HSV GTS two-door

Australian Muscle Car - - Modern Muscle -

The

Holden Monaro needs no in­tro­duc­tion, but gets one any­way. Born in 1968 and named af­ter the Monaro re­gion in NSW, the pil­lar­less hard­top coupe col­lected Bathurst vic­to­ries – in­clud­ing the Lion’s first in 1968 – tin-top ti­tles and a Wheels Car of the Year award all in its first gen­er­a­tion, to ce­ment its leg­end sta­tus in Aus­tralian Mus­cle Car lore.

When Holden hinted at a new Monaro in 1998, via a knock­out Syd­ney Mo­tor Show con­cept, few ex­pected ever to see the road-go­ing re­al­ity.

The coupe’s at­trac­tive form flowed from the pen of Holden de­sign boss Mike Sim­coe, who de­vel­oped the pro­por­tions as a tape ren­der­ing on the liv­ing room wall of his home in Mel­bourne.

Yet the VT Com­modore-de­rived two-door prompted a hugely pos­i­tive re­sponse, and in 2001 the V2-se­ries Monaro ar­rived af­ter 22 months and a to­tal of $60 mil­lion spent in the de­vel­op­ment.

Of­fered with six-cylin­der (the su­per­charged CV6) and Chevro­let V8 mo­ti­va­tion (CV8) like the orig­i­nal, the mil­len­nial Monaro made just as big an im­pres­sion on pun­ters and mo­tor­ing journos as it had in con­cept form.

De­mand for the V8 out­stripped the six 10 to one, and the Al­loytec V6 was dropped in 2004.

Mo­tor­sport cred came from back-to-back vic­to­ries in the short-lived Bathurst 24 Hour, in 2002 and 2003.

The up­dated VZ ver­sion was only of­fered with the 5.7-litre Gen III V8, which had been re­vised to de­liver an ex­tra 15kW.

High-pro­file – and -priced – sales of the last-offthe-line, and a CV8-Z owned by and mod­i­fied for the late Pe­ter Brock, es­tab­lished from the out­set that Holden’s fi­nal, limited-edi­tion CV8-Z Monaro might be the col­lec­tor’s pick from the Lion line-up.

But we’ve in­stead se­lected the ul­ti­mate, rear-drive GTS from the HSV range – the HSV Coupe wasn’t badged a Monaro, but rep­re­sents the zenith of the model. Yes, there are the GTO Sig­na­ture and all-wheel-drive Coupe 4, but the GTS, with its clas­sic rear-drive lay­out and hard-hit­ting per­for­mance cul­mi­nat­ing with the 300kW, 6.0-litre V8-pow­ered up­date (and badged ac­cord­ingly), is the one to have.

The New Monaro sold beyond ex­pec­ta­tions, helped by ex­port mar­kets that in­cluded North Amer­ica, South Africa, the Mid­dle East and the United King­dom, and en­joyed a longer pro­duc­tion run than Holden an­tic­i­pated.

While vol­ume pro­duc­tion is not a typ­i­cal col­lec­tor car in­gre­di­ent, the flip side is that new­car pop­u­lar­ity is typ­i­cally re­flected decades later in the form of clas­sic ap­peal, which will no doubt be true of the Monaro’s sec­ond com­ing.

In AMC’s opin­ion this is the de­fin­i­tive mod­ern ‘Monaro’ with an ap­peal that is likely to grow as time rolls on.

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