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A Holden whatMonaro fans speak to Pontiac fansPosted 5/28/02
Since Pontiac announced that they would follow up the classic GTO with a modern counterpart, comparisons have been made.   At first, it would seem to the American car enthusiast that no new car could compare to an old GTO muscle car.   But Australians have been eager to explain their instant affection for the Holden Monaro.

Its only a matter of time before we see a clever magazine article comparing a 1964 GTO with a 2004 GTO.   The article would remind us of the famed "Pontiac GTO vs Ferrari GTO" article from the past.   You know someone will write it up, complete with pictures and specs on both cars old and new, 40 years apart.   So far, the Elizabeth, Australia plant has not built that first left hand drive Monaro for export to the USA as a rebadged GTO.   But its only a matter of time.

Monaro fans have sent me the following feedback about the recently resurrected Australian nameplate...
 

From: Ken Gratton (ken_gratton@polk.com.au)
Your website was mentioned in a local newspaper, so I thought I would take a look.   I used to read my father's 'Car & Driver' collection from the late sixties.  Always loved the looks of the 'Endura' GTO/Judge but reckon they lost it in the seventies; just went a bit too far. Now, with the benefit of nostalgic hindsight, I really find the original GTOs with their stacked headlights a great looking car. Anyway, my reason for writing is to echo the thoughts of your correspondent Dan, reference the Monaro. This is a car that has the sort of drawing power you would associate with a Ferrari. It (the Monaro) generates so much excitement that I don't doubt people are getting laid in them, even as I write (well, maybe not right at this moment...it is lunchtime here, but you get the picture). 

There are three reasons why the car is popular here. Firstly, it's the re-birth of a motor sport icon from the sixties. Secondly, it is an attractive coupe based on a very highly regarded sedan. Finally, Aussies have been starved of a locally manufactured high performance RWD coupe since the mid-seventies. The Commodore sedan is the top selling car here and can be purchased with a 300kW Corvette engine (about 400HP, I think) and it also has great handling and braking to match. It is currently top of the tree in V8 Supercar racing and consistenly beats the Ford competition. I drove a Commodore V8 with the high performance engine up the side of Mount Hotham in Australia, and had no trouble at all keeping up with three hard-driven cars, an Audi S8, BMW M5 and Mercedes E55.  In fact, the Holden was easier to drive at speed in those circumstances. It's the ultimate result of Holden's commitment to touring car racing over the last 35 years or so and testament to the Bathurst [racing] heritage. 

The affection for the original Monaro hinges on winning the race at Bathurst in 1968 (with Chev 327) and 1969 (Chev 350). Bathurst is the literal pinnacle of touring car racing in this country and has been since the late sixties. The sixties Monaro was probably more like a Camaro in size than a GTO, but it is a car that really was the automotive equivalent of the first sexual encounter for a whole generation of Australians. I don't know that the build quality of the modern Monaro is necessarily better or worse than American cars, but Dan is right when he says that in the Australian psyche, 'GTO' will have quite a burden to bear, living up to the image of  'Monaro'.

A reader owned a 4-door Holden Commodore, the car the Monaro is based upon...
 

From: Eagleone35c@aol.com
As an Australian living in the USA it's great to hear that the mighty Holden Monaro is coming here badged as a Pontiac GTO. Having owned a Holden Commodore (the car that the Monaro is based on) for 3 years before I came here, I can tell you that you will be getting a car that is basically bulletproof as far as the drivetrain goes. I did have a problem with moisture getting inside the tail light lenses, which could explain brake light failure. Hopefully Holden have this fixed by now. But don't worry, there isn't a more fit car to bring back those awesome GTO's!!

A Monaro owner stacks his car up against a BMW...
 

From: LawfordF@aol.com
We own a V8 Monaro.   We traded a 528I BMW.   The car drives much better than the BMW, uses less fuel and has to be the the planet's PERFORMANCE CAR BARGAIN.  GMH spent only 10 million US dollars to develop it.   Watch out Mustang drivers when the Monaro arrives in the US.

The May "Forbes" magazine has stick up ass?...
 

From: Nigel Fox (nigel_fox@yahoo.com)
Guess one thing Forbes Magazine forgot to mention was the engine and transmission used in the Monaro is imported from the US.  So if any of your readers work on the 5.7 production line they had better raise their act or production could be switched to here.

Considering this is the same motor and [gear]box as used in the Corvette, I assume a number of those are "breaking down" as well?  So far I have heard no reports of break downs so all I can assume is someone at Forbes has got a stick up his ass about an imported GTO.
Having seen a GTO Monaro in the flesh, you had better watch out, as your going to get a car which oozes style, performance and real muscle.  I just hope GM USA don't stuff up what is one hell of a car. Well you guys will get the stuffed ones.  We know what we have and it's a beastie.
Better get over here and take one for a test drive so you can tell the others what your going to get.   So come on.  Get on a 747 and check out what your going to get in one guise or another.

He likes Holden, slams Ford Mustang...
 

From:  James "Jimmy" Jewell-Tait (jrvjewelltait@bigpond.com)
I was astounded to read some of the uninformed comments made by the Forbes Magazine in relation to claims that the AUSTRALIAN [car] had "mechanical and quality problems".   Obviously, they havn't seen the new Mustang!   I have just purchased a new Holden Commodore SS with the Genie III 5.7L V8 (the same one in the Monaro/GTO) and it is sweet mate. 0-60mph in 5.97 seconds!   The build quality is excellent and far more superior than anything I have seen from the land of Yankee Doodle Dandy. Again, refer yourself back to the new Mustang!

He has confidence in the Aussies to build the next Great One...
 

From: Dave Clee (DMCPONT@netscape.net)
OK.   I live Pontiac stuff, have done for decade, and I live down under.   Regards the quality of the engine and gearbox, Hey, IF there is a consistent problem with the standard v8 and auto, HEY, they are MADE IN THE USA.   Honestly, the Special Vehicles section that is independently run (HSV) imports so screaming V8's and Auto's and there has been reports of the perfomance engines having to be RETURNED to the USA to have them properly milled and repaired.. something which the local owners are not happy about.   All Up, the basic car from which the GTO will grow will be another GREAT ONE....    Absolutely.

Badges...
 

From: Kane (toula.spears@bigbond.com)
I have to laugh at Forbes Magazine having a shot at the engine/gearbox failures/erratic operation and have never heard anything about crappy brake lights in the new Monaro, laugh because these components are sourced directly from you guys in the good ol' USA!!!!!!!! All we do is stick 'em in the cars.   We don't touch 'em!!!!! As for it not being good enough to wear the badge!!!!! Like the other fella said "Is the badge good enough for the Monaro!!!!"   It certainly has much more get up and go than the original 0-100km/h (96 mph) in 5.0sec 0-400m (1/4 mile) in 13.8sec, actually stops 100-0 in around the same distance as an M3 BMW, and can go round corners at a speed much much quicker than walking pace!!!! Not to mention it runs on an oily rag. You guys if you get it you will never have had it so good and once behind the wheel will soon find it harder to give up than heroin!!! For a small nation, we know how to build killer cars with almost Japanese quality and European finesse for around $30,000 USD in you driveway!  I know nearly all US cars are now front wheel drive (BORING) ugly, and handle like a dog on a wet wooden floor.  So get over the Monaro bashing.  It is more than worthy of the GTO badge!!  Photos do it no justice and driving is believing.

He blames the unions for influencing negative comments made in a May, 2002 "Forbes Magazine" article...
 

From: Robert Ryan (rryan@sia.net.au) in Sutherland, Australia.
It would appear the [Forbes] article was written on behalf of the UAW, who are quite rightly protecting their turf from a GM product that has no UAW input.   Aussie AMW yes, but no US unions.  The somewhat  unbelievable "failing engines,stop lights etc" seems a bit rich for one of the top selling cars in Australia.   Yes it outsold the Camry.   Another interesting aspect of the article was the "taking the tooling to Detroit". Why? So they, the UAW could control a potentially successful vehicle.   Has the UAW ever wondered why potential world class vehicles from the US, sell in almost infestestimal numbers outside the US?  The answer is QUALITY or the lack of it.   US vehicles rank with Daewoo, British cars in poor quality and unreliability, this one thing the UAW can do like the German Unions did and that is lift the game as far as quality goes. 
According to the Aussie Designer of the Monaro, who is also working on the GTO, the final car will not look that much different from the Monaro.   The big question is, are GM US going to replace the LS1 V8 with a Lesser engine?

Americans have been missing out...
 

From Andrew Olds (andrewolds@hotmail.com)
Good to see that Holden's products are finaly being accepted by GM in the states.   You guys have been missing out!  Having driven a manual CV8 Monaro, I can assure you it is most definitely up to the task.   I thought you would be interested in the aftermarket tuning that is available for the Gen III Chev motor down under.   Forget the 400 bhp HSV GTS, take a look at www.capa.com.au. They produce a Vortec blower kit and intercooler giving 390 KW from an internally stock Gen III.   Or look at www.chiptorque.com.au, who managed to crack the fuel and ignition maps in the ECU and have manufactured a fully programable aftermarket ECU, apparently something you yanks are lagging behind in!   I dont think you need to worry about our cars being fit to wear the GTO badge.    p.s.:  I lust after a 1964 sport coupe GTO

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