New Monza build, lots of questions

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New Monza build, lots of questions

Postby zeroluck » Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:51 pm

About 6 years ago, I bought a 79 monza for $150 from a buddy, he couldn't get it to run. I dropped the tank and cleaned the fuel filters, put transmission fluid in it and drove it home. It started overheating, and we determined there was exhaust in the radiator. I took it to a friend of a friend who is sort of a side diy young mechanic guy and has restored a few cars. I took the car out to his house to get it worked on.

Long story short, he never did anything with the car even though I was willing to pay him. I went off to college and forgot about it, then came back and got a job in my hometown. The car is still sitting about 30 miles away and I'm going to get it this weekend.

It's a Red Monza Spyder Automatic with the 5.0 L 305 v8 in it. It has an immaculate white leather interior, working 8 track deck. Outside, it needs a little more TLC, detached trim, paint is relatively OK, some rust behind the front and rear wheel wells. The car ran when I took it out there, and I'm hoping all is well, but we'll see.

My questions relate to exterior restoration, wheel replacement options, transmission fluid leakage, and possible motor and tranny swapout options. I'm just gonna rattle off some questions and hopefully people with insight and experience may have guidance for me.

  • Are there any good sources for trim for these things?
  • What have people replaced the wheels with?
  • I like the idea of aluminum wheels that cost around $100 each, but I remember the bolt pattern on these things was weird... 4 lugs or something.

The transmission is leaking fluid (like all of it if it sits too long.) But it drives fine when it's full. For this reason I am weighing the following options:

  • Open up the tranny and try to find the leak and fix it with only the necessary parts
  • Do a Monster-in-a-box kit:
  • Get a Reman Monster TH350 Trans... (is the trans on the monza a 9"tall model or a 6" tall model) I would get the mild transmission if I kept the 305 or a heavy duty if I do a 350 swap
  • Get a Reman Monster 700R4 Trans. I like the idea of having overdrive, but I'm not sure how much of a bolt-in replacement this is.
    • Will the gear stick need to be modified since it only has 1 2 and D?
    • Add an overdrive toggle?
    • Is there additional modification required to fit the tranny under the body or for mounting?
  • Dump Tranny fluid in it all the time and let my girlfriend drive it to work.

The engine is overheating/possibly completely effed after sitting for 6 years (last time it ran it was by a 19 y/o version of me who let it overheat quite a bit). The guy who has it said it wouldn't turn over last time he tried, but that might be an utterly dead battery or something else. Due to this I'm toying with these options:

  • Year one 400HP crate 350
  • Year one 400HP crate 350 with aluminum heads
  • $1000 budget build 400hp 350
  • Top end rebuild
  • Full engine rebuild if necessary
  • Something crazy (turbo/super ecotec, supercharged buick motor, open to ideas)

Last question: Let's say I want to get the 305 running quickly so I can drive this thing around while I hum and haw about the 350 swap idea. If it turns out I have cracked heads and I want aluminum heads on my budget build 350, can I put aluminum 350 heads on a 305 in the meanwhile, then reuse them for my super duper 350 build?

As soon as I get over there with the trailer, I'm going to begin taking pictures of the thing and what's going on with it. I may start a project journal thread on it, but for now I'm just trying to figure out what I want to do with this thing.
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Re: New Monza build, lots of questions

Postby sportriderok » Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:09 pm

Welcome to the board! This is the place for the answers to all your questions. If you can do it to a H-body, someone here has done it. We have nearly zero aftermarket support for trim and body stuff, but if you post what you need in the wanted sectin, someone can probably help you out. Wheel choices require a simple swap to S10 spindles, rotors and axles, which gives you more choices than you can imagine. Look around the forum and ask questions, you'll get the answers here.
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Re: New Monza build, lots of questions

Postby cosvega76 » Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:43 pm

Welcome to the board! Let's see if I can answer some of your questions.

There are no sources for repop trim items for Monzas. Your best bet is to put an ad in the Wanted section of this forum and see what other members have to offer.

Wheels are a problem. Pretty much anything with the 4x4" bolt pattern is a 13" wheel, which there aren't many tire choices for anymore. What most folks do is a 2WD S-10 front spindle/ rear axle shaft swap to move up to the common Chevy 5x4-3/4" bolt pattern. There are lots of info on this. Either use the Search function or check out the FAQ at:

Your leaking transmission while parked is probably the o-ring in the fill/dipstick tube is old/missing.

We would need more information about the condition of the engine/cooling system to determine the overheating problem. My guess is if this vehicle has been sitting, it may need a radiator, thermostat, water pump, and/or good coolant flush. The 305 is pretty much a small-block Chevy, so any other will bolt in. Be aware that anything above 350 HP will need some kind of aftermarket radiator. There are other members of this board that can help you with the power limitations of the rest of the drivetrain.

Good luck and have fun!

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Re: New Monza build, lots of questions

Postby zeroluck » Wed May 08, 2013 12:48 pm

I got the car. It was a damned ordeal. The guy who was supposed to work on the heads while the thing was still running 6 years ago wanted money for storage so I just gave him $200.

Here's the first picture!


Some concerns I have:

Rust behind wheel wells (all 4)
Rust on Unibody + floor pans
Busted Heads... coolant may have flowed into cylinders and seized up engine.

Today when I get off work, I will be taking a massive amount of pictures of the condition before I do anything. I'll post them up here.
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Re: New Monza build, lots of questions

Postby vegastre » Wed May 08, 2013 1:15 pm

6 years ago wanted money for storage so I just gave him $200.

Actually , you need to change your name from 'zeroluck' to 'verylucky' because not everyone would store a car on their property for six years. Heck, none of my family would store any of my cars for a year. My point, $200 seems more than fair.
Phil Kennedy~
72 Chevrolet Vega GT Hatchback
75 Pontiac Astre SJ Safari Wagon
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Re: New Monza build, lots of questions

Postby zeroluck » Wed May 08, 2013 4:43 pm

maybe so!
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Re: New Monza build, lots of questions

Postby zeroluck » Thu May 09, 2013 4:59 pm

continuing this thread as a project journal:
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