Junkyard Gem: 1998 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Z34

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The original Chevrolet Monte Carlo stayed in production for the 1970 through 1988 model years, with each of that period's four generations of Montes featuring two doors, rear-wheel-drive, and rakish-looking fender bulges. When the Chevrolet Lumina got a refresh for 1995, GM decided to revive the Monte Carlo name on the coupe version. The new Lumina Carlo lacked the rear-wheel-drive and fender bulges of its predecessors, but the good news was that the Lumina's high-performance Z34 trim level moved over to this car. Today's Junkyard Gem is one of those Z34s, found in a Denver-area self-service yard last month.

The 1995-1997 Monte Carlo Z34s had a screaming 3.4-liter DOHC V6 rated at 215 horsepower and 220 pound-feet, but the 1998-1999 models received the good old 3.8-liter pushrod Buick V6 and its 200 horses. At least the torque went up slightly, to 225 lb-ft. Other big Chevy news for 1998 was the demise of the Geo brand and the Prizm, Metro, and Tracker becoming Chevrolets.

The last year for a production Monte Carlo with three pedals was all the way back in 1979, when both three-on-the-tree and four-on-the-floor versions were available. This car, like all 1998 W-Bodies, has a four-speed automatic.

Only two trim levels were available for this car, the LS and the Z34. The price tag on the '98 Monte LS was $17,795 and the Monte Z34 cost $20,295 (that's about $31,835 and  $36,310 in 2022 dollars). Other "Z" Chevrolets over the years include the Z24, Z26, and Z28. Just to confuse everyone, the Cavalier had an F41 version for a while.

The LS and Z34 looked nearly identical at a glance (and both very closely resembled their Lumina sedan sibling), but the '98 Z34 had 40 more horsepower than the LS.

The interior is standard 1990s W-Body stuff. You'd be hard-pressed to say if those doors and seat panels came from a Monte Carlo, a Grand Prix, or a Cutlass Supreme.

An AM/FM radio with cassette deck was standard equipment in both the LS and Z34 Monte Carlos for 1998, but the original purchaser shelled out an additional 93 bucks ($166 today) for the CD player.

This one was living in South Dakota as recently as ten years ago.

The rust suggests that it spent most of its life in South Dakota or some similarly corrosion-friendly locale.

It may have been a good runner when it came to this place, but the Rust Monster doomed it.

The owner's manual and plenty of maintenance records were still in it, so this may have been a one-owner car.

You'll find one in every car. You'll see.

Pretty much the same thing as a NASCAR Monte Carlo, apparently.

Later on, Monte Carlos with Tasmanian Devil badging were available from the factory. Here's Dale becoming possessed by the cartoon character during a pit stop in his Monte, consuming tires and fire-suppression-system bottles and washing them down with gasoline.

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