Holden Monaro (V2) CV8
|Manufacturer||Holden (General Motors)|
|Also called||Chevrolet Lumina|
Holden Limited Edition
The Holden Monaro (// Mon-AH-ro) was a rear-wheel drive coupé and saloon car that was produced by Holden between 1968-77 and between 2001-05. Three generations of the Monaro have been produced, with the final spawning a limited edition model (CV8-Z) to say goodbye to the historic name.
The Monaro body was used by several different manufacturing brands around the world, seeing export models, various concept cars and, even an all-wheel drive variant.
- 1 First generation (1968–1971)
- 2 Second generation (1971–1977)
- 3 Third generation (2001–2006)
- 4 Variations to the Coupé (2001-2006)
- 5 Concepts
- 6 Motorsport
- 7 References
- 8 External links
First generation (1968–1971)
Holden Monaro (HK) GTS 327
|Engine||L6 161 in3 (2.6 L) (base model)|
L6 186 in3 (3.0 L) (GTS with an uprated 186S only)
V8 253 in3 (4.2 L)
V8 307 in3 (5.0 L)
V8 308 in3 (5.0 L)
V8 327 in3 (5.3 L)
V8 350 in3 (5.7 L)
Named after the Monaro region in New South Wales (although pronounced differently), Holden's new coupé was introduced in July 1968 as a two-door pillarless hardtop coupé available in three models: Monaro base model, Monaro 'GTS', and Monaro 'GTS 327'. The GTS versions had "full instrumentation" which included a tachometer mounted on the centre console. This proved to be a bad location, as the drivers knee would obstruct the view and it often rattled.:6–7 The cars could be ordered with a choice of six-cylinder engines of 161 in3 (2,640 cc) capacity (base only) or two versions of 186 in3 (3,050 cc) capacity (GTS with the uprated 186S only), or a 307 in3 (5,030 cc) capacity Chevrolet-sourced V8. The exclusive 'GTS 327' model was powered by the 250 bhp (186 kW) Chevrolet 327 in3 (5,360 cc) V8.
Uniquely styled by Holden, the Monaro nevertheless featured styling cues derived from Chevrolet designs, employing a "coke bottle" look similar to that of the Camaro, Corvair, and Nova coupés of the late 1960s.
After Holden engineers had originally claimed that the Monaro's engine bay was too small to house the 327 Chevrolet V8, the decision was made to speed up development of Holden's first ever Australian-developed V8, the 5.0L 308 in3 (5,050 cc) capacity Holden V8 engine, and the smaller, 4.2L 253 in3 (4,150 cc) V8. However, as this particular V8 engine project ran behind schedule, this led to engineers remeasuring the engine bay and finding that the original measurement calculations had been incorrect, thus allowing the use of the imported Chevrolet engine after all.
The HK Monaro GTS327 gave Holden its first victory in the Bathurst 500 in 1968 at the hands of Bruce McPhee and co-driver Barry Mulholland. Whilst Mulholland only drove one of the total 130 race laps, McPhee drove the remainder and also scored both pole position and fastest lap of the race.
Norm Beechey drove a HK Monaro GTS327 to third place in the 1969 Australian Touring Car Championship, the first time the ATCC was held as a series rather than a single race. Beechey showed the capabilities of the Monaro when he won the final two rounds of the five-round series at Surfers Paradise and Symmons Plains.
In June 1969, the HK Monaro was replaced by the facelifted HT Monaro.:39 The 'GTS 327' became the 'GTS 350' with the replacement of the Chevrolet 327 in3 (5.4 L) V8 by the 300 bhp (224 kW) Chevrolet 350 in3 (5.7 L) V8. As the Monaro was Holden's main car in Series Production racing, this was primarily in response to Ford who had released the Ford XW Falcon GTHO Phase I in 1969 which was powered by the 351 Windsor V8 engine (5.8 L). There was also an automatic version of the 'GTS 350' introduced which used a lower power version of the 350 in3 (5.7 L) engine coupled to a 2-speed Powerglide transmission. HT Monaro also marked the phasing out of the 5.0-litre Chevrolet V8, and the introduction of Holden's own locally made V8 engines, the 4.2-litre 253, and the 5.0-litre 308. Late in the HT model run, a new locally produced 3-speed automatic transmission, the Trimatic, was offered as an option, although it was not available on the 'GTS 350'.
The HT Monaro can be distinguished from the HK by the adoption of plastic grilles (previously metal), a round speedometer instead of "strip" style allowing for bringing the tachometer into the main instrument cluster instead of on the floor console, rubber front suspension bushes instead of the HK's sintered bronze, and larger taillights where the turn indicators also wrapped around the now slightly undercut edges. Bodywork 'go-faster' stripe designs (delete options) varied for each series; HK stripes were offset to the driver's side of the bonnet (hood) and bootlid (trunk), the HT had two broad stripes down the centre of the car. HT also had twin air scoops / vents incorporated into their bonnet, which served no real purpose in delivering air into the engine bay.
The HT Monaro GTS350 was successful in Series Production racing. The Holden Dealer Team was formed in 1969 by longtime Ford Works Team boss Harry Firth with the team using the GTS350 in competition. The HDT entered three Monaros in the 1969 Hardie-Ferodo 500 the lead car driven by Colin Bond and Tony Roberts winning from 1968 winners Bruce McPhee and Barry Mulholland who had switched to driving a Falcon GTHO. Coming home third in the Dealer Team's 3rd Monaro was Des West and Bathurst rookie Peter Brock.
Norm Beechey upgraded to a HT GTS350 and would win the 1970 Australian Touring Car Championship, Holden's first ever ATCC championship success. Beechey won three of the seven rounds at Bathurst, Sandown and Lakeside where he wrapped up the title. The 550 bhp (410 kW) Monaro (which Beechy and his chief mechanic Pat Purcell had bored out from 5.7 to 6.0 litres) proved too much for the opposition which included defending champion Ian Geoghegan in his Ford Mustang, Allan Moffat in his Ford Mustang Boss 302 Trans-Am, Bob Jane's Mustang and Beechey's own teammate Jim McKeown in a Porsche 911S. Beechey's win was all the more remarkable considering he failed to finish at Warwick Farm and did not start the final round at Symmons Plains after suffering an engine failure in qualifying. He also finished 2nd to Geoghegan in round 4 at Mallala.
Beechey would continue to run the Monaro (dubbed Trans-Aus in reference to its Australian build compared to the American Trans-Am cars of his opposition) for another two seasons, though unreliability plagued the car in 1971 and 1972. Norm only finished fifth in the 1971 ATCC, winning only round two at Calder. The 1972 ATCC saw Beechey retire from the first three rounds at Symmons Plains, Calder and Bathurst before his only points for the series came from a third place in round four at Sandown Park. At the end of 1972 as a result of the Supercar scare, the Improved Production class was shut down by CAMS with a new production based Group C touring car class introduced for which the Monaro was not eligible to race.
Released on 26 July 1970, the HG Monaro was the last of the original coupé design concept. HG had cleaner lines with brightwork reduced and some re-designed. The HG sported different striping (delete options) which were known as "sidewinder" stripes which ran along the top edge of the fenders, under the windows and finishing just before the rear pillar. The "Monaro" badge on both rear pillars was introduced to all models. For the HG GTS, the "GTS" badges now featured black paint fill, received new black-out paint on rocker panels, with the GTS 350 getting bold treatment with new "sidewinder" stripes and bonnet scoop black-outs. "GTS 350" designations now featured gutsier decals on the fenders and boot lid. Wheel arch moldings were deleted on all models. The "GTS 350" models no longer had the 350 Chevrolet badge on the fender, but rather a bold decal stating "350" as well as blackouts that covered the air-vents on the bonnet. The GTS badge originally above the gills in the fenders would be removed and would now be black instead of red (with the badges being placed on the passenger side of the grille and boot). The taillights had a cleaner look and the grille was redesigned.
Most mechanical specifications remained the same as HT series, with the exception of Monaro GTS (non-350), which had softened suspension, resulting in a smoother ride. Manual HG GTS 350 retained the suspension from the HT GTS 350. Other upgrades included thicker (HT GTS 350 style) power front disc brakes, now standard for all V8 and the 6-cylinder Monaro GTS. The HG would be the final model for the generation and the last to use the original body shell.
HT series Monaros were assembled in South Africa from imported parts by General Motors South Africa (GMSA) at the Port Elizabeth assembly plant.<:65 Later the HG series Monaro was assembled and sold in South Africa badged as the Chevrolet SS.:65 At this time GMSA had made a decision to market most of its products as Chevrolets. The Chevrolet SS had revised front styling unique to that model, incorporating four headlights and large turn indicators in the front edge of the fenders above the bumper. The Holden Monaro and Chevrolet SS models were both available with Holden 308 in3 (5.0L) and the Chevrolet 350 in3 (5.7 L) engines.:65 South African sales totalled 1,828 Monaros and 1,182 SS models.:65
Second generation (1971–1977)
Holden Monaro (HQ) GTS
|Engine||L6 173 in3 (2.85L) (base model)|
L6 202 in3 (3.3 L) (LS model)
V8 253 in3 (4.2 L)
V8 308 in3 (5.0 L)
V8 350 in3 (5.7 L) (GTS model)
A completely new generation body design emerged with the HQ series in July 1971, including the new Monaro 'LS' (commonly believed to mean "Luxury Sports") model which featured four headlights and chrome trim rings taken from the Holden Premier sedan. There were no longer any six-cylinder versions of the Monaro GTS, just the locally manufactured 4.15 L (253 cu in) or optional 5.0 L (308 cu in) V8s or the top level GTS350 coupé, equipped with an imported 5.7 L (350 cu in) Chevrolet motor.
The base model Monaro standard engine was enlarged to 173 in3 (2,830 cc) whilst the Monaro LS had a broad spectrum of engine options from a 202 in3 (3,310 cc) six to the 350 in3 (5,700 cc) V8. The new coupé design had a much larger rear window and a squarer rear quarter window; it was somehow seen as not as sporty looking compared to the earlier HK-HT-HG series, but is often now considered one of the best looking body designs to come from an Australian producer. Taillights were now rectangular in dual-unit style, integrated into the rear bumper; they were not unlike those of the American 1969 Chevrolet Bel Air/Biscayne.
Until 1973, the HQ Monaro GTS did not wear any body-stripe ornamentation and the 5.7 L (350 cu in) L48 Chevy V8 was a little less potent than in previous HT/HG versions rated at 205 kW (279 PS; 275 bhp) at 4,800 rpm and 488 N⋅m (360 lb⋅ft) of torque at 3,200 rpm , especially with the optional Turbo-hydramatic 3-speed automatic transmission. This and the fact that the same 350 engine was also available as on option in the large Statesman luxury sedan, probably contributed to a downgrade of the Monaro GTS range in muscular image terms, as did the replacement of the bigger coupés with the inline-six engine Holden Torana GTR XU-1 as the chosen GM car for Australian touring car racing. The introduction of bonnet and bootlid paint-outs in 1973 coincided with the release of the HQ Monaro GTS in four-door sedan configuration. It is generally considered that Holden created the bold contrasting paint-outs so the new Monaro GTS sedan would not be mistaken for the humble Kingswood sedan upon which it was based.
The continued erosion of the GTS350 cachet was compounded by the deletion of specific "350" decals on the post-1973 cars, with all Monaro GTS coupés and sedans now being externally labelled with the generic HQ series 'V8' bootlid badge. In the final year of HQ production, i.e. 1974, the manual-transmission version of the GTS350 was discontinued and sales of the automatic version were minimal prior to the engine option being quietly and unceremoniously deleted.
A heavy facelift and some model rationalisation was applied to the HJ Monaro, which was released in October 1974.:139 Its front end bears a resemblance to the 1970–1972 American Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The 350 V8 engine option and the base Monaro coupé were both discontinued.:139 The Monaro GTS continued to be available as a coupé or sedan with 253 in3 (4,150 cc) V8 power, or the optional 308 in3 (5,050 cc) V8 engine. The GTS sedan was now a model of its own—in HQ the GTS sedan was an optioned Kingswood. The Monaro LS coupé also continued within the range, but still with the 3.3-litre six-cylinder engine as its base power unit.
The body paint-outs were discontinued in the HJ Monaro GTS range, but for the first time, the Monaro could be dressed up with optional front and rear spoilers. It seemed that Holden were no longer interested in promoting the Monaro GTS coupé as a performance machine and this became all the more obvious with the HJ series coupé having retained the HQ model's rear body styling.
The HJ Monaro LS coupé is close to being the rarest regular production car ever made in Australia with only 337 units:140 produced. The HJ Monaro GTS coupé was discontinued during 1975 due to falling demand,:139 606 examples having been produced.:140
New emissions regulations heralded the mildly facelifted HX Monaro GTS sedan, announced in July 1976.:153 The HX was quite distinguishable, with liberal splashes of black paintouts contrasted against a range of bold body colours, and a choice of traditional chrome or body painted bumper bars.
- Limited Edition
Holden had a limited number of HJ coupe panel sets in 1975 and the decision was made to do something special with them The solution was to create the Limited Edition, or LE, which was not released until 27 September 1976.:163 600+ body shells were assembled at the Pagewood body plant as HJ bodies in white late in 1975, but due to delays the HX series came around before LE production begun, thus the cars had to be converted to HX which meant body shell changes. Some of those bodies were utilized to build HJ coupes prior to the cessation of HJ coupe production partway through 1976 and prior to the end of the HJ series. All LE were painted an exclusive metallic colour called LE Red. The LE was not badged or officially referred to as a Monaro. The LE was an amalgam of prestige and surplus parts (including an eight-track cartridge player well after cassette tapes were common), in effect a combination of Monaro GTS and Statesman Caprice components. The LE had a price tag to match: AUD$11,500. The cars were built at the now-defunct Pagewood (Sydney) plant. Production totalled 580 vehicles.:154 The distinctive US sourced honeycomb wheels fitted to the LE, which resembled those of the second generation Pontiac Firebird, were created by a plastic mould adhered to the outside of conventional steel wheel rims. These were a gold painted version of the same wheel that had been available as an option on passenger vehicles since HJ release. The front end styling of this pillarless hardtop resembles a smaller-scale 1971 U.S. specification Chevrolet Caprice.
Although the Monaro name had survived into 1977 as the HX Monaro GTS sedan, the coupé configuration was no longer in production and Holden decided to delete the Monaro name altogether from the new Holden HZ range. With the development of Radial Tuned Suspension, Holden transformed the bland characteristics of their full-size sedans and introduced a sporting variant called simply Holden GTS. Released on 5 October 1977,:169 this HZ variant featured a four headlight grille, front and rear air dams, four-wheel disc brakes, sports wheels and a 4.2-litre V8 engine as standard equipment. The optional 5.0-litre V8 became standard in June 1978.:169 With the November 1978 introduction of the new mid/full-size VB Commodore sedan and its availability with V8 engine power, the days of the GTS appeared numbered. Production of the GTS ceased in December 1978,:169 an estimated 1,438 having been built.:169
Ultimately, the VB Commodore proved very popular in both six-cylinder and V8 form, such that all full-size HZ Holden passenger cars were phased out of production in 1980. Remnants of the H-series lived on in the Holden WB series commercial vehicle range and in the revamped Statesman WB sedans until 1985.
Third generation (2001–2006)
2001–2002 Holden Monaro (V2) CV8
|Also called||HSV Coupé|
Chevrolet Lumina Coupé
|Body and chassis|
Bitter CD II
|Engine||3.8 L V6 (supercharged; CV6)|
5.7 L V8 (CV8)
Some 20 years had passed before a third-generation Monaro would reappear in showrooms in 2001, following the overwhelming response of the public and media to the VT-based Holden Coupé concept displayed at the 1998 Australian International Motor Show held in Sydney. The third generation spans from 2001 to 2005. The HSV Coupé saw production through to June 2006, with HSV variants on sale until August 2006.
After a gestation period of 22 months (contrary to the planned 12 to 18 months) and at a cost of A$60 million, Holden launched the V2-series Monaro based on the VX-series Commodore. It was available in CV6 with a supercharged 3.8 L V6 supplied with a 4-speed automatic transmission only (production ceased in mid-2004) and CV8 model featuring the 5.7 L Gen III V8, with a choice of a 6-speed manual or 4-speed automatic gearbox. A Series 2 model debuted in early 2003 with a revised dashboard from the VY-series Commodore, a new wheel design and some colours dropped and new ones added. The CV6 model was dropped after disappointing sales (reputedly 10 times as many Monaros were built as CV8s) when a Series 3 model appeared in 2004.
Two special edition CV8-R Monaros were released: the first, in a grey colour; the second, in a more muted red. Each had special edition wheels and other distinguishing features.
On the 12th of September 2004, Holden introduced the VZ range of Monaro with the powerful Chevrolet Corvette Gen III 5.7L V8 and a 15 kW increase in power to the previous V2-series Monaro. The VZ Monaro CV8 at first came in 4 colours (Phantom, Devil, Turismo and Quicksilver) and later saw the addition of a fifth colour Fusion, seen only on the final limited edition model. The VZ Monaro CV8 was upgraded and received a 10 speaker audio system with two built in subwoofers, new front/rear bumper assemblies, dual exhaust system and various other small changes and was now to be referred to as the VZ Monaro CV8. The revised rear bumper, dual exhaust system, and new ducted bonnet pressing would soon find their way onto the export Pontiac GTO. However, in July 2005, Holden announced that production of the current generation VZ Monaro CV8 would soon be coming to an end and this led to a run of 1100 of a limited-edition model, called the CV8-Z.
The last Holden Monaro-badged coupé was purchased by Emerald, Queensland businessman Darryl Mattingley for A$187,355.55—around three times the normal retail price, on 19 February 2006. The car was bought through eBay, with the money going to the Leukaemia Foundation, setting an Australian eBay record for highest price to date in the process. Mattingley, a huge Ford collector, has stated that his only Holden will not be registered, but will make appearances at auto shows. In May 2017, Peter Brock's VZ Monaro CV8-Z was listed as sold privately through carsales.com.au for $350,000. This Monaro was a unique build (build number: 005), with various modifications made by Team Brock and Monaro Performance Centre and lead to the vehicle being recognised by the HSV club as a HDT vehicle.
The Holden Monaro CV8-Z was produced to farewell the legendary Monaro name, much like what had been done with the LE coupé back in 1976. Wheels magazine tested a CV8-Z in the March 2006 issue with a Ford Mustang GT and a Nissan 350Z. They summed up the test with, "The Monaro eats Mustangs and spits out Nissans. It's a class act that deserves an encore performance."  The CV8-Z was offered in multiple colours but to highlight the model, a bold new color was introduced called 'Fusion' orange/gold metallic with unique colour matching (Fusion and black) leather interior. The CV8-Z had unique features including a sunroof, modified darkened taillights, signature black bonnet scoop accents, special engraved CV8-Z wheels, CV8-Z badging throughout the interior and gun metal chrome CV8-Z badging on the exterior. Tony Hyde worked with Holdens for 39 years and became a chief engineer in 1994 and announced on his retirement in 2007 that being a part of the development of modern Monaro's was his proudest achievement. He described the modern Monaro program as "pure emotion" and that his Monaro will be kept next to his 1976 Chevrolet Corvette.
Variations to the Coupé (2001-2006)
|Second and Third generation variants|
|Also called||HSV Coupé|
Chevrolet Lumina Coupé
|Body and chassis|
Bitter CD II
|Engine||3.8 L V6 (supercharged; CV6)|
5.7 L V8 (CV8)
The Monaro body was modeled on various concept cars and was used by several different brands, HSV in Australia, Chevrolet in the Middle East, Pontiac in America and Vauxhall Motors in the United Kingdom.
The HSV Coupé is a high performance grand tourer which was produced by Holden Special Vehicles in Australia from 2001 to 2006. It was originally based on the Monaro V2 series however, did not carry the Monaro name.
As in the case of the Commodore-based HSV sedan range, the Coupé's body was built at the Holden manufacturing plant in Elizabeth, South Australia, and then transported and modified at HSV's Clayton production facility. The initial range consisted of two models, the GTO and GTS, which were differentiated by their engine and exterior design. The entry-level GTO was originally powered by a 255 kW (342 bhp) Chevrolet LS1 V8 engine, whereas the GTS had a 300 kW (402 bhp) Callaway C4B V8 engine producing 300 kW (402 bhp). Externally, the GTS differed from the GTO in having contrasting colour accents on the bumpers and side skirts.
The GTO engine output increased to 260 kW (350 hp) in the Series II upgrade of March 2003, and 285 kW (382 hp) with the Series III upgrade of September 2003. Other additions brought by the latter upgrade included a revised exhaust system and extra cabin instrumentation. Between September 2003 to July 2004, a GTO LE (Limited Edition) was also on sale.
With the Series III upgrade, the GTS became a special order only model and was discontinued in 2004. In May of that year, HSV launched the new luxury-oriented Coupé4, which was essentially a modified GTO fitted with HSV's first all-wheel-drive system and cost A$89,950. Due to powertrain limitations, it was powered by the older 270 kW (360 hp; 370 PS) LS1 engine and the all-wheel-drive system was developed in-house by HSV rather than being an adaptation of the then existing system used by Holden on its Adventra wagon or Crewman and Cross 8 utility range. Conjecture surrounds the total number of Coupé4s built, claimed to be 134 units (28 Series III models; 106 VZ; 6 pilot cars) of which 20 were exported to New Zealand available only in Phantom Black, Quicksilver and Sting Red.
The Z Series facelift of October 2004 aligned the GTO's engine output to the other HSV Z Series models. It featured a 6.0 L; 364.1 cu in (5,967 cc) LS2 V8 engine, rated at 297 kW (404 PS; 398 bhp) at 6,000 rpm and 530 N⋅m (391 lb⋅ft) of torque at 4,400 rpm , a boot-mounted fuel tank, dual exhaust pipes, new bonnet scoops, and revised manual and automatic gearboxes. In line with the announcement made by Holden in July 2005 about the Monaro end of production, HSV again released a GTO LE from April 2006 (featuring three body colour and stripe combinations for just 50 units in black, 25 in yellow and 25 in red) plus a new limited edition, the GTO Signature (with a total production of 70 units), announced in July 2006 and for sale in August 2006. The latter retailed for A$83,990 plus on road costs.
Just like HSV, independent manufacturer Corsa Specialised Vehicles (CSV) also produced its own version of the Monaro, badged the Mondo ("world" in Italian) and based on V2 series. It came in three distinctive GT models depending on engine power.
The third generation Monaro was exported to several overseas markets. It was also sold, in left-hand drive, in the Middle East as the Chevrolet Lumina Coupé, and in the United States as the Pontiac GTO, reviving another classic muscle car icon. However, at least one commentator has described it as a 'flop' because of its poor US sales. It was withdrawn from the US market in 2006, although a few were still on dealers' lots in 2007.
The Pontiac GTO was released in 2004 and was facelifted in 2005. Complaints from American consumers about the Pontiac GTO's more modern styling led to the addition of two hood scoops in 2005 with the VZ series Monaro to recall the later muscle-car variants of the late 1960s' models; the hood scoops vent in cool air to the engine bay but do not directly feed the engine. In the eyes of the Australian press, the scoops have spoiled the lines, while the American media seemed to accept them. The 2005 and 2006 GTO also received a Gen IV 6.0 L engine putting out 400 hp (298 kW); the Australian HSV Coupé GTO received a similar engine in its Z series; and Vauxhall launched this as the Monaro VXR in the UK.
The 40,808th GTO built became the very last Monaro-based unit built by Holden.
Vauxhall offered the Monaro buyer a limited edition prior to discontinuation of the model: the VXR 500. A Harrop supercharger was installed onto the standard GM 6.0 LS2 engine by Vauxhall dealer Greens of Rainham in conjunction with tuning firm Wortec, increasing power to 373 kW (500 bhp) and torque to 677 N·m (500 lbf·ft). In addition to this, a shorter gear linkage was added to enable quicker shifts. The resultant 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) was 4.8 seconds.
In early 2015, GM International CEO, Stefan Jacoby, announced that a "spiritual successor" to the Monaro would be released in Australia after Holden ends local production in 2017. Jacoby was most likely referring to the HSV Camaro.
1980s VH project
The possibility briefly existed in the early 1980s for a revival of the Monaro badge based on a combination of the Holden VH Commodore and the Opel Monza. With serious exploration of the concept, a Monza was shipped to Australia by Peter Brock but the project was shelved as Holden was more preoccupied, at the time, with engineering work to revamp the Statesman and Gemini range as well as with the launch of the JB Camira.
This concept car, codenamed Matilda, emerged 20 years after the last Monaro coupé. Publicly displayed at the 1998 Sydney Motor Show, the two-door Coupé was based on the then existing VT-series Holden Commodore, which, in turn, was based on a modified platform of the European Opel Omega B. Journalists quickly christened it the Monaro and orders came flooding in, thus encouraging Holden to produce it. The production model – the third generation Monaro, known as the V2 series – was eventually launched in 2001, by then based on the Holden VX Commodore.
2002 HRT 427
Displayed at the 2002 Sydney Motor Show, the HRT 427 based on a modified Monaro bodyshell. The MacPherson strut front suspension was replaced by an aluminium double A-arm setup with adjustable dampers and a weight reduction program – including a carbon fibre bonnet and magnesium wheels – brought the car's weight down to just 1575 kg (3472 lb). The name was derived from the engine used, a 427 cubic inches (7,000 cm3) (7.0-litre) V8 engine from the Corvette C5-R (based on the GM LS7 design), producing 417.6 kW (560 bhp) at 6,000 rpm. This powerplant was built by Melbourne-based John Sidney Racing, renowned for its success in the Australian Sprintcar and NASCAR series. The transmission used was a custom Tremec T-56 M12 six-speed manual gearbox with a heavy-duty 900 N·m clutch, giving the car a 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) time of 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 299 km/h (186 mph). Other unique fittings included: AP Racing six-piston racing brakes, ram air induction, Motec instrument panel, two Sparco Pro 2000 seats and a half roll cage.
Originally intended to be put into production as competition against vehicles such as the Porsche 911 GT2, it soon became apparent to Holden that the high specification HRT 427 could not be built in such limited quantities for the original A$215,000 asking price. As a result, the project was eventually cancelled and all customer deposits received refunded.
The only HRT 427's in existence are two road cars and four racing versions (the latter built by Garry Rogers Motorsport for use in the short-lived Bathurst 24 Hour race and Australian Nations Cup Championship), each of which cost about A$500,000 to build. The road cars had a reported 420 kW (571 PS; 563 hp) of power and 780 N⋅m (580 lb⋅ft) of torque. One of these is not for sale and has remained within Holden's concept car collection. In April 2008, the other road car was sold to the Cairns car collector, Shawn Ryan. It has since been inaccurately stated in the media that he paid the record-breaking price of A$920,000, making it the most expensive Australian car ever sold. In reality, however, the quoted price tag was for both an HRT 427 and the first HSV VS GTS-R ever built. The portion of that figure attributable to the HRT 427 is estimated at $790,000. In June 2010, the concept car was re-sold at auction in Sydney to an anonymous Queensland buyer at the far lower price of A$350,000. The four racing cars have likewise made their way into collections, with their racing careers shortened by regulation changes.
The interest in the HRT 427 was such that, in 2008, its spiritual production version became the HSV W427 sedan built to celebrate HSV's 20th anniversary. In addition, in 2004, a more affordable racing coupé version reemerged in the form of the HSV GTS-R.
Although the Holden Monaro four-seater convertible, codenamed Marilyn, was a fully operational one-off concept car, it was never intended to reach production. It was built in 2002 in left hand drive by TWR Engineering at a reported cost of A$2 million and shown at the 2004 Sydney Motor Show.
2004 HSV GTS-R
The HSV GTS-R concept car, codenamed P120, was unveiled at the 2004 Sydney Motor Show. Similarities could be drawn with the HRT 427, however, the GTS-R was never intended for road-use but for a one-make racing series. Its more aggressive appearance was achieved through the use of a large front airdam, xenon headlights, LED rear lights, active carbon fiber rear spoiler and rear diffuser. The GTS-R was powered by a modified version of Chevrolet's LS2 V8 engine producing 335 kW (455 PS; 449 hp). Other features included carbon ceramic disc brakes, rollcage, side-exiting exhausts and 19-inch ROH alloy wheels. The concept never reached production.
2008 Coupé 60
This VE Commodore-based concept was presented at the Melbourne Motorshow in 2008 to celebrate Holden's 60th anniversary. It cost A$2.5 million to build but never reached production.
2013 VF project
In 2013, the Australian media became aware of a "VF Monaro" digital rendering posted online by design firm, Dsine International, which also saw the input of Holden designers, Simon Gow and Peter Hughes. It remained only a rendering with no production prospects, thanks to the existence, at that time, of the larger volume selling fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro, which was based on the same Zeta platform of the VE-VF Commodore.
A pair of Monaro GT racecars powered by an Australian built version of the 427 cu in Corvette C5-R engine was built by Garry Rogers Motorsport (GRM) to compete in the Australian Nations Cup Championship and won the 2002 and 2003 Bathurst 24 Hour races. This car is often confused for being the 'track' version of the HRT 427, but the racing program headed by then-Holden Motorsport Manager John Stevenson was announced many months before the HRT 427 was revealed to the press and public.
In fact, the first GRM-built car in 'nuclear banana' yellow underwent shakedown laps at Calder Park before a half day's testing at Winton wearing the race number "427". It was then shown to the media and public at the Bathurst 1000 race a week before the HRT 427 was unveiled at the 2002 Sydney Motor Show. Much to the displeasure of V8 Supercars event organisers, Garth Tander drove a lap of the Mt Panorama circuit in the rain, as part of Holden Motorsport's buying track time to promote the 'rival' 24 Hour race event. So as not to preempt the HRT 427's launch the following week, for its sneak Bathurst 1000 unveiling, the yellow Monaro wore the Tander's GRM V8 Supercar race number "34" before reverting to "427" for the 24 Hour race.
The HRT 427 won both the first and last races it competed in. Garth Tander, Steven Richards, Cameron McConville and Nathan Pretty drove the car to a debut win in the 2002 Bathurst 24 Hour, while James Brock – son of legendary driver Peter Brock – drove the third and last 427 Monaro built by GRM to victory in the final race of the 2004 Nations Cup at the Mallala Circuit in South Australia.
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