Monaro mem­o­ries

New Zealand Classic Car - - Editorial - Ash­ley Webb Edi­tor

This month’s cover car sparked many fond mem­o­ries of these big Aussie coupés, as I re­mem­ber my first ‘real’ car was an HK GTS Monaro, which I proudly owned back in the early to mid ’70s.

It was never my in­ten­tion to own such an iconic car, but, af­ter my trusty puke green 1960 Mor­ris Mi­nor 1000 de­cided enough was enough as I en­tered the car park of my then em­ployer, Lam­son Paragon, by re­fus­ing to change out of first gear, I de­cided it was a good time to find a more suit­able ride.

As I worked with sev­eral petrol­heads who drove a range of dif­fer­ent cars, from Vaux­hall Crestas and Veloxs to Tri­umph 2000s, a va­ri­ety of Hold­ens, and a cou­ple of Tri-five Chevs — re­mem­ber, this was about 1973/’74 — my mind was fairly well made up: my new car had to be a V8.

The prob­lem was that, in those days, the min­i­mum de­posit re­quired to pur­chase a car from any rep­utable dealer was 50 per cent, and, as I had man­aged to beg, scrape, save, and bor­row what I thought was a rea­son­able de­posit, the search was on in earnest for a V8 any­thing.

My first stop, and all-time favourite place to look at cars and dream, was Monaco Mo­tors in Green­lane. Rows of gleam­ing mus­cle cars — Corvettes, Mus­tangs, Pon­tiac Fire­birds, and Dodge Chal­lengers, to name but a few — beck­oned, but, alas, my funds weren’t any­where near suf­fi­cient for me to park one of these LHD mon­sters in our drive­way, which in­deed posed an­other slight prob­lem — my fa­ther.

My dad was some­what of a Mor­ris Mi­nor fan — I’d had three by this stage — and he knew that I’d be safe, or as safe as any teenage lad can be, driv­ing a Mor­rie. I wasn’t quite sure how to broach the sub­ject of buy­ing a V8, but thought that I’d cross that bridge when I got to it.

The next stop, and again one of my reg­u­lar car-spot­ting haunts, was Otahuhu. Car yards, one af­ter the other, as far as the eye could see, along Great South Road, and what did I spot? Not one, but two XY GT-HO Fal­cons parked side by side, and, again, I knew that my bud­get wouldn’t al­low me to park ei­ther one of these tyre-shred­ding beasts in our drive­way ei­ther. And, al­though my mind worked over­time for a cou­ple of days try­ing to fig­ure out ways to buy one, it just wasn’t go­ing to hap­pen, short of me rob­bing a bank.

I’m not sure when, but some­time shortly af­ter, I spot­ted a shiny blue Holden Monaro HK GTS sit­ting in a car yard in Hunters Cor­ner, Pa­p­a­toe­toe. Its sleek lines were mes­mer­iz­ing in­deed, to say the least, and I knew in­stantly that this was the car for me. And I could af­ford the de­posit — just.

Even though I knew my fa­ther wouldn’t be ex­actly thrilled about the idea, I couldn’t wait to tell him about the stun­ning blue Monaro, and he was sur­pris­ingly sup­port­ive of the fact that I had found a car which I re­ally wanted. His only pro­vi­sos were that I looked af­ter it, not speed — who, me? — and didn’t drink al­co­hol — not a prob­lem.

In hind­sight, I know I should have kept it, as I watch the prices of Aussie mus­cle cars rocket sky­wards, vir­tu­ally out of con­trol like their Yan­kee coun­ter­parts.

These cars were built tough. As an 18-year-old, I must ad­mit that I wasn’t ex­actly kind to the bright metal­lic blue Aussie, and I took ev­ery chance I could to test its ev­ery limit — within the speed limit, of course.

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