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MPC 1978 Monza (Vega) Sportback


Musclecar Mike
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Hey gang, here is a '78 MPC Monza Sportback I built straight out of the box. My niche is building factory stock models and that is what my vision was for this little gem. I added the spoiler because I thought it gave this Monza, aka Vega, a mini muscle car look. Kind of a "day 2" type deal. The Sportback was the last  of this body style GM built. I personally think the Vega was a sharp looking little car. This has been a kit I have always wanted to build.

The kit was a typical classic MPC build. Plenty of dry fitting and finessing. It's promo roots shine through with an interior tub with molded in seats, plate type chassis, and molded in driveline. The 2.3 Durabuilt engine was neat and had great detail for it's vintage. Only problem is the '78s came with a Pontiac 2.5 Iron Duke. Not wanting to go through the trouble of sourcing a 2.5, only one I know of is in the MPC Fiero kits, I painted and detailed it the way a '77 would appear. That was the only year the little mill was painted Chevy Engine Orange according to my research. The rear hatch was my first attempt at re-scribing body lines. Early versions of this kit had an opening hatch and this late version had it molded in place. The panels sucked for a lack of a better term! Paint is Testors Lacquer Root Beer Metallic which is a close match to the factory Saffron Metallic the Lordstown plant sprayed the 1:1 '78s. I stripped the wheels since the factory wheels were not all chrome. Plus the all chrome looked way too toy like. Hit the wheels with Metallizer Aluminum with a semi gloss clear over coat to resemble the factory Argent silver finish and BMFed the hub caps. 

A fun kit that tested some of my skills. I enjoyed the challenge! Working on a MPC Jeep CJ-5 now. Seems to me they put a little more effort in the Jeep kits. I also have a few MPC C3 Vettes and pick-ups waiting on some bench time. Again, these kits look like the boys at MPC engineered them a bit better. Please leave comments and critiques. I'm here to learn and share. You guys and gals inspire me to build more and to build better! 

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Edited by Musclecar Mike
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JC, you are correct. They are both built on the H Body platform which originated with the Vega. This body style, the Sportback, is essentially a '77 Vega with the updated '78 base Monza nose. From the front fenders back it is a Vega. The last H Body marketed as a Vega was in '77 and this Sportback body style was only available in 1978. That is why I make the Vega reference. No biggie just an FYI. 

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Nice looking build.  I have always had a soft spot in my heart (actually maybe it is in my head) for this particular body style.  Back in '72 I test-drove a Vega GT (whoop, whoop) but didn't buy it; got a Chevy C-10 pickup instead.  If I may ask where did you find this particular kit?  I can envision a tube chassis, 2X4 BBC, and some 10.5's in the rear.

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Nice looking build.  I have always had a soft spot in my heart (actually maybe it is in my head) for this particular body style.  Back in '72 I test-drove a Vega GT (whoop, whoop) but didn't buy it; got a Chevy C-10 pickup instead.  If I may ask where did you find this particular kit?  I can envision a tube chassis, 2X4 BBC, and some 10.5's in the rear.

I found this one on good ol' eBay. I have had great luck with getting vintage MPC & AMT kits for decent money on eBay. I too have a soft spot for these cars. Thank you for the compliment on the build.

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JC, you are correct. They are both built on the H Body platform which originated with the Vega. This body style, the Sportback, is essentially a '77 Vega with the updated '78 base Monza nose. From the front fenders back it is a Vega. The last H Body marketed as a Vega was in '77 and this Sportback body style was only available in 1978. That is why I make the Vega reference. No biggie just an FYI. 

From Wikipedia:

The 1978 Monza line expanded to include rebadged holdovers from the Vega line, which ended production after the 1977 model year. Chevy grafted a new Monza front end onto the previous Vega hatchback and wagon body-styles. The Monza "S", marketed as the Monza price leader, used the Vega hatchback body. With production of only 2,000 units, it was speculated that this was simply an effort to use up a stock of leftover 1977 Vega bodies. The Monza wagon was also offered in an estate wood-trimmed version, using the Vega wagon body. The 1978 Monza line gained a new base coupe and 2+2 hatchback with round headlights in an upright front end with a crossbar grille. The sport 2+2 hatchback and sport notchback used a modified version of the previous quad rectangular headlamps, now above a full-width open-slot grill. The 151 CID (2.5 liter) inline-four "Iron Duke" was standard for 1978, replacing the Vega's inline-four engine. Engine options were a Buick-designed 3.2 liter (196 cid) V6 engine with a two-barrel carburetor that produced 90 horsepower (67 kW) at 3600 rpm. Replacing the 3.2 liter V6 in California and high-altitude areas was Buick's 3.8 liter (231 cid) 105-hp V6 engine. Four-cylinder engines and the 3.2 liter V6 were not available in high-altitude areas. The 145-horsepower 305 cubic-inch V8 remained optional in all but the "S" hatchback and wagon models. Discontinued at the end of the 1978 model year were the S hatchback, Towne Coupe sport option and the estate version of the wagon.

I stand corrected Mike, never know they rebadged Vegas and called them Monzas.

Edited by afx
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I had a Monza hatchback with a small block in it.  I don't remember the year.  When it came time for a tune up the cost was enormous.  Turned the engine had to be lifted to get to the back spark plugs.  Or, like myself and I'm sure many others did, cut a flap in the wheel well to get to the plug.

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