hardtop. With automatic transmission, power steering, and radio — almost always ordered — most Monte Carlos listed for at least $3,600 and a loaded SS454 could approach a hefty $5,500. On the other hand, the Ford Thunderbird, which had its own body and chassis, shared only with the Lincoln Continental Mark III, started at around $5,000 and seldom went out the door for less than $6,000. Pontiac’s Grand Prix, meanwhile, started at just under $4,000. In short, not only did Chevrolet finally have a personal luxury coupe of its own, it was the cheapest car in its segment.
Monte Carlo sales were robust from the beginning. A telling sign of the demand was the fact that dealer discounts were often hard to come by — a rarity for any American car of the time, much less a Chevrolet. Sales remained strong in 1971 despite production lost to a protracted UAW strike and climbed nearly 50% for 1972.
THE CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS454
Contrary to the assumptions of some modern enthusiasts, the Monte Carlo was not a muscle car and Chevrolet didn’t market it as one. The Monte Carlo was not really aimed at the separate and rapidly diminishing performance market, which had been hit hard by high insurance costs.
The sole exception was the SS454 package offered on the Monte Carlo in 1970 and 1971. The option was not particularly successful, finding fewer than 6,000 buyers in two years. We suspect that the mandatory big engine had a lot to do with that — the SS454 had ample performance, but was no match for the hottest contemporary Supercars (largely because it weighed about 150 pounds (68 kg) more than a comparably equipped Chevelle), it was thirsty, and it was pricey to insure. The SS option might have done better if it had been offered with more engine choices — about half of all Monte Carlo buyers were content with the mild-mannered base engine.
The Monte Carlo’s main enticement was not performance, but the fact that it looked and felt more expensive than it was. Furthermore, however many pieces it shared with the Chevelle under the skin, the Monte Carlo didn’t look like a Chevelle and its higher price brought a quieter, better-trimmed interior. For customers who aspired to a Thunderbird, but couldn’t afford even a Grand Prix, the Monte Carlo was just the ticket.
DESIGNING THE 1973 CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
The second-generation Chevrolet Monte Carlo was originally supposed to bow for 1972, along with the next-generation A-bodies, but the lengthy UAW strike in the fall of 1970 delayed it for a full year. It finally appeared in late 1972 as a ’73 model.
While the design of the first-generation Monte Carlo was largely the work of one designer, the second generation was a team effort, led by Chevrolet Assistant Chief Designer Dave Clark. For the revamped Monte, the designers took the original’s flared-fender, formal-roof themes to new and exaggerated extremes. The front end, the work of designer Charles Stewart, still had round headlights, but they were now carried in Jaguar-like blisters that extended back into the heroically long hood. The previous car’s fender bulges now swept dramatically into the doors, reminiscent of the “suitcase fenders” of GM’s early-forties cars.
A new feature, shared with the other G-cars, was a small, fixed “opera window” on either sail panel. The origins of the opera window are somewhat obscure. Irv Rybicki, who later became GM’s Styling VP, later said they originated with the Monte Carlo design team at Chevrolet, which may have been correct, although even some of the designers involved are no longer certain. In any case, the windows first saw the light of day on the 1971 Cadillac Eldorado hardtop. Although the idea for the opera windows came from Chevrolet, Ribicki convinced Ed Cole and Bill Mitchell to offer the windows on the Cadillac first, judging that doing so would then serve to boost the image of the intermediates. Ribicki was correct; although critics generally abhorred the opera windows, buyers loved them and they and subsequently appeared on a wide array of mid-seventies cars.
EUROPEAN, NOT CONTINENTAL
Like the original, the second-generation Chevrolet Monte Carlo won management approval with minimal changes, thanks in part to Rybicki’s dramatic presentation of the beautifully finished black-and-silver model to John DeLorean and a group of visiting senior executives as they toured the styling studios one afternoon. The ensuing applause ensured DeLorean’s immediate approval of the unmodified design.
While DeLorean asked for no tinkering with the exterior design of the new Monte Carlo, he called for a complete overhaul of its suspension. DeLorean was enamored of European luxury cars like Mercedes, with their firmer damping and sharper steering response. Detroit had always resisted the Mercedes approach out of a near-religious conviction that a cloud-like ride and effortless steering would sell more cars than confident handling, but DeLorean was determined to give the new Monte better road manners — an interesting choice considering the car’s not exactly sporting bent.
At DeLorean’s insistence, Chevrolet engineers retuned both the suspension and steering, adding radial tires and a rear anti-roll bar. The changes were modest, but they eliminated much of the first-generation Monte Carlo’s ride float and numb steering. Complaints from Chevrolet cost accountants meant that the radials and rear anti-roll bar were limited to the pricier Monte Carlo S and Landau models, but it barely mattered since the base model was selected by only a relative handful of buyers.
GOING FOR BAROQUE
DeLorean was promoted to group vice president of the Car and Truck Group in October 1972, but his instincts regarding the Chevrolet Monte Carlo were quickly validated. Although the enthusiast press was generally aghast at the new Monte’s exterior design, they admitted that the ride and steering feel were much improved. No one claimed that the Monte Carlo was a sports car, but its body control was now quite respectable for a Detroit product and a vast improvement over its soggy predecessor.
Customers, meanwhile, adored the Monte Carlo’s new look. As for the handling, if the firmer ride did not necessarily move buyers, they were not dissuaded by it either, snapping up 290,693 Monte Carlos the first year and more than 312,000 the second, outselling Chevrolet’s cheaper Malibu Colonnade coupes by nearly 2 to 1. Business slumped a bit in the 1975 model year, reflecting buyer unease following the 1973-74 OPEC oil embargo, but sales climbed to more than 353,000 for 1976.
The Monte Carlo’s continuing success was in spite of inflationary pricing, which took the base price from $3,415 in 1973 to nearly $5,000 in 1977. By then, the gap between the Malibu and the Monte Carlo had grown from around $200 to more than $700. Nevertheless, a whopping 411,038 Monte Carlos rolled out the door for 1977, about 25% more than the combined sales of all of Chevrolet’s other 1977 intermediates. The comparison suggests that many customers were simply buying Monte Carlos instead of Chevelles or Malibus, accepting the higher price for the Monte Carlo’s flashier styling.
The Monte Carlo’s image also benefited from its domination of stock car racing during this period. Chevrolet Monte Carlos claimed the NASCAR Manufacturers Championship for Chevrolet seven times between 1972 and 1979. The connection between the racers and the street cars was tenuous — by 1976, many civilian Montes had an anemic 305 cu. in. (4,999 cc) V8 with only 140 net horsepower (104 kW) — but with gasoline and insurance still expensive, raw performance was not a high priority for most contemporary buyers. Strong sales of the increasingly flabby Corvette, Camaro, and Firebird make clear that looking fast was a greater priority to mid-seventies buyers than actually being fast.
Style, of course, was the Monte Carlo’s raison d’être. Overwrought though it may have been, the Monte Carlo’s considerable visual extravagance remained hugely popular, an aesthetic reflected in not only the Monte and its G-car cousins, but also the contemporary Dodge Charger, Ford Torino Elite, and Mercury Cougar, as well as the new Chrysler Cordoba (which adopted its own version of the Monte Carlo’s front-end theme).
By the late seventies, though, the Monte Carlo was clearly the leader of the pack, eclipsing even the Thunderbird. Perhaps the most dramatic evidence of its influence came in 1977, when Ford transferred the Thunderbird name to the midsize LTD II line (replacing the lackluster Torino Elite) and cut its base price to within $100 of the Monte. Thunderbird sales sextupled, although they still fell shy of the Monte Carlo by around 90,000 units.
THE 1978-1988 MONTE CARLO
The Chevrolet Monte Carlo was downsized in 1978 along with the rest of GM’s A-body intermediates. It now rode a 108.1-inch (2,746mm) wheelbase and was 13 inches (330 mm) shorter and some 700 pounds (318 kg) lighter than before. Although it retained the basic design themes of its predecessor, it was marginally more restrained in both size and décor.
The shrunken Monte Carlo sold strongly at first — nearly 360,000 units in the first year, 317,000 the second — but then dropped by half in 1980, a decline that a 1981 facelift only partly redressed. Bob Lund, who had become Chevrolet’s general manager in December 1974, tried to steer the Monte Carlo in a sportier direction, adding a new SS model and later a semi-fastback Aero Coupe for NASCAR homologation purposes, but annual sales never again topped 200,000 units. The G-cars (including the Buick Regal Grand Nationals) were profitable enough to survive until 1988, six years after the rest of the A-body intermediates switched to front-wheel drive, but by 1987–88, sales were fading rapidly.
The Monte Carlo name lay fallow until 1995, when Chevy resurrected it for a rather ordinary front-drive coupe based on the W-body Lumina. Although it was wholly undistinguished — and largely ignored by the automotive press — it managed to survive the collapse of the big-coupe market in the nineties, which claimed even the venerable Thunderbird. The FWD Monte Carlo sold well enough to earn a rather heavy-handed restyling for 2000 and an optional V8 engine for 2006, finally expiring at the end of the 2007 model year. Sales hovered around 70,000 units for a while — the peak was 2001, with 72,596 — but by the end, the Monte had become a niche item appealing mostly to old-school Chevy fans.
SIGN OF ITS TIMES
The Chevrolet Monte Carlo neatly encapsulates the two great themes of mid-seventies American culture: hedonism and ostentation. The seventies were not a particularly happy or pleasant time for America, with a shaky economy, rampant inflation, and the lingering malaise of Watergate, Vietnam, and the energy crisis. That gloomy climate created a bull market for symbols of opulence and the Monte Carlo in its heyday was certainly that. It’s difficult to resist the parallel with Tony Manero, John Travolta’s character in Saturday Night Fever: a working-class guy struggling to transcend his roots through sheer flamboyance.
The Monte Carlo’s popularity makes much more sense when considered in the context of its time. In the mid-seventies, the choices available to a new-car buyer looking for style and distinction were not abundant. There were the F-bodies (Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird/Trans Am), but their minuscule passenger and cargo space made them impractical for many customers. The same was true of the Corvette and the Datsun Z-car, whose prices were a long stretch for a working-class breadwinner in any case. There was the Pinto-based Ford Mustang II, which also sold well, and a host of tape-stripe pseudo-performance models like the latter-day Oldsmobile 442. For would-be urban cowboys, there was also an assortment of pick-up trucks and sport-utility vehicles like the Ford Bronco or the Monte Carlo’s coupe-pickup cousin, the Chevrolet El Camino. The high-end imported cars so beloved of the automotive press were out of reach for the masses, while most low-end imports were frugal and utilitarian, not stylish. It’s little wonder, then, that so many customers ended up with 48-month notes on personal luxury coupes like the Monte Carlo.
In the eighties and nineties, the market for cars like the Chevrolet Monte Carlo did not so much disappear as disintegrate, divided amongst smaller sporty coupes, symbols of Yuppie affluence like the BMW 3-series and a number of increasingly posh middle-class imports. A buyer looking for automotive distinction had a much broader array of choices in 1985 than in 1975 and the personal luxury cars enjoyed an ever-smaller share of that business.
All of the traditional American personal-luxury nameplates are dead now. While some of them may reemerge sooner or later (we’re confident there will eventually be another Thunderbird), we’re not sure that they will ever again be as iconic. There will be image cars for as long as the automobile survives, but the market has become even more balkanized than it was in the eighties. Modern customers presume a broad range of choices, from “cute utes” to fashion statements like the smart fortwo and MINI.
We wonder what future generations will consider the leading automotive icons of our era (our money is on the Toyota Prius). Whether those icons will be remembered with nostalgia or faint embarrassment is harder to say. Perhaps, like the Monte Carlo, it’ll be a little bit of both.
Terry Henline, lead designer of the original Chevrolet Monte Carlo, went on to a long and successful GM career, including 17 years as chief designer for Pontiac and a stint as head of design for HUMMER. He retired in 2001. Designer Dave Holls eventually became design director for General Motors under Chuck Jordan. Holls, who later coauthored A Century of Automotive Styling with Michael Lamm, died on June 16, 2000. E.M. Pete Estes, general manager of Chevrolet when the Monte Carlo was conceived, became a GM director and executive vice president of the Operations Staff in October 1972, and served as GM president from 1974 to 1981. He died in 1988. John DeLorean, who shepherded the Monte Carlo through its launch and oversaw development of the hugely popular second-generation, became group executive of the Car and Truck Group in October 1972, but resigned from General Motors on April 2, 1973. He later founded his own company, DeLorean Motor Company, which ended up in receivership, leading to his infamous cocaine trafficking charges in 1982 (of which he was acquitted in 1984). DeLorean died in 2005.
Our sources on the development of the first-generation Monte Carlo included John Katz, “1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo: Grand Illusion,” Special Interest Autos #167 (September-October 1998), reprinted in The Hemmings Book of Postwar Chevrolets: driveReports from Special Interest Autos magazine, ed. Terry Ehrich (Bennington, VT: Hemmings Motor News, 2001); Robert C. Ackerson and Beverly Rae Kimes, Chevrolet: A History from 1911, Second Edition (Automobile Quarterly, 1986); Robert Genat and David Newhardt, Chevy SS: 50 Years of Super Sport (St. Paul MN: MBI Publishing Company LLC/Motorbooks, 2007); John L. Jacobus, The Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild: An Illustrated History (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2005), and the author’s associated website (www.fisherguild. com, accessed 16 September 2009); and a brief phone conversation with Terry Henline on 1 October 2009. Jim Wangers clarified the relationship between the Pontiac Grand Prix and the Monte Carlo in a phone conversation with the author on 18 September 2009. We subsequently amended the text based on a comment from former Pontiac product planning chief Ben Harrison on 15 February 2010.
Some information on John DeLorean’s days at Chevrolet, including his confrontations with Lee Mays and Chevy’s angry dealer body, came from J. Patrick Wright, On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors: John Z. DeLorean’s Look Inside the Automotive Giant (Chicago, IL: Avon Books, 1980). Irv Rybicki’s perspective on the development of the second-generation Monte Carlo came from his 1985 interview with Dave Crippen of the Benson Ford Research Center (David R. Crippen, “The Reminiscences of Irvin W. Rybicki,” 27 June 1985, Automotive Design Oral History Project, Accession 1673, The Benson Ford Research Center, www.autolife.umd.umich. edu/Design/ Rybicki_interview.htm [transcript], accessed 30 September 2009). The recollections of designers Bill Porter, Leo Casillo, and Charles Stewart were provided in email correspondence with the author and designer Gary Smith of Dean’s Garage between 1 October and 7 October 2009, as well as George Mattar, “New Frontier,” Hemmings Muscle Machines November 2005.
We also consulted “Car Life Road Test: Monte Carlo SS454,” Car Life February 1970, reprinted in Chevrolet Muscle Cars 1966-1971 (Brooklands Road Test Books), ed. R.M. Clarke (Cobham, England: Brooklands Books Ltd., ca. 1990); “Preview Test: Chevrolet Monte Carlo,” Car and Driver Vol. 18, No. 3 (September 1972), pp. 30-32, 80, which coined the term “Grosse Pointe Gothic”; “Chevrolet Monte Carlo,” Road & Track Vol. 24, No. 10 (June 1973), pp. 150-152; the Chevrolet brochure “1973 Monte Carlo” (No. 2225, September 1972); and Terry Cook, “Chevrolet Monte Carlo: Still a bonbon for the masses but now with twenty percent fewer calories,” Car and Driver Vol. 24, No. 1 (January 1978), pp. 70-74. Some additional information came from Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, Encyclopedia of American Cars: Over 65 Years of Automotive History (Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International, 1996), the Old Car Brochures website, oldcarbrochures.org; the Chevrolet Monte Carlo Wikipedia® page (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Monte_Carlo, last accessed 30 September 2010). Production figures are primarily from the Productioncars.com Book of Automobile Production and Sales Figures, 1945-2005 (Np: Productioncars.com, 2006).
The film Saturday Night Fever was produced by Robert Stigwood, directed by John Badham, and written by Norman Wexler from a magazine article by Nik Cohn. The film was released by Paramount Pictures in 1977.