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The Holden Monaro is a rear wheel drive coupé that was produced by Holden between 1968 and 1977 and between 2001 and 2006. Three generations of the Monaro have been produced, with the last spawning an all wheel-drive variant, export models and various concept cars.
1968 Holden Monaro – First Generation
Named after the Monaro region in New South Wales (although pronounced differently), Holden’s new coupé was introduced in July 1968 as a two-door pillarless hardtop coupé available in three models: Monaro base model, Monaro ‘GTS’ and Monaro ‘GTS 327’. The GTS versions had “full instrumentation” which included a tachometer mounted on the centre console. This proved to be a bad location as the drivers knee would obstruct the view and it often rattled. The cars could be ordered with a choice of six-cylinder engines of 161 in3 (2,640 cc) capacity (base only) or two versions of 186 in3 (3,050 cc) capacity (GTS with the uprated 186S only), or a 307 in3 (5,030 cc) capacity Chevrolet-sourced V8. The exclusive ‘GTS 327’ model was powered by the 250 bhp (186 kW) Chevrolet 327 in3 (5,360 cc) V8.
Uniquely styled by Holden, the Monaro nevertheless featured styling cues derived from Chevrolet designs, employing a “coke bottle” look similar to that of the Camaro, Corvair, and Nova coupés of the late 1960s.
1968 Holden Monaro – Classic History
Although the Monaro was destined to be a sales success, it also signalled to Ford the Generals clear intention that it would be a serious contender in production car racing – with the saying ‘What wins on Sunday sells on Monday’ being just as relevant in Australia as anywhere else in the world – perhaps even more so given the Aussie apetite for V8’s. It wasn’t long before the racing Monaro made its debut – and what a debut! – with a first race win by Tony Roberts and Bob Watson in a GTS 327 Monaro at the 1968 Sandown 3-hour enduro.
That year, the Monaro caused a Ford blood bath at Mt. Panorama, sweeping all contenders aside with a 1-2-3 finish. First was the car of Bruce McPhee and Barry Mulholland (privateers), with Jim Palmer/Phil West coming second and Tony Roberts/Bob Watson coming in third place. The Monaro had staked its claim on the Mountain, but with Ford winning the year before (1967) it was billed as “The Decider” in 1969. The Monaro maintained its winning form, when piloted to first position by Colin Bond and Tony Roberts. The GTHO of McPhee/Mulholland was always in close contention however, coming in 2nd place. And in third place was another Monaro, driven by Des West and a new up-coming driver, one Peter Brock, who had recently joined Harry Firths team. The Ford verses Holden rivalry has never diminished.
In early 1969 the HK Monaro range was awarded Wheels magazine’s Car of the Year for 1968.
1968 Holden Monaro GTS 327 Specifications
– Manufacturer: Holden
– Model: Coupe
– Year: 1968
– Body Style: 2-door coupe
– Engine: 250 bhp (186 kW) Chevrolet 327 in (5,360 cc) V8
– Transmission: 4-speed Manual
– Length: 4694 mm / 184.8 in
– Width: 1824 mm / 71.8 in
– Height: 1387 mm / 54.6 in