General Motors will subject the revived Pontiac GTO – a variant of Australian subsidiary Holden’s Monaro Coupe due out late in 2003 as a 2004 model – to the federal ‘gas guzzler’ tax, Automove News said.

The newspaper said that GM “is so eager to give tyre-squealing power to the revived Pontiac GTO” that the company would change long-standing practice and subject the car to the federal tax

“For a car to be credible, accepted as a rebirth of the rear-drive American muscle car, it has got to have that rocket-sled acceleration off the line,” Automotive News quoted GM ‘product czar’ Bob Lutz as saying at a media event in Germany.

According to Automotive News, Lutz added that the Monaro’s 5.7-litre V-8 (originally a Chevrolet Camaro engine adapted by Holden for its big car line) would be modified to give the GTO more horsepower and higher torque at low speeds for fast acceleration.

Though GM has not yet announced the GTO’s power output Lutz told journalists that 350bhp was “in the right neighbourhood”, according to Automotive News.

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In Australian market specification, the Monaro V8 develops 225kW (about 306bhp) at 5,200rpm and 460Nm of torque at 4,400rpm. Official fuel consumption figures – using imperial gallons – range from 20.9 to 38.1 miles per gallon, according to Holden’s website.

Automotive News cited Lutz as saying that, with engine modifications, the GTO would be subject to the gas guzzler tax. “We’ll offer American style off-the-line performance of squealing tyres,” he told the newspaper.

Automotive News said that the tax is collected by the US Internal Revenue Service and applies to cars – not light trucks – that get a combined city and highway fuel economy of less than 22.5 mpg with the tax increasing as fuel economy falls.

Holden does not quote combined fuel consumption figures for Australian market-specification models.

According to Automotive News, the Dodge Viper is the only American-built vehicle subject to the gas guzzler tax, paying a $US3,000 tariff.

GM’s Chevrolet Corvette avoids the tax with a ‘skip-shift feature’ that locks out second and third gears under moderate acceleration, boosting the car’s combined fuel economy to above 22.5 mpg, Automotive News added.