They
really couldn’t have called it anything else, and Holden’s admission that its
new high-performance coupe would be named Monaro after its thundering two door
models of the 60s and 70s was a surprise to no-one when it was announced this
week, writes Dave Moore.

The
delightful coupe rendering of the Commodore sedan was displayed by Mike Simcoe’s
Holden design team at the Sydney Motor Show two years ago and was signed off
as a production certainty earlier this year after its styling and design received
great accolades from professional car designers world-wide.

But it is the public who will decide whether the car will be a success or failure
in the marketplace and the deliberate use of Holden’s famous Aboriginal nameplate
is designed to attract those who remember the original cars and now aspire to
own its modern equivalent.

Its legendary predecessor – the first all-Australian sports coupe of its type
– made an equally stunning debut back in 1968. During a nine-year market and
racetrack reign and right up to the present day, the charismatic appeal of the
striking, performance-oriented Holden Monaro coupe won it lasting fame and thousands
of admirers.

Ross McKenzie, Holden’s executive director of sales and marketing, said strong
public sentiment had influenced the company’s decision to bring the Monaro name
back to life.

“We went into the exercise with an open mind – one alternative was to
simply call it the Coupe – but the case for reviving the Monaro name became
more persuasive as time went by,” he said.

“In a sense, the car named itself. Right from the beginning, the media
and the man on the street insisted on referring to our coupe concept design
as a Monaro. After it was confirmed for production, we held consumer research
clinics that came out overwhelmingly in favour of the name. To men and women
of all ages, Monaro directly equated to ‘large Australian sports coupe’. In
terms of sheer brand awareness, you can’t do much better than that.

“I should stress that the name of our new sports coupe is its only retrospective
feature. In every sense, this will be the 21st century Monaro – a car not only
worthy of the name but one which will take it forward into a new era,”
Ross McKenzie concluded.

The Monaro model name was suggested by Noel Bedford, a member of Holden’s design
staff in 1967. The word is of aboriginal origin, meaning a high plateau or high
plain. The car shares its famous name with the Monaro range, which is part of
New South Wales’ Snowy Mountains as well as the Monaro Shire district, located
south of Canberra.

When the Monaro appears in showrooms in late 2001, it will feature the 225kW
‘Generation III’ 5.7 litre V8 inherited from GM’s US Corvette and Camaro models
in 1999. It is expected that Holden’s performance arm, HSV will be quick to
offer 250kW and 300kW options for its own version of the car, though most believe
that the smartly styled new coupe may well eschew the more outrageous body addenda
associated with the HSV performance sedans.

It has not been confirmed
however if, like Holden’s Commodore, Calais and Statesman models, the Monaro
will have six cylinder options, despite the original car having several six
and eight cylinder variations in the 60s and 70s.

Export markets have been considered. The Monaro name may not ring any bells
to the right hand drive UK market, but HSV four door Holdens are starting to
be imported in some numbers. The svelte new two door coupe would actually have
a rarity value there even among cars costing several times as much, while its
looks, cachet and Corvette-derived power unit would make it THE car to be seen
in on London’s style and statement-conscious King’s Road.

It’s likely that the Brits might have to wait a while as Holden is likely to
have the delightful problem of not being able to build enough Monaros for its
own market.