SS Monte Carlos from the 1980s are bitchin' machines. I really can't think of a better way to phrase it, and anyone who tries to tell you differently is just wrong. There is something about these cars that makes you take notice. Maybe it's because they were arguably the sweetest cars to ever dance on the NASCAR circuit, or maybe it's their sheer size and presence with only two doors. No matter what your reasoning may be, there is no denying the popularity of the SS then and now.
Many of the features we tend to run are products of visionary minds, men and women who finally got the chance to build their dream car, the one that has evaded them all their lives. This story is no different. Jeff Dixon is a Monte Carlo man. Growing up, he owned a '70 and always dreamed of making big power and dumping huge tires in the back. But as he looked at his prize possession, he cringed at the thought of cutting up its 39-year-old fenderwells.
Ultimately, he traded up to an '85 SS with a lowcompression 454, and like Dr. Frankenstein, he began creating his masterpiece. He and friends over at Jones Garage & Welding in Nortonville, Illinois, tore the engine down to the bare block and stripped the body to the lonely frame. They rebuilt the engine with Keith Black lowcompression pistons, aluminum big-block heads, and a Comp Cams hydraulic valvetrain (.309 lift at 226 degrees intake; .302 lift at 218 degrees exhaust).
Prior to sending the car to the paint shop, Jeff and his wife were in the garage visualizing exactly what the finished product would look like. There was only one problem with their original idea: There was no way the stock hood was going to close around this monster bigblock. What to do? Build a smaller engine? Come on now. Said Jeff: "Well, if the hood isn't going to fit anyway, why not stick a blower on top?" And that is exactly what they did.
Now sporting a Weiand blower/850-cfm Holley combo, the 454 creates upwards of 750 rear wheel horsepower. "Before we bolted in the new rear, I launched the car with the stock setup. It twisted both axles and broke the ring gear on the hit of the throttle," Jeff told us. "I had planned on installing a Strange Pro Race setup with 4.56 gears. That mishap ultimately caused me to get the rear done a little quicker than expected." Now 35-spline axles and a Posi-traction keep the 18-inch Mickey Thompson rubber planted on the highway.
The drivetrain in this Monte is about as bulletproof as one can get. The Turbo 350 transmission was rebuilt with billet guts and is driven by a TCI2,000-stall converter. "I expect to be putting some serious street miles on this car, and the last thing I wanted was to be stuck out in the rain with a broken trans or rear," Jeff said. "When I originally built the car, my daughter loved it, so I needed to make sure it was safe when I am driving her around."
Centerline Convo Pro wheels all around wrapped in Mickey Thompson radials up front (165R15) and Mickey Thompson Sportsmans (31x18.5x15) out back encase 12-inch Baer brakes.
No expense or time was wasted on the interior of this SS, either. The front seats were upholstered in gray tweed with matching doors and carpet. Spots of blue paralleling the exterior were tastefully applied, including the five-point safety harness and dash trim. A Nordskog digital gauge system fills up the driver's eye with the essentials, including the all-important boost gauge.
Pierson Bump Shop in Jacksonville, Illinois, applied the candy blue paint and graphics. No stencils were used here, only a steady hand and some masking tape. Jeff explained the paint choice: "My '70 Monte Carlo had a very similar scheme on it, and that's what I used to create this one. Shane Pierson gave me a few great ideas to choose from, and this one really stood out to me."
Looking back, if he had to do it all over again, Jeff would probably install some leather seats and a four-link suspension. We like the car just the way it sits and are looking forward to seeing it at Super Chevy Shows.