The Holden Monaro 427C - Australia's Homegrown GT Monster

The Australian automotive industry is an oddity in the global scheme of things. A small buying population, the most brands per head of population, and innovations not seen elsewhere, make it virtually unique.

Although we weren’t the first to build a car with a hardtop and two doors, we certainly made some great ones. Ford, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, and Holden all have cars that are memorable and one that stands out was the Monaro 427C. 

Designed, engineered, and built in Australia, this car was intended to be a track weapon and race in the Bathurst 24 Hour. The first of these races was set to run in late 2002, meaning the development of the car, slated to run in 2003, had to be brought forward. 

The heartbeat of the 427C was its US sourced 7.0L or 427cid V8. With the Holden Racing Team turning down the offer of developing the machine, Garry Rogers Motorsport (GRM) took the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R engine, a Monaro body, and the responsibility of running the 427C as a race car. 

The car would later be a controversial one; the race would attract cars from outside Australia such as Lamborghini’s Diablo GTR, Ferrari’s 360 N-GT, and the monstrous Chrysler Viper ACR. All of these cars would race with the same engine they would come off the production line with. However, the Monaro at the time came with Chev’s fabled 350cid or 5.7L V8, and therefore would be ineligible to run. However, the organiser of the race, which would come under the umbrella of a racing group called Procar, allowed the Monaro to be run with the bigger engine to be seen as more competitive with capacities such as the 8.0L V10 in the Viper.

As the race was going to be run under the then current GT regulations, GRM had to design a body kit to suit both the regulations and the aerodynamics of the VX Commodore based two door. Using the V8 Supercars design as a basis, GRM fitted a wider rear wing that sat below the car’s roofline, as per the regulations. A similar front air dam was fitted to the front, and underneath the 427C utilized a number of components that could be found on a Supercar. 

A technically minded casual observer would see a Hollinger six speed manual transmission, wheels of 18 x 11 and 18 x 13 inches, MacPherson strut front suspension and a trailing arm rear, bolted to coil springs and thick anti-roll bars. The engine was said to be good for 600 ponies (447kW) and would be bolted into the front of a car weighing 1,400 kilograms. 

All up the Monaro 427C would be 4789mm in length, run a front and rear track of 1559mm/1577mm, and roll on a wheelbase of 2788mm. The aero package provided plenty of down-force and made for a stable on track racer. 

Raced at the 2002 Bathurst 24 Hour by a team of four drivers, being Garth Tander, Nathan Pretty, Steven Richards, and Cameron McConville, the car was also being touted as being available as a road car. The race car itself would prove to be strong, durable, and a race winner. Although despite suffering a flat tyre and a collision with another car, the car would ultimately win in its debut race by 24 laps.

As a road car, it was potentially to be powered by a 433kW version of the 427cid engine. But, as a business case, the numbers simply didn’t add up and would result in a mooted buy price of $215,000 being out of reach of its intended market. Just two road going cars, and just four race cars, would be built.

The Monaro 427C would go on to compete in the Australian Nations Cup Championship in 2003, and the Bathurst 24 Hour race in the same year. A second race car had been built by then. Driven by Peter Brock, Jason Bright, Todd Kelly, and Greg Murphy, the car would win by just 0.3035 of a second. Tander, driving the 2002 winning vehicle, was thwarted in a last sector charge by a yellow flag thanks to a car close to the racing line.

The 427C would race in 2004 and see a third chassis completed, before the Nations Cup category collapsed due to fiscal issues. With regulations reverting to GT Championship rules in 2005, the Monaro 427C was deemed ineligible. Of the race cars, one is with a private collector, one is in the Bathurst Motor Museum, and little if anything is known of the locations of the others.  

Rare Spares D’Alberto Car Collection

With great wealth comes great responsibility. That’s what Bill Gates said. He should know, having been one of the all time wealthiest people. But define wealth? Is it purely a monetary value? Or can it be a little philosophical and be of something untouchable, like the love a parent has for a child? Perhaps that wealth can be something others covet and envy.

If it’s this, then the D’Alberto family certainly had wealth. This came in the form of a collection of motor vehicles that, in some cases, had barely a thousand kilometers worth of driving. The Echuca, Victoria, based family owned a car dealership group, spread across four locations in Victoria and New South Wales, and had amassed a considerable amount of cars over the past decades, including a 1927 Chevrolet ute, a 1927 Buick Tourer, a 1921 Model T Ford, and an absolute gem in the shape of a 1988 VL Walkinshaw Group A SS. Build number 333, if you don’t mind.

Never registered it had still somehow covered some kilometers, but just 1308 of them. Part of the collection of cars that was auctioned off by Mildura based auction house Burns & Co, its new owner handed over $305,000 plus auction fees.

The auction itself wasn’t just about moving rolling metal however. Plenty of boxes full of marketing material and posters were available, such as the evolution of Holden from the 1960s to the 1970s, Peter Brock and Holden Racing Team items, driving lights, user manuals for vehicles, trim pieces, and spare parts.

It’d be fair to say, however, that it was the astounding collection of cars being offered that attracted the most eyeballs. Cars such as a 48/215, a Corvette Stingray, even a Sydney Olympic Torch Relay fitted out Commodore were there for the asking.

A 48 year old LC Torana GTR went for an eyewatering $165,000, a similarly aged HT Monaro with a naturally aspirated 5.0L engine lightened the wallet for $170,00, while some more modern muscle in the form of a 1992 VN Group A SS saw $210,000 against its name.

The D’Alberto brothers certainly had an eye for quality and made sure that as many as possible of the cars were in as best a condition as possible. Hence the responsibility part of the opening quote. A quick look through the online catalogue showcases shiny and well maintained cars, including a lovely 1970 Monaro GTS with a 186ci straight six cylinder. With the speedo reading just 313 miles travelled, it sold for $240,000.

Do you have your own piece of Australian motoring history in your garage? Tell us about your pride and joy in the comments section on our Facebook page.

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Four Incredible Australian Barn Finds

Barn finds are the stuff of any rev-heads dreams, but for most they are just that; a dream. For some however, dreams of uncovering a timeless classic hidden away in a barn or shed have come to fruition, with many not quite understanding the goldmine they possess until the car has long outlived its ‘best-before’ date. In this week’s blog, we’ll take a quick look at four incredible barn finds that have been uncovered across Australia over the last decade.

1956 FJ Special

Found in Essendon back in 2010 this beautiful example with original paint bears a proud 43,067 miles on the odometer. A Southern Motors sold car it has it’s original leads, original owner’s manual and receipts still with the car. It was a one owner car and obviously was used very sparingly. It has some light battle scars such as some panel scrapes from a brush with a steel gate and some speckling in the paint but this all only adds to the character of this very original car. It’s current custodian purchased the car from the original owner’s son and continues to maintain it so as to keep it’s history intact.

1968 HK Monaro

The original owner of this Monaro had stored it in his shed for the first 24 years of its life, and upon purchase by its current owner it spent a further 25 odd years under wraps. For the first 49 years of this car’s life it had seen very little action, and it wasn’t until the current owner’s brother got in his ear about fixing it up to make a trip to Summernats 2016 that there was any real plans to get this car back on the road. With only a dash of oil and tank of fuel added, the Monaro fired into life and with only a couple more updates this classic Monaro was on its way to Summernats! From then on, despite its exterior appearance, the iconic Monaro has been a picture of perfect reliability, regularly hitting the road for a leisurely cruise.

1977 LX A9X Hatchback

Purchased when the collector/owner recognised the investment potential of the A9X in the mid-90’s, the Torana was then stored on blocks under his house and used very sparingly throughout the next 17 years. Back in 2011, the Flamenco Red Torana was found still dormant under the late collector’s house and listed for auction with no reserve. While it was expected the Torana would fetch in the vicinity of $80,000-$120,000, the room was shocked to see bidding rise to an astounding $149,000! With only 99,000 original kilometres, this barn find was described as being in immaculate condition, and likely to be one of the best kept, unrestored A9X’s in the country! The question is what’s she worth now?

1971 XY GTHO Phase 3

This blue oval barn find currently resides in the Gosford Classic Car Museum, it was purchased recently by the museum in the back blocks of WA. It was a one owner vehicle and all travel was notated by the owner in a log book and all receipts also kept. Sold new by Lynas Motors the local Ford dealer, it has not been driven since 1982. It is 1 of only 18 XY GTHO’s produced in the factory Nugget Gold metallic paint. It currently sports a set of Bathurst Globes on it’s feet and has not even been started yet by the museum. A guess at value would lead you to think it would push seven figures but in the current market it is very difficult to say with such a rare well documented example…

Do you have a classic car living in your shed? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know all about your classic car!

The $312,000 Monaro

A pristine condition 1970 Holden HT GTS350 Monaro has been sold at Lloyds Auctions on the Gold Coast last month for a whopping $312,000. Eclipsing the previous record of $310,000 set in March, this ‘pride of the fleet’ becomes one of the most valuable Monaro’s ever sold at auction. Features include impeccable Platinum Metallic paint, a mere 119,000km on the odometer, a two speed powerglide automatic transmission and of course a 5.7 litre 350 Chevrolet engine. With the sale of this iconic Australian car, we decided to take a look back at the HT GTS350 Monaro and discuss why it holds a special place in the hearts of Australian motoring enthusiasts.

The HT Monaro was introduced in 1969 to much fanfare and whilst the minor design changes including the bonnet scoops and bold bonnet stripes were well received, it was the introduction of the 350 Chevrolet that got the punters excited. Not only was the GTS350 a winner with the public, it left a fair mark on the Australian racing scene as well, where it experienced almost immediate success on the track.

In 1969, in its first year under the management of Harry Firth, Holden Dealer Team GTS350 Monaro’s took out the top and third step of the podium at the Hardie Ferodo 500, piloted by Colin Bond/Tony Roberts and Peter Brock/Des West respectively. The Monaro would also go on to take out the 1970 Surfers Paradise 12 hour race driven once again by Bond and Roberts as well as the 1970 Australian Touring Car Championship driven by Norm Beechey. Beechey’s feat was made even more impressive as a result of an 8th place finish at Calder Park, a DNF at Warwick Farm Raceway and a DNS at Symmons Plains. The Monaro would go on to race a further two years in the ATCC before the ‘supercar scare’ of 1972 rendered the Monaro ineligible for the newly developed Group C production class.

Whilst the HK GTS327 Monaro was a great car and may have been the first to take up the fight to the GT Falcon, it didn’t quite hit the nail on the head in terms of usability. It was the GTS350 which propelled the Monaro to levels at the very least equal to that of the Falcon GT. Power outputs were comparable between the Holden and Ford marquees whilst acceleration and top speed figures were almost identical. The GTS was a second faster to 50mph, however only a shade faster to 100mph (20.1 to 20.6), ensuring the Holden v Ford rivalry raged on.

Significant suspension improvements were made to the GTS350 over the regular GTS models with performance in mind. Stiffer shocks, a heavy duty stabiliser bar and rear radius rods ensured a much sportier ride whilst bearing a significant improvement over the harsh ride of the HK GTS327. The end result was a car suitable for the track whilst also being completely practical for day to day use. Interestingly, the GTS350 in manual guise was the first Holden that could be ordered with rally wheels.

The Monaro will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Holden fans, with the iconic coupe representing some of the most iconic designs in Australian automotive history. At Rare Spares, we love to hear your stories of Australian classic cars; do you own an early model Monaro? Or maybe you have your eye on a particular classic? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook Page and let us know in the comments below.

Frozen in Time – The Best Aussie Car Museums

The Australian public has long had a fascination with classic and exotic automobiles. Classic Aussie icons such as the Monaro and Falcon as well as international masterpieces produced by icons such as Ferrari, Rolls Royce and Mercedes-Benz have always drawn a crowd! So where can the general public go to catch a glimpse of automotive history in Australia? There are a number of classic car museums sprawled across our great land; Holdens, Fords, old cars and new, there is sure to be a museum that fit your tastes! In this article we will take a look at five car museums in Australia that have caught our eye.

Gosford Classic Car Museum

Just over an hour north of Sydney you’ll find one of the biggest and most expensive car collections in the world. Housing over 450 vehicles, the ex-Bunnings Warehouse is practically heaven for any car enthusiast. Owner Tony Denny made his fortune selling a large percentage of his share in AAA Automotive, Europe’s largest used car network and spent a decent chunk of it compiling this museum of epic proportions. Featured cars include a LaFerrari, a super rare Onyx Black GHTO Phase III, a 1969 Lamborghini Miura P400S, a DMC DeLorean and Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. Denny has a knack for spotting future classics, so be sure to keep an eye on the forever changing list of cars gracing the museum floor!

 

 

The Fox Classic Car Collection

Lindsay Fox is a name familiar to most Australians, but did you know he owns a spectacular line-up of over 50 prestige cars? The Fox Classic Car Collection is located in Docklands, Victoria and is home to Bentley, Ferrari, Jaguar, Porsche and Mercedes Benz marquees. The collection has been acquired over 30 years and includes cars previously owned by Ringo Starr, Bing Crosby and Bob Jane, among others. The Fox Classic Car Collection is open 3 days a week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

National Motor Museum

The National Motor Museum is home to approximately 200 cars as well as a fully restored 1920s Petrol Station. Located in Birdwood, South Australia, the National Motor Museum houses a number of cars that have shaped Australian society such as the 1908 Talbot and Tom Kruse’s 1946 Leyland Badger. Not restricted to just cars, the museum also houses an impressive fleet of motorcycles and more memorabilia than you can poke a stick at! The National Motor Museum is open every day from 10am-5pm.

National Military Vehicle Museum

Located in Edinburgh, South Australia, The National Military Vehicle Museum was originally built to provide the vehicles with undercover storage whilst providing the public with a place to view them. There are a number of vehicles from various different eras however the majority of the collection is from WWII. This is the ideal place if you want to touch up on your Australian defense history or take the kids along to have a look at some truly impressive war vehicles. The National Military Museum is open every Sunday and on Public Holidays.

Lost in the 50’s

Lost in the 50’s is a true step back in time. With over 10,000 items on display including more than 30 of the most impressive 50’s American cars in Australia (maybe even the world), Lost in the 50’s is a must see for all automotive enthusiasts. Notable cars include a Batmobile, DeLorean and Eleanor as well as chrome fenders for as far as the eye can see. Located in Edgeworth, New South Wales The museum is only open on certain days throughout the year, so be sure to plan ahead and give them a call!

Do you own a classic car in showroom condition? Or do you have your own story of one of the many car museums across the country? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook Page and let us know in the comments below!