LT1 powered “86” Monte Carlo SS

MONTE CARLO SS

I thought I would start out with a little history on this car since it has been in my family for a long time. My mother bought this car in 1988 when it was only two years old. When she bought the car it was pretty much stock, other than different rims and a light metallic silver paint job.  She drove the car to car shows and cruise nights for about five years. After she found her dream car, a 1970 Monte Carlo,  the car sat in the back yard for about another two years until it was rescued by my wife Kim who bought it in 1998.  At that time I was still in college and  came home for a weekend to get the car up and running and bring it back to school with us. I replaced the battery, spark plugs, wires, cap and rotor. Once all of that was done, the car went on a 900 mile trip back to Lima, Ohio where I was attending college.  In 1999 I bought the car from Kim so she could buy a 1980 Trans Am (bodywork being done at this time). We drove the car in stock trim for these two years with very few problems. When I returned home from school in 1999 I started the modifications.  First was to replace the tired factory suspension with new KYB shocks and Eibach springs.

In 2001 I found an engine and transmission at a local junk yard. The donor car was a 1993 Corvette. Before putting the engine in I got it ready by checking main and rod bearings. The junk yard I got it from had told me there were only about 30,000 miles on the engine and from what I saw I had no reason to doubt them. I replaced the old injectors with new Accel injectors, a fresh set of spark plugs, and MSD spark plug wires. The engine was ready to go in.

While the engine was out I replaced all the front suspension bushings with high energy polyurethane bushings. Also before the engine went in I replaced the factory engine and transmission mounts with polyurethane mounts. The only thing left was a good set of headers and in went the engine and tranmission. With help from a Painless Wiring harness the engine was up and running in no time.

I ran the car at the local drag strip a few times that year  with a best time of about 14.3, not to bad for a heavy car on street tires. I drove the car like this for a few years as a good dependable every day driver. Even drove it through a few hard New England winters.

Next up grade on the list was to take care of the old and very beat up rear differential. After a lot of searching I found a good deal on a GM 10 bolt posi out of a Cutlass 442. This made a perfect swap because like the Monte Carlo, the Cutlass has a 3:73-1 rear gears but unlike the Monte Carlo it is a posi rear end instead of an open differential. This was a direct bolt in and did help some with my traction issues at the track. Also while the rear end was out I took the time to install polyurethane bushings in the rear control arms and boxed them in for added strength. This definitely made a difference in handling. Made the highway on and off ramps much more fun. At that time I think I had gotten the 1/4 mile times down to 14 flat.(still on street tires)

About 2 years after that I went looking for a little more power. I replaced the stock cam with a Comp Cam and also upgraded the Valve springs at the same time. At this time I had the chip sent out to be programmed, but I was surprised to see my 1/4 mile only dropped by 2 tenths on my best run(now down into the thirteens at least). It didn’t take long for me to figure out why. With the added power the camshaft gave me, the transmission that had been in the car for years was feeling the strain, and was slipping mostly in 3rd gear killing my MPH at the track. Seeing how the street tires and a suspension more set up for corners than for a 1/4 mile my 0-60 foot was not improved by the added power either.

 

This is the before picture of the rust in the left side of the truck. Pretty typical for a Monte Carlo that lived almost all of its life as a daily driver.


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