The Holden Monaro Coupe, the muscle car Australian buyers are waiting three months or more to own, is proving as big a hit at General Motors’ Detroit HQ where executives squabble to drive the only example on the fleet, writes Mike Duffy.

GM subsidiary Holden is understood to be within weeks of signing an export deal to ship 20,000 Monaros a year to the United States.

Product czar Bob Lutz says executives are testing their standing by requesting the Monaro for the weekend.

“Everyone wants to drive the car. Heck, my wife took it for the weekend and it took me a week to get it back,” he said.

“Any executive who gets to drive the Monaro is pretty senior because all the big hitters are in the queue. And why wouldn’t they be – it’s a great car.”

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Lutz is so enthusiastic about the Monaro he ordered an engineering study to see what was needed to federalise the car for sale in the US.

The 70 year old former US marine jet fighter pilot, brought out of retirement to take charge of GM’s global product development and chair GM North America, wants to use the Monaro to revive the legendary Pontiac GTO nameplate.

And, once the Monaro programme is under way, he is eager to consider exporting the Holden Ute (‘utility’ or ‘pickup’) to America for sale as a new Chevrolet El Camino.

“There could be very good reasons why this cannot be done,” Lutz said during a recent visit to Australia. “But I’m here, you know, obviously looking for opportunities and not obstacles.”

Since returning to the US, Lutz has continued to sing Holden’s praises.
He told American journalists: “Which brings me to the news. It involves our global reach, which in this case stretches all the way to Australia and our Holden subsidiary.

“A group of us went there last month to drive some cars and frankly we liked what we saw, and we loved what we drove.

“And I can tell you today, that we are definitely planning to bring the Holden Monaro Coupe to America to become the 21st century interpretation of the legendary Pontiac GTO.

“I gotta tell ya, I love driving this car. It’s got a 5.7 litre V8 and a six speed transmission and when it was introduced in Australia last October it became an instant classic.

“It is the most sought-after, high profile car on Australian roads right now. It shares that V8 heritage and a brawny, muscular stance with the classic GTO and it will make a fine flagship for Pontiac.”

Lutz predicted that the car would be launched at the Detroit Motor Show next January.

He revealed to US media that (Holden chairman) Peter Hanenberger had appointed a cross-company project team to fast-track US exports.