1971 Chrysler VH Pacer

Australian Muscle Car - - Top 25 -

If

ever there’s an over­looked Aus­tralian mus­cle car it’s the VH Pacer. Launched in mid-1971, Chrysler’s third Pacer model quickly fell into the shadow of the two-door Charger that took the mo­tor­ing public by storm a short time later. A key rea­son the VH Pacer has flown un­der the radar is its lack of motorsport in­volve­ment, as the Charger was Chrysler’s front­line fighter on race­tracks. But the fi­nal Pacer de­serves its own place here thanks to its per­for­mance on the back of the 265ci en­gine. Wheels wrote: “Most of the ex­tra power of the 265 Hemi has been can­celled by the 130lbs in­crease in weight, but even so our test car ran through the quar­ter mile in 16.0 sec­onds... that is re­ally quick for a big five-seater fam­ily-type car with a six-cylin­der en­gine.” Then there’s its looks. The Pacer 265 was distin­guished ex­ter­nally by add-on black body stripes. Across the rear­most six inches of the bootlid was a black­out stripe that wrapped around the quar­ter-pan­els and was joined by a spear that be­gan mid-body and arched to the rear. On ei­ther side, at the trail­ing edge of the rear quar­ter­pan­els was a bold ‘HEMI 265’ de­cal to let the world know this was no or­di­nary Valiant. The VH range was a rad­i­cal de­par­ture from all that had gone be­fore and an amal­gam of Aus­tralian and Amer­i­can de­sign ideas. “At a time when GM-H has de­lib­er­ately taken the other tack and pro­duced a new car (the HQ) that looks smaller than it ac­tu­ally is, Chrysler is go­ing all out to em­pha­sise the big wedge look.” History shows that Chrysler got it wrong, but its de­sign em­pha­sis has given us one of the most unique mus­cle cars to hit Aussie roads.

Sur­viv­ing pro­duc­tion records sug­gest four spe­cial Pacer 265s es­caped from Ton­s­ley Park com­plete with triple-We­ber Six-Pack en­gine: one E37, an E38, an E48 and an E49. Where are these ba­bies to­day?

vOne hap­less VH Pacer hit the track dur­ing the 1971 Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship fi­nale at Oran Park. In one of the most bizarre in­ci­dents in ATCC history, a spec­ta­tor drove a road car – a Chyrsler press car – onto the track mid-race and did a slow lap as ti­tle con­tenders Mof­fat, Jane and Geoghe­gan raced on.

vNum­ber Pro­duced: 1700 (ap­prox) Power Out­put: 162kW (218bhp) Top Speed: 116mph

8.3 sec­onds Stand­ing 400: 16.0 sec­onds Price New: $3235

1971 Holden HQ Monaro GTS 350

Holden’s

all-new HQ se­ries, in­tro­duced in July 1971, boasted fresh styling, uni­tary con­struc­tion, re­designed sus­pen­sion, im­proved brakes and mod­ern in­te­rior. It was the first all-new Holden since the Holden car was launched in 1948 and was con­ceived from the out­set with Aus­tralian con­di­tions in mind. The model range was greatly ex­panded and per­for­mance en­thu­si­asts were well catered for with the Monaro, avail­able in ei­ther two or four-door (from early 1973 on) guise for the first time. Boast­ing steel sports wheels, well-equipped pre­mium in­te­rior and re­vised ex­te­rior styling, the Monaro GTS pack­age had the 253ci V8 as stan­dard, with ei­ther the 308ci or 350ci V8s op­tional, along with a choice of ei­ther four­speed man­ual or the Tri­matic au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. In­side the GTS’s cabin, there were bucket seats (with hound­stooth check seat trim an op­tion), a gun­metal-fin­ish dash with full in­stru­men­ta­tion, in­clud­ing a tacho. The ex­te­rior came with blacked-out grille and head­lamp sur­rounds, bon­net black-outs, triple vents be­hind the front wheel arches and unique wheel trims. The HQ Monaro GTS cer­tainly looked the busi­ness and Holden’s advertising pitch summed it up nicely with the line “Where’s the ac­tion? Right here.” The coupe is still held in high re­gard by en­thu­si­asts to­day and, not sur­pris­ingly, it’s the GTS 350, with the im­ported 5.7-litre small-block Chevro­let V8, that com­mands top dol­lar. Of course, HQ Monaro val­ues are not in the same strato­sphere as the first gen­er­a­tion Monaros, which, in HK and HT guise, won Bathurst as Holden fac­tory rac­ers. How­ever, the HQ Monaro did have a motorsport con­nec­tion via Bob Jane’s Im­proved Pro­duc­tion ex­am­ple that ran in the ATCC and later Sports Sedan com­pe­ti­tion.

The Monaro GTS 4-door was re­leased in March 1973 with the pur­pose of boost­ing HQ sales over­all.

vNum­ber Pro­duced: 404 Power Out­put: 205kW (279bhp) Top Speed: 201km/h

9.4 sec­onds Stand­ing 400: 15.25 sec­onds Price New: $4630

Did you know?

Did you know?

The HQ was the big­gest selling Holden model of all time.

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