I first saw the Monza GT on display under a tent at the Riverside International Raceway in 1962.
Or did I?
After I got home from the race, this thirteen-year-old kid, still mesmerized, wrote GM: How to become a car designer? A few weeks later I got a 9×12 envelope with a letter from Lee Knight and a few press-release photos of the Monza GT. He suggested I look into Art Center because I lived in Southern California.
I still have those photos that I framed on my wall as a kid. I have a copy of the original Monza GT brochure. And the car is on the cover of the Dean’s Garage book.
This week I was corresponding with Karl Ludvigsen about the Monza GT and he sent me some photos, one in particular I’ve seen many times. It’s in the brochure. The car is opened up, and he is peering into the engine compartment.
But there was a subtle difference between the photo that Karl sent me and the one printed in the brochure. The badging on the front fender says…Spyder GT?
After studying the brochure photo, it soon became evident that it had been retouched. “Spyder” had been removed. “Monza” was nearly centered over “GT” (that was not moved from the original photo) (No Photoshop in those days) resulting in the badging not centered between the wheel opening and canopy. Also, in the brochure the round Spyder emblem is still in evidence. Scans from the Monza GT brochure are here.
General Motors graciously provided images showing not only the Spyder GT emblem, but also the round emblem on the nose that looks like a Spyder graphic. Those images were dated June–July, 1962.
There was no documentation as to the name change.
Fascinating. I had no idea.
Why the name change?
Perhaps someone pointed out that typically “Spyder” was traditionally a car without a roof, and the tilt-canopy Monza was indeed a closed car.
To have named the Monza SS (the red, topless variant of the GT) “Monza Spyder” rather than “Monza SS” would seem logical. But Styling had already called the topless ’61 Corvair hotrod the Sebring Spyder and in ’62 the Super Spyder. That’s a lot of Spyders. So Monza SS makes sense.
Photos: General Motors