Bye-bye Monaro, bye-bye. How does the phrase "undisputed 21st Century sports car hero and international ambassador" sound?
reincarnation of the 1960s and 1970s performance leader (that) has captured the Australian public's imagination and beaten all comers as the nation's best-selling sports car for the past three years?"
Sound like the sort of car you'd continue building and selling?
Well, no, Holden was talking about its Commodore-based Monaro coupe which debuted at the 2001 Sydney Motor Show and which will go out of production before the end of this year.
That's despite the fact that Holden executives insist the car was always a marketplace success: Holden has sold more than 11,000.
Maybe the decision to stop making the Monaro has something to do with keeping the air of exclusivity that marks the oiginal Monaros from the late 1960s. They're so sought after that a dilapidated but rare one sold recently at auction for $AU55,000.
The new Monaro's last hurrah was a strikingly-detailed special edition CV8-Z which Holden said would "cement Monaro's reputation as a performance car collectable classic."
That's it on the cover of this week's magazine, looking sweet and sharp.
Outside Australia and New Zealand, where it's also sold under the HSV brand, the Monaro has made its mark in the United States (Pontiac GTO), Britain (Vauxhall Monaro) and the Middle East (Chevrolet).Holdenhas built more than 40,000 Monaro-based coupes.
GM Holden chairman, Denny Mooney, says the new generation Monaro "has been an absolute winner in Australia - a hands-down winner in the sports car market. It has been the flagship of our performance car range and the standard for others to match."
He says the car "really strengthened Holden's position in the global automotive business. It reinforced this company's design, engineering and manufacturing reputation which was reflected in our record company exports of more than 52,000 last year.
"Our coupe has worn four GM brands on four continents and sold almost six times as many cars as were first planned. Of the 40,000 coupes we have built, about three-quarters were sent overseas.
"But most of all, (the) Monaro ignited something deep within the Australian car culture and made people think about locally built performance cars as capable of competing with anything in the world from the value perspective."
Mooney says GM Holden is investigating options for a next generation coupe with other divisions of General Motors.
"Everyone at Holden is certainly committed to delivering a new generation Monaro in the future but there is still a lot of work to make that happen. We're looking at a number of options to ensure Holden continues to set the standard when it comes to performance coupes "Monaro means too much to Holden to not have another Monaro at some time in the future."
Monaro CV8-Z special edition
The final production Holden Monaro, the CV8-Z, could be ordered in an all-new colour called Fusion, an orange-based metallic delivering sharp gold highlights through to darker bronzed drop-out.
Exterior features include factory fitted Holden By Design sunroof, black bonnet scoop accents, machined 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels with one spoke embossed with the CV8-Z logo, modified taillights and unique gun metal chrome CV8-Z badging on the rear.
Buyers could choosing CV8-Zs painted Fusion or black Phantom got a Fusion colored instrument cluster and Fusion highlighted leather trim.
Three other combinations were offered -- Quicksilver, the chromatic teal blue mica Turismo and the bold Devil Yellow with anthracite leather and colour-matched cluster.
Holden's large car marketing boss, Alan Blazevic, said the more aggressive, more powerful VZ Monaro with its performane car bonnet scoops had struck a new chord with coupe buyers.
The CV8-Z treatment took the VZ treatment a step further and was a "fitting way to celebrate Monaro's success."
"Managing the life cycle (stopping production after a relatively small total sales volume) "ensures strong ongoing demand for used Monaros, keeping resale values high and protecting its deserved reputation as a classic."
It was introduced in October 2001 at the Sydney Motor Show. We were there and the car got a rapturous reception. The media scrum resembled Fleet Street journos getting the latest royal scoop; I gues that in Aussie automotive terms the Monaro was royalty.
The Series 2 Monaro came along in 2002, but if you find one for sale locally it's a private import. Holden didn't market the Series 2 here, still holding unsold stocks of Series 1 cars. In fact, the Lion brand got toey when Auto Trader and Xtra.co journalist Richard Bosselman broke stories saying the Series 2 had gone on sale in Australia. Apparently Holden dealers, holding stocks of unsold Series 1 cars, were fieldking calls for people ordering Series 2s.
Then came the Series 3 in 2003 before the more aggressive VZ Monaro was launched last year. The VZ got more aggressive styling (bonnet scoops) called up by GM product guru for the Pontiac GTO version of the car. It also had the US-style fuel tank mounted ahead of the rear axle to meet American safety standards. It was also the most powerful standard Monaro with a 260kW/500Nm 5.7-litre V8.
The new millennium Monaro made its real debut as an un-named concept at the Sydney International Motor Show in 1998, created as a skunkworks project by Holden designers led by then Design Director Mike Simcoe, the man who penned the timeless lines of the Commodore VT. The coupe made the transition from concept to Monaro in 22 months.
Initially, the Monaro was released with a choice of V8 and Supercharged V6 motors, with the V6 model discontinued in 2003.
In the Middle East, the MOnaro was sold as a Chevrolet SS Lumina Coupe, an extension of the Commodore-based Lumina sedan range. It had a 5.7-litre V8 (SS Coupe) or 3.8-litre V6 (S Coupe). The V6 was withdrawn in mid-2004.
Restyled and re-engineered to meet US safety legislation, the Monaro was sold in America as the Pontiac GTO from December 2003. Bob Lutz had driven the Monaro in Australia and decided it could be part of Pontiac's revival as a performance car builder, with Pontiac styling cues. The GTO debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January 2003 and was released in late 2003 as a 2004 model. It had a 5.7-litre V8 engine shared with the Chevrolet Corvette. A 6.0-litre 298kW engine and more aggressive styling were introduced for the 2005 model, Pontiac requiring a more muscular look than the restrained original had. Some of those cues found their way on to Holden's VZ Monaro.
In Britain, the coupe became the Vauxhall Monaro, launched in March 2004. Vauxhall chief Kevin Wale, a former Holden executive, secured an agreement to import the Monaro under the Vauxhall badge along with a smaller programme to introduce the Vauxhall VXR performance brand using HSV GTO coupes.
The British motoring media loved the car, and Vauxhall spilled the beans on maximum speed, a subject on which Holden and HSV had been noticeably mum in Australia. Vauxhall bragged that the VXR could touch 280km/h flat-out. Top Gear named Monaro Best Muscle Car for 2005 and TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson, usually a harsh critics of Vauxhall products, said he loved the over-the-top VXR.