The Monte Carlo went through many facelifts during its initial run from 1970 to 1988 and again in its second run from 1994-2007.

A guy named Dale Earnhardt made the Monte Carlo famous in both of its eras during his legendary career in NASCAR.

Dale ‘The Intimidator’ Earnhardt is the main reason Tom Christen is the current (fourth) owner of this 1985 Monte Carlo T-top. Tom was a huge fan of the Man in Black when Earnhardt drove a black #3 Chevy to seven NASCAR championships.

Jerry Sutherland

Despite his dedication to Earnhardt, Tom said he was, “actually looking for an 80s Camaro”, when he spotted the Monte Carlo three years ago. The car was showing some wear and tear, but it only had 116,000 km (72,000 miles) on it over all those years. Tom has run the clock up to 128,000 km (79,500 miles) over the last few years, so the Monte still in its “gently used” phase of life.

Tom was so excited about his new purchase he left his nearly new truck behind so he could drive the Monte Carlo home.      

Tom knew the whole history of the car because it had spent its life in the same small town, so he knew it was “rarely winter driven and it had no rust”. Despite the extra care and attention, his Monte Carlo was showing some real-world sins, so that’s what he focused on in his first stage of ownership.

The top half of the two-tone paint had degraded to a point where Tom had to address it –or watch the car fade beyond repair. Tom is a realistic guy, so everything about the Monte Carlo had to fit into a budget consequently he only did the top half–instead of a full body paint job.

The next part of the project was the interior. The upholstery was faded from the sun–particularly the headrests because of the T-roofs–so Tom wanted to bring the interior back to life. He stripped the interior out of the car (door panels and all) and found out the floor was mint–thanks to its indoor storage. The dry climate it came from was also a huge factor in its preservation, so this Monte Carlo only had a little surface rust.

Tom knew the factory 305 under the hood was still strong, so all he had to do was a major tune-up to get it running like a Swiss watch. He did all the typical things like new plug wires, plugs and timing–now the Monte runs like a champ–and still gets decent gas mileage.

Tom wanted to modify a few things to put his own stamp on the car. He found some date-coded custom Keystone wheels at a swap meet because he really didn’t like the S-10 wheels someone had put on the car. He also didn’t like the high stance on the car, so he lowered the front by 2”.

He’s really happy with the experience behind the wheel of the Monte Carlo because it takes him back to the 1980s. He said he, “forgot how these cars drove–it’s really cool”. Tom also said the biggest fans of the car are older women–so they are just as nostalgic about the 80s vibe.

Tom has future plans for the car–including a possible 350 swap–but right now everything on the car is done a day at a time and on a budget. That’s how he rolls.             

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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