A bright red 5.7-litre V8 Monaro coupe, rather crudely stripped of its Holden badges (you don’t usually see rubber grommets blocking holes on exterior panels of show cars) was a surprise on Vauxhall’s stand at this year’s Birmingham motor show.
According to Vauxhall spokesman Andrew Andersz, the Holden, already being exported to New Zealand and due to head to the Middle East and the USA next year in left-hand drive form, was brought to the National Exhibition Centre to “showcase General Motors products from around the world that may be possible to sell in Britain”.
He added: “This is the first time the Monaro has been shown outside Australia, and if the press and public reaction is strong enough, we could follow up with some customer clinics.
“With the show only just under way it’s a little early to tell, but certainly people have been clambering all over it so far.”
Holden itself imports the Opel-designed Corsa and Vectra into Australia, with some Vectras coming from a Vauxhall plant in England.
A Monaro export deal would however be the first time General Motors’ Australian arm has ‘officially’ shipped cars to its one-time ‘mother country’ though an independent company has been bringing in a small number of V8-powered sports model Commodores for a couple of years.
The cars have received favourable reviews from motoring magazines and the flamboyant BBC TV “Top Gear” presenter Jeremy Clarkson.
A handful of other Holdens have found their way to the UK with returning British expatriates – just-auto regularly sees two older model Commodores on the roads of rural Warwickshire – and the UK magazine Autocar tested a V8-powered HK-series long-wheelbase Brougham (presumably shipped in by Vauxhall for evaluation against a similar Opel model) on British roads as far back as 1968.
During the 1970s, a small number of Australian-made Ford Falcon, Fairmont and LTD models were shipped to the UK (the LTD had to be locally retrofitted with European Ford tail lights and new screen washer nozzles for homologation) while Chrysler Australia (now Mitsubishi) shipped over some V8-powered Valiant Charger coupes.
The idea was to offer British buyers large US-style vehicles with factory right-hand drive but, perhaps due to their sheer bulk being less than ideal on narrow British roads, along with a hefty fuel consumption, sales were miniscule.
Just-auto last sighted one of the ’70s Falcon imports in Somerset in 1988 but the Chargers seems still to be popular with enthusiasts and we see the odd one quite regularly on the summer classic car show circuit.