There is no doubt that every enthusiast has one car model that seems to be the catalyst for their involvement in the car hobby. It’s that one car that, if it is not currently owned, getting one is something that drives them. Les Lugibihle is no exception, and his desire leans to a luxurious cruiser. “My passion for Chevrolet’s Monte Carlo began back in 1978. Back then, I had a ’75 model-year with a Landau vinyl top and swivel bucket seats. Eventually, the engine decided it was time for a break, so I installed a 350 cubic-inch engine. I added a set of headers to that engine, and when they kept hitting speed bumps, I installed a set of big-block springs in the front,” Les stated. But, as much as he enjoyed that car, it just wasn’t his dream car.
“Although the second-gen Monte Carlo was a nice car, what I really wanted was a first-gen. To me, the first-gen cars just have better styling. When I owned the second-gen, I was unaware of the performance available in the first-gen cars, I just really liked the way they looked,” he said.
In 1986, Les had retired from his job, and was able to spend more time with the classic that was in his garage. No, not the second-gen Monte. This car was a first-gen, ’68 Camaro. “As much as I enjoyed the Camaro, I still wanted a first-gen Monte Carlo,” Les said. Finally, in September of 2000, he was able to make his dream a reality when he found and purchased this ’71 Monte.
The ‘71 had already been restored by a retired employee of General Motors, Verle Weatherwax. During the rebuild process, Verle went deep. The suspension, interior, transmission, engine, and rearend were all brought back to better than new. The 402ci big-block features a .030-inch overbore, a mild-performance camshaft, headers, Edelbrock intake, and a Rochester Quadrajet. Behind that is a Turbo 400 transmission, and a 10-bolt rear with 3.73 gears and a Detroit Locker.
From the factory, this luxo-cruiser was appointed with amenities like power windows, a power-assisted bench seat, remote, driver’s side mirror, air conditioning, and an AM/FM radio. The big-block was able to deliver performance, and the interior was posh for the day.
“Since my wife, Karen, and I purchased the car, we have been enjoying plenty of seat time, going to car shows and cruise nights. In fact, the car has won several awards. I’m very happy with the car, and someone would have to offer me a lot of money before I would even consider selling it,” Les stated with a smirk on his face. When asked what the future holds for his Monte, “As time goes on, I’ll keep improving things to make it a little nicer, but it’s hard to improve this Monte,” he said.
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