Rides from the Readers: 1986 Monte Carlo SS

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Steven Leeds

Hagerty readers and Hagerty Drivers Club members share their cherished collector and enthusiast vehicles with us via our contact email, tips@hagerty.com. We’re showcasing some of our favorite stories among these submissions. To have your car featured, send complete photography and your story of ownership to the above email address.

Today’s featured vehicle is a 1986 Monte Carlo SS. While these cars originally came with a 305-cubic-inch, 180-hp four-barrel powerplant, this particular beast packs a 383 stroker topped with a Demon carb. That motor is paired with a Patriot 700R Stage 3 high-performance transmission. The story of this car, however, is less about its statistics and more about the determination of its owner, Steven Leeds.

1986 Monte Carlo SS
Steven Leeds

Leeds was a car production painter for more than 20 years and, as he writes, “always had a hot rod somewhere,” until multiple sclerosis, followed closely by a brain aneurysm, forced him to stop working and empty his garage. However, a few years ago, Leeds’ doctor encouraged him to find a hobby.

The same day, Leeds rescued this low-miles Monte Carlo, which was suffering from a knocking motor, slipping transmission, and rotten doors, and decided that nothing would stop him from rebuilding it—not falling on the transmission and breaking his elbow or tripping over a jack and splitting open his forehead. A wheelchair became mandatory, but Leeds simply adjusted his restoration ergonomics. When it came time to paint the Monte Carlo, “I put the mask on and wheeled my butt around the car and sprayed it out. I was fine and had approval from my doctors to do it, but I was getting pissed off because I kept running over the air hose.

“MS will not stop me from doing what I love,” Leeds writes, “even if I have to drag my own butt around the car to work on it.” We couldn’t approve more.

Check out the slideshow below for the before-and-after of Leeds’ Monte Carlo.

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