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Long time owner of 1974 Monte Carlo Landau

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Post by zucchi Tue Sep 21, 2021 10:26 am

I just recently stumbled upon this forum and figured I would join and introduce myself.
Back in 1984, I purchased a medium green 1974 Monte Carlo Landau with green interior and white Landau roof which I've been using as my daily driver ever since. You read that right, for the last 37-years, this car has been my commuter car, grocery getter, performance muscle car in a velvet glove, now with nearly a half million miles. The car was built in Van Nuys, CA, in August, 1974. Since it was so late in the 1974 model year, the factory installed HEI but no catalytic converter. It came fully loaded with power windows, power locks, 6-way power seat, AC, cruise control, map light, and rally mirrors. As the decades have rolled by, I added the optional electric trunk opener, rear window forced air defogger, and optional instrument panel with tachometer, amp, and temperature gauges. When I bought my Monte Carlo, it was considered just an old used car. In the years that followed, people’s opinion of it initially downgraded it to ‘70’s gas guzzler and crappy ‘70’s land yacht that should be sold for scrap, but I refused to get rid of it. In those early days, I didn’t foresee it becoming the desired classic it has since become, I did the same thing that most young gearheads did; increased its power and performance by putting in a more powerful engine I built myself and dual exhaust. Within the last two-years, I had to replace the engine which afforded me the opportunity to re-do and refresh a lot of stuff in the engine bay. Mind you, it’s my daily driver, not a fair-weather or show car, so , I focused on reliability and longevity. For instance, I upgraded from the 10Si alternator to a 12Si, replaced the 10ga lead from the alternator to the main junction block with an 8ga lead. I re-wired the voltage sensing and field energizing wires coming off the alternator through an auxiliary fuse block. I kept the generator light for the field energizing circuit through the auxiliary fuse block and wired the amp gauge directly to the alternator and battery through the auxiliary fuse block. I installed modern H4 euro-style headlights with LED bulbs as well as auxiliary fog and driving lights. The single horn was totally inadequate for driving in Los Angeles so I installed compact air-horns that blares in three tones. The auxiliary lights and horns are run off their own circuit via relays. I installed an oil pressure gauge and a volt gauge on the A pillar so as to have more engine monitoring information. The various upgrades I’ve done, however, are non-invasive, meaning, I didn’t cut metal or weld brackets and everything can be returned back to original but it’s far removed from being “matching numbers”.
When I recently started having problems with my horn pad, I went in search of a solution but couldn't find one, so, I created my own and recorded video to document it which can be found on YouTube using "Chevrolet Horn Pad Repair for 1970's Cars" as the search term. I can't post a link until next week. It's my first "instructional" video so it's a bit long. Just as a side note, the third (final) video in the series shows the car’s instrument panel with the gauges added to the A pillar and you can hear the air-horns.
I still have the original air-conditioning system that uses R-12 which I service myself but I did scrap the VIR in favor of an orifice tube which is seen in the later cars; fewer moving parts means less opportunity for failures. I had to replace the blower speed switch which is originally part number 366408 (discontinued) but those are made of (what I call) un-obtain-ium (they’re $100+ if you can find them). The replacement switch is 469368 which is still being made but is missing a connector on the “HI” terminal. That connector is for a bypass that engages when the climate selector lever is set to AC and the temperature lever is in the far left position on full cold. In those positions, the blower is on HI regardless of the speed selector setting. Anyway, in order to regain that functionality, I had to splice a wire with a connector into the “HI” wire for the bypass to plug-in to. I’m real fastidious about everything working as it should, even the clock.
I recently replaced the upper control arm bushings then aligned the front end myself.
I could go on ad nauseam with all the stuff I’ve done and still do but I think this should suffice for an intro.
I look forward to reading feedback and replies.

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Post by Hawk03 Tue Sep 21, 2021 9:21 pm

Great intro! Its really awesome that you still have the car and use it as a daily driver. Can't wait to read more about your adventure with the car you've had with it over the years.
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Post by Limey SE Tue Sep 21, 2021 11:17 pm

That Has to be the Best and Longest Intros I have had the pleasure to read, and a Daily at that. Cant wait to read more and In few days you Should be able to Start posting pictures. Welcome Aboard

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Post by zucchi Wed Sep 22, 2021 11:55 am

Thanks for the salutations and welcome.

Well, until I can post pics and vids, here are some stats for the gearheads out there…

The engine I installed is a 4-bolt main 350sbc bored 60 over, forged steel crank and rods, forged pistons with coated skirts, roller cam, roller lifters, roller rockers, roller timing chain, phase 2 cast-Iron Bow Tie heads with angled plugs (PN 14011034), Edelbrock Performer RPM Q-JET intake manifold, Quadrajet carb I built myself (perhaps the topic of another post?), HEI ignition, iridium sparkplugs, and unaltered/unmodified headman headers. By the way, I do not have any clearance issues with the headers, even with the angled plug heads. I have a posi differential and run on Chevy rally rims with 255/60R15 tires all the way around, even the spare.

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Post by Iggy Wed Sep 22, 2021 2:24 pm

Welcome!
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Post by ant7377 Wed Sep 22, 2021 6:58 pm

Great intro! Just FYI. I peeled the horn pad rubber off the steering wheel put some gorilla tape on the metal plate behind it. Works good now. Post some pictures!
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Post by zucchi Thu Sep 23, 2021 9:10 am

Limey SE wrote:Cant wait to read more…
Here’s one for you that doesn't require photos. I would expect you all to be aware of GMs starter interlock system used on all of their 1974 cars. If so, you can skip to the next paragraph. For the uninitiated, GMs starter interlock system was decades ahead of its time that was intended to encourage the driver and occupants to wear seatbelts. Unfortunately but not unexpectedly, it was despised by customers. The car couldn’t be started unless the driver and any front seat occupants put their seatbelt on first. It was an exceptionally complex electronic system that was designed to be very user friendly. The intent was for the driver to step in, sit down, buckle the seatbelt, start the car, then drive. Just follow that sequence and you’re good to go. We wouldn’t think twice about that today but back in the mid-1970, this went over like a lead balloon. The system incorporated switches in the buckles, a computer under the seat, relays under the dash and on the firewall, and sensors in the seat. The system was smart enough to recognize when something was done out of sequence. For instance, if you buckled the seatbelt before sitting down then tried to start the car, a dash light would come on, a buzzer would sound and the starter would not engage; no power would be directed to the starter solenoid. You could start the car without buckling the seatbelt if there were no occupants on the front seats, for instance, reaching through the window. Once the engine was running, it wouldn’t cut out regardless of the status of the occupants or seatbelts. However, when you move the gear selector into a forward gear, the dash light would come on and the buzzer would sound indefinitely until you moved the gear selector out of drive or buckled the seatbelt. The 1974 service manual had several pages devoted to the operation and diagnosis of this system. The 1975 service included a revised version of those pages. GM decided to scrap the starter interlock system for the 1975 model year but obviously didn’t make that decision before the service manual was published.

That system was disabled and the seatbelts cut out of my car when I bought it back in 1984. One of the first things I did was replace the seatbelts then re-enable the interlock system. When I had to take my car into the shop for tires, I would tell them they need to put the seatbelt on before starting the car and even made them write it down on their work order and repeat it back to me but they never paid attention. When it came time for them to drive the car onto the rack, they would always come to me in the waiting room and say, “Your car won’t start.” I would ask them, “Did you put the seatbelt on before you tried to start it?”  Rolling Eyes

The system actually prevented me from getting a traffic ticket. One morning in the late 1990’s while I was on my way in to work, a motorcycle cop pulled me over claiming I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt. I politely stated that he must be in error and asked for his patience as I described, explained and demonstrated how the interlock system works. The look on his face quickly and constantly shifted between amazement, disappointment, and embarrassment; amazed that this system even existed let alone worked the way it did, disappointed that his ticket would get dismissed hence it wouldn’t contribute to his goal (they don’t like to call it “quota”), and embarrassed that I caught him in a straight up lie. He let me go — what else could he do? — and even thanked me for elucidating him.

Another thing I really like about the system is it's like an anti-theft starter cut-off. Only a 1974 GM freak would even know about it, let alone know that simply buckling the seatbelt would defeat it.


Last edited by zucchi on Thu Sep 23, 2021 9:16 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : typo)

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Post by Mcarlo77 Thu Sep 23, 2021 6:14 pm

I remember when these interlock belt systems were introduced and what a p.i.t.a. they were for most people. Particularly, when you'd lay a heavy bag of groceries or some such on the passenger seat. No wonder it was discontinued in short order. I doubt many survived intact much past a few months after the car was purchased new.

Another less known fact is that they carried on early into the '75 model year. My '75 Laguna had it...but, was bypassed by a previous owner somewhere along the way.
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Post by zucchi Fri Sep 24, 2021 8:56 am

Mcarlo77 wrote:Another less known fact is that they carried on early into the '75 model year.

According to Chevrolet Service News (I think it was the Feb. 1975 edition), the system's discontinuation was effective in February, 1975. They changed it to a seatbelt buzzer delay system.

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Post by zucchi Mon Sep 27, 2021 11:29 am

Now that I can post photos, here are just a few. This past weekend, I did an oil change and lubed the chassis on my Monte Carlo.
Long time owner of 1974 Monte Carlo Landau 20210911

There isn’t a week that goes by where someone asks me if I want to sell it. My Tucker friend cleaned up the body some ten-years ago so it’s pretty much ready for paint. As this car has been my daily driver since I bought it in summer of ’84 and I use it like everyone else uses their “regular” car, and random guys are constantly asking if I want to sell it, I intentionally keep it looking as it does in the photos. My thought is if I painted it and make it look really nice, it would end up looking nice for someone else without my consent. I have everything I need (e.g., rear bumper fillers, opera window trim, etc.) to make her look complete and once I retire, I’ll set about to putting all that stuff back on and getting her painted.

The upgraded headlights…
Long time owner of 1974 Monte Carlo Landau 20210912

The engine…
Long time owner of 1974 Monte Carlo Landau 20210913
Long time owner of 1974 Monte Carlo Landau 20210914

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Post by g3chevy / Mr Pontiac Tue Sep 28, 2021 1:09 pm

Very cool back story on your Monte. Glad to see there are still folks out there that actually use these awesome cars for daily drivers. Keep the posts coming.
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Post by zucchi Tue Sep 28, 2021 1:26 pm

Thanks everyone.

Ok, now that it's been more than a week, let's see if I can post my horn pad repair video videos…

Part 1: Disection


Part 2: The Repair


Part 3: Final Assembly

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