Story and photos by Al Rogers
One summer day in 1970, Art Petridis started on his routine drive to work in his red 1968 Chevy II Nova as he did any other work day. Then, out of nowhere, came a vehicle into his lane and the two cars collided head-on. The Nova was pushed into a tree and destroyed, and Petridis was sent to the hospital with a concussion courtesy of the Nova’s rearview mirror.
Soon after being released from the hospital, Petridis resumed work as a line mechanic at Sullivan Chevrolet in Roselle Park, N.J. The 1968 Chevy II Nova had been declared a total loss and a new vehicle was priority one.
Days prior to the automobile accident, Petridis had spotted a triple-blue 1970 Monte Carlo sitting on the lot of Sullivan Chevrolet. After receiving the dreaded news about the total loss of his 1968 Chevy II Nova, he made a call to the dealership where he was employed and asked if the blue Monte Carlo was still available. To his delight, it had not been sold and he agreed to purchase it.
The all-new Monte Carlo — with its clean lines, wide stance and luxury car appeal — had made an impression on the young Petridis. He had not gotten behind the wheel of a Monte Carlo for a test drive until the day he bought one. The test drive nailed the deal; Petridis was awed by the car’s ride and handling characteristics. Factory air conditioning, power steering and power brakes were an added bonus for the hot and humid New Jersey summers. The manual crank windows meant one less thing to go wrong.
Soon after purchasing the Monte Carlo, Petridis started the process of rust-proofing the car. The dealership had the material on hand because it provided the service to its customers, as did many dealerships in areas where rust was an issue. Using the available equipment, Petridis loaded the inner doors, fenders, quarter panels and undercarriage of the Monte Carlo with the rust proofing material in hopes of preserving the body for a long time. Unlike many owners, however, Petridis continued this process for more than three decades. Sullivan Chevrolet closed its doors during General Motors’ dealership restructuring in 2009, but the Monte Carlo lives on, partly due to the rust-proofing measures taken by Petridis. He confesses to not know the number of rust-proofing coats he applied to the Monte Carlo over the decades.
In 2009, the 1970 Monte Carlo was given a body-on-frame restoration. The original paint, primer and electric coat (e-coat) were removed from the metal and the only rust found on the car was at the lower windshield corners of the cowl area, beneath the trim moldings (this area is known for holding moisture and small debris). The lower doors, fenders, rocker panels and quarter panels were rust free. These areas are at a high risk for rust among Monte Carlos (and other cars) that are driven in the salt belt or near the ocean. The effort Petridis put into rust proofing the car had paid off.
Under the hood of the Monte Carlo is the iconic Chevy 350-cid V-8 engine with a two-barrel carburetor. It remains to factory spec, but now exhales easier through dual exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers. The addition of the dual exhaust gave the car some added kick and really changed the overall feel by providing a little better engine respiration and a louder exhaust note. At the time of the restoration, Petridis pulled the heads and had them overhauled at a local machine shop. Some small-block Chevrolet V-8s are known for developing a valve guide issue that is most apparent when starting the engine cold; a cloud of blue smoke comes from the exhaust outlets at start-up when the valve guides became worn. Petridis’ Monte Carlo never developed the condition and did not burn oil. In fact, it ran well. Since the mileage had rolled past the 100,000 mark, Petridis decided it was time to check out the heads and give them an overhaul just in case.
Petridis installed clear protective covers on the front and rear seats soon after purchasing the Monte Carlo. The interior remains immaculate and shows no signs of wear. The full vinyl top looks factory fresh, just like the trim and other hardware on the car.
The 1970 Monte Carlo was Petridis’ first new car. As one might expect from a car owned by a line mechanic, this Monte Carlo has received meticulous mechanical care with oil changes every 3,000 miles and transmission services at 20,000-mile intervals. Petridis is a proponent of treating a car well so it reciprocates for its owner.
Petridis and his wife, Liz, met shortly after he purchased the Monte Carlo. They have fond memories of dates to the local cruise-ins, Dairy Queens and special happenings in their New Jersey hometown with the Monte Carlo. After marriage, they continued to use the car as a daily driver for nearly 30 years. Once the Monte Carlo was retired from daily duty, they began participating with the car in many shows in the East.
The couple’s biggest thrill was winning a recognition award at the 2014 Eyes On Design car show held at the Edsel Ford Estate in Grosse Point Shores, Mich. Liz has an eye for detail and handled the detailing and cleaning of the car prior to the show. She put many hours into preparing the engine bay and finessing the interior and exterior of the Monte Carlo. Comments from the enthusiasts at the show were positive.
It’s unusual to see first-generation Monte Carlos at world-class car shows such as Eyes On Design. The annual show focuses on automotive design and for 2014, a grouping of mid-size luxury two-doors was assembled to show the design features from General Motors, Ford, Mercury, Chrysler and other American makers during the ’70s. The grouping was well-received. Many onlookers commented about the 1970 Monte Carlo with its attention to detail, clean lines and overall design.
Art and Liz Petridis are to be commended for preserving their 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. After spending quality time with the couple, it’s apparent the car has turned into a family heirloom.
“The 1970 Monte Carlo is not going anywhere, never,” Art Petridis proudly said.
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