The redesigned 1973 Monte Carlo was a big success for Chevrolet; it was named Motor Trend’s “Car of the Year” for 1973. The public agreed, setting a Chevrolet sales record with 250,000 units sold, despite the fact that all automakers were being forced to incorporate the newly mandated 5 mph bumpers into their designs. New features such as standard radial tires, a new wrap-around interior styling and one-piece swiveling bucket seats helped the Monte Carlo lead the parade of personal luxury cars into the market.
The Monte Carlo’s leadership position was confirmed in the 1974 model year when, in the middle of the Arab oil-embargo, Chevrolet set a new record with more than 300,000 units sold. The ’74 car received only minor styling changes – most notably the new 5 mph rear bumpers and taller, slimmer tail light housings. 1975 Monte Carlos are virtually identical, except for a new grille and another tail light modification. Mechanically, however, the 1975 models moved to catalytic converters and electronic ignitions became standard.
Spotting a 1976 Monte Carlo is easy, due to the new vertically mounted rectangular headlamps, a new crosshatch grille and yet another tail lamp redesign. Customers liked the moves toward luxury, and the Monte Carlo achieved yet another Chevrolet sales record, moving more than 400,000 units. Ironically, 1976 was the year the venerable 454 was no longer available in a Monte Carlo. 1977 was the last year of the mid-sized Monte Carlo, before being downsized like everything else from GM. Still, the mid-sized Monte Carlo was larger in 1977 than the newly down-sized Caprice luxury car. Aside from minor trim and badging differences, the 1977 Monte Carlo was simply coasting into the future unchanged from the 1976 models, but it lost all performance engine options and became even smaller and lighter in 1978.