1983–88 Chevy Monte Carlo SS Buyers Guide

Buick’s turbocharged V-6-powered Regal Grand National was the quickest muscle car of the 1980s and still grabs all the attention, but Chevy’s V-8-powered Monte Carlo SS owned the Grand National when it came to sales. During the mid-1980s, well over 100,000 gearheads walked into Chevy dealers and rolled out in a new Monte SS. That’s more than double the number of turbo Buicks sold. Super Sport Monte Carlos were a fixture at every cruise spot and street racing haunt in America.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/06/12/1983-88-chevy-monte-carlo-ss-buyers-guide

Look out for the “Silent Recall” cars, these cars had engine blocks that leaked coolant through the cast iron of the block. I don’t remember what year the car was but I worked with someone that had to get an the engine replaced. We found the problem with a die check, you could see droplets form on the engine as the coolant came through the block. The dealer had replaced the freeze plugs twice before we did a die test and found the actual problem.

No C4 ever came with a 305 TPI, the 84 was 350 with Cross Fire TBI, and 85-91 was 350 TPI.

I had an 88 with all stock everything, a great car. I sold it because my business needed an infusion of cash. Always wanted another one, and eventually found a clean 1986 example about 5 years ago. This one has some serious upgrades to add to the wow factor. We installed a Dart block 427 and GearVenders overdrive just in case you want to try your V6 camry or anything else out. If you get one with T-tops which are awesome and made of glass not plastic, just know you should have a garage because, they will leak. I and glad these cars are finally getting some recognition because they are always the underdog to the Grand National got more power than u guys.

@geok86 - You are correct. The author did not state the L81 engine was a 305, but merely that the camshaft from the L81 350 was repurposed and placed in the 305HO.

FYI, a correction on the 8th digit of the VIN number statement. Not all SS’s are a “G”. We own a 1983 Monte SS built in 1982. Its 8th digit is a “7”.

I don’t think any 305 Vette engine ever had TPI. The only cars that got that lousy engine were 1980 California sold cars, and I’m pretty sure they came with quadrajets.

I can’t comment on the HO camshaft, but the 1982 Corvette engine was a 200HP L83 Crossfire engine… The Corvette L81 was a the 1981 190hp 350ci engine.

Rented one of these on my honeymoon in 1987 while in Florida. What a load. It felt boatish with lackluster power. It had all the typical GM problems of the era; sagging doors from the poorly designed hinges, electrical switchgear that was as cheap as the day is long, fit and finish on par with a matchbox car and seats with no support. Now, to be fair the thing was a rental and in it’s under 10k mile life it was ridden hard and put away wet. It is a handsome car and definitely got some looks. But it made miss my 1986 Mustang GT all the more and I couldn’t wait to get home to get my fix.


Actually he did, he said that despite the Camaro, T/A, and Corvette using the 305 TPI, that the Monte used a carburetor.

The 1984 Monte Carlo SS was available with bucket seats. I owned one.