- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 23, 2003

Bill Hocker was living in Colorado when Frances Nicholson, his sister-in-law in Upper Marlboro, drove home from Lowe Chevrolet on Feb. 18, 1976, in a new metallic lime Monte Carlo with a white vinyl covered roof.

A couple of years later he moved to nearby Waldorf but rarely saw the Monte Carlo. For 23 years Mr. Hocker’s sister-in-low regularly maintained the Chevrolet and always kept it garaged.

He always admired the way the car was maintained although the color, he says, “didn’t do a thing for me. I always thought how nice the car with that six-foot-long hood would look painted a dark emerald green.”

In April 1999, the 1976 Monte Carlo had registered almost 9,700 miles, an annual average of about 422 miles. That was when Mrs. Nicholson decided to replace her Monte Carlo with a new car.

Upon hearing that news, Mr. Hocker told his wife, Edith, to call her sister and tell her the car was sold — to him.

He had long expressed his desire to own an old car, but his wife always brought him back to reality by reminding him that he was far from mechanically inclined. He knew she was correct.

But here was an old car with a history that not only was known but was documented.

Mr. Hocker and his wife drove to Upper Marlboro where the transaction took place. After which he drove the 18 miles home.

That first trip in the car at the two-spoke steering wheel was when he realized that he couldn’t repaint it dark emerald green.

Although the seats and door panels were as sparkling white as the white vinyl roof, the dashboard, seats and seat/shoulder belts were all the same green as the exterior.

“It’s a color that grows on you,” Mr. Hocker now says.

He learned that his popular Chevrolet, one of 191,370 manufactured that year, was assembled in Baltimore.

The 1976 model was the first Monte Carlo with four stacked rectangular headlights replacing the two round ones.

The Monte Carlo has a three-bar grille. Each horizontal bar has 28 egg-crate openings. A fourth bar is below the bumper.

The Monte Carlo’s 3,907 pounds are spread across the 17-foot, 9-inch-long car, which rolls on a 116-inch wheelbase. At 77.6 inches wide, the Chevrolet is more than 2 feet wider than it is tall.

The original window sticker shows a base price of $4,672.85. To that total was added the following extra-cost options:

• Air conditioner……..$471.

• AM/FM stereo radio….226.

• Vinyl top……………129.

• Soft Ray tinted glass…..53.

• Comfortilt steering ……52.

• DeLuxe side moldings…49.

• Rally wheels………….46.

• Econominder gauges…45.

• White sidewall tires……37.

• Bumper guards……….36.

• Auxiliary lighting…….31.

• Two-barrel carburetor…30.

• White vinyl bench seat…20.

• Color keyed seat belts….17.

• Color keyed floor mats…15.

• Remote left mirror…….14.

• Door edge guard……….7.

• Visor vanity mirror…….4.

To the list price was added a destination charge of $165, which brought the price up to $6,119.85.

The gasoline tank has a capacity of 22 gallons, which is necessary because the mileage claims are 14 mpg city, 18 mpg highway.

In October 2001, when the car was 25 years old, Mr. Hocker decided the original tires should be replaced even though plenty of tread remained. The car now rides on GR70x15 white sidewall tires.

Beside the tires, he says the only other major item to be replaced was the radiator.

The 1976 Monte Carlo engine hood hides the windshield wipers. The hood has two sets of ventilation slots, 26 in each set, near the windshield.

The two doors on coupes such as Mr. Hocker’s Monte Carlo are typically very long to facilitate access to the back seat. Both lengthy doors on the Monte Carlo feature an ashtray at the rear for use by rear-seat passengers.

His vehicle is of an age when General Motors products still had two keys that had to be inserted into the locks in a certain way and the headlights were dimmed by stepping on a switch on the floor.

As far as can be determined by Mr. Hocker the original owner never drove the car outside of Prince George’s, Calvert and Charles counties. Since owning the Monte Carlo he has slightly expanded its horizons by a couple of counties, with a foray across the Potomac into Virginia being contemplated.

The odometer now registers 11,400 miles. “I only take it to car shows if they’re not too far away,” Mr. Hocker says.

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