HK Monaro GTS 327

Mighty two-door coupe a win­ner on and off track

Motor (Australia) - - TOP 5 PRE-1980 HOLDEN HEROES -

FORD MAY have given Aus­tralia the Fal­con XR GT in 1967. But you could ar­gue Aus­tralia’s first true mus­cle car didn’t sprout un­til a year later.

Be­fore you burn your MO­TOR col­lec­tion, Ford fans, we’re not ral­ly­ing the evic­tion of the ’67 Bathurst tro­phy. But if you lined up the XR against ev­ery­thing con­sid­ered ‘mus­cly’ over in the States dur­ing the 60s, it’d look like a cougar try­ing to blend in with lions.

Ford’s Mus­tang, Pon­tiac’s GTO, Dodge’s Chal­lenger, AMC’s Ma­chine were the pin-ups and while these car’s weren’t de­fined by specifics, things like a big Amer­i­can V8, slop­ing roof, and two doors were the main mark­ers. The lat­ter cri­te­ria’s lost on the XR.

Aus­tralia’s first two-door coupe wrapped around an Amer­i­can V8 in­stead was the HK Monaro GTS 327, the sec­ond leg­endary non-Com­modore in this lineup. “The new range of Holden coupes an­nounced with typ­i­cal GM-H flour­ish on July 22,” we said in Septem­ber, 1968, “ends for­ever Aus­tralia’s age of mo­tor­ing in­no­cence”.

Holden’s an­swer to the Fal­con XR GT wasn’t some­thing ‘Mus­tang-bred’. It was a thor­ough­bred, ap­ply­ing the mus­cle maxim to its looks, per­for­mance, and spirit. Its pil­lar-less body was just as stiff as the sedan’s, a lit­tler broader too, while its lines were softer and time­less com­pared to Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts.

The fact it was re­vealed months be­fore the race that stops a na­tion was not at all a co­in­ci­dence. Both Ford and Holden were very well es­tab­lished in Aus­tralia by then and while they knew build­ing Aussie cars, in Aus­tralia, for Aussie peo­ple, was good for busi­ness, they also re­alised win­ning races was, too.

So the Monaro’s en­gi­neers went after the good stuff when fit­ting out the top model. A 327 cube Chevro­let small-block, that earned its ex­tra ca­pac­ity with big­ger bores, was fit­ted. If any­thing it hinted at the fact that this was a rac­ing spe­cial – you couldn’t have the 5.4litre with air-con­di­tion­ing.

That didn’t mat­ter be­cause suck­ing through a Rorch­ester cov­ered four-bar­rel car­bie, and blow­ing out a freer ex­haust, it made a still-re­spectable-to­day 184kW at 4800rpm and 443Nm at 3200rpm. Holden could have dropped in the 327 and dusted its hands on a job well done, but Bathurst beck­oned.

So a stan­dard Opel-sourced four-speed was ditched for a Corvette unit, com­plete with close-ra­tio gears and short-shift throw. The float­ing rear-end was pinched from Ca­maro-Chev­elle, which housed an LSD which could be spec­i­fied with a wide-range of fi­nal drives. All the way from 3.08 to 4.88.

Up­ping grunt solved only one prob­lem. Fat­ter roll-bars, stiffer rates, and tor­sion rods beefed up its side­step. While the front-discs copped power as­sist and the fuel tank rose to 94 litres.

In all the fri­vol­ity a rev-tacho was added at the bot­tom of the cen­tre con­sole and in our hands the coupe could blast to 97km/h in 7.6sec and went on to a 184km/h V-max. Priced $3790 in ’68, it would cost circa $50K in to­day’s money after in­fla­tion.

Un­leashed at Mount Panorama, it caught Ford with its pants down, tak­ing first, sec­ond, third, and fifth out­right. At one point it bet­tered the XR GT’s best lap­time from the year be­fore by 5.7 sec­onds – and at the race’s end left the high­est-placed Ford Fal­con in sev­enth place. It was a crush­ing de­feat and a de­fi­ant way to step into the ring.

Aus­tralia had its first ‘mus­cle’ car. And Holden had its first Bathurst vic­tory. As we’ll see with our next three le­gends, these mile­stones would change the brand and lo­cal mo­tor­sport for­ever.

With the re­lease of the HK Monaro Aus­tralia had its first ‘mus­cle’ car. And Holden had its first Bathurst vic­tory

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.