USED MONARO BUYING TIPS
Fancy a big, strong V8 engine powering, often overpowering, the rear wheels of an Aussie-born coupé? John Evans reports on the no-nonsense Vauxhall Monaro
The closure of the Holden plant in Australia last year is a blow for not only the workers but also fans of the bonkers muscle cars that, via Holden Special Vehicles, emerged from it. In recent weeks, the last of the UK’S allocation of the Vauxhall VXR8 GTS-R saloon and VXR8 Maloo pick-up have been sold.
So where now is a lover of HSV’S brand of back-to-basics, rear-drive brawn to get their kicks? A spankers 2009-reg VXR8 will set you back around £33,000 but you don’t have to spend that. For just £6500, you could be in its forebear, a 2005-reg Monaro 5.7i V8 coupé (also called the CV8). Admittedly, it has done almost 145k miles but it has full service history and, at least in photos, looks tidy.
Its simple, all-alloy, small-block Chevrolet engine (codenamed LS1) should still be producing close to 328bhp and a still more impressive 343lb ft. You want more? Consider the rarer and more powerful VXR version with 376bhp and 376lb ft. Assuming you can keep the back wheels under control, it does 0-62mph in 5.4sec compared with the CV8’S 6.0sec.
Both models were launched in 2004. With their six-speed manual transmissions, simple suspension and, apart from traction control, absence of driver aids, they were an antidote to more sophisticated fare such as the Mercedes CLK 55 AMG and BMW M5. Fourteen years on, this simplicity is serving them well as used motors, although sourcing body panels and major bits is becoming harder. Fortunately, Monkfish Performance and other specialists such as LSX V8 (it breaks Monaros for spares too) should be able to supply that elusive component.
In 2005, a facelifted version of the Monaro arrived with air scoops in the bonnet, a more aggressive nose and twin tailpipes. The CV8’S power rose to 344bhp and the VXR dumped the 5.7 in favour of a 6.0 V8 (codenamed LS2). It was related to the LS1 but produced 397bhp and 390lb ft and the 0-62mph sprint fell to 5.1sec.
The following year, 2006, was the Monaro’s last, and to mark the occasion, a supercharger was added to the 6.0 VXR to create the limitededition VXR500. It packed 479bhp and 500lb ft. It might have been the Monaro’s final year but sluggish sales meant that some cars weren’t registered until 2007.
Today, many Monaros have been through the hands of enthusiasts keen to sharpen their car’s responses. So long as the work has been expertly done, you should have no worries. Things to be more concerned about are transmission noise and rust: rusty suspension, rusty pipes, rusty chassis legs and rusty panels.
Inevitably, with only around 550 Monaros remaining and very few for sale at any one time, prices are being eased up by cries of ‘rare classic!’. Be careful, since prices for the later VXR8 6.0 saloon of 2007 start at £15,000, about what you’ll pay for a nice Monaro. On the other hand, the Monaro is the prettier car.