Home » Time For Some Ambitious Projects: 1962 Triumph Herald vs 1986 Chevy Monte Carlo SS

Time For Some Ambitious Projects: 1962 Triumph Herald vs 1986 Chevy Monte Carlo SS

Sbsd 8 15 2023
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Today’s Shitbox Showdown is not for the faint-of-heart. We’re going to dive into a pair of rough, but completely viable, project cars, neither of which has moved under its own power in decades. But fear not: One of them includes a parts car, and the other has broad aftermarket support. But before we get dusty and risk spider bites checking them out, let’s see what you made of yesterday’s red-white-and-blah coupes:

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Ooh, close one! The Ford wins it by a slight margin. But I have to side with the minority here; the Cosmo is just the more interesting car.

Now then: I know not everyone here is a fan of project cars. You’re not alone; plenty of serious gearheads aren’t enthusiastic about doing their own work, or just never learned how, so they stick to completely functional cars, and pay someone else to get their hands dirty. And that’s cool. But some of us are drawn to the junkers, the barn-finds, the cars that have languished unloved for years in garages and fields, and we love the idea of bringing them back from the dead. The reality of doing so doesn’t always line up with the fantasy, of course. But that makes the daydreaming even more fun; if you can look at these rusty old heaps and see them not for what they are now, but for what they might be, then you’re One Of Us. Let me show you what I’ve found.

1962 Triumph Herald 1200 w/parts car – $2,100

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Engine/drivetrain: 1.2 liter overhead valve inline 4, four-speed manual, RWD

Location: Bellingham, WA

Odometer reading: unknown

Runs/drives? Nope

In case you’re not familiar with this car: This is the Triumph Herald, introduced in 1959 as a replacement for the Standard Eight and Standard Ten, two frumpy little sedans that didn’t fit well with Triumph’s successful TR series of sports cars. The Herald was a clean-sheet design except for the engine, a typical little over-square British pushrod four. Hey, they worked. The Herald’s chassis, including its independent swing-arm rear suspension, later became the basis for the Spitfire, GT6, and Vitesse models. It’s a body-on-frame design, with body panels that bolt onto a central tub.

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This design is important for our purposes, because there are two Heralds here. The more-complete red one is a British-spec right-hand-drive 1962 model with a clean title in the seller’s name. The blue car is a Canadian-spec model, with no title. But it has a lot less rust. The Erector set nature of the car’s assembly means you can transfer good sheetmetal to the car with the good title without cutting and welding. Both cars have complete drivetrains, so you can pick the best bits there as well. And the commonality of mechanical parts with the Spitfire means that the oily bits aren’t hard to find.

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Once you do get it running, don’t expect a miracle when it comes to performance. The Herald’s 1147 cc engine put out 63 horsepower when fitted with twin SU carbs as this one is; it’s enough, but not what you’d call pulse-raising. Later Spitfire engines with more power will drop right in, and I’ve even seen a Herald with an inline six from a Triumph GT6 installed, if you want even more.

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The interior of the red car is shot, but complete; there are no photos of the inside of the blue car, but it’s described as having “some interior.” But this isn’t the sort of car you do a 100-point concours restoration on anyway. Get some nice seats out of a Corolla or something and stick them in there, use the old wooden dash as a template for a new one, and don’t worry too much.

1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS – $3,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 5.0 liter overhead valve V8, four-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Rochester, NY

Odometer reading: 71,000 kilometers (Canadian-spec car)

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Runs/drives? Not for years

Looking for something a little more red-blooded American? Well, we can come close – how about a Canadian version of the final rear-wheel-drive Monte Carlo? It’s even the coveted SS model, powered by a “High Output” 305 cubic inch version of Chevy’s legendary small-block V8. It’s pretty tame by modern standards at only 180 horses, but even a weak-sauce V8 makes the right kind of internal combustion noises. The SS package also includes brake and suspension upgrades, a more aerodynamic nose, a rear spoiler, and the all-important stripes.

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This Monte has been dormant for at least eight years, and has been parked for longer than that. The odometer reads 71,000 kilometers–about 44,000 miles–and the seller implies, though doesn’t expressly say, that it’s accurate. I’ll never understand why people buy a high-performance version of a car and then not drive it. The worst offender is this car’s sister model, the Buick Grand National, none of which ever seem to get any exercise. Drive them. Use them up. It’s what they’re for.

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This car has suffered from its slumber in a damp barn, or possibly from the Great Lakes climate. Rust has crept in along almost every edge, though the seller claims it’s solid underneath. What we can see of the rocker panels and door sills from the lousy photos is encouraging, but the doors and rear quarter panels are ugly. If it really is solid structurally, I suppose you could just leave it and claim it’s “patina.” The alternative is a complete teardown and lots of welding.

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The interior looks pretty good, if a little dirty. It has a split bench seat and a column shift, which apparently was not available on US-spec SS models. It’s a little incongruous with the stripes and the spoilers, but this isn’t really much of a performance car anyway, so it’s fine.

Neither of these cars is a lost cause. The Herald includes enough parts to make one good car out of two, and the Monte Carlo shares enough components with less-special GM products that finding parts isn’t a problem. It won’t be easy in either case, but if you really like working on cars, either one could be very rewarding. Which one are you towing home?

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(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
3 months ago

I don’t want either, but that’s not the game here is it?

I will take one Herald as it’s a smaller thing to leave outside to continue rusting until I can pretend it was never there.

My beautiful Z4C has been abandoned for a month now and I’ve done nothing about selling it. So I could definitely let a Herald rust to nothing.

JDE
JDE
3 months ago

Both are tons of body work, which is expensive or no fun, and/or both. the triumph does come with a spare, so that is slightly positive, but the Monte is pretty easy on the parts and upgrades department and the weird Canuck options make it kind of interesting at a cars and coffee event.

Gubbin
Gubbin
3 months ago

The Heralds look like good clean practical fun. I’d try to get title to the Canadian LHD one actually, then see if enough parts turn up to let me sell the UK RHD one to a greater fool another enthusiast.

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
3 months ago

You know what else has 1.2 liters and no roof, a lawnmower. And at least that has the decency to mow the light then sit on it. I’m trying to spread freedom like Kissinger, haphazardly though brute force. That 305 will turn excessive amounts of petroleum chemicals into no power till heat death of consumes us all. Global warming? Open the windows. Need parts? Every auto store in America can rebuild it from inventory! Yeah they haven’t updated inventory since 98, but that works for you now. Is it kinda a turd even when new? Hell yeah brother. Slap some cherry bombs on that sucker and lower some property values. Sound like NASCAR, goes like NAFTA. Raise Hell Praise Dale.

Cyko9
Cyko9
3 months ago

I don’t know if the Herald is the Triumph project to take on, but it’s the better project. I wanted to vote for the Monte Carlo, but the underside would have to really be impressive to sway me.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
3 months ago

While I like the Triumph, the Monte holds a special place in my heart. Good EV conversion or LS swap. Then lots of body work.

Millermatic
Millermatic
3 months ago

The Monte Carlo is an offense to good taste. You can disagree… but you’d be wrong. Give me the Herald(s).

XLEJim700
XLEJim700
3 months ago

I don’t know. I guess I’ll hafta go with body-on-frame RWD. Also, t-tops are really fun. If they leak, they leak.

Good-Time Monte has the choose.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
3 months ago

Hear ye hear ye! The Heralds are the right choice in this contest.

Rusty S Trusty
Rusty S Trusty
3 months ago

That Triumph would be a great electrification project.

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
3 months ago

Based solely off the info we have right now, I’m going to pick the Triumphs because of the parts car.

However, if the Monte Carlo was free of any serious structural rust and it really is just what you see in the pics, then I’m 100% picking that. I’d get it running, driving, stopping safely and live out my trailer trash dreams in my ratty Monte Carlo

Jeff Jordan
Jeff Jordan
3 months ago

And you can always pull the engine from that spare Amphicar you have out in the backyard if the Triumph Herald’s 2 engines cannot be made into a single good one.

A. Barth
A. Barth
3 months ago

Herald(s), please!

The Monte appears to have been stored in one of the Great Lakes, instead of next to them.

I really like the idea of taking two cars and making one Frankencar, especially when there are lots of spares as we see here. (At the moment I’m making a 3:1 Frankenbike.) A car project like that could be a little daunting, but the end result would be a lot of fun. Besides, the Heralds are pretty small so how hard could it be?

Also, as Captain Slow demonstrated, the Herald can be used to make a sailboat:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nl3bsL7Nbnk

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
3 months ago

I dunno. Would you rather have syphilis or gonorrhea?

Yes please, no, not either?

BunkyTheMelon
BunkyTheMelon
3 months ago

Gimme the little Triumph. The Monte is a rolling mullet in need of a new jean jacket.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore
3 months ago

That Monte needs to be named Swiss Cheese. I’ll take the Herald.

Citrus
Citrus
3 months ago

The problem with the Monte is that there are so many of them that finding a much nicer one is very easy.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
3 months ago

Ooh, the rust put me right off that Monte. Since it’s that rusty and is Canadian spec, that implies it was tooling around southern Ontario. The Ontarioans love themselves some salt in the winter. “Great galloping mooses! The lake effect sure is bad tonight, eh? Let’s salt some more, eh? I’ll buy the Timmie’s this time.”

Swapping body panels is easier than welding new. Herald me to my new money pit!

Mocamino
Mocamino
3 months ago

I would love to have a little British convertible, but the Heralds look a lot further gone than the Monte. And as a currently G-body owner, it’s territory I’m already pretty familiar with.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
3 months ago

Herald, put your top down and lets cruise. To be honest, I’d never seen a Herald before, it kinda reminds me of a Datsun.

10001010
10001010
3 months ago

Today is the automotive equivalent of “would you rather”. I mean, the Monte would be cooler but geebus is that a lot of rust.

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
3 months ago

The not-quite-full Monte is the easy choice for me. The rust looks worse than it is –much of it is staining — and Chevy, so bigger motors/manual swaps abound. Also, it’s got the T-roof, which scores it major points.

And it’s white: Tremclad comes in that colour!

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
3 months ago

I’m not a huge fan of the Herald, as I’m more inclined towards their TR and GT lines, but that Monte…yikes. I do have an odd affinity for that generation of Monte Carlo, but speaking from experience, that level of rust is just too much to sign up for.

Last edited 3 months ago by Squirrelmaster
Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
3 months ago

Cooler car, cheaper, and it’s actually two cars. No contest today for me.

Geoff Dankert
Geoff Dankert
3 months ago

I wanted to vote for that Monte SS so bad. But that rusty windshield header — and the likelihood of very leaky T-tops — forced my hand.

So, at least for today … Hark! The Herald angels sing.

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