The sleek, pillarless two-door was introduced six months
after the rest of the HK range and soon took pride of
place in Holden dealer showrooms across the country.
Its 'boy racer' appeal was universal - a tribute to the
foresight of the then GMH Managing Director Max Wilson,
who was instrumental in the development of the Monaro
design and engineering concept and who recognised its
The Monaro's shape was the result of a brand new Holden
design studio, although it was unashamedly based on the
muscle cars of the US.
The pillarless two-door design
was a new concept for Australians, and with a choice of
three models (Standard, GTS and GTS 327) and six engines,
Holden were catering for anyone who aspired to own a sporty
Most importantly, almost all but the most staunch
Ford supporters fell in love with the design.
It boasted potent performance and looked every inch the
part with its long, wide body, flared wheel arches and
sweeping roofline (modelled on the Oldsmobile Toronado
In GTS form, the Monaro sported black rally stripes, unique
wheel trims, paint finishes and a tail panel strip that
replicated a full-width tail light.
In fact, all but the Belmont was to inherit the "tail
light strip styling" along the rear of the bootlid
- after pressure from GM in the US.
The designers choose
to increase the width of the mock tail lights in proportion
to the status of the vehicle, and so it naturally increased
in size depending on whether it was a Kingswood, Premier
Only the Monaro GTS had a full width strip, but unfortunately
the Aussie sun was to quickly bleach away the red accents
and reveal the fake tail light for what it was. Regardless,
this was a far preferrable option to sticking with the
Belmont's tail lights, that remained smaller than that
of the insipid HB Torana of the time.
The standard Monaro was powered by a 3.05 liter 186 six-cylinder
engine teamed with a column shift three-speed manual.
Other engine choices included a higher-spec 186S six and
an imported 5.0 liter 307 V8, matched with four-speed
console mounted manual or two-speed Powerglide auto transmission.
In fact, there were some 19 Monaro engine and transmission
combinations, from the 161 2.6 liter right through to
the awesome (for the time) 327 5.4 liter Chevrolet V8.
Although the car was destined to be a sales success, the
Monaro 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.