Australian Sighting: Holden Monaro GTS

It’s always fun to see what our international Barn Finders come across, so when Reader Matthew B out of Australia sent over a sighting, I knew we had to feature it! One of his friends recently showed him a car that he has parked in his shed for a number of years. It’s a Holden Monaro GTS, a car that our American Readers may never have heard of. While being a GTS makes it a fairly special find, it’s what is currently under the hood that will get your blood pumping! Originally, this Holden would have had a Chevy 350 V8, but his friend just happened to find a real A9X 5.0 V8 out of a Torana LX SLR5000. If the A9X sounds familiar, that’s because we recently featured a Torana A9X barn find that just sold for $260,000! While this Monaro isn’t worth that kind of money, I’m sure there are more than a few collectors out there that would love to get their hands on it. And I bet there are even more people out there that would like to have the A9X engine and the Torana it came out of!

Outside of the engine swap and the fact that it’s been parked in the shed, Matthew doesn’t know much else about the history of this Holden. It looks to be in decent shape and there’s no obvious reason why it’s parked. Perhaps there are mechanical issues or maybe his friend just doesn’t want to risk damaging it? It’s definitely had some customization work done, such as the painted bumpers and custom interior. Personally, I’d be driving it as much as possible!

The Monaro was Australia’s modular muscle car. It was offered as both a 4 door sedan and a coupe, with a wide range of engine options. Matthew didn’t say what year this car is, but it appears to be from the HQ generation, built between 1971 and 1973. If it is a genuine GTS 350 it came with a Chevy 350 and was rated at about 270 horsepower. The A9X’s V8 was rated at around 240 horsepower but was developed for road racing and was quite potent. It would be great to see the front end to see what other work may have been done to it. If you are curious to know what these cars look like, here’s a great photo of one, you’ll notice it looks a lot like a Monte Carlo.

While it might not be for sale (at least that we know of) and we might not have a ton of information on it, it’s fun to see what kind of muscle cars were stalking the roads of Australia during the ’70s. It sure would be fun to pit this Monaro up against some early ’70s American muscle! Special thanks to Matthew for sharing his find with us. And if you have come across an interesting find, whether it’s in Australia, the US or anywhere else in the world, we would love to see it! Send your sightings to

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  1. Mlaw

    Aussies are the world’s best gearheads.

    • Concinnity

      It helped having some of the best styled cars. In this case, with the HQ model, the Monaro was available as both a two and a four door. Previous, (and the much later Commodore based one), Monaros were two door only. Styling by Mr Leo Pruneau of Detroit origin (and 65 Impala stylist) He was head of GMH design for quite a while, over it’s golden period. More here (You should all learn about StreetMachine Magazine too.)

  2. ACZ

    You have to love their cars. They didn’t go through the horrible lack of performance that we endured during the 70s and 80s.

    • Adam Clarke Adam T45 Staff

      Sadly we did get some pretty horrendous emission laws in the second half of the 70s ACZ. A new Australian Design Rule (ADR27A) was introduced in 1977. To give you an idea of the impact that it had on our performance cars, the best example that I can use is the Ford Falcon GT. With the introduction of the XY series Falcon in 1971, Ford Australia decided to fit the 351 Cleveland engine as standard equipment. Ford claimed a power figure of 300hp for the 351. Almost every motoring journalist agreed that the figure was conservative. Wind the clock forward to 1978 and the introduction of the Ford Falcon Cobra. This was essentially a Falcon GT in everything but name. It was also the first “performance” model that Ford produced to comply with the emission laws. Once again it was powered by the 351, but the power figure had slumped to 217hp!

  3. RicK

    Forefather of the revived (briefly)American GTO

  4. glen

    What is beside it, to the right, in the first photo?

    • Adam Clarke Adam T45 Staff

      glen, I would say that it is a dune racing buggy. We have a number of individual competitions in Australia that these can compete in. The most famous is the Finke Desert Race.

      • glen

        I read about the race, sounds like a blast!

  5. fhuket

    Looks to be a bare basic HQ with Monaro front and dash facia. Someone has added anew ugly 3rd tail light in the bumper and materials on the doors . Very ugly and no normal enthusiast would ever cover the factory Monaro interior with what has ruined the look of this one. There are thousands of these old ruins in Australia and not worth any real $$ unless they are factory spec and not wrecked like this old nail.

  6. Adam Clarke Adam T45 Staff

    I think that it possibly is a genuine HQ Monaro GTS. The interior looks to have been customised with that wonderfully popular trim material of the 70s and 80’s, velour. The engine swap actually makes a great deal of sense (or at least it probably did at the time). While the 350 produced higher horsepower than the 308ci Torana A9X engine, in standard form it simply couldn’t handle as much “abuse” as the A9X engine. The A9X engine featured a significantly stronger crank and bearing set-up than the 350. Couple that with a dual row timing chain, ported and polished cylinder heads and roller rockers made these engines pretty much bullet proof.

    For those in America who are interested, the rivalry between Ford and Holden was pretty much tribal. Supporters of each manufacturer can point to facts which helps them to lay claim to their manufacturer being the better car builder. Ford were first to introduce the V8 to a family sedan in 1967 with the XR Falcon GT. Holden introduced their V8 in 1968, but whereas Ford removed the V8 from its range from 1982 until 1991, Holden use of the V8 continued right through until 2017.

    Holden fans will claim that their company produced more models of performance cars than Ford did. Ford fans will counter that when it was released, the Falcon GTHO Phase III was actually verified as the fastest 4-door production car in the world.

    One last point: The Monaro nameplate actually disappeared from the marketplace for a number of years. The HX Monaro LE was run out of dealerships in the first half on 1977. The name didn’t return to the market until 2001. The reappearance was actually due to Holden management getting wind of a private project being undertaken by a group of Holden designers and engineers in their own time. They were building a car to give them an idea of what a 2-door Holden Commodore would look like. Holden management got wind of the project, and when they viewed the car, made the decision to display it as a concept car at the 1998 Australian International Motor Show. Public response was overwhelming, so Holden decided to proceed to a production version which was virtually identical visually. The decision was made to revive the Monaro name, as it had strong links with the 2-door theme.

    • AB

      You are forgetting that chrysler produced cars in australia, the first V8 produced was in fact the AP6 V8. And that was in 1964. Thanks

  7. junkman Member

    Why do people take such CRAPPY pictures for once I’d like to see the whole car.
    rant over

  8. glenn

    i dont understand why we cant import cars from other countries unless they are 25 years old or more. what business is that of the gov

    • Mlaw

      That’s a very good question.

    • CanAm302

      @glenn. Over the decades we have faced similar problems. Even now post ’89 is difficult as the steering wheel is on the wrong side (plus a multitude of other rules). But, our newest problem in Aus: The Govt has gone retarded over “asbestos” even though we still live in asbestos walled houses, with asbestos insulation, topped with asbestos roofs, surrounded by asbestos fences they have taken a zero tolerance to asbestos import. They have refused entry to (million dollar) cars that were for private collection or here for display purposes only (and return to their owner’s country). They’ve cut through wiring looms/carpets/body panels/disassembled engines etc to ‘see if there is any asbestos’ in a car because it was made in the time period that asbestos ‘may’ have been present in a head gasket or brake pad and some remnant of dust from it may be buried under 30+ years of oil & road grime or hiding inside the chassis rail or body panel which of course as soon as it realises it is in Australia is going to detach itself & wipe out the country :)

  9. Chris Londish

    The six light rear bumper was a common mod although there was factory made 6 lighters but they never made it into production

    • Mark

      Appears to be a full size 69 chevy bumper.
      2 lights for the Bel Air and Biscayne……3 for the Impala.

  10. Harry

    When my two sons and I visited the Land of the Septics in late 2016 we stopped at a small Friday night car show at a shopping centre in LA. We were very surprised to see a 71 HQ Monaro coupe among the cars on display.
    We enjoyed a long chat with the owner who came by the car by accident, but gets a kick out of driving a RHD car in LA.

  11. Chris In Australia

    If the body is sound, it’s well worth restoring. This could have been a base Monaro, the LS or the GTS. We need the numbers to tell.
    The rear wing is not original, nor the gear knob, and an original 4 speed car would have a console- not sure if there’s one lurking in the gloom. Dash has been hacked up, and the horn button is not correct for a GTS.

  12. Chris In Australia

    Forgot to add that the ’68–72 GM ‘A’ bodies are their closest relation. The wheel base is only an inch different, the wheels and a lot of suspension components interchange. Makes having an A body here in Aus easier


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