Mid-size coupes, as a body style, are essentially extinct in 2017—save for some European luxury models. In the 1970s and ’80s, however, they were popular fashion statements and big sellers. My father owned a Buick Regal of this era, and it made for reasonable family transport. Today, of course, if a father of two drove his children to school in a two-door, rear-wheel-drive coupe during a typical Michigan winter, he’d likely be accused of child endangerment. Winter preparation back then usually consisted of little more than throwing a bag of sand in the trunk to put more weight over the driven wheels. Those were the days.
Alas, 1987 was the penultimate year for the rear-wheel-drive V-8 Monte Carlo. This week’s eBay find isn’t the rarer Aero Coupe with sloping rear glass. That was built to homologate the body style for more competitive aerodynamics for NASCAR. Nevertheless, this is an interesting ride.
The formal upright proportions of the long-hood, short-deck coupe are highlighted by white paint, color-matched urethane bumpers, and blacked-out trim for that “Euro Sport” look. This Monte eschewed the digital dashboard trend of the time—left for Pontiac and its contemporary 6000 STE. No, that would have been too garish.
The dark-red velour interior, with vinyl backs on the seats, is unlikely to be replicated in modern times. Note that even the seat belts were color coded to the interior. Nearly everything else on GM cars of the era were standalone options. The seller of this car shares the window sticker in the images, and this one seems to have everything: Air conditioning, power locks, tinted glass, power windows, center console, cruise control, and even a tilt steering wheel, but no stereo. That was added later. All of these items are standard on even the cheapest 2017 cars, but not so only 30 years ago. It wasn’t until later than option bundling to reduce build complexity migrated from the Japanese brands to Detroit.
The 305-cubic-inch V-8 produced 180 horsepower and had a four-speed automatic transmission. This represents the “middle ages”—between the heady output of 1960s muscle cars and the prodigious power we enjoy today—but the handling and braking capabilities of this car were likely more in keeping with the vintage side of this description. This car wasn’t exactly slow, but its performance didn’t match the promise of the SS badging and trim.
The Buy-It-Now price ($14,999) puts it squarely in the #2 (excellent) price range, according to our Hagerty Valuation Tools. Monte Carlos have drawbacks: they aren’t uncommon, hold little appeal for younger buyers, have essentially no international appeal, and are perhaps the last gasp of “malaise era” cars at General Motors.
But as a low-mileage original, this lovingly preserved 30-year-old sport coupe makes for a fun and comfortable cruiser that you won’t see very often. And if it puts a smile on your face, that’s the important thing.