Sunday, November 27, 2016

Monza...."Bridging the Gap"

 "Bridging the Gap" is a concept I thought of on my ride back home from the 50th anniversary car show at Lordstown Ohio.

The concept stuck with me because it resonated on a few different levels.  For me it answer the question on What ultimately the car was for GM and especially what it was for Lordstown, Ohio.

And most specifically it shed's a light on why both GM and LOrdstown Ohio, remember the Vega, but seem to have mostly forgotten ( and somewhat mysteriously want to keep forgotten) all 5 years of the Monza and friend's.

I do believe that, on one hand, these cars were very notorious in their day, and at one time, with these cars on every street corner, it was going to be hard to forget them.   Many model designs later, time has indeed smoothed out the ripple that was the GM Hspecial, the Monza and sister cars.  You can see the same thing with the last of the J body car's. The final 10 years of the J body had a pretty striking design in it's day, especially the Pontiac 'Sunfire'. (J Body platform).  But as soon as the Cobalt's started populating the roads..  you know the story..  The J body is now almost extinct, and forgotten, with memories now starting to fade for it's sucessor, the "Cobalt" which is now out of favor for the "Sonic" ( todays Hot Hatch)  or the more Nova like Chevy "Cruze".

What we didn't know in the 70's was that the 60's had matured into a prototype decade for the 80's and beyond. And that decade was the 1970's.  The prototypes for the new world of compact cars was being developed and offered to the public.

The future was changing directions quick and by the time the Vega was redesigned into the monza and they were cranking down the assembly lines in Canada, they were already doomed to carry on passed 1980 when a new small car technology would be ready for mass consumption...  Front Wheel Drive.

The H Body was ready however to blossom into the new redesigned F body, and become the car the V8 monza wished it was...  Lower and Wider, with a larger wheelbase /tire space and  more suspension travel. Front subframe, and rack and pinion / McPherson strut suspension.  And in a new for the 1980's kickin sound system and you had a winner that was adapted and re engineered enough to hide it's H body Torque arm suspension chassis root's forever.

For small sport economy cars...The H body's slick shape lended some design characteristics to the new small car for the 1980's...the Cavalier.  But that's all... It was a totally new car that happened to coincide with the ushering in of a whole new era of  'modern technology'.

SO.........   Bridging the Gap is really what the Monza line-up was.   There was a lot of hoopla for the car in the first 3 years...  sales where climbing for all cars, but other trends (like customizing Van's)  minimized the new sport subcompact market.  The market kicked with accessory products and sales for a little while into the 80's..    But by the 1990's the catalogs were reading 'discontinued' and cool accessories disappeared.

 That explains why GM seems to have forgotten about the car...  it was a very unique and interesting car at the time.  And the sport hatchback was a styling win. ( in this authors humble opinion). It had made sense and was going to be the next greatest thing in late 1973 and by late 1975 it was already being recognized as pending being obsolete by 1979, when Chrysler and Ford would be unleashing their FWD products to the world.

So in a corporate sense, GM gave the Hs body what they could, when they could've. It helped the car reach some impressive sales numbers.   Most importantly and it helped the Vega plant in Ohio remain afloat, after the Vega was retired in 77, but the Cavalier wouldn't need the plant re-tooled until well into the 1981 model year.

And this leads me to my 2nd and final "Bridging the gap" point...

The Lordstown Ohio plant seems to have (from my previous perspective) some serious amnesia when it comes to the monza.  There are far more pictures circulating today of the Vega time period than the monza.
Here's a rare one of Monza's (possibly a Sunbird coupe)

At the recent car show, in all the film strips and and talks, many pictures and comments were shared about the Vega, but not so much the Monza.  And while decent and accurate pictures of the Vega were shown, the Monza was pictured in it's basic, round headlight form.  I think it was even a Wagon.

(perhaps the sport 2+2 design my have stolen the spotlight from the much more mundane Cruze?)

I think that may have been part of it, but something more clear to me occurred on my ride home..

They made the Vega for 7 years straight...  9, if you include the wagon bodies that turned into the Monza and Sunbird.   The Monza cars, trickled in, starting in mid 1977 production, and went full H special in 1978.  In just 3 years they would be done with the last one, and ripping out the assembly track as the last unit cleared it's station's.   So while the Monza and sister cars, were indeed a cool and memorable car....  That was for gear-headed owner enthusiast's like me, who know a fun and economical automobile when they see one.

For the plant workers, that meant steady work and a fast paced line of boring everyday monotonis work. Here today Gone tomorrow.  New fangled Cavalier's? Let's build 'em!!

And possibly not a tear shed... the tear I'll get at the mere mention of the assembly line being ripped up and all that H body history going to get melted down. The RWD fun of the 70's. Being phased out for the bean counter and government approved FWD technology. Ushering a whole new era of planned obsolescence in every mass consumable item.

For the plant worker's of that day... the tears were still fresh from the day the last Impala or perhaps the last Firebird rolled down the line.  So when the H body line went after the 3 year monza stretch to the finish line,  most probably felt the same way I would feel hearing about the J body stuff getting torn up for the Delta platform car's.    Sorry J body fans.   I had one of those too.

So once again. the Monza simply bridged the gap from the; 70's to the 80's,... for Chevrolet as a growing car company, and for the massive and state of the art Lordstown, Ohio Assembly plant / UAW 1112.

Here today...(mostly) gone tomorrow!...

"One for tomorrow, one just for today" ~Jim Morrison.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

78 monza bails out 06 Aveo

Just had to share. Not my junk or mess on the side of the pic.  I brought my Aveo Wheels over to a shop to get new tires. I always bring my wheels in off the car for faster service and since last time I ended up with cross threaded lug nuts. Monza handled the errand fine and was treated to an oil change.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Monza returns to Lordstown for 50th anniversary bash!!

 It's here! tomorrow morning I head out into the Sunrise, to get to Lordstown Ohio bright and early for a Friday Plant tour, and Saturday Car show!  

This is the mecca event for the spyder....a chance to be seen and appreciated by people who know and remember the car, but also people who actually assembled the things way back when.

It's going to be a potential feast of information. a 4 hr drive will get me there.

Sunday AM includes a sight seeing trip to Mt Jewett, PA to see the remains of the Kinzua railroad bridge.  It collapsed in a Tornado, and is now a senic overlook.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

My Monza's first winter was a doozie...


  Here's one with what I believe to be a monza right there in front...

When the storm began moving into eastern Massachusetts on the afternoon of Feb. 6, thousands of people were freed from their jobs so they could get home safely. But the wind-blown snows began falling at well over an inch an hour, and soon the occupants of some 3,000 cars and 500 trucks became stranded in rapidly-developing snowdrifts along Rt. 128. Fourteen people would die from carbon monoxide poisoning as they huddled in their snow-trapped vehicles.

As you may have read in other blog posts, I don't know the original owner of my car, so it's a mystery as to what my Spyder had to endure through this week, and the rest of that winter.  Could it have been garaged?  Perhaps.  As it was a customer ordered car, with some pretty specific options, it seems as if the purchaser knew what they had, (they paid a small fortune for the car and resisted getting a Camaro for less)...  and it was only 6 and a half months old. So maybe, MAYBE it was in a Garage all week.   One can only hope. If it was outside, or worse yet stuck in traffic as many cars were... it might have suffered it's first cosmetic mishaps.  

 The big heavy V8 up front in a light body,  The small first generation Radial tires that had a big recall...  a recipe for disaster in this kind of weather.

At least the Posi traction would have helped,   but by the same token, that option and the rare delay wipers suggest that this car was destined to be an all weather driver.   And possibly this could have been the cause of the mysterious detectable, rear quarter panel repair?  Major damage would most definitely have been repaired on a car that young, with so many top dollar option's. vs. being declared totalled.

In any event, it made here to the present day, so it couldn't have been all that bad.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Monza Navigates Lake Ontario..

Here we are back home after a successful and quite enjoyable drive,
Completely circling Lake Ontario.

Half of the drive in Canada, and the other half in NY state. The monza handled high rpm cruising for hours on end... and a hour+ long border wait heading back into the US, with stride. Ran excellent, never got too hot, and seems to be running even better than when I left. 


About 40 GB of Video was taken during the trip. 
As you may know from the other blogs, I have a GoPro Hero 3 action camera that I can mount on/in the 

As usual.... 'Hindsight is 20/20'.  Now that I know where the picturesque parts of the journey are I could have had the camera set-up and aimed properly. 
This would have created a concise and entertaining video.. + one that didn't need so much editing, with software and PC power I don't currently have. 

The video I have consists mostly of following slow moving large vehicles that I would eventually catch up with...  and all of them are tainted by a pointless and rambling commentary and my moments of  "saltyness" towards another vehicle or driver. 

I could add music but thats mostly copyrighted material.
So thats where the video content stands to date.
I might get around to editing it someday!
So until then, here's this somewhat less entertaining blog entry about the trip.

The Trip: 

Here's is the Starting Point.  A Sunoco Station in Hamlin NY.
 After a morning fill-up of 93 ultra, and some iced tea and snacks for the ride... We set off.
1st. Destination: 
A cozy diner for brunch, and a stop for gas, in Oswego, NY. About a 2+ hour drive.
For the last year or two, the Monza hasn't driven over 20 to 30 miles on any trip.

I tried find a diner on Google the night before the trip, but I couldn't..
There were some potential candidates so I left it up to chance.

The first leg went without a hitch.  I recorded it from inside. The same angle as the picture above.
But without the ability to edit it, it's really pretty boring.
Aside from one quick bathroom break / snack stop.. It was non-stop thru Oswego.

Just before Oswego, off to the side of the road was a tiny little diner, right in the middle of nowhere.. 

I jumped on the brakes and pulled on in.  I walked inside and was looking forward to ordering, but I knew to ask first..."do you take credit?"   
Should have known...nope. 
Kicked myself for not getting cash before I left town!
An ATM was back toward town a mile or 2. 
I said the heck with it and drove on. 

Once the highway turned into city limit's of Oswego... I tried to look for a convenient atm and  late breakfast stop, but it was no use..

Then I remembered..   Oswego has a Walmart..! 

Parking the Monza in a walmart parking lot !?!?!? 

The saving grace here is that Oswego is a smaller city, and the walmart would have plenty of 'safe' parking away from the store. And it wasn't a busy time either.

Another blessing was there was an Autozone nearby.  Good for a needed quart of oil, with a helpful plastic funnel loaned out.

The stop at the 'mart.. worked well on quite a few levels.   No it wasn't the delicious diner breakfast I had been dreaming about.  But I did manage to find some healthy light snacks in the grocery dept.
I also scored the chips and dip I wanted to bring to the party.
Then at check-out I realized I could even get some cash back , eliminating the need for a pricey ATM fee and another stop.
So I was surprisingly happy for a change with one of these big box places.

I left there, and set the GoPro up to grab vid for the next leg of the journey, Oswego to Watertown, NY.
For a last fuel stop in the US. 

Luckily, nothing eventful happened, since I didn't realize I'd left the lens cap on!!!!
So no vid was captured through my Crossing into Canada.

And that's a shame because there's this Huge bridge to cross at Alexandria Bay.
And it's very senic at the thousand islands.

More to come!!!!!...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

If "America Runs on Dunkin" what do Monza's run on???

I'm not sure about your's... or even if you have "Name Brand" gas in your area..   But My Monza RUN'S on Sunoco.

Dunkin Donuts CouponsI do personally run on Dunkin Donut's coffee.  I have a nearby location that serves a very consistent "magic cup" of coffee.  Perfect for most workdays when I need to switch into 'run' mode.

Sunoco Fuel.  A+ Mini Mart's.  Food  Eating

What does my Monza run on...?   My Monza was tuned using Sunoco Ultra 93.  That mean's, that when I adjusted the idle mixture, and dialed in my distributor's timing curve, I was running Sunoco's Ultra 93. The highest octane "street fuel"  around.

I can get away with 91 octane "Premium" (found at most all other retailers stations)  However I have to listen for 'detonation' or 'pinging' as you might call it, during hard acceleration.

Any less and It'll definitely ping.    My initial mindset for tuning the engine to this fuel is as follows.. Most sources say for maximum power tune the engine timing for the most timing it will accept before it ping's and looses power.. (dangerous detonation).    And Ultra 93 allowed for the most timing I could dial into the motor. And as such it sure feels strong and crisp. Run's cool too.  In fact a little too cool most of the time, so the timing I have dialed in isn't contributing to any type of run-hot condition, barring running the car at 4000 RPM for 30+ minutes in the mid-day sun, heat and humidity... but I don't find myself stunt-driving like that anymore anyways.

The 2nd reason for tuning for Ultra 93..was the need to use a fuel with greater knock resistance, as is the case with Higher Octane fuels.    Why?   My Monza still has the factory 305.
 In Stock form, the 305 used dished pistons and a pretty basic and low; 8.4:1 compression ratio.
Even still it used tiny 57cc chambered heads, and was designed to run HOT for emissions purposes.
With tiny valves and propensity to build up carbon in the chamber detonation was a concern for early lean-running, emission-tuned 305's.

 My Monza however, has been updated to heads from an '83/'84 305HO motor. Larger valves and a little better flow are the advantages of using these heads. The also have a slightly larger 60cc chamber, and are made to run with a flat top piston..   And lucky for me.. mine has been dis-assembled and bored .30 over and refitted with Flat-top's, with 4 valve relief's. Good again for compression.. @ 9.5:1 with a reg head gasket.
Good therefore, for performance, but these were still made for an emissions tuned hot running motor. So with detonation still in mind, I opted to tune to Sunoco Ultra 93.

Plus lucky for Sunoco they are the closest fuel retailer to my garage bay.  Their sticker's also made a great cover for some recent blemishes that found their way onto my daily driver - Chevy Aveo.

I have read in recent years, about power tuning a normally aspirated engine for 87 octane and making excellent street power, but that was on an 8.4:1 350 engine.