It was spotted at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals.
In a delightful surprise to classic car enthusiasts, an exceptionally rare 1986 Chevy Monte Carlo SS equipped with a five-speed manual gearbox has surfaced, showcasing a unique piece of automotive history. This fifth-generation Monte Carlo SS, emerging from the Schenk Chevy Dealership in New Jersey, challenges the norm of its era by featuring a manual transmission straight from the dealership, a modification rarely seen in such models.
The vehicle’s creation was inspired by a simple yet intriguing question: If the Camaro could have a stick shift, why not the Monte Carlo? In answering this, the Schenk Chevy Dealership transformed the Monte Carlo SS into a one-of-a-kind gem, making it one of the few bench-seat sedans to sport a 5-speed on the floor. This unique car was recently featured on Lou Costabile's YouTube channel and made an appearance at the 2023 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals.
Under its hood, the car maintains the integrity of the original Monte Carlo SS with a 305 cubic-inch V8 engine, delivering a stock output of 180 horsepower and 225 lb-ft of torque. However, its standard three-speed TH350 gearbox (with overdrive) was replaced with a Borg-Warner T5 five-speed gearbox, complete with a floor-mounted Hurst shifter.
The backstory of this vehicle involves Charlie Graff, co-owner of the Schenk Chevy Dealership, who felt the automatic Monte Carlo SS lacked in performance despite being touted as the return of the Chevy muscle car. In a move reminiscent of HPJ Performance's manual conversion for the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, Graff partnered with General Motors to develop a package that converted automatic SS models to five-speed variants right off the showroom floor.
The rarity of this model is underscored by the fact that the dealership did not keep track of these manual conversions. Phillip Madden, the current owner of this Monte Carlo SS, believes there might only be one other prototype like his. His car could very well be the sole survivor in excellent condition.
Madden initially planned an LS-swap for the Monte Carlo, paired with a six-speed manual gearbox. However, discovering the car's unique five-speed stick shift after winning it at an auction prompted him to reconsider. Owning this classic vehicle, he now possesses a true automotive treasure, a testament to the innovation and ingenuity of a bygone era in American muscle cars.