Chevrolet to Revive Monza Nameplate in China

Well, it’s that special time of year again: the Guangzhou Auto Show is finally back (has it already been a year?). And good news! GM and its Chinese partner SAIC are planning something special for the show, a brand new Chevrolet Monza.

Unfortunately, we have little more than a teaser image of the front corner and the RS badge nestles therein. So, we know that it should have some pretensions to sportiness and will be offered in red. And that’s about all we know.

Although it looks like a passenger car (just judging on the height, and how low the headlights start), we actually don’t know for sure. Nor do we have a clear idea of how relevant it will be to the American market (smart money says: not very)

What we do know for sure, though, is the history of the Chevrolet Monza. So let’s talk about that. Introduced in 1975, the Monza was initially designed to house GM’s own attempt at the rotary Wankel engine, so in a funny old way, it’s a deeply appropriate time to bring it back, since one of GM’s even earlier attempts to put the Wankel into production was in a mid-engine Corvette.

But as you may or may not recall, no such Corvette came to be, and GM never produced a rotary engine. What they did produce, though, was everything else surrounding it in the particular case of the Monza. Poor fuel economy in the rotary meant that even a 5.7-liter V8 was favorable (though a 2.4-liter I4 and 4.3-liter V8 were also offered, and the Buick 3.8-liter V6 was available in the rebadged Skyhawk and Oldsmobile Starfire) so that’s what went in the engine bay instead.

Built on the H-body platform, the car was the subcompact successor to the Vega. John DeLorean, in fact, nicknamed it the “Italian Vega” because of its alleged resemblance to the Ferrari 365 GTC/4… mmkay.

A more luxurious and also more ugly version known as the Monza Towne Coupe was also offered to compete with the runaway success of the Mustang II. Just gonna let that one sink in for a minute.

Throughout its life, the RWD Monza participated in motorsports, running in the IMSA GT series and more. And as its shape might suggest, the Monza is reasonably aerodynamic, and so continues to have some appeal among land speed racers.

By 1981, though, the world was ready to move on from RWD, subcompact cars, and GM started producing the Chevrolet Cavalier and its ilk.

The name existed in other markets, too, with Opel launching its own Monza in 1978 Although it bears a passing resemblance to the American Monza, it was instead based on the V platform that was developed by Opel in the ‘60s (and on which cars were built until 2007).

The name Monza, though, is perhaps best associated with the Corvair. The Corvair Monzas were among the most popular in the lineup and throughout the Corvair’s history promised luxury and performance.

And now, again, SAIC-GM want to use the name to imply performance and speed, saying that the new Chevy Monza will provide a “passionate driving experience” and will “inherit the sporty genes of the Chevrolet brand.”

You can read all about it when it launches at some point between November 16 and 20. Unfortuantely, though, we won’t be on the floor covering the event, as GM tells us our invitations got lost in the mail.

Opel Monza photo by Stahlkocher – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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