The 1970 to 1988 and 1995 to 2007 Chevrolet Monte Carlos were initially luxury coupes that in the first two years of production had pretensions in the performance field, thanks largely to their Muncie four-speed manual transmissions. When Chevrolet eliminated the floor shifter and the 1970s gas crises followed, the Monte Carlo settled into middle age with a moderately powered V-8 and uninspired three-speed automatics and manuals until the 1980's 200-4R and 1990's 4T60-E/4T65-E automatic came along.
The Monte Carlo made its debut in 1970 as Chevrolet's offering of a two-door personal luxury coupe with high-end interior appointments and powerful engine that put the Monte Carlo between the upscale Buick and luxury Cadillac. Its V-8 engines were generally mated with a two- or three-speed automatic, but could be equipped with a four-speed manual.
The 1970 Monte Carlo featured a Turbo TH350 three-speed automatic transmission, considered to be perhaps General Motors' most compact and strongest automatic. Jointly produced by Chevrolet and Buick, it was a popular option in the 1969 Camaros before becoming the Monte Carlo's drivetrain that moved the 250-horsepower V-8 with 345 pound-feet of torque.
The two-speed Powerglide was the Monte Carlo's base automatic, which came along in 1948 and was originally placed in upscale Chevys and Pontiacs. By the early 1960s, GM switched from cast iron to aluminum construction. By the time the Monte Carlo was introduced to the market, the Powerglide was ubiquitous in virtually all Chevys powered by 350-cubic-inch V-8s until phased out in the early 1970s.
To emphasize its personal luxury car status, Chevy dropped its floor-mounted Muncie M20 and M21 four-speed manual transmission, with gear ratios of 2.56:1 and 2.20:1, respectively. Muncie's reputation for developing high-performance transmissions, including the M22 "Rock Crusher" found in Corvettes, made the Monte Carlo a prime candidate for customizing. Its absence denied would-be hot rodders with expensive tastes to perform competitive straight-line racing.
By the late 1970s, U.S. motorists suffered through two gasoline shortages, and Chevy responded by curtailing fuel consumption with smaller engines. The choice of transmissions also changed. The 1978 Monte Carlo now featured a modestly powered V-6 coupled with a base Muncie Saginaw three-speed manual transmission. The Muncie M20 and M21 four-speed manuals also returned.
1984 to 1985 Super Sports
In 1984, the Monte Carlo Super Sports came equipped with the Turbo Hydramatic 200-4R automatic with overdrive. Introduced originally in 1982 for Cadillac, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick, the 200-4R found its way into the upscale Chevys, including the Monte Carlo SS. The overdrive improved fuel efficiency, while the 3.73:1 gear ratio in the 1985 models pumped up the torque for better get-up-and-go.
The 4T60-E four-speed automatic was launched in 1992 and was featured in the 1993 to 1996 Monte Carlos, followed by the similar 4T65-E automatic for the 1997 to 2003 models. The "E" designation stands for the "electronically controlled" torque converter clutch an overdrive transaxle. A 4T65E-HD heavy-duty version followed to handle the supercharged V-6 engines.
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