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The Chevrolet Monza is a subcompact automobile produced by Chevrolet for the 1975–1980 model years. The Monza is based on the Chevrolet Vega, sharing its wheelbase, width and 140-CID (2,300 cc) inline-four engine. The 1975 Monza 2+2 was designed to accommodate the GM-Wankel rotary engine, but due to mediocre fuel-economy and emissions-compliance issues the engine was cancelled, and a fuel-efficient, 4.3-liter & 5.7-liter V8 engine option was substituted.[1] The name was also used for the Latin-American version of the Opel Ascona C.

The Monza 2+2 and Monza Towne Coupe competed with the Ford Mustang II and other sporty coupes.[2] General Motors' H-body variants, the Buick Skyhawk and Oldsmobile Starfire, were produced using the Monza 2+2's body with grille and trim variations and Buick's 3.8 liter V6 engine. The Pontiac Sunbird variant was introduced the following model year, eventually offered in both Monza body styles. The Monza nameplate originated in mid-1960 for the sport version of the Chevrolet Corvair.

History

Origin

The Monza 2+2 debuted as a single-model 2+2 hatchback. The Monza is 4 inches (100 mm) longer and weighs 180 lb (82 kg) more than the Vega from which it is derived.[3] General Motors' John DeLorean nicknamed it the "Italian Vega", citing styling with a strong resemblance to the Ferrari 365 GTC/4.[4]

GM had planned to introduce the GM Wankel rotary engine (licensed from NSU Motorenwerke AG) in the Monza's 1975 model. Rotary issues included mediocre fuel economy compounded at a time of comparatively high fuel prices following the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, and GM canceled the engine (this was the same rotary engine that AMC had planned to source from GM for the 1975 Pacer). Thus, the 1975 Chevrolet Monza was launched carrying a conventional piston engine instead.

Overview

The 1975 Monza 2+2 houses its once-newly approved rectangular headlights and a slot-style grille in a slanted nose made of resilient polyurethane. The side window louvers are functional, part of the flow-through ventilation system. The Monza 2+2's two-door hatchback body style is shared with the Oldsmobile Starfire and Buick Skyhawk.[5] The standard Monza engine was the Vega aluminum-block 140 CID (2.3 liter) inline-four engine with a single barrel carburetor that generates 78 horsepower (58 kW) at 4,200 rpm. Optional was the two-barrel carburetor version that generated 87 horsepower (65 kW) at 4,400 rpm.[3] Chevrolet's new 4.3 liter (262 cid) V8 engine was optional. The smallest V8 ever offered by Chevrolet, it featured a Rochester two-barrel carburetor and generated 110 horsepower (82 kW) at 3,600 rpm. For 1975 only, Monzas sold in California and high altitude areas met the stricter emissions requirement by substituting a version of the 5.7 liter (350 cid) V8 engine with a two-barrel carburetor tuned to just 125 hp (93 kW). The Monza 2+2 and its Buick and Oldsmobile variants feature GM's first use of a torque arm rear suspension, also adopted for the 1975 Cosworth Vega introduced mid-1975, and later, all 1976–1977 Vegas and Pontiac Astres.[6][7][8] The basic design was also incorporated into GM's third and fourth generation F-bodies, the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird.

In April 1975, the Monza Towne Coupe was introduced — a notchback body-style with a conventional trunk featuring different sheetmetal than the 2+2 hatchback, but sharing its windshield and front fenders.[9] It features single round headlamps, instead of the dual rectangular headlamps on the 2+2. The Towne Coupe was offered in response to the sales success of the Ford Mustang II notchback coupe and its luxury version, the Mustang II Ghia. The Towne Coupe is 1.5 inches (38 mm) shorter and 135 pounds (61 kg) lighter than the 2+2 and has slightly more rear head room.

A lower priced "S" version of the 2+2 hatchback was introduced mid-year. It featured as standard the Vega one-barrel engine with a three-speed manual transmission. The sport suspension, full console, sport steering wheel, day/night rear-view mirror and wheel opening moldings were deleted on the "S". The Chevrolet Monza 2+2 won Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year award for 1975.[10]