By William R. Spence
To say this Monza was made by monkeys is an insult to monkeys.
I purchased a 1977 Monza with the same V8. Why a V8 for a smallish car? The Monza was to receive the new GM designed rotary engine. Unfortunately, after many millions of dollars in design and testing, the rotary could not pass the new emissions standards. So GM had a chassis and no engine. GM hurriedly found two engines to dump into the Monza. The first Monza I drove had a 4-cylinder. I don’t remember what size of engine; however, this gutless car couldn’t get out of its own way. To drive 55 mph the throttle had to be floored. The next and only other engine available was the V8 that was shoehorned into the car. There was no V6 available that year.
If you think changing oil was an adventure - I had to build special tools, which I still have, to change the oil - you should have tried to change spark plugs! The power steering version of the Monza had to have the engine mounts loosened and the engine physically moved to get to cylinder 8. Six of the eight plugs were relatively easy to replace; the seventh took a little time; however, I used about $200 of Sears Craftsman tools, extensions, couplers, adaptors, and about thirty minutes of time to remove and replace that eighth plug.
Then there was the clutch. Rube Goldberg was alive and well back then and designing clutch cable routings for GM. The clutch cable for my 5-speed manual transmission kept stretching and breaking. I had that car for near ten years (I still don’t know why) and replaced a clutch cable about every year. This misery added to the memories of a sticking gas gauge and sticking high-beam switch led me to buy my first import. When I dumped my Monza, I purchased a Toyota 4×4 truck. The first check I made was to note the location of the oil filter and the spark plugs. I could change the oil and spark plugs in the Toyota in less than 35 minutes. It took 35 minutes for me to assemble the tools necessary to start the oil and plug change in the Monza.
Now, when that Monza worked it flew down the interstate.
I had that Toyota truck for 22 years. The most expensive item replaced was the muffler - ninety-dollars and about forty-five minutes of work. The truck’s replacement is a Honda Pilot. I wouldn’t take any GM vehicle for a gift.