Launched in 1968 as a stunning two-door pillarless coupe, the HK Monaro range featured a base model, GTS and brutal GTS 327 (5.4 Litre) models. Power was taken up a couple of notches with the HT series of 1969, the GTS 327 replaced by the larger engined GTS 350 (5.7 Litre). Released in July 1970, the HG series was significant in that it was the last to feature the original silhouette.
A new generation coupe body design emerged with the HQ series in July 1971, including the new Monaro LS “Luxury Sports” model. The GTS became a V8 only powered model with three capacity options - 253ci, 308ci and 350ci. Bold bonnet and bootlid paint-outs were added in 1973 with the release of a GTS four-door sedan which sold alongside the existing coupe.
The handsome, bull-nosed HJ series came to market in 1974, adding optional front and rear spoilers for the first time. Holdens 4.2 and 5.0 Litre V8’s continued in GTS sedan and coupe, with the US sourced 350 (5.7 Litre) dropped from the range.
New emissions regulations heralded the mildly face-lifted HX Monaro in mid 1976 and a return of a trademark bonnet paint-out. The HX also saw the demise of coupe production with the luxurious crimson, limited edition LE coupes in late 1976.
The final of the second generation GTS models was released in sedan form only as the HZ in 1977. With its critically acclaimed Radial Tuned Suspension, four wheel disc brakes and ultimately a 5.0 Litre V8 as standard, the GTS featured in the Holden range until production ceased in early 1979.
Some 20 years passed before Holden unveiled the Coupe concept car at the Sydney Motor Show. It was quickly christened as Monaro by journalists and an adoring public. The concept car was engineered for production and in late 2001, the V2 series Monaro was launched. Available as CV6 with supercharged 3.8 Litre V6 and CV8 with 5.7 Litre Gen III V8 power.
The Series II model debuted in early 2003 with a lift in V8 power and revised interior. Series II signed off with the limited edition ‘Turbine Grey’ CV8-R. The CV6 model was no longer when the Series III model appeared in 2004. Now with even more power, Series III finished off mid-year with the ‘Pulse Red’ CV8-R limited edition.
In late 2004, Holden introduced the upgraded VZ CV8 featuring new bonnet scoops and for a time was the most powerful Holden ever produced. In July 2005 Holden announced that production of the new generation Monaro would end. A run of limited edition CV8-Z models was produced to farewell the legendary Monaro name.
The very last Monaro badged coupe finished in unique ‘Torque’ orange was built on December 13, 2005 and customised by Holden Design. The car was auctioned by Holden on eBay and sold for $AUD187,355.55 with the money raised from the sale going to the Leukemia Foundation.
Monaro is regarded as one of Australia’s great muscle cars - the HK Monaro range winning Wheels “Car of the Year” for 1968. Considering the relatively short period of time Monaro has been available at your local Holden Dealer over the last forty odd years, its success is remarkable.
The new generation Monaro provided HSV with an excellent foundation for their range of controversially styled Coupé models, including the rare and unique Coupé 4 all wheel drive and thundering 6.0 Litre models.
Monaro has been exported to overseas markets in various guises over the years. HT and HG coupes were sold in South Africa as both Holden Monaro and cosmetically altered as a Chevrolet SS. V series Monaros sold in New Zealand, the Middle East as Chevrolet Lumina Coupe, the United Kingdom as Vauxhall Monaro and most famously in the United States as the Pontiac GTO.
Monaro has also enjoyed glory on the race track as well, winning the iconic Great Race at Bathurst in 1968 and 1969 - the only two occasions Monaro appeared as Holden’s main strike weapon - defeating the Ford Falcon GTHO fleet in the process.
In 1970, with Norm Beechey, Monaro became the first Australian manufactured car to win the Australian Touring Car Championship - precursor to today’s V8 Supercar Series. Bob Jane, driving his legendary HQ Monaro, captured the torrid Marlboro Sports Sedan Series in 1974 and 1975 at the very height of the Australian Sports Sedan racing era.
Monaro dominated the Bathurst 24 Hour race, winning easily in 2002 and capping off with a memorable 1-2 in the 2003 race - with the great Peter Brock in the winning Monaro’s four driver line up.
In its various international forms, Monaro has competed in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series and British GT Championship. The British run car winning its class at the second round of the 2005 FIA GT Championship at Magny-Cours in France.
Wearing its Pontiac GTO suit, Monaro has even had a brief career in Hollywood. The car played a starring role in the 2004 telemovie ‘The Last Ride’, and appears in the 2005 action movie ‘Stealth’ starring Jessica Biel and Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx.