How to Tell Them Apart
Here is a list of known differences between the 3 years of First Generation Monte Carlos. This list is constantly being updated. Please send any suggestions to add to this page to Aaron at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1970 - Rounded headlight bezels
1971-1972 - Headlight bezels are more square with rounded corners
Headlights were moved further apart for 1971/1972.
1970 - Round park lights in bumper
1971 - Rectangle park lights in bumper
1972 - Vertical park lights in grille
1970 - Fine square grid pattern on grille
1971 - Fine horizontal pattern on grille
1972 - Wider grille with rectangular grid pattern and parking lights
1970 - Thin Hood Spear
1971 - Thin Hood Spear with "Chevrolet" ornament
1972 - Wider Spear with "MC" script
Trim under headlights
Many 1970 Monte Carlos had additional thin horizontal trim under the headlights just above the bumper. This was eliminated during the production year but the time that occurred varied by the manufacturing plant. Some plants nearly made it the full production year with this trim installed.
1970 additional trim
1970 - Grill Emblem featured Roman Numerals for 1970
1971 - Grill Emblem featured Roman Numerals for 1971
1972 - Grill Emblem featured only vertical lines where Roman Numerals once were
70-No trunk keyhole emblem
71-Knight crest keyhole emblem with 1971 roman numerals
72-Knight crest keyhole emblem without roman numerals
1970 - Backup light lens did not have horizontal ridge like 1971/1972
1971-1972 - Backup light lens had horizontal ridge across the middle
Rear Panel Trim
1970-1971 - Thin trim on the lower edge of the tail panel above the bumper
1971 SS454 - Additional thin trim below the trunk lid with the tail panel painted black
1972 - Wider trim covering the tail panel between the bumper and trunk lid
1971 Monte Carlo SS454
1970 - Chrome only around the edge of the lens
1971-1972 - Additional vertical chrome strip down the center of the lens
There are two horizontal bars also on the 71/72 trim that often show chrome. These were painted red from the factory.
Vinyl Roof Trim
1970 - Most 1970 models had the full halo vinyl top trim (stopped before windshield)
Late 1970 to 1972 - Halo vinyl top trim (trim and vinyl continues all the way to windshield)
The time the switch from the full halo style to the halo style varied by the manufacturing plant. Some plants nearly made it the full production year before the change.
Radiator Support and Fenders
With the headlights moved further apart for 1971 this changed the radiator support and fenders for that year. With the movement of the headlights in 1971 the radiator support was changed to accommodate this and also resulted in a change of how the fenders need to be bolted to the radiator support. As a result the 1970 fenders are for one year only. For 1972 the changes to the radiator support were minor to allow the wider grille and new parking light location. There were no changes to the fender for 1972 and will interchange with 1971.
1970 fender and radiator support
1971/72 fender and radiator support
Option Package Differences
1970 door panels do not feature upholstery buttons and are a different appearance from 1971/1972.
1971-1972 door panels feature buttons are are a different appearance from 1970.
1970 Bench seat interior
1970 Bucket seat interior
1971/1972 Bench seat interior
1971/1972 Bucket seat interior
1970 standard steering wheel matched the color of the interior with a plastic rim and center. The center featured woodgrain with a Monte Carlo script in the middle and two horn buttons on the sides. Note that the steering wheel was black for the 1970 SS454 regardless of interior color.
1970 sport steering wheel was a black rim with 3 metal spokes and bowtie emblem on the center horn button.
1971-1972 standard steering wheel was black with a plastic rim, vinyl center with a small wood grain strip and Monte Carlo script on the right side.
1971-1972 sport steering wheel was a black vinyl rim with 4 vinyl spokes and a horn button with a bowtie emblem.
1972 custom steering wheel was all vinyl with a thin chrome strip around the center section and Chevrolet script on the right side.
1970 Standard steering wheel
1970 Optional sport steering wheel
1971/1972 Standard steering wheel
1971/1972 Optional sport steering wheel
1972 Custom steering wheel
Other Interior Differences
1970 interior control knobs and lighter are black plastic with chrome plating around the outside edges.
1971 interior control knobs and lighter are black vinyl with a white circle in the center. The 1971 SS454 had white symbols in the knobs instead of circles.
1972 interior control knobs and lighter are black vinyl with respective symbol in the center.
1970 interior gauges, radio, console and heater controls, light up green.
1971-1972 interior gauges, radio, console, heater controls, light up white.
A seat belt warning light was added to the dash part way through the 1972 production year.
Glove Box door interior for 1970 is different from 1971/1972. 1970 has two large circular recesses.
1970-1971 - All engines had Engine Displacement and HP rating decal on air cleaner.
1972 - Only the 454 engine had an Engine Displacement and HP rating decal on air cleaner.