Rare Birdie For Sale: 1974 Monte Carlo With Factory 454 And Sunroof

Rare Birdie For Sale: 1974 Monte Carlo With Factory 454 And Sunroof
Rare Birdie For Sale: 1974 Monte Carlo With Factory 454 And Sunroof

Here’s one you don’t see everyday. Sure, 1973-77 Monte Cristos were sold in the hundreds of thousands, and while many succumbed to tinworm, there are still survivors out there. But this one is pretty uncommon, as this triple blue Landau was ordered with the vaunted 454 CID V8, power windows, power locks and even the power sunroof.

My friend in Spokane, Jason Bagge, AKA The Brougham Whisperer, found this honey over a year ago and got it up and running. Even found an NOS power sunroof switch and got it working. But he’s found new ’70s rolling stock to occupy him, and this one needs to go, so he’s listed it on eBay this week.

Per Jason: “Up for sale is my rare 1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Landau. They made about 300,000 Montes in 1974-but you are looking at a needle in the haystack so to speak. Not very many of these-with these options-were produced.”

“The car is in original, un-restored condition. It runs perfect and everything works except the 8 track player and the cruise control.”
“The car is equipped with a factory LS4 7.4 454 engine, cruise, AC, tilt wheel, power brakes, power steering, rare CA1 factory power sunroof, power windows, 6 way power seat, power locks, rear defroster, dual exhaust, 10 bolt posi-traction, bumper guards, bumper strips, door edge molding and a few other things I’m probably forgetting.”
“The trunk is in good shape with minor scale, the frame is perfect, the rear quarters are perfect, the floors are perfect.”
“The only rust I know of is behind the rocker body molding on the left front fender-but not soft and brittle.”
“The car has new tires, brakes, master cylinder, sunroof switch and the dash lights and horn were fixed and the connections cleaned.”
“The ‘patina’ is from the car sitting since 1994. The car was triple blue when new. Dark blue metallic, blue cloth interior and medium blue Landau top. I think there might be one pin hole around that trim I forgot to mention earlier-but now it is.”
“The title is in my name-no title jumping here. I own it, drove it, worked on it and it’s a blast! But I am moving on to other projects so I am letting it go. I might regret that down the line-but if someone can enjoy it-that’s all I want. Can you fly in and drive it back to where you live? Yes. You can. But keep in mind it is winter time and that 454 gets around 10 mpg’s on a good day, going downhill in neutral with a draft wind.”
“If you are looking for a rare ’74 Monte that is pretty much loaded-you just found it. 🙂 The chances of finding another like this one are slim to none.”

Intrigued? Then go check it out. It’s got about six days to go, as of Wednesday morning.


  1. It is interesting to see well optioned cars like this to remind us how spartan cars used to be if they weren’t optioned up. One thing I always hated was how GM made “sporty” instrument panels that required the optional gauge package to look like you hadn’t been cheap in your option choosing. Here you have the sporty Personal Luxury Coupe where someone checked the boxes for the sporty 454 engine, luxurious sunroof, A/C, cruise control, PW, and PS, but decided to cheap out and skip the gauge pack and bucket seats that would have completed the package. Not unusual, because I’ve seen lots of Camaros and SS Chevrolets with the optional big motors and otherwise well optioned but with a huge speedo and fuel gauge and bank of idiot lights where the tach/clock, volt, temperature, and oil pressure gauges “should” have been installed. Then the Japanese came in with their Celicas, Accords, and Z-cars that came standard with full instrumentation, reclining bucket seats, rear window defrosters, and radial tires all at a low, low price and really shook up the “everything is extra” US market.

    1. I’ve been reading the period car magazines, for complete lack of interest in current ChiCom-compliant crud and the NPCs who usually write about them. The way these cars were marketed was downright abusive to consumers. It wouldn’t surprise me if this car had a base price of around four thousand dollars and an option load that exceeded three thousand dollars, and yet you think the buyer cheaped out by not filling in the dummy plugs or paying for the ability to make both the driver and front seat passenger comfortable. It’s no secret that options were wildly profitable, and that GM spent their money on supply-stream complexity instead of providing value to their customers.

      It’s comical that now every old American car is marketed as being ‘one of three,’ because of the almost infinite option combinations that Detroit made to monetize vanity while giving away their business to imports that provided quality and value instead. The reality is that most options retained little value when these were used cars, and that collectively hurt the resale values of the entire model lines. Bad resale values hurt new cars buyers, and they doomed American cars when we became a nation of debtors. A car that was worth nothing after four years was fine with GM when the car was paid off after three years, but it wasn’t fine with anyone when car loans extended past four years.

      1. Yes you were right that the magazines hated these. I have a consumer guide from 74 where they tested a single exhaust 454 Monte. They were much more outraged by their observed 8.5 MPG than their I think pessimistically tested 10.0 seconds to 60. They ended with the suggestion that you consider instead a six cylinder Camaro that might be flashy enough for your tacky ass without destroying the environment.

        It was tough out there for the pimp trying to unload a big block in 74. He can’t talk horsepower because net numbers sound so low, and even big anti commies like CJ are just sure that you are really raking in those evil profits. Did the morons talking this way know they were killing this type of car?

        1. It has nothing to do with hatred of profits. Positioning the business to still be the biggest in the world would have involved reinvesting those profits in cars that made buyers happy as their needs changed and their exposure to cars GM didn’t offer them raised their expectations. As a buyer, I’d prefer that those profits came from selling cars that reflected engineering excellence and value instead of cynical marketing.

          You think the critics merely wanted to tear down the big three, but there is plenty of evidence that they really wanted GM and Ford to make cars that combined Detroit durability and HVAC standards with European road-holding and Japanese standards of efficiency and finish. They went all-in on praising Detroit’s attempts in that direction, until the embarrassment of their written record of lauding Vegas, Citations, Fairmonts, and Cimarrons became too much to bear.

          I also don’t think those morons killed this type of car. The buyers were fashion victims, and fashions change. CAFE also played a role, in addition to energy price volatility. These cars wore their inefficiency like a badge of honor, and there was Jimmy Carter telling people to put on a sweater. Watch Joe Biden kill off the pickup truck as another step in the extermination of the middle class that will be extremely popular with the fifty or sixty million people who voted for him.

          1. It really was amazing that the world leader in automatic transmissions took 9 years to develop an overdrive version after the first fuel crisis and 7 years after the enactment of CAFE. Or a pioneer in fuel injection (1957-65) couldn’t figure out how to make it standard on their large profitable models during the emissions strangulation era to maintain decent drivability, power, and fuel economy – Buick and Olds were still using carburetors into the 90s.

          2. I just don’t agree with you. The lampooning pre 77 was based on size and wastefulness not some love of Japanese fit and finish, that was the Beetle line. Only when Detroit shrunk their offerings do we suddenly hear of deeply held quality concerns. The masses weren’t going to anymore buy the wasteful angle so if the political movement was to continue the tune needed to be altered.

            If Genesis arose from Korea in 74 instead of ripofs of Morris Marina, and offered 600 cubic inch PLCs with donk wheels at below Monte pricing. The mags would be telling us how President Park was just another Diem and a vassal of the American military industrial complex. Don’t fall for them and their flash.

          3. While it is true that period reviews of the 1960 Big-3 compacts mentioned the dismal fit and finish quality, the lack of quality in Detroit was a recognized issue during the 1958 model year. A look at Car and Drivers from the 1960s also shows that many Big-3 cars had acknowledged quality issues even if nobody was cross-shopping them with a VW.

        2. No mention of the 73 to 74 OPEC Oil Embargo. Gas prices quadrupled and it was still tough for you to get gas. Fun times, fun times. Odd/even gas days based on the last plate #, I forget if you just had letters what the deal was. Lines blocks long and people pushing their cars up the line 15-20 feet at the time. Fights when someone cut into the line. But, yeah, you need a set of wheels, you’ve had your life turned upside down concerning your wheels. I know I’d get good cred if I published a magazine saying go for it with a 454.

          1. You make a good point about the gas lines. The price we paid was lasting. 3 years after this one, the Monte Carlo Landau was getting by with a 2 barrel 305 with 90 less horsepower and 115 foot pounds less torque. The upside was 400 pounds less weight and 4 more MPG. The car sold great either way but I wonder what the ratio of 77 drivers longing for a 454 versus 74 drivers longing for a 305.

  2. Man, all that engine for … not quite 250 horsepower, net.

    (And finally, a sedan that makes my SuperDuty look fuel efficient at 12mpg!)

    1. In response to Sigivald, tearing out certain 1970s US government mandated encumbrances on that 454 would yield substantial increases in horsepower. Even with emissions-strangulation the 454 retained a lot of low rpm torque. There’s a certain irony that this Spokane time capsule is a perfect example of how Detroit ended up having to pump out detuned big block smog pump wonders (yes that’s a mouthful). Spokane sits in a valley and if you have ever driven into the Spokane valley on I-90 during a winter temperature inversion you can see clear skies above and smoky sludgy air clinging to the valley bottom. Poorly tuned 1960s carbs kicked out vast amounts of unburnt hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides that created the legendary LA smog and made places like Denver, Riverside, and Spokane deadly to asthmatics. One of these days Jason will find something that overcomes my wife’s objections to drive down from Mead and buy one of his time capsules.

      1. Oh, yes, no doubt!

        I was more commenting on it as-sold than anything else, and it’s a great example of malaise-era sadness.

        (Our modern golden age of automotive performance is inspiring.

        I drive a station wagon (XC70) with a three liter straight six that easily puts out more horsepower than that 454 … though not quite so much torque. I’ll take the tradeoff for getting 20mpg combined rather than 10, though; one thing I have never thought my wagon lacked was oomph.

        And the 5.4L in my SuperDuty beats that detuned 454 on both ratings, and it’s not like the Ford 5.4 modular is some sort of highly-tuned rocketship engine.

        A goddamn golden age!)

    1. Cars like that make me wonder about the future of car collecting. It seems to be a beautiful time capsule of a very well optioned GP that was probably the pinnacle of the PLC era, and its an automatic with A/C that millennials could actually drive, but its also a 10 mpg gallon car that will barely out-accelerate a Prius, couldn’t keep up with a well optioned F-150 down a twisty road, and takes a whole lot of garage space if you want to keep it looking nice. It also doesn’t have the bumperless beauty and big HP motors of the 60s or the fantastic build quality of the 50s (or earlier), but it is also too nice to chop up into a restomod that would actually be fun and potentially economical to drive, so who will want one of these in the coming years? On the other hand, the younger generations usually don’t know how to drive a manual, are bored with anything that isn’t Apple Carplay compatible, and seem to be terrified of anything that doesn’t have 80 airbags so it is hard to see them ever having much interest in even older stuff and prices for most pre-60s vehicles are already going down and the muscle car era seems to be past its peak. Thus my guess is that interesting Japanese models and select Europeans and US SUVs/pickups from the 80s, 90s, 00s will be the most likely future collectibles if anyone can figure out how to keep all their electronic gizmos operational.

  3. It is interesting that so much current vitriol on this Monte example is because it has a cloth bench seat and a sunroof instead of buckets and a gage package. What foolishness. Our friend the first owner from 1974 understood that the cloth bench allowed his girl to press close while he enthralled her with the stars available at the touch of a button. He was after all young but accomplished. The 454 was for private fun on his commute.

    It fails to occur to us moderns that the imports we would be suggesting him did not have gauges either. Not the Audi Fox and only on the Capri if you bought the decor package. What pot smoking, living off his daddy hippy is going to buy something called the decor package? Sell them the lil hustler truck instead.

    1. Can you show me a picture of an Audi Fox or Capri dashboard full of empty holes where gauges would go if the customer wasn’t too cheap to order the deluxe interior?

      1. Jack’s system doesn’t let you post a picture but google Audi Fox dashboard pre 1977 image. All the pictures won’t be that so look for the old looking ones with all the fake wood.

        Now do the same with 74 Capri, it will also have much fake wood but no tach. Most pictures show the decor group but you can find a few without.

        1. Fake wood on a relatively cheap car such as a Fox or Capri or Monte Carlo is nothing terrible, especially if it is done with a hint of realism, but fake wood in a Cadillac or Lincoln is nothing but cheap cost cutting – especially when it is done without a hint of realism as it was so often during the 70s and 80s. I also don’t have any problem with a missing tach or even missing auxiliary gauges if it isn’t obvious they are missing, which was the case with the Fox or base Capri, but not the case with this Monte Carlo.

          1. I also like the fake wood on the Audi and Capri and Celica and the W114 Mercedes. I can understand why you draw the line at Cadillac. After all it allows for such an easy sneer. A proper take down of a car can’t just be insulting the people that drive it.

            About the gages you lost me. A low rev big block automatic has zero need for a tach though I can see why a few might order it extra. A high revving four that is usually manual might have a more pressing need though. I can understand though if pointing out the lapse is a heresy.

          2. As someone who owned a w115 Mercedes, which is just a w114 with a 5 or 6 cylinder engine, I don’t think they had “fake wood”.

            They had thin real wood with varnish [probably fully impregnanted with it to prevent long-term moisture issues?], steam-bent into shape.

            (Certainly mine had actual wood under a layer of poorly-aged varnish, and it wasn’t especially high-spec, that I could tell.

            My impression from the mailing list I was on at the time about them was that they all had Real Wood trim on the console.)

            That said, a high-quality fake wood is a fine choice, just like a high-quality vinyl seat has advantages over leather, especially indifferent-quality leather.

  4. Well, a couple things come to mind.

    1) Why would you care about a tachometer for a 454 with THM400?

    2) Bench seat and column shift allow 3 across seating, also a place for the women to put their purse. Far better space utilization than today’s enormous center console covering basically nothing, with your feet down in a hole.

    3) I note the headliner hasn’t fallen down yet. Were they still using proper headliners with the steel rods passing through little loops? When was the rat fur introduced?

    4) Biggest problem with a car like this (from appearance, it’s spent a lot of time sitting outdoors) is going to be embrittlement of all the interior plastic parts which explode into blue dust when you touch them.

    5) When gas prices spiked and the lines got long in ’73, cars like this became intensely undesirable. I was there and I remember.

    1. In 1974 cars, if you put any weight on the center front seat without a belted passenger, despite having disconnected the starter-interlock decades ago, wouldn’t the seat belt buzzer drone away unless the entire system was disconnected?

    2. 1. Why would you want a tachometer sized fuel gauge in a car that get 10 mpg? Did the original owner want to be constantly reminded about the extra money they paid for a weazy 454 the year after the 1973 fuel crisis?

      2. The front bench seat sort of allows 3 across seating, but the middle person better have short legs due to the big transmission hump – of course the backseat room wasn’t very impressive so maybe that would be preferred.

      The main point is that the 2nd generation Monte Carlo was widely promoted and even praised in the magazines for being a sporty PLC with decent handling for the era, and the buyer bought the sportiest engine option and an expensive sunroof, but didn’t go for the bucket seats and gauge package that would have completed the sporty look? Why did Chevrolet create a dashboard with a two huge gauges front and center and 4 holes for auxiliary gauges and then make the gauge package an expensive option? My guess is that someone in product planning thought some sporty car buyers would want a full complement of gauges, but the accountants would not approve a budget for two dashboards – the cheap one for non-performance/cheapskate buyers and the one full of holes for the performance buyers who wanted real gauges. So instead they made one dashboard full of holes that were filled with idiot lights and filled the big tach/clock hole with a fuel gauge to remind the cheapskate buyer they were going to need fuel pronto.

      As for a tach in a car with an automatic – why does the new Corvette have one when you can’t even get a manual? Why do all the BMWs have one when the manual has almost disappeared from the ultimate driving machines? Perhaps its because sporty car buyers like them?

      1. I seem to recall you couldn’t get the six-way power seat with the swivel buckets. You had to have the bench seat.

        1. You might be right, but I don’t remember if swivel buckets were the only bucket option. I would be surprised if Chevy didn’t offer some sort of power bucket option for at least the driver side – it would be very un-GM to leave some money like that on the table.

        2. Tom, if I remember correctly, the bench seat was standerd on the base level Monte Carlo and buckets with console standard on other trim levels. Swivel buckets were optional on all trim levels and I concur they were not offered with 6-way power (if you think about the belt drives and transmission for 6-way power seats would not work on seats that turned on a central attachment). Again, I do not have my sales literature close at hand but I think that is correct. In 1974 these and their stable mate personnel cars (two door coupes) were just moving into the personnel entry level lux car catagory and one option like the example you found is really rare (roll down windows were very common and 6-way power seat almost unheard of on a Monte Carlo.

          1. Do any of us reading the above believe that a BMW 2002, Audi Fox, Saab 99 Wagonback or 504 Coupe’ with the power features of this low priced 3 Monte Carlo would be viewed by these import humpers as anything but manna from heaven on any of their favorites?

          2. Actually I owned several 2002s for many years and one of the attractions was the fact that such a light and well balanced car didn’t need all the power accessories to be fun and easy to drive, which is one reason why a 4 speed 2002 was quicker to 60 than a 400 cubic inch Monte Carlo (and the 2002tii would beat the 454 version) while getting 30 mpg instead of 10. Given the unreliability of 1970s era European electric switches and motors, not wanting/needing power seats, windows, and sunroof was also a blessing.

          3. I believe the attitude Stingray espouses exists. However when the model equivalents of the Euros added the power features this Monte had eight or nine years later. Sales and price points went through the roof. Ironically often at the cost of American PLC sales, which by then at Chrysler and Ford were addled by rough four cylinder turbos thanks to the oil embargo and the resulting CAFE. GM was having some success reimagining their PLCs into later day Chevelles and 442s, but at the cost of alienating the 70s PLC buyer.

          4. BMW fan boys have been lamenting of softening of each new generation of BMWs since the days when the beloved 2002, E3, and E9 were replaced by bigger/heavier models offering more power accessories and softer suspensions. Of course BMW sold fewer of those classic models each year in the US than Chevy sold Corvettes, and their global sales were less than Chevy’s annual Monte Carlo sales in the US, so not that many people wanted a smallish car with manual seats, windows, and gearbox at a loaded Buick 225/Cadillac Eldorado price. Buying a BMW in those days meant you appreciated sophisticated engineering, good space utilization, good performance with excellent fuel economy (or excellent performance with good fuel economy), great seats even if manual – at least they had adjustable backrest, and very nice build quality, and there was nothing being made in the USA that was a viable alternative. Yet to grow beyond the small niche that appreciated those unique benefits and were able to pay for it, BMW (and many others) did soften, lengthen, widen, and lard up their cars so that status seekers, women, wimpy men, lazy drivers, etc. would consider the brand – and it worked. Who would have dreamed in 1974 that BMW would sell more cars in the US than Cadillac, Lincoln, and Buick combined in 2020, or that Chevy has become almost entirely a truck brand.

  5. What should our advise be to the next owner of this Monte. Should he leave it as is? Paint it expensively with something original? Do a cheap paint job in a popular color, or spend his money getting the 454 to pretend it is an LS4?

    1. The loaded mint low mileage GP that CJinSD links above is currently bid to $20K with reserve not met, so the final bid on that car will offer a glimpse at the upper bounds of what a restored high option Monte Carlo would be worth. Unless the bids go up a whole lot more, the market values would suggest there won’t be much margin for investing in a high quality paint job and other work necessary to bring it up to a high standard.

      1. I wonder if the 6-7k price point of this Monte is enough to keep it from the person who would home paint it matt black put some goofball exhaust on it only to have the 115k 454 blow up on the second drag race. So many died that way around 1990, it would be ashamed to last 46 years only to face the same sad fate.

  6. I’m hoping the next owner either restores it and keeps it as is. BTW John C.-while you might have driven some 70’s 454 cars-you never drove this one. It’s not slow and runs like a sewing machine. I’ve never hot rodded it since I owned it because I like to take care of my stuff. I wanted to re-paint this thing and put a new top on-and in the end-I just couldn’t do it because it’s a survivor. it would be amazing with some cosmetic work. The interior plastics are like new-nothing to worry about there. I actually had a guy ask me if it would do burnouts. Yeah-it will do burnouts-and you can do as many you like once you pay for the car because you are not going to fry my new tires and god knows what else.

  7. So humorous to see anyone trying to compare this with anything imported .

    I wouldn’t have had it for free but Americans loved their boats, make no mistake .

    Lord knows it’s so easy to wake this thing up without even removing the cylinder heads .

    I hope a good new owner gets it and takes good care of it .

    Monte Carlo love is very strong in Southern California, maybe it’ll be saved and well cared for .


  8. This one is rare looking, it’s a Landau and it’s a project but I bet with that 454 it runs 10 times better than my 74 that has the 350 4 Barrel lol It never easy to get started.

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