The Chevrolet Monte Carlo learned a valuable lesson from NASCAR drivers of the 1960s: If you want to win in NASCAR, you have to cheat the wind. Case in point, installing a 2-foot wing on the back of a 1969 Dodge Daytona helped Buddy Baker become the first driver in NASCAR history to break the 200-miles-per-hour barrier. The guys at Ford also experimented with front-end aerodynamic modifications with the 1970 Torino King Cobra. Fast forward to the 1980s, and the same rules apply. In order to gain dominance on the track, the guys at Chevrolet created the Monte Carlo Aerocoupe -- a car that could cheat the wind and help Chevrolet clinch more races.

What Makes It Special

So, what makes the 1986-1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Aerocoupe different from the standard Monte Carlo SS? The secret is in the car's back glass. It is sloped at a 25-degree angle to bring the car's drag coefficient down from .375 to .365. This helps the car slip through the wind, reduce drag and provide some extra stability on the track.

The Monte Carlo Aerocoupe was built to be a performer on the street. Its arsenal includes a 5.0-liter high-output V8 engine with a 4-speed automatic transmission. It has a 0-to-60 time of 10.06 seconds and runs the quarter mile in 17.35 seconds at 80 mph. For a car born at the end of the so-called malaise era, those figures aren't too bad. Some other performance features include 15-by-7-inch aluminum wheels, an F41 sport suspension and a 3.73:1 rear axle.

Not Your Average Muscle Car

Chevrolet also outfitted the interior of the Monte Carlo Aerocoupe with an array of standard equipment. Amenities include a gauge package with a tachometer and a sport steering wheel. For drivers who wanted a little more pizazz, options such as removable glass roof panels, a 6-way power driver's seat and a stereo cassette could be ordered. Goodies like these make cruising around town with the T-tops off and jamming to your favorite music much more fun.

A search of listings on AutoTrader.com reveals Aerocoupe options all over the map. You can find clean examples ranging from $7,000 to $25,000. Conditions range from vehicles driven daily over a certain period of time to low-mileage cars that were only driven, say, when the weather was pleasant. Keep in mind that Aerocoupes are pretty rare. Per NASCAR homologation rules, Chevrolet had to build a minimum of 200 street cars per year in order for the car to be eligible to race. In fact, only 200 were built for 1986 and a little over 6,000 were manufactured for 1987.

More Alternatives

If the Aerocoupe is not your cup of tea or is just a bit too old for you, there are some other choices available. Check out the 1995-1999 Monte Carlo Z34 or the 2000-2005 Monte Carlo SS. Even though these two alternatives have front-wheel drive and V6 engines, their horsepower is up to par with the older SS models. They are also easier to find. As an added bonus, Chevrolet created several NASCAR special-edition SS models featuring certain drivers' race-car colors and graphics.

As fast as the Aerocoupe appeared on the scene, it was gone in a flash. With the demise of the Monte Carlo after the 1988 model year, NASCAR turned its attention to the upcoming Lumina. One thing is for sure -- the Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe will always have a place in the hearts of Chevy and NASCAR fans.

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Tommy Flanagan is a car data analyst with Autotrader.com's automotive content team. He is a General Motors muscle car and pickup enthusiast. His hobbies include attending classic car shows, collecting antique auto memorabilia and weekend road trips. He also has his own muscle car blog, tommyscarblog.wordpress.com.

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