Wednesday, May 13, 2015

5k: Hearse Lite: 1979 Chevrolet Monza Series II Wagon V8

Like the LeCar, Yugo, and others, the Vega/Monza is the car you love to hate. Some portion of that savage hostility is bandwagon H-body hate, but most is justifiable. After all, they were built during a time when quality control meant that the guy who controlled the assembly plant only read quality MAD Magazines, while the plant workers were probably doing the same, for all we know. Here, with a rare factory V8/manual transmission combo, it's the most fun you can have in one of the worst cars, ever. Find this 1979 Chevrolet Monza Wagon with factory 305 for sale in Phoenix, AZ for $4,900 via craigslist. 

In the late '70s, you could option any Monza with the Iron Duke 4-cylinder (85 hp), a 3.2-liter pushrod V6 (105 horsepower), or this 305 (130-140 horsepower, depending on sources). Any of these power ratings would have seemed grossly optimistic through the original efficiency-minded carburetors and fun-sucking automatic transmission. Fortunately, this one has a 4-barrel Edelbrock unit and shifts through a 4-speed manual.

This one is said to have a recent paint job in dark blue. Over a black and blue cloth interior, the whole ensemble looks like a big bruise the night sky. Besides a few errant wires and a polarizing T-handle shift knob, the interior looks great for its age. The body is fine too, even with the tacky Stingray side-exit exhaust pipes.

In a lightweight (2,800-ish pounds) and responsive car, a little V8 goodnes makes a big difference. Thousands of octane junkies in LS-powered H-bodies can't be wrong! Fold down the rear seats, throw some Hoosiers inside, and roll on over to your nearby drag strip.  

See another surprisingly appealing variant of a terrible car? Email us at

PhiLOL actually likes the tuna here, but abhors structural rust. Save the manuals.


  1. Lets see..........I'll black out the windows, install a T handle shift, some side pipes and a 305, jack up the rear end and put some oversized tires on my.................Vega. Huh?

    1. There were hundreds, maybe thousands, of these done in the late '70s.

      The sidepipes and Centerline aluminum wheels are very 'period'.

  2. I don't think so. The 'Monza' wagon was a Vega and I don't believe they ever put the V8 in that at the factory.

    California Monzas (the real ones) got 350s 'cause the 305 wasn't California-smog certified.

    V8 Vega swaps with the old iron warhead SBC aren't particularly appealing, and the '74-up big-bumper Vegas were just ugly.

    Now, a nicely restored '70-73 Vega with the later torque-arm rear suspension swapped in and any one of half a dozen later GM engines, sure. The Vega was a very pretty shape, still cheap inside but better than the Pinto or many Japanese of the day, had a much better than average chassis, some would argue they were built to rust out in two years but then so was almost everything out of Detroit back then.

    I can see a Northstar, a late Buick 3.8, a 60-degree 3.4, an LNF 2.0 turbo Ecotec, a late Saab B234T with the Ecotec bell, hell even an aluminum LS-motor.

    But the 'traditional' V8 Vega was, for me, an idea that came and went with the '70s.

  3. If you aren't stoned and listening to Foghat while driving this, you are doing it wrong.

    1. I think Lynyrd Skynyrd when I see one like this.


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