All images are from the brochure collection of Hemmings Motor News
The introduction of the Monte Carlo was perfectly timed with the advent of what author Tom Wolfe termed the “Me Decade.” So-called “personal cars” – those upscale, luxury-themed two-doors that placed an emphasis on image over practicality – had been around forever, but they came into real focus in the 1960s with cars like the Thunderbird, Riviera and Toronado. Pontiac combined the 118-inch sedan wheelbase with a long hood/short deck coupe body to create the dramatic 1969 Grand Prix. Chevrolet borrowed this idea and democractized the personal car, making it accessible to the masses with the stylish and substantial 1970 Monte Carlo.
Considered one of Chevrolet’s most significant historical models, this hardtop was envisioned by GM design executive Dave Holls to sell for roughly $220 more than the mid-sized Chevelle; indeed, it would start at $3,123, or the rough equivalent of today’s $19,080. It was largely based on that bread-and-butter model (but rode on an altered frame), and got its trademark fender styling from designer Terry Henline. As John F. Katz wrote in the September/October 1998 issue of Special Interest Autos, quoting Holls, “The entire design changed very little, from initial sketches all the way to production. ‘We had the front, side and rear laid out to sell it to management, and we never changed it. It went right straight through.'”
Depending on how it was ordered, the 1970 Monte Carlo could be a mild-mannered cruiser or a big-engine bruiser: the optional vinyl top and rear fender skirts suited one equipped with a front bench seat and the base 250 hp/345-lbs.ft., 350-cu.in. V-8 and three-speed manual, while 15 x 7-inch Rally wheels, special instrumentation and a Turbo Hydra-Matic suited a Strato-bucket-equipped, 360 hp/500-lbs.ft., 454-cu.in. SS model. Fifteen Magic-Mirror acrylic lacquer paint finishes, plus five optional vinyl roof colors, were available for true personalization.
This 1970 model year brochure features a subtle, quiet design, and like the car, it emphasizes isolation and comfort over action and power- indeed, in every image, the Monte Carlo is static. Still, it provides a good overview of a model that would become one of Chevrolet’s best-sellers over the next two decades, and one of its most memorable nameplates.
Click on the brochure images below to enlarge.