Holden's eagerly awaited two-door Monaro Coupe is a non-starter for the huge North American market despite plans by the Australian arm of General Motors to export the handsomely styled Commodore-based model to as many territories as possible, writes Donn Anderson.

A pre-production Monaro Coupe displayed at GM's Detroit headquarters drew many admirers and enthusiastic executives wanted to know when they could offer the rear wheel drive car in the United States and how many they could have.

But Holden engineers say too many changes are required for the vehicle to conform to US regulations. The whole exercise would entail expensive re-engineering, including costly changes for the car to adhere to stringent North American anti-corrosive requirements. GM in Detroit had previously enthused over other Holden models, like the Commodore V8 SS sedan, but again Federal compliance was a problem.

However, several export markets have been earmarked for the Monaro Coupe, which will be built with both left and right hand drive. These include the Middle East, where it will be sold as a Chevrolet Lumina Coupe and Brazil as the Chevrolet Omega CD. It will also be sold in New Zealand (Holden's second largest export market), South Africa and Britain, while there are also export possibilities for mainland Europe.

Confirmed dealer orders in Australia already top several hundred, with the launch date scheduled for late October, soon after its public unveiling at the Sydney motor show. First production units are rolling down the lines at Holden's manufacturing plant in Elizabeth, South Australia, but no photos or detailed specifications have been released.

When the Coupe goes on sale in Australia it will be 25 years since the previous Monaro two-door was sold down under. High performance HSV (Holden Special Vehicles) versions are likely to drop the Monaro name to differentiate them from less costly mainstream Coupes.

Prices will range from $US26,000 to $US52,000 in Australia, and lower priced versions will use Holden's familiar Buick-designed, locally made 3.8 litre V6 in either 152 kW normally aspirated or 171 kW supercharged forms. Exports will mostly use the imported Chevrolet 5.7 litre 225 kW V8 which will be tweaked to produce 255 kW in the HSV GTO and 300 kW in the HSV GTS. Insiders say the GTS will be one of the fastest production cars ever made in Australia.

Despite Commodore underpinnings, the Monaro boasts unique styling front and rear and an elegant C pillar treatment. Engineers say the new car will be more up-market than the Holden two-door marketed from 1968 to 1976.

Seen by many as the most eagerly awaited Australian designed and made car in decades, the Monaro will be highly specified for export markets, with standard anti-lock braking, traction control and sports suspension.