1971 Chrysler VH Pacer
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
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.