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Amazing Aussie Barn Find: 1968 Holden Monaro GTS 327

Bundaberg is a beautiful city in sunny Queensland, Australia. The locals are warm and welcoming, and its mills produce some of the world’s finest sugar. It is also the location of one of the country’s great barn finds. It is a 1968 Holden Monaro GTS 327, a rare classic created as a racing homologation special. After years in hibernation and a fascinating back story, it is headed to a new home and a second chance at life. When you learn what the buyer paid for this gem, you may gain an understanding of the passion and high regard felt for these classics. This one slipped under my radar, so I must say a big thank you to our own Todd Fitch for pointing me in the right direction.

Holden was the dominant force in Australian new car sales at the start of the 1960s. It offered a single model in sedan, station wagon, panel van, and ute variants. The public perceived the brand as “Australia’s own.” Its single model accounted for over 50% of all new car sales in 1960. Various manufacturers like Ford, Chrysler, BMC, and other European brands were left to fight over the scraps. Things changed when Ford released its new Falcon, and Chrysler unveiled its Valiant model because Holden now had worthy competitors. However, the one thing that none of these companies had within their range was a V8 that could be considered a high-performance vehicle. Holden and Chrysler had nothing, while Ford was limited to its Galaxie range imported in CKD form from Canada. Things were about to change, with it becoming one of the industry’s worst-kept secrets that Ford was set to fit the 289ci V8 into a sporting model called the Falcon GT in 1967. The GT cemented its place in folklore by scoring a resounding win in that year’s Bathurst endurance race, while Holden fronted with its aging six-cylinder models. The company was caught flat-footed but responded in 1968 with the new Monaro GTS 327. Its Chevrolet small-block V8 churned out more power than the updated Falcon GT, giving its creators their first Bathurst win. It marked the start of the muscle car war driven almost solely by motorsport needs. If ever a market reflected the “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” philosophy, Australia stood as a shining example.

This Monaro is a one-owner classic with a fascinating backstory. Its original owner, Darryl, purchased the car from his local Holden dealer in 1968. It was a momentous occasion, as the GTS was his first new car. His previous vehicles had effectively been hand-me-downs purchased secondhand from his father when he updated to the latest models. However, Darryl didn’t buy the car for himself. Instead, he handed the keys to his wife, Vivian, who used the Monaro as her daily driver. Their daughter remembers seeing the car for the first time, with her mother sitting proudly behind the wheel. Vivian happily drove the children to and from school, offering rides to children desperate for a spin in a Bathurst winner. The car served faithfully until Vivian passed away in 2006, when Darryl parked it in the barn, intent on eventually returning it to its former glory. Circumstances decreed this would never happen, and as the years passed, the GTS disappeared under a layer of old corn sacks and other odds and ends. Darryl passed away in 2021, and his children decided the Monaro needed a new home. They dragged it from its hiding place, handed it to an auctioneer, and it went across the auction blocks, still wearing a heavy coating of dust.

Apart from some additional steel tubes that may have been part of a bullbar, this Monaro was unmolested. The heavy dust layer makes assessing its condition difficult, and the original Picardy Red paint looks tired. Every GTS 327 sported contrasting stripes along its hood and trunk lid, with this car featuring Black. It retains its original badges and, crucially, the distinctive styled hubcaps and fluted front fenders. The new owner will undoubtedly perform a restoration, but they will almost certainly face rust repairs first. I think issues are visible in the lower rear quarter panels, with the front fenders another area prone to problems. Considering the relative rarity of these classics, the new owner will probably adopt a rotisserie process to achieve a high-end result. There are no interior shots, but there are enough glimpses to suggest Darryl ordered the Monaro trimmed in Black vinyl. A center console was standard fare, offering one of the few places to mount a tachometer inside the GTS. Years spent in a barn resulted in a rodent infestation. The buyer faces a complete retrim and possibly a new wiring harness to ensure everything presents, smells, and functions correctly.

The horsepower race between Holden and Ford was evident when you lifted the hood of the 1968 Monaro GTS 327. The 1967 Falcon GT utilized the A-Code 289ci V8 to send 225hp to the road via a four-speed manual transmission. The 1968 GT upped the ante with a 302, churning out 230hp. However, Holden trumped that with the new Monaro. It used the L73 version of Chevrolet’s 327ci small-block V8 to place 250hp under the driver’s right foot. Whereas the Falcon GT offered an automatic option, the GTS 327 was strictly a four-speed manual only proposition. Performance figures were fascinating, with the Falcon covering the ¼-mile in 15.8 seconds and the GTS taking 15.6 seconds. The tables reversed when the subject turned to top speed, with the GT Leaving the GTS in its dust at 124mph versus 115mph. Considering much of Bathurst’s Mount Panorama circuit comprises long straights where the Falcon could stretch its legs and exploit its speed advantage, a victory should have been assured. However, the opposite proved the case. Pole position, fastest lap, and the outright win all fell to a Monaro GTS 327 driven by Bruce McPhee and Barry Mulholland. This GTS is mechanically original, but it has hibernated for decades. Returning it to a roadworthy state won’t be easy, but the ready availability of parts means there is no reason it can’t happen.

It can sometimes be difficult for people from other countries to grasp the significance or value of a classic car, but this 1968 Holden Monaro GTS provides clarity. When it was listed for auction, the interest was significant. Buyers from all corners of Australia threw their hats into the ring, and there was even an inquiry from a potential buyer in Bangkok. The initial auction estimate was A$50,000 – A$80,000 (US$33,700 – US$53,900). Following the immense interest, the auctioneer raised their estimate to A$120,000 (US$80,800). The hammer fell at A$200,000 (US$134,700), indicating how coveted these classics are. Hoden no longer exists, but its legacy lives in cars like this 1968 Monaro GTS 327, a vehicle born out of the desire for motorsport success. After years in hibernation, this one-owner barn find has started its journey back to its rightful place on Australian roads.


  1. Dave

    What a cool car. Part Pontiac Ventura in front, Chevy Chevelle out back,
    Mad Max from the side.

    Like 14
    • Bruce Ironmonger

      I was at this auction in Bundaberg and saw it sold. Since then a number of rare old classics have turned up to their auctions including a 1 of 13 Ford Falcon GTHO Bathurst Spec car. Also a rare Holden Torana SS Spec car.

      Like 14
      • Ward William

        Yea, a 1st gen 1 owner “mango” is pure gold. And the story mentioned sugar but not Bundy rum. what a bl00dy travesty. ;-)

        Like 2
      • Garry

        I will be in Bundaberg in a week or two.
        Don’t worry Ward, I will give the Rum the attention that it deserves!

        Like 1
      • Ward William

        (To Gary below) Good on ya Gazza. You’re a good man in a tight spot. Go at it mate. ;-)

        Like 0
  2. rudy b

    An enjoyable, interesting post.

    Like 19
  3. Mr Meowingtons

    What a fine post! Thank you for the enjoyable History lesson

    Like 15
  4. RMac

    Got to love anything with a H.O. Chevy 327 !!
    Very cool car and write up!!

    Like 8
  5. Yblocker

    Somebody paid $134,700 for this? Dang.

    Like 7
    • Gerard Frederick

      Ya, paying that kind of change for THIS is like paying 10 million for a Picasso. Both buyers need urgent attention.

      Like 5
      • Garry

        Exactly, more dollars than sense!

        Like 4
    • Dale L

      It would have been much cheaper to buy a red 1971 Chevelle SS for $35,000, replace the rear bumper with a 1970 Chevelle bumper, and call it ‘close enough’.

      Like 2
    • Harry

      I agree, I’m completely mystified every time one of these Aussie “step children” shows up and sells for big money. Holden designs look like a Falcon and a Dart had a one night stand and birthed an autistic “Fart.”

      Not my cup of tea but nostalgia means something different for each of us I suppose.

      Like 2
    • Ward William

      If you were an Australian of my age (62) you would never ever have questioned that price. IMHO that was cheap as chips for a car this rare.

      Like 6
    • Chris

      Yeer cheap

      Like 0
  6. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


    Monaro GTS and Falcon XB GT cars from Australia are bringing big bucks now. The Ford Falcon XB GT fastback [think 1971 Mustang Mach 1] is in even more demand, and some have been selling in excess of $250k Australian.

    Like 12
    • John Eder

      I bought a car from an Australian guy in Northern California who told me about how he made a fair living locating cars for collectors in Australia and New Zealand in the United States and shipping them there, at a profit- mostly 50s and 60s big cars. They are apparently pretty popular there for a certain clientele. Quite a nice niche business.

      Like 5
      • panther1000

        No money in it.

        I’m based in Oz, imported many cars over the past 30 years.

        The internet since the early 2000s means every man and his dog can click a button on ebay and buy a US car, then google a shipper.

        So many here now you can take your pick and the market is saturated.

        Since Covid, shipping has trippled to the point there’s no margin. I used to import cars form the US to Australia for around $2,000.

        The last paid I imported before Christmas 2022 (a gold 1978 Lincoln Mark V Diamond Jubilee and a gold first gen 1966 Toronado) cost me $24,000.

        These are keepers. If I tried to sell them, I’d lose a motsa.

        Like 1
      • panther1000

        Not any more.

        Based in Oz, been importing classics from the US for over 30 years as a hobby. Used to be able to ship from the States for $2,000 per car, but no more since the Covid container profiteering racket. Last pair I shipped before Christmas 2022 (gold ’78 Lincoln Diamond Jubilee and gold first gen ’66 Toronado), I got whacked with a shipping invoice for $24,000. Luckily these ones are keepers, not for sale or I’d do my dough.

        The hey day is over. Plus now anyone in Oz can search on the ebay app, from their phone and ‘buy a US car’ in the US at the click of a button, then google any choice of shipper including Aussies based in LA who will pack and ship.

        So many US cars here now, the market is saturated. No margin in it any more.

        Try crypto. 😉

        Like 1
      • Benny F.

        Boy you can say that again and again…

        Like 1
  7. Todd Fitch Staff

    Well done, Adam! Thanks for a great write-up and your regional insights. Just when you think barn finds are fading, another tremendous specimen like this turns up. Cheers.

    Like 12
  8. mike

    What a piece of Australian history

    Like 10
  9. RMac

    WOW y blocker what’s with the tude?

    Like 5
    • Yblocker

      Sorry, lol, I’m just not crazy about this car, pay no mind to me lol

      Like 3
    • Harry

      Same with Koalas! As I’ve said before, if I was from Australia I can promise I wouldn’t be into cars as a hobby. Total boredom IMO

      Like 0
  10. Rumpledoorskin

    It is heartwarming to hear that mom drove a race car to the store, school and other driving chores. I bet she enjoyed it, since she drove it so many years. I like it when they’re driven and used like a car, not squirreled away with 12 miles on it.

    Like 9
  11. Roo

    The 327 was not an homologation special, in 1968 neither the XT GT Falcon or Monaro were homologation specials.
    The homologation specials came about when a minimum of 200 vehicle of yhe same specs had to be produced and be available for the public to buy. This allowed Ford to produce the GT HO series.

    Like 3
  12. MGSteve

    I’ll apologize in advance, as I’ve posted this before. While in the USCG, mostly during the early 70’s, I was posted to Terminal Island, which is essentially the LA Harbor. There were acres upon acres of used muscle cars, of any and all description, waiting to be shipped to Australia. One could not get very close to them, but still one could see that most were in decent “as found” condition, with maybe a bashed in fender or similar. At the time, most of these cars were only a few years old. One of our guys seemed to know all about the “operation”, and said the cars were bringing huge money in Oz.

    Like 6
    • panther1000

      Sorry, but there were never “acres upon acres of used muscle cars waiting to be shipped to Australia” during the early 1970s

      Some Aussie must have been pulling your leg.

      I’m based on the Gold Coast, Australia, and got into US cars in the late 1980s – early 1990s when I lived in Sydney.

      At the time, American classics were as scarce as the proverbial rocking horse manure.

      I would pour over our old car market mag, Unique Cars (that was about the only resource at the time, for anything classic or interesting) and flick through all the crappy pommy cars and Australian plane Janes, searching for American Iron. They were few and far between, so I had to go to the US and learn how to import my own cars.

      Eventually entrepreneurial locals like Joe Belperio of Adelaide, South Australia (Joe’s Golden Gasoline Classics) started a small US car importing business kicking off with his own ’57 Chev he bought for a few thousand with money he saved working in a pizza shop, soon followed by a few others, then many others. With the internet becoming mainstream in the 2000s, it seemed every man and his dog was personally importing US cars bought at the click of a button on ebay.

      Today there are so many US cars, you can take you pick.

      But not in the 1970s. Some Aussie has pulled your leg. 😉

      Like 3
      • MGSteve

        not to be argumentative, but I saw the cars, month-after-month with my own eyes. It was not an Aussie pulling my leg, but one of our own officers on the Cutter I was assigned to.

        Like 1
  13. C Force

    There’s one great thing about australian cars from the 60s and 70s there was never any emissions restrictions imposed like there was here.Their muscle car era never really ended.you can get 98 octane pump gas there.even the 4dr cars and wagons were high performance.

    Like 6
    • Samuel

      I always preferred the sound of a Holden engine a against Ford

      Like 1
      • Michael Melville

        It’s a Chevy not a Holden LOL and then along came the Japs and made them all look stupid

        Like 2
  14. Malcolm Novar

    I drove one in Barbados…Great ride !!!

    Like 1
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Hey Malcolm,

      By chance did you see a green Morgan +4 or a brown Triumph Stag running around on the island? I drove those when I was in Barbados in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

      Like 2
  15. ACZ

    The Aussies were the smartest of all. They kept the Ute. My favorite (being an El Camino lover). They had gorgeous high performance versions that I really wished were available here.

    Like 6
    • Garry

      Australian utes re now extinct!

      Like 0
      • ACZ

        Nope. There are plenty that are still alive.

        Like 1
    • MGSteve

      Absolutely LOVE the Aussie UTEs. I even spent some time at a Holden dealership, inquiring about them . . . . if they would ever be exported to the U.S. I was told, at that time, that Holden was going to sell them, under the Pontiac brand, stateside. Obviously, that was a few years ago, as Pontiac is bye-bye. Love the design of the Ford UTEs also. The fact that the UTEs came in different styles was also a plus: flatbed, cargo sides, etc. I think they would sell like hotcakes in the U.S. Not all of us need a giant crew cab, a 6 or 8ft bed, every option in the world, 4WD and all that. I love the size of the UTEs

      Like 3
  16. chrlsful

    just send me an engine, heck, on my check book Oz is too far for anything more any way.

    While we wrked up the bent8 muscle in the ’60s Down Under staid more w/the i6… developin the %$#^ outa them. Sooo…

    the ‘250 2v iron head’, ‘X-flow’, some of the others (NOT barra) are of my interest. The latter is just too big but impresses like the JZ or some of the european sixes (and THEN some).

    the series2.4 or XY; the 3.3 – XC ’76 cross flow intro; or the 4.1 – XD ’80 alu head intro. Style is subjective, some will like the car, some not. But w/performance, measured w/math, we have a precise science compaired to emotion/feelings abt style of the auto.

    Like 1
  17. Richard Martin

    Excellent write up but one small correction is relevant. Ford didn’t introduce their V8 with the GT. The V8 engine was available with the release of the XR range of Falcons. The XR GT appeared a little later. Similarly, Holden released the V8 with the introduction of their HK range, The Monaro (which was available with three different engines) followed a little later.

    Like 0
    • Darren DeSimoni

      Possibly a correction to your correction, Richard. Ford Australia released the Falcon XP 2door coupe with a 289. So i think that may have been the first.

      Like 0
      • Garry

        I think that the V8 option in the XP Falcon range was a dealer provided option. I seem to recall the 260 being the initial offering.

        This is only a memory, I would have to explore deeply in my shed to find confirmation, a difficult task as I am absent with leave and caravan!

        Like 0
  18. Bob

    Hi and great article! I’m a big fan and did own one….but stolen and never seen again.
    Still have the key and papers but no car.
    81837..love to track it down some day

    Like 4
  19. Chris In Australia

    The pity is that GM-H didn’t go for the hotter 327s and later the 350s. In a Monaro it would have chopped the hype about the GTHO off before the myth took root.

    Like 0

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