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Our '71 402, 4 speed build


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I bought my first Monte Carlo about 1988 and it was a '71 with a 402 and a 4 speed. I made some improvements and sold it after 4 or 5 years for a profit to use the money for home renovation, with plans to get another one someday, knowing how rare they are. 

I bought a one owner '71 350 Monte from a neighbor about '94 and used it for a work car for 2 years. My son and I restored it for his high school car in '08, and he still has it. It was the first car I've done all of the body work and paint on. 

I bought our '70 SS454 soon after finishing my son's '71 and did a body off resto-mod on it. The build thread is still here, in the SS454 forum. 

I drove 13 hours to Denver, Colorado, 3 years ago to buy a very solid and driveable '71 402, 4 speed that came out of Tennessee. The short story is we agreed on a purchase price and the guy backed out on me. That was 26 hours wasted, not to mention the fuel. 

Right after that, I had a guy in northern Alabama sending me photos of another one that he had for sale and it was another southern car and it was also very solid. It was an Oshawa built car and he sent photos of 2 line sheets he had found. He was going to do a rest-mod and had already had the transmission rebuilt. He had the engine rebuilt at a local machine shop. The short story is the block had been decked and the machinist restamped the block without him knowing of the deck work/restamp. I noticed a mistake in the partial VIN stamp in his photos. He quit answering my phone calls and messages, even though I told him I was still interested in the car. 

That brings us to this car. I saw a reply a guy made to someone on a Facebook group post about 6 weeks ago. He said he had this car and would be selling it in a few weeks. I sent him a PM and asked him to let me know when he would be ready to sell. He replied with a lot of history of the car and some pics. 2 or 3 weeks later, I was 5 hours south of here, loading it up. 

The man that ordered the car in '71 worked for GM at a proving ground. He ordered it for his brother, Gus, at their hometown Chevrolet dealership in Thayer, Missouri, which is barely north of the Arkansas border. He ordered a '71 SS454 with a 4 speed. I believe he thought maybe he could use his position with GM to push the order through successfully for his brother, but they were not able to get it done. Gus decided he wanted the 4 speed more than he wanted an SS454. 

Gus was working as an engineer for McDonnell Douglas Aircraft in a suburb of St. Louis. He was married with no children, like his brother, and they both were car guys with Corvettes. Gus had had a Corvette stolen while living in Florrisant, MO. After that happened, he started putting alarm systems on his cars, including this car. He drove the Monte a lot as a work car until the summer of '83. He kept it decent and driveable all through the years, but he put very few miles on it after '83. When Gus retired, he moved back to Thayer. He kept all receipts for any maintenance done on the car and he always kept detailed records, which I now have.

The car came with some extra parts, including an excellent NOS grille, still in the box, that Gus bought many years ago, after damaging the front bumper and grille a little bit. He was planning to someday restore the car and he'd had a cheap repaint done in the '70s, along with a full rebuild on the numbers matching engine. 

In 1974, Gus wanted a better shifter, so he installed a Hurst. He saved everything he removed with the Muncie shifter and put it in the Hurst box. 49 years later, it's all still in that same box, and now in my garage. The shifter still has the factory black shifter knob with no shift pattern on it. 

Gus found the build sheet under the dash pad when he did some work on the car, and the protect-o-plate is also included with all of the documentation.

I'm very glad to have gotten the opportunity to restore such an amazing Monte Carlo. It has more options than any of the 3 other 4 speed Montes that I mentioned above, and it'll make a very fun car. The original color is a little different than what it is now, but not a lot different. It's supposed to be Rosewood Metallic. 

I've already removed the hideous fog lights, and I'm going to continue keeping detailed records so a future owner will have it all. The carb is a service replacement for a '71 that was assembled in '79 and installed in '81. 

The car has AC, a working tach and gauge dash, a 3.31 posi rear, the optional NK4 Sports Steering wheel, the auxiliary lighting package, a non-working AM/FM 8 track with 4 speakers, rear window defogger, Rally wheels, and Gus had the F41 suspension that he purchased from Chevrolet added after he got the car. He also had Sears add cruise control and I found a vacuum hose for it off on the brake switch. I just reconnected the hose and it still works! He put a pair of chrome valve covers on from his brother's Corvette parts supply. 

The car now has a freshly rebuilt carb, new battery and tray, and new Moog rear springs. The 42 year old tires don't leak and have very, very few cracks for their age, but they won't be on the car too much longer. 

I've bought NOS quarters and some other sheetmetal already. I'm trying to locate a solid tailpanel and the last few inches of the trunk floor. The rest of the trunk floor and the floor pans are solid. 





























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That's awesome Dan!

Thanks for sharing and keep us updated, you know we like pictures too!

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Amazing story Dan, thanks for sharing.   We are looking forward to the progress stories and pictures.


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Amazing car. Awesome find and I’m glad the story finally made it to the site. As nice as it is now, I can’t imagine how nice the finished product will be. Great story and an even better save. 

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Great story and can't wait to see the finished car. My question is how do you find a 4 speed car. If you come up with another one let me know. Good luck with the project. 

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Great to know that another survivor is now in good hands!  It already looks a lot better and we know what you are capable of through your amazing SS!  At least your 402 4-speed has factory A/C and power steering - mine was built with neither.  Good luck with the resto and enjoy the unique pleasure of owning and driving a big block 4-speed Monte!

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  • 1 month later...

I haven't had much time to work on this car yet, but I changed the plugs and did a compression test. It runs and idles better, but now it seems the fuel pump is giving up. Suddenly, the motor is fuel starved when accelerating hard. That'll be the next change. 

The Hurst Competition Plus shifter felt pretty sloppy. The car actually came to me with the original Muncie shifter, plus a spare one that had a part number written on it as if a salvage yard would have done.  I cleaned it up in the degreaser tank yesterday and it's in great shape. Gus changed to the Hurst in '74, so my guess is that he got the spare Muncie shifter from a low miles Chevelle that had been wrecked, but decided not to use it. The mounting bracket and braces were still attached to the Muncie shifter that he took out, and that shifter was worn noticeably more than the spare one was. I was able to remove the Hurst this morning and install the Muncie. It works great, and every piece of original hardware I needed was in the Hurst box. I forgot to take a photo of the shifter after it was cleaned up, but I'll get one with it installed. The rubber shifter boot was hard and it crumbled getting the Hurst shifter out, but a new boot came with the car. I'll be installing it soon. 


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