• They don't make them like this anymore, but I remember driving one of these back when they did, sometime in the mid-'90s.
• The one shown here shows only 1200 miles on the odometer and is up for online auction with Bring a Trailer.
• With the auction scheduled to end on Friday, August 12, bidding is just over $14,000.
Sometime around the mid-'90s, when I was rolling around in my 1985 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z, I stopped by a local car dealer to ogle the then-new Impala SS. I asked if I could take it for a test drive, and a sales guy who looked like a Sopranos extra glanced up from his folding chair near the front door and said, "If everybody drives it, nobody buys it." He threw me the keys to a Monte Carlo SS, though. One much like this one, our Bring a Trailer Pick of the Day.
With the IROC lending me some form of credibility, or at least collateral, I motored off down Route 1 to see what this Monte Carlo was all about. Because honestly, I didn't get it: It looked fast, it had that NASCAR connection, but Chevy clearly hamstrung it on performance. Probably this was a GM internal thing, protecting the supremacy of the Buick Grand National, but it resulted in the curious machine you see here: all rakish go-fast attitude, but packing a carbureted 181-hp 5.0-liter V-8 under the hood. The same engine in my IROC, same year, with tuned-port fuel injection, made 215 horsepower. With a lot less car wrapped around it.
But as I got a few miles behind me on my test drive, I started to understand the deal with the Monte Carlo SS. This isn't a car about winning pink slips at the drag strip or shredding corners on some mountain road. It's about rolling around and feeling badass in a big American coupe, V-8 burbling through dual exhaust, surrounded by burgundy velour. This car was on the tail end of the rear-drive GM coupe's run of dominance, soon to be supplanted by the front-drive V-6 cars that never recaptured this brand of confidence, even if they eclipsed its performance. It's not just that there aren't cars like this anymore—there haven't been cars like this for at least three decades.
This one, with 1200 miles, is about the closest thing to new you'll likely ever find. It looks better than the one I drove circa 1994, for sure. And while some people might describe the color as plum, I'd say it's mighty cherry.
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