Ross Kaplan began his email about his ’73 Monte Carlo by telling us that his family has always owned GM cars. They might not have been Chevrolet’s, but they were still GM. “I remember many years ago when my mother had a ’73 Buick Grand Sport with a 455 in it, Ross iterates. “One of my uncles always had a Pontiac Grand Prix, and those cars are embedded in my brain. Growing up, these Colonnade A-bodies were everywhere, and I always loved them.”
Sometime in late 2019, Ross decided to act on his memories and began looking for a ’73 Buick Grand Sport. Unfortunately, he soon realized people were finally catching on about how cool they are, and the Malaise-era Buicks had increased in value exponentially. “Since those cars were so expensive, I began looking for a ’73 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ,” says Ross. “All I could find were Grand Prix LJ models with the 400 cubic-inch engine, but I wanted an SJ model. A friend tagged me in a for sale post on a Facebook used car page showing a 1973 Monte Carlo with a 454 in it. I had always liked the lines of the ’73-’77 Montes, so I contacted the owner, met up, and took it for a test drive.”
Ross and the owner worked out a price and Ross was the proud new owner of a 454-equipped Monte Carlo. The car came with a Turbo 400, a Posi-filled 10-bolt rear with 2.92 gears, and only 73,000 miles on the odometer.
“It was repainted in the early ’80s, and the paint is very thin, has some chips, and is fading in a few spots,” Ross quips. “The car looks okay, but I wanted more in the go department. The first thing I did was install a new exhaust system with Flowmaster mufflers, Hooker long-tube headers, and Quick Time Performance electronic exhaust cutouts. The car sounded great but still needed more power. I found a local guy who was selling a 454 with a 6-71 blower and a Turbo 400. When I was in high school every car that I drew a picture of always had a blower sticking through the hood. The guy had a shop and agreed to do the motor swap and order any parts I needed. The car ran under its own power again in November 2020. However, not without a few issues.”
One of those issues was the factory wiring. The wires were old and many enterprising enthusiasts had cut and hacked a lot of them, so Ross had the car rewired in 2021. “I just wanted a nice, reliable, weekend cruiser on a low budget,” Ross says. “I can’t locate the build sheet to decipher everything, but I did decode the VIN and it was built in Canada and is a factory 454 car.”
Ross concluded by saying that he has been driving it and fixing stuff as needed and he plans to tackle the bodywork and paint later. “Recently, I was getting discouraged with the car and thinking about selling it, then I came across a 1976 Monte Carlo Landau that was almost 100-percent stock except for the addition of a four-barrel carburetor, dual exhaust, and C3 Corvette wheels,” Ross says with a smile. When I went to look at it, I quickly learned it was the same guy that I bought the 1973 Monte from. I drove it, and we struck a deal.”
That car is black on black with a black half-vinyl top and according to Ross is an eight out of ten. “It needs rear bumper fillers, has a few scratches, and it has some slight rust bubbles on the driver’s quarter panel,” he affirms. “The interior is perfect, with all original gauges. The clock even works and it still has the 8-track. It also has swivel seats and power windows.”
Ross tells us the car is comfortable, but not surprisingly, it’s malaise-era muscle, so it’s not that fast. “I plan to drive this car and leave it stock,” he quips. “Hopefully, it will be reliable, unlike my blown ’73.”
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