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March 2005

This 1971 Monte Carlo SS 454
is owned by Larry Ray





The Story..... 

Larry B. Ray’s 1971 SS-454 Monte Carlo

My love affair with the Monte Carlo’s started back in 1977. I finally was able to purchase a 1971 that I had paid for in cash, and I fell in love with immediately. I was excited because she was mine, and she was lien free! What a great start.

That was back in 1977, since then I have owned 6 Monte Carlo’s.

I always knew I wanted to restore an older Monte, and I knew that the 1971 model was my idea of the perfect year to restore. In 2000 I found my Monte from a guy in New Jersey. I found it on the internet, and before I knew what had happened, it was sitting in my garage. Once again the love affair had started.

The original color was green, and for now all I knew was that I did not want to keep it that color. Soon the thinking and the work began.... I was fortunate that my son wanted to participate in helping me with my huge undertaking. Working along side with my son on this Monte was a perfect combination.

Every decision regarding the car was serious to me. It was fun once each stage of it was completed. My mission was to find parts. Originally I said I would work on the car during my down time when the weather in the Chicago area was nasty. I bought my Monte in September, and thought I would work on it during the late fall, and cold and brutal winter of Chicago. I then thought I would take a break from it during the spring, and summer, giving me and my wallet a chance to breathe, and rest.  However I was so caught up in my “Baby” that I continued on it, and my son and I were almost finished by August 2004!! Now do not get me wrong, you are never actually finished, there always seems to be something that can be done, improved on, changed over, or tweaked. But at least I was somewhat comfortable enough to take it to a car show and show off my baby. To my surprise I won a 1st place trophy at our debut showing.

One of the hardest things to decide on was the color for the paint job, I finally decided on a soft silver, with a pearl like finish to it. It is sharp!! 

We did everything to the Monte from top to bottom, to inside and out. In the interior we did the dashboard, steering wheel, seats, and radio. The body was stripped down and finished so it would get a nice paint job, new chrome, and all new OEM emblems were put into place. We replaced the exhaust system, and the wheels and trim. We did a lot of hunting to find parts, thank goodness for the internet!

We also did everything possible on the mechanical side. We rebuilt the engine, transmission, and brakes to mention a few. I felt like it was a scavenger hunt finding new suppliers for the perfect part, or a person on the internet wanting to sell a part they had. I was fortunate enough a few times to find someone who had original parts still in the original packaging. Every time I found a part for it was like Christmas and I was a 9 year old again! But nothing matched the feeling when I first took it out for a ride in August when we considered the bulk of the work completed. Driving my newly restored Monte made all of the time, effort, and money spent worth it, and working with my son was priceless.


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