We aren’t sold on this 1977 Chevrolet Monza because it was a magazine feature car (Super Chevy, May 2015) or because it’s eye-searing orange paint, a Lamborghini color, can be spotted by the folks on the International Space Station. No, this Monza speaks to us because it’s a do-it-all kind of hot rod. What does that mean? Well, view it like this: it’s got the look of a back-halved machine, the build quality of a SEMA show car, the reliability and grunt that comes with an LS-swap, and oddly enough, it’s fuel economy is good enough to advertise.
The Monza’s reputation as a performance car rests upon the racers that campaigned them and the people who realized that a small-block could be shoehorned into the H-body’s engine bay. Originally, they were supposed to sport rotary power in the form of a 3.3L twin-rotor that GM had been working on, but when the fuel economy of the rotary didn’t meet expectations and it became clear that the project was going to face significant delays, GM opted instead to utilize the existing Vega engines. That meant the 140ci four and the 4.3L V6 were in, and if you lived in a high-altitude area or California, you had the option of a strangled 305ci V8. Luckily, during this Monza’s build, an LS2 and T-56 six-speed were shoved in. Which means that not only does the Monza have motivation, but it’s also cranking out as much as 32 MPG on the highway. Even GM, in the middle of the OPEC crises, couldn’t touch that figure!