Monza Mirage, from Poseur to Performance

     The passage of time found country in the midst of a lengthy period of slow, uninspiring cars.  Manufacturers were struggling to meet emission and safety laws in the days before computer aided design and computer controlled engines.  What they did, back then, was market cars that were supposed to look exciting and fast.  I bought a prime example of this approach, a Chevrolet Monza Mirage.  It was styled to look like the then-current IMSA series race cars.  (International Motor Sports Association)  The engine, however, would have been right at home in a New York City taxicab.


     Money was very tight, so I taught myself to do body and mechanical work in my detached ( and unheated) one-car garage.  I want to tell you that it gets really cold in Milwaukee in the middle of winter!  But I bundled up and did my best.  Unfortunately, I cannot find any pictures of the car after I removed all the gaudy graphics and added an "L88-style" fiberglass hood painted white by a neighbor.  Without the wild colors the car actually looked pretty nice.  I built a new engine with high performance parts I found by scouring the " auto parts and repairs" section of the newspaper classified ads.  Remember, this was before eBay!  The crowning touch was a home-brewed nitrous oxide injection system that I built after examining a packaged system at a shop dealing in automotive go-faster parts.  I still have the original solenoid valves and their mounting plate.


In 1984, I drove the car to an event in Indianapolis put together by Car Craft magazine called the Street Machine Nationals.  Some of the other vehicles in attendance stretched the definition of "street" to the breaking point.