Nut Driver: My Monte Is Now A FORD (Found On Road Dead) Thanks To A Broken Transmission

Nut Driver: My Monte Is Now A FORD (Found On Road Dead) Thanks To A Broken Transmission

[“Nut Driver” features updates on Dave Nutting’s daily driver 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo]
Before continuing on, if you want to catch up on the other installments click HERE.

It’s 1:59 AM Eastern as I write this update while my car currently sits in a driveway, inoperable.

Now that we have the ending out of the way, let’s jump back a bit in time, say nine hours or so, to where this saga all began with a seemingly ordinary attempt to merge onto the highway.

Admittedly it wasn’t a very aggressive attempt, as anything past 3/4 throttle in a G-body equipped with a wheezing 144,000 mile 150 horsepower 5.0L and 2.41 peg leg is really just creating noise. The small thump once I hit 55 didn’t give me much pause, but you better believe the sudden lack of forward acceleration did. “Hey, maybe the transmission shifted into neutral”, I thought, giving it an optimistic rev and shift into third.

Nope, turns out that my aged 2004R had turned into a two-speed: Neutral and Park.

Spotting a full service rest stop half a mile ahead, I prayed to the Gods of all things RWD and full-framed, threw on my hazards, and revved up the motor to keep forward momentum up. Vin Diesel may have lived a quarter mile at a time, but I lived for that half mile.

Sure, I could have left the car stranded on the highway, but I’ve always joked with my friends that anyone that causes a traffic jam during rush hour should have their license revoked, and besides I hadn’t washed the car in a while so it wasn’t prepared for the spotlight of the Evening News traffic report.

So here I found myself, stranded at a highway rest stop, across from a small pickup of questionable appearance with Maine plates and an even more questionable occupant that was staring down the guy in the old Chevy (Me) that was busy crawling around under the car trying to figure out the answer to “What the heck happened?”.

I had a few options for what to do next: Call my wife, who had the AAA card? Call my buddy that may have access to a tow truck? Both good decisions, but instead I called Lohnes.

The below may not be 100% accurate dialog, but it’s the closest I can recall.

Nutting: “Hey man, it’s Dave
Brian: “Who is this, and how did you get my number?
Nutting: “Uh, Dave. Nutting
Brian: ::silence::
Nutting: “Hello? Anywho, the inevitable happened and this car finally left me stranded
Brian: ::Laughter, followed by a dial tone::

Brian might have also included some solid advice about checking the shifter linkage and TV cable, but unfortunately both of those checked out fine.

At this point the Monte would only idle forward if I held the RPMs up and laughed at me if I attempted reverse. Yep, time for a tow.

Fast forwarding a bit, my wife and my buddy Dundy show up with her triple AAA card, which I used to call for a tow truck. Being told that it would be “up to a three hour wait”, we settled down for a few Big Macs at the rest stop McDonalds while waiting for our broken Chevy to be carted home. Is there anything more American than that?

Well, three hours turned five thanks to a call informing us that the tow scheduled to be there by 9:30 would now be there “by 11:30”. No word on if that was AM or PM as the lady hung up on me before I could ask the question.

11:45 PM rolled around, at which point a call back to AAA resulted in the revelation that “The truck scheduled to pick you up got stuck in the snow” and “The best advice I can give you is to leave the car for the night and come back in the morning”.

With my marriage in shambles at this point, only saved by a last ditch offering of a large bag of Sour Patch kids, Dundy talked me out of giving the car away to our new friend in the aforementioned pickup truck “Creepy Jack”, who faithfully stared us down for hours while chain smoking some hand-rolled “cigarettes”, and instead to call up a private tow company from a few towns over, Negoshian’s Towing.

This was the best decision of the day, as the guys there were able to get a flatbed to me within fifteen minutes and the driver, Jeff was a gearhead to boot! Jeff is a moderator over at, so I figured he had to be alright, even if he did have a fascination with F-bodies that rivaled my obsession with G-bodies. Turns out that Jeff was also relieved to find out that the Monte he came to tow wasn’t “Some clapped out G-body that the owner picked up in high school and never took care of” (Jeff was in luck as I left my SS in the garage that day).

30 minutes later, the Monte was dropped off and paid for, ready for next steps. The thing is, I have no idea what those next steps should be.

– Should I go the quick and dirty route and pull the 2004R out of the SS in a mad thrash to get this Monte back on the road?
– Should I just have the 2004R currently in the car rebuilt?
– Suck it up and admit that after almost a year and a half and 20,000 miles I need a “more reliable” daily driver for the winter?

Keep in mind that I have a 5.3L LS motor waiting to be swapped in and autocross season starting in April.

Looks like it’s going to be an interesting weekend’s worth of decisions.


[Quick Update: A rep from AAA contacted me to apologize for last night’s events. Considering the absolute mess of a condition that most of the roads in MA are in at the moment, it’s fair to give them a little leeway and I appreciate them caring enough to reach out to help correct what happened.]

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29 thoughts on “Nut Driver: My Monte Is Now A FORD (Found On Road Dead) Thanks To A Broken Transmission

  1. starterguy

    Actually it’s “First On Race Day” where your chevy was dead on the side of the road “Like a Rock” 🙂

  2. tigeraid

    Because I’m planning on trying the “old manual transmission on the back of an LS” mod, I suggest you do the same! 😉

  3. Scott Liggett

    I can’t answer what you should do as I am not in your shoes and do not know your priorities. Driving the SS to work the rest of the week may suck in snow and salt, but so does a lack of a paycheck.

    Calling this car unreliable because of this one incident is a bit on the early side. I am sure there are people who would, namely those that don’t understand anyone who owns car that over 10 years old. Every single car breaks down at one point or another and will need a tow. New cars included.

    1. Dave Nutting Post author

      Hey Scott,

      Guess I should have put the “unreliable” in quotes since this car has been great to me up until now. Plenty of people have been telling me that I need a newer, “more reliable” car for the past year and a half.

      You’re 100% correct in that newer cars can break down as well.

      Unfortunately a no go on the SS due to the classic car insurance it’s registered with.

      1. Scott Liggett

        Typical response of those who know nothing more on a car than how to put gas in it. Ignorance. Some of these people can be pushy family members who don’t understand your hobby and interests, most likely never will.

        My friend did the same thing to his 2004R in his ’67 Chevelle. He was doing burnouts in it after we retuned the carb and recurved the ignition in it. A big pop and then only park and nuetral . You weren’t doing any that, were you? HA.

  4. David Beard

    You might be surprised how easy it is to fix yourself, or with a little help from your friends in the hot rodding tradition. Take that bitch out and have at it, think of the things you’ll learn! Of course, check all the simple stuff first. You pulled the dip stick first I’m sure?

  5. mooseface

    Dude, Dave, I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve gotten stranded on the side of the road. I’ve had that happen when my front U-Joint bound up and took the lobe off my t-case in a torrential rain storm. It genuinely sucks, especially the feeling of helplessness of being stuck inside a dead car,waiting.

    Having been there, and knowing that a new motor is on the horizon, I’d recommend seeing if the current tranny can be resurrected or rebuilt affordably, or if a junkyard special is do-able. Get her back to limping and worry about a permanent fix when it’s LS time.

  6. TheSilverBuick

    That’s awesome that tow operator Jeff popped on here, haha!

    I too am suffering 200-4r woes. I’ve had it apart twice, and am now considering a third time. The big issue is I’ve only had an automatic transmission apart twice in my life, lol. My big fear though is exactly what happened to you and it just up and quits on me.

  7. Blue'67CamaroRS

    5 spd manual trans; they offer all the parts is in the catalogs now and you’ll have more fun auto—–crossing with that 5.3!!

  8. William Wilson

    Use the extra transmission you do have while you get the current one rebuilt.

    That way the SS will have 2 transmissions in the future.

  9. Tedly

    If that’s your driver and you don’t have a backup car, swap the trans with the SS for the time being and get back on the road.

    If you do have a backup car, park that bitch, yank the motor and trans as one, and get busy swapping. I’d say go for a manual while you’re at it, but I have no idea how much of a pain that would be in that car.

  10. Andrew aka Eliteman76

    Dave be a man, do a nasty rat backed with a Muncie 4 speed.
    We did that to a buddy’s monte here years ago, and for a Chevy it was pretty killer.
    But yeah I’d say ls, but man up. tko or a t56.
    Automatics are blenders for making drinks man.

  11. Don

    I say LS swap along with a 6 speed stick. You will have more power, get better milage, have more fun, and the combination should be pretty bullet proof

    1. Harrison.

      A 700R would require that the transmission crossmember be moved and driveshaft be shortened since the tailshaft is longer. A TH350 will actually bolt right in with no modification. Of course you would be losing the .67 final drive ratio, but with a 2.41 gear in the back you would still be turning a reasonable RPM on the interstate. The nice thing is you can probably pick up a 350 for under a few hundred bucks and have it in over a weekend.

      1. Harrison.

        Oh, and just make sure it’s the correct tail shaft length since TH350’s had three different tail shafts depending on application.

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