1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 231 V6 from Belgium
I love it, and will never let it go
Sagging headliner after 16 years.
Not related to the car: heavy accident damage after a truck lost its load: hood, fender and roof dented/pierced; windscreen and dash pierced. The heavy build of the car - according to the insurance expert - saved my life.
This was my very first car, bought in '90 - with only 11,000 real kilometers! - from the family of the original owner, who had died barely a year after he got it in early '79. The car had been sitting in a heated garage for almost 11 years, but with some fresh gas and a new battery it started immediately and ran like a charm, even with its original tires, exhaust, radiator, belts and shocks.
The Monte is a dark blue metallic, with light blue velvet interior and chrome wheel covers, and fully loaded (air, auto, cruise control, tinted power windows, power seats,...), EXACTLY as shown in a brochure I found a few years ago. It is one of a very few approved specifically for and sold on the Belgian market, with orange turn signals in the back, a rear fog light and a few other mods.
Upon purchase I immediately gave it an exhaustive rustproofing treatment (it still smells 26 years later...), followed by a lube job and change of all fluids and filters, and the replacement of the AM radio with an AM/FM/cassette player, then drove it on several long trips to Italy and Switzerland.
It is one of the last US cars that look like the prototypical American car: big, heavy, a huge chrome grille, chrome accents, a somewhat vulgar-looking interior (the plush reminds some people of houses of ill repute...). And oh, those voluptuously curved fenders!
The quiet and general comfort inside are incredible. Freezing cold air, almost complete silence up to about 65 MPH/120 KPH, the delicious seats... Everything invites one to take it on a long trip.
The engine, the Buick & Stratton 231 V6, has never failed me in some 100000 kilometers. Yes, it is s-l-o-o-o-w, and on hills it downshifts easily, but thanks to the slippage in the torque converter and decent torque, I could surprise quite some sports cars in the first few yards at a stoplight... Yet, with a calm driving style fuel consumption was around 11 liters per 100 kilometers - not bad at all.
Build quality isn't that great: cheap plastics and carpet, no-so-great panel fit, some underbody parts are bare metal without any paint or rust proofing... Compared to a '79 Mercedes SLC, it really looks cheaply-made, even though it was more expensive (import duties, exchange rate etc.). A typical GM product of that era.
Nothing ever broke down, only normal wear items were replaced: shocks, exhaust, tires, radiator, battery, plugs & wires, bulbs, belts, wipers, cruise actuator (membrane torn), brake pads.
After a bad accident in '93, it took me almost a year and a half to restore it (try finding body parts for such a rare car in Europe! Even GM didn't have most of what I needed anymore). I then continued driving it until 1995, when I moved abroad for my job. Now, 21 years later, it is still sitting in storage, waiting for - one beautiful day(!) - resurrection.
The car always attracted attention, both running and parked. Whenever I took it abroad (in pre-Schengen times), customs officers at every border stopped me, not to check for contraband, but to look over and admire the car! 8^P
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 25th March, 2016
25th Mar 2016, 19:10
"Buick and Stratton 231 V6"?
27th Mar 2016, 03:26
The very definition of "L O L".
Hopefully the non-Briggs-and-Stratton oil pump and timing chain continue holding up ;)
27th Mar 2016, 16:25
Replace the pump with a "Melling" brand high volume. And replace the chain with the cast iron gears to go with it. Those were the week points on this motor. Other than being slow, they were pretty good runners.
10th Apr 2016, 02:57
Words to live by :)