The HT Monaro upgrade exhibited even more of the self-assured
and extroverted attitude of the people who chose to drive
The most dramatic change in the HT facelift was a
new multi-louvred plastic grille with a raised centre
section and Monaro black-outs.
The GTS had bold centre bonnet stripes in black or gold,
flanked by new bonnet scoops (These scoops did little
to assist in cooling the motor, and were purely a design
element in helping differentiate the updated Monaro. Interestingly,
the same style has been applied to the current day Monaro!).
The HT also featured beefier two-section taillights separated
by a blacked-out tail panel, thicker side stripes and
black sills that made the GTS look even sleeker.
tail lights of the HT were considered a priority by designers,
and Phil Zmood is credited with creating the major design
elements of the new model.
Wild new colors included Sebring Orange and Daytona Bronze
were now available, and a full set of circular instruments
replaced the HK's console-mounted tacho and strip style
More contoured bucket seats with optional houndstooth
check cloth inserts and a 'grippier' steering wheel were
in keeping with the HT's added refinement and special
detailing. A new Y-frame engine cradle and neoprene front
suspension bushes isolated harshness from the cabin.
The track was widened and fatter rubber bushings in the
rear leaf spring eyes matched the gains in the front.
The HT was also first to get the Aussie V8, initially
as a 253 (4.2 liter), and for many Monaro buyers, it was
the perfect choice.
With all the design changes incorporated into the HT lineup,
the base HT Monaro lost some of its exclusivity. Now
all models - from the Belmont up - were given a Monaro-inspired
styling flow from the rear window to the boot. Indeed
this new look would ultimately spell the end of the Coupe.
As the Holden sedans progressively lost their stiff
rear quarter styling and gained more performance options,
a deficit of two doors would soon become the Monaro's
main distinguishing feature! The Aussie built 253
(4.2 liter) was initially mated to a 3-speed column
shift manual with a "Powerglide"
2 speed auto option available.
The 308 (5.0 liter) version was introduced as Chevrolet
307 until stocks ran out. Chevrolet's new 350 (5.7 liter)
V8, which came in different auto and manual specifications,
arrived later, giving engineers extra time to 'fine tune'
the GTS 350 sports suspension so it could be the first
Holden to offer low profile radial tires as an option.
The limited build GTS 350 manual could also be ordered
with rally wheels, another Holden first. In 1969, the
first year under Harry Firth, Holden Dealer Team Monaro
350s came first (Bond/Roberts) and third (West/Brock)
outright in the Hardie Ferodo 500 at Bathurst. HT GTS motor sport victories in 1970 included the Surfer's
Paradise 12-hour race (Bond/Roberts), and the Australian
Touring Car Championship (Beechey).
At the time, there were some who mourned the passing of
the HK's raw and more direct feel, although such criticism
was usually only levelled at the lesser Monaro's. The
GTS-350 had many commentators of the day putting it ahead
of the mighty GT Falcon, sighting the very sorted suspension
tweaks and low profile radial tires as far superior to
the Dunlop Aquajets then being fitted to the XW.