Holden Monaro Stands As A High-water Mark Of Aussie Design And Ingenuity
Wheels Australia Magazine|December 2020
So much more than a two-door commodore, this big coupe still stands as a high-water mark of Aussie design and ingenuity
Nathan Ponchard

Model Holden V2 Monaro CV8

Engine 5665cc V8 (90°), ohv, 16v

Max power 225kW @ 5200rpm

Max torque 460Nm @ 4400rpm

Transmission 6-speed manual

Kerb weight 1640kg

L/W/H/WB 4789/1841/1397/2788mm

0-100km/h 6.9sec (tested)

Price $56,990 (CV8, new)

LOOKING BACK back from an era on the cusp of large-scale electrification, the Holden V2-VZ Monaro (2001-06) seems like a dream. A large two-door coupe almost exclusively V8-powered, born in a Melbourne design studio determined to match the best in the world, fuelled by the enthusiasm of an Australian public no longer hindered by the cultural cringe.

What we didn’t know then is that the V2 Monaro marked a pivotal moment in our car culture – the beginning of the greatest purple patch in Aussie automotive history, but also the beginning of the end...

The modern Monaro’s rebirth narrative has been told many times, but it’s worthy of a recap. With work on the ’97 VT Commodore well underway, and its “luscious surfaces” naturally lending themselves to a coupe, senior designer Peter Hughes is nudged by Holden’s chief designer Mike Simcoe to do a proper sketch of a coupe version. And so the oldest surviving image of a two-door VT – dated 1994 – is born.

Some years later, with the coupe’s creative seed well and truly planted, Simcoe completes a 30-percent-scale tape drawing of the two-door at home in his spare time, defining the coupe’s proportion. A same-size clay model follows back in the design studio before work begins in secret on a full-size concept car with the support of Holden’s head of engineering, Tony Hyde, who makes the funds available to complete the project.

The ‘Concept Coupe’, as it becomes known, is never meant for a public audience – it was an ‘internal design study’, completed after-hours by designers volunteering their time. But Simcoe and his department treat it just like a production car and when a few key members of management see it – and fall in love with it – Concept Coupe gathers momentum.

Three weeks before the 1998 Sydney Motor Show, Simcoe finally reveals the bodyshell to Holden’s then-MD, American Jim Wiemels, who agrees it would be a worthy addition to Holden’s show stand and its 50th anniversary celebrations. And when the covers do come off on October 15, there’s uproarious applause … from the journos!

But no one predicted just how nuts the public would go for it. Concept Coupe almost instantly becomes ‘the new Monaro’ and by the end of the show, Holden dealers are already receiving orders. A year later, the company confirms the Commodore two-door is production-bound. Then, in December 2000, Holden announces that a ‘Monaro’ will again grace its showrooms.

Unlike the original Monaro coupes (1968-76), which are held in high regard today but whose sales (and values) tapered off after the initial fervour, the V2-VZ Monaro never really lost its lustre. It’s been treasured from the start.

In its first full year (2002), Holden shifted 4274 examples – more than 90 percent of which were the 225kW/460Nm 5.7-litre Gen III V8, featuring either a Borg Warner T56 six-speed manual or GM’s own 4L60E four-speed automatic, each costing $56,990 (or around $4500 more than a VX II Calais V8 sedan).

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