HOLDEN MONARO GENERATION3

THE EXTENT AND INTENSITY OF THE ENTHUSIASM FOR THE CONCEPT COUPE FORCED HOLDEN’S HAND – THE V2 MONARO WAS ON ITS WAY

WORDS MARK HIGGINS

For many born from 1980 onwards the Holden Monaro only came into being at the turn of the 21st century with the thirdgeneration CV6 and CV8 in late 2001.

The Monaro’s resurrection is a story of stealth, when early in 1998 Holden design boss Mike Simcoe (now global GM chief) and a small band of designers and engineers spent their spare time moonlighting on a Commodore coupe before presenting it to senior management.

Holden, looking for a hero for its 1998 Sydney Motorshow stand agreed to reveal the deep blue Commodore concept coupe.

The overwhelming positive reaction from the media, dealers and public was echoed with the words, Monaro is back.

Despite the accolades Holden executives remained nervous about adding a coupe. History had shown with the original Monaro and Falcon hardtops of the 60s and 70s that after enormous initial demand, sales dry up rapidly and the top brass didn’t want a huge financial exposure.

Luckily when Peter Hanenberger (of Radial Tune Suspension fame) was appointed Holden CEO, his goal was to expand the Commodore range and the Monaro became a reality.

Sixty million dollars was allocated to transform the four-door VT Commodore into a production coupe.

The Monaro was a standard VT SS from the A-pillar forward, but the rear was 100 mm shorter than the sedan, the doors 150mm longer, the A-pillars were raked back two degrees lowering the roofline 45 mm while retaining the VT windscreen. The front seats were lower and the twin rear seats were mounted 50 mm lower and 50 mm forward.

Late 2001 the V2 Monaro went into production with deliveries commencing early 2002. Two models made up the range, the entry level CV6 used the supercharged 171kW/375Nm 3.8-litre V6 with a four-speed automatic and 17-inch wheels, while the CV8 utilised a 5.7-litre 225kW/460Nm Gen III V8 with four-speed auto or six-speed manual and 18-inch wheels. Inside was the piano-black VT dash, sporting colour-coded instruments to match the exterior hue in most cases.

The V2 lasted barely a year with the Series II Monaro arriving with the VY Commodore range in December 2002. It featured a new dash layout, five-spoke alloy wheels and twin tail pipes for the CV8. June 2003 marked the arrival of the CV8-R with special wheels and Turbine Mica paintwork. A total of 350 were made.

By the time the Series III facelift was applied in August 2003 the supercharged V6 had been benched leaving just the V8, which got a power boost to 245kW.

“THE MONARO WAS A STANDARD VT SS SEDAN FROM THE A-PILLAR FORWARD”

May 2004 saw another CV8-R grace the roads, this time in Pulse Red. But the biggest changes to Monaro came with the VZ version in September 2004 with a revised interior, Pontiac GTO twin-nostril bonnet, styling upgrades, a new six-speed manual gearbox and another power boost, taking the V8 to 260kW/500Nm.

In August 2005 the final 1200 limited edition CV8-Zs rolled off the production line in a new fusion colour with special badging and a sunroof. Come December the end of Monaro production had arrived but export and HSV models continued until mid-2006.

Throughout the life of the third-generation Monaro, HSV got in on the act bringing out the GTO and GTS that were festooned with spoilers and skirts that horrified Monaro designer Mike Simcoe. It made the sleek coupe look clunky. HSV also created the $89,500 AWD Coupe 4 in July 2004.