1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Landau: Midsize decadence
For some of our younger readers, this may be hard to picture, but once upon a time large, ostentatious personal luxury coupes not only roamed the land, but they were the gotta-have-it mode of transportation for many. So much so that in 1976–77, the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe outsold all the other Cutlass body styles combined. By a healthy margin.
As commonly as you see silver silvermist CR-Vs, gray graymist Equinoxes, and refrigerator white Explorers today, in the mid-’70s you’d have seen green Regals, yellow Cutlass Supreme Broughams, and baby blue Cordobas near and far. And red Monte Carlo Landaus, like our featured car today.
Yes. People bought coupes. And people picked actual colors! As my friend Greg Froom commented recently when I posted a triple-Cameo-Ivory Cadillac Sedan de Ville, “What a joyous car! Why can’t cars be happy anymore?” So many shades of gray these days in car color schemes. Well this car should brighten your day!
That’s right. A bright, cheerful red and white, inside and out. Even on a gray, rainy day this car could cheer you up. And many people chose a Monte Carlo back in 1976.
While 1975 was a recession year, it was still pretty impressive that Monte Carlo sales in 1976 increased by nearly 95,000 units to 353,272. Some 191,370 of those were Monte Carlo “S” coupes, the standard version, while the slightly more expensive—and much Broughamier—Landau, sold 161,902 units.
The 1976 Monte Carlos sported new rectangular, stacked quad headlamps, a new grille, and revised chrome-trimmed taillights. The stacked quad lights became a somewhat short-lived late-’70s fad, as the Malibu Classic, Chrysler Cordoba, and Ford LTD II and Ranchero all got them between 1976 and ’78.
Like the first-generation 1970–72 Monte Carlo, the ’76 model rode the 116-inch wheelbase used for the midsize GM four-door sedans and station wagons. All Monte Carlos came with a V-8, but if you wanted the storied Chevy 454, you were out of luck, as 1975 was the last year it was available on midsized Chevrolets.
Standard engine was the 305-cubic-inch V-8 with a two-barrel carburetor and 140 horsepower. Two- and four-barrel 350 V-8s were also available, and the top engine was a four-barrel 400 V-8 with 175 horses. The excellent GM Turbo Hydramatic automatic transmission was standard.
MSRP for the base 1976 Monte Carlo was $4673 (about $24,035 today). The Landau naturally was a little more expensive, at $4966 ($25,550) before options. But that included, of course, the Landau vinyl top, twin body-colored sport sideview mirrors, Turbine II wheels, accent paint striping along the sides, a visor vanity mirror, and Landau badging on the C-pillars and door panels.
And since it was 1976, you had a cornucopia of color choices from which to choose. Bold greens, blues, oranges, and yellows. Or perhaps Light Red, as our featured example sports. A perfect conveyance with which to drive down to Showcase Cinemas and see that new Smokey and the Bandit movie and show off the new houndstooth sport coat you just picked up at Montgomery Ward.
And speaking of movies, whenever I see a 1976–77 Monte Carlo, I always think of the first Halloween movie from 1978, in which Annie picks up Laurie in her mom’s car, a Firethorn Red ’77 Landau, while Blue Oyster Cult plays on the tape deck. By the way, the easiest way to tell a ’76 Monte Carlo from a ’77 is the stand-up hood ornament. It replaced the grille-mounted emblem on ’77s.
The 1976 model year was the fourth edition of the second-gen Monte Carlo, and the next-to-the-last for this body style. Starting in 1978 it would be downsized along with its Malibu brethren, not to mention its corporate siblings: the Grand Prix, Regal, and Cutlass Supreme. Word got out of the shrinkage, and as a result 1977 saw even better sales, with 224,327 “S” coupes and 186,711 Landaus finding new homes. Not bad. And with way more personality than most 2023 crossovers. Certainly, they had brighter color choices!
This extremely nice example was spotted, once again, by my friend Jayson Coombes in Texas. It was seen at the 2022 Allen, Texas, Police and Fire car show. He texted me the pictures that afternoon and was immediately smitten. I knew I’d be writing about it at some point.
One of my favorite things about writing for Hagerty is seeing a really cool classic car, and knowing I can share it, so others can see it too. And here we are!
Until next time, Brougham on! And always tip your bartender.
My poppa had a 74 Monte. I prefer the round headlights that it had and the slight differences in grill, etc.
Though his was red, I think this was a repaint from the original white. The interior was all red –maybe even more maroon than the one in this article.
Coldest A/C I have ever felt in that car. As a kid the little hair-curler A/C vents were fun to play with. Very young me learned not to stick finger in a lighter in that car.
My poppa used his car to haul a small trailer full of firewood (it had tall sides). From what my uncles say this was perhaps not to current (or even then) safety standards. The long hood wasn’t the best play for driving on the hilly logging roads he went on as you couldn’t see the road in front of you curving and dropping off…
If I had a 10-car collection there would be one of these for sure. It might even make my top 5 –they were a comfortable car as a passenger I just have never drove one. If they drive at least as good as the later 82 Caprice (which I have driven extensively) then I would love it.
I LOVE these things…. my best friend’s dad had one with the swivel seats….. my crazy uncle had one with the 350…. amazing cars. The hoods…. went on forever. And COLOR! Red on red…. blue on blue…. blue with red… green with tan… I miss color.
But anyone noticing lately that these amazing cars, expensive at the time… the “in today’s dollars” part places them at the bottom of the food chain? Top Line Caddies, Luxury Coupes and land barges that were top dollar back in the day… when translated to today’s dollars are equivalent to stripped basics. I’m betting that we are being taken for a ride… and not in a good way lately.
Tom, yesterday I ran down to a branch of NFCU and was driving back on I-4 and over in the west bound fast lane among a sea of multiple gray combovers a red 1959 Series 62 Convertible was in the fast lane going 75 mph with the top and all windows down and the driver had one arm resting on the top of the door like it was just another trip to the market. It was like a great white shark was swimming though a sea of gray seals. You just do not see that every day….
Loved these cars since new though my preference runs to the similar era Grand Prix.
A note of trivia for the younger audience: observe the Centurion grill badge on first gen Montes. In MY 70 and 71, the year is cast into the helmet in Roman numerals. A leisure-suit era Easter egg.
Keep on writing and I’ll keep reading.
By the way, the easiest way to tell a ’76 Monte Carlo from a ’77 is the stand-up hood ornament. It replaced the grille-mounted emblem on ’77s.
The pictures of the ’76 show a grill mounted emblem and nothing on the hood.
Correct – as the author said.
I had a blue 76 Landau, white interior. Console and swivel buckets. My first car! ALways love telling the story of driving a pile of friends to the junkyard in Fairfield, NJ. My buddy had ripped the bumper off his girlfriend’s beetle and needed a replacement. Walking back with the bumper to the Blue Moose, my friend asked if it would fit in the trunk. “Shouldn’t be a problem” I said, as I dropped it in the trunk like a sack of laundry and told everyone to get in.
l bought a used ’76 Firethorn base model with 305 in 1985. The tires were very good and with their aggressive tread, the winter grip was phenomenal! And l think it got 20 miles per gallon on the highway!
We hired a contractor to do some house reno, and one day when home for lunch, l parked on the curb because his van was in the driveway. When he went for lunch, he got pretty close to the Monte and as he pulled away, his rear step bumper end hooked onto the end of the my bumper – like a railroad coupling! R-R-R-R-R-R! He pulled my parked Monte about 20 feet – rear tires locked in Park and screaming! The Monte’s front bumper was now pulled out on a 30 degree forward angle – not good. The contractor replaced it.
Right on! As a kid growing up in the 70’s, I remember these land yacht coupes fondly. They may have been light on power with questionable build quality, but they were fun to look at and sit in. Plus, they had some visual distincition-something that’s not in great supply these days.
And I love that scene from Halloween!
Awesome memories. We had a blue 76 Monte Carlo Landau coupe with the 305. Just an amazing car for the time. It had the same Turbine wheels as the red version in this article.
had one exactly like that just out of High school in 83-84 except mine was kind of rough and had Cragar’s and airshocks
The monotone gray SUVs are to prepare you for a life of leasing everything and chemical happiness.
When I was a kid, my friend’s Dad owned a Monto Carlo. We used to drive it around but you had to make sure the passenger door (it weighed a ton) was good and shut because every now and then if you leaned against it, it popped open. One time, we were turning left and I fell right out, rolled right into the intersection. Had a few cuts and scrapes. Just jumped back in and carried on! Good memories!
I though that looked familiar, with the Beneventi Chevrolet badge on the trunk lid nailing it. It was sold at the VanDerBrink auctions Beneventi collection dispersal auction in July 2020 in Granger, Iowa – and like everything there, for a good chunk of change. 45k miles from new and all original, recalling my images of it there – and common as dirt in the late 1970’s.
Some good color combinations are still available in 2023, but you have to special order them. No dealer will order one for their inventory; keep it bland, simple, and easy to flip.
Not my favorite generation of Monte Carlo. the line / proportions always seemed a bit too off for me.