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Holden to end production of Monaro but Pontiac GTO to Continue
by Justin Couture , Canadian Auto Press, August 1, 2005​

Is There Room for a New Firebird and GTO in Pontiac's Lineup?


All things considered, the modern day GTO and
Monaro are authentic to the ground rules prescribed
in the muscle car code. (Photo: General Motors of Canada)


"We wanted to go out with a bang while it was still on top. It was a question of us choosing the timing. Champions retire on top." With these words, spoken by Jason Laird, spokesperson for Holden, GM's Australian arm, the official death knell has sounded for the Monaro. While cars of all makes and models - particularly those not sold in North America - often fall subject to the wielding axe, the mighty Monaro directly affects those who live in the United States, as it is sold there as the Pontiac GTO.

The original Pontiac GTO is about as American as apple pie, laying the foundations for the muscle car era. Packing a small block V8 into a plain-looking, affordable, rear-wheel driven chassis, it took the street and the strip by storm in the '60s.

Much the same can be said about the original Holden Monaro, a brutish muscle car which staved off its Ford Falcon nemesis. This 'Battle Royale' is the down-under version of the never-ending feud between Ford's Mustang and Chevy's Camaro.

Without the Firebird, the GTO is the only true muscle
car in the Pontiac stable. (Photo: General Motors of Canada)

All things considered, the modern day GTO and Monaro are authentic to the ground rules prescribed in the muscle car code. They're basic, rear-wheel driven monsters with gigantic V8s that swill petrol. The only difference here being, while the originals sold like wildfire their modern day equivalents have hit a sales plateau.

Since the GTO's introduction in 2003, just over 40,000 units have been shipped, a mere blip on the chart as far as sales go for the General. While it's to be expected that a niche market sports coupe built in Australia with rather generic styling would draw only a select crowd, many were surprised at how quickly sales went flat.

Without the Firebird, the GTO is the only true muscle car in the Pontiac stable, the new Solstice's four-cylinder engine slotting it into the sports car category. In keeping up with appearances, and preparing itself for the onslaught of a new wave of muscle cars, GM beefed up the GTO by dropping in the Corvette's new LS7, 400 horsepower V8 motor. Yet, even though it now offers more tire-liquefying, pushrod power, the stuff muscle cars are defined by, this year's 'goat' is trickling out of showrooms only slightly faster than last year. OK, an 87 percent increase during the first half of 2005 is impressive, but sales of the 2004 car during the same period were so low it hardly can be deemed a major success. Blame quickly rising gas prices and its yawn-inducing styling inside and out, helped little by the addition of twin hood scoops.

To kill a vehicle solely on poor sales performance is not unlike the General, and similar to the long gone Pontiac Fiero, Pontiac Firebird, Chevy Camaro, Buick Reatta, Buick Riviera, Cadillac Allante, etc, the GTO's low take-up rate is a contributing factor to its demise. After all, it makes little sense for Holden to be producing and investing in the muscle-car twins when there is a backlog for the far more popular Adventura crossover SUV and the V8-powered Commodore SS sports sedan.

More relevant to company heads is Holden's plans to introduce the next generation 'VE' Commodore family sedan, scheduled to make an appearance in mid 2006. Like many of Holden's domestic-built vehicles, the Commodore platform is flexible and can be used for a wide variety of cars including SUVs, pickup trucks, wagons, extended wheelbase sedans and sports coupes. As a matter of fact, the Monaro is based off of the current Commodore platform, which dates back to the early '90s Opel Omega/Cadillac Catera. Currently, there are no plans within Holden to create a sports coupe based off of the VE-platform, meaning that it could spell the end of the line for this high-horsepower brute as of the 2006 model year.

This year, GM beefed up the GTO by dropping in the
Corvette's new LS7, 400 horsepower V8 motor. (Photo: General Motors of Canada)


The Monaro will go out on a high note,
riding on its success as Australia's best-selling
large coupe. (Photo: General Motors Of Canada)


Unlike the GTO, the 2006 version of which will gradually vanish from dealership lots next fall or possibly a little later, the Monaro will be dropped from the Elizabeth, Melbourne assembly line this fall. What's more, it will go out on a high note, riding on its success as Australia's best-selling large coupe. While there's no immediate plan for the next generation Monaro, Denny Mooney, chairman of Holden seems enthusiastic to continue with the legendary name. In an interview with Australian newspaper, The Mercury, he said, "Everyone at Holden is certainly committed to delivering a new-generation Monaro in the future, but there is still a lot of work to make that happen."

Possibilities for a comeback include a harder edged sports car, with focus on total performance, rather than pure muscle. Some insiders speculate on a vehicle fashioned after the C6-generation Corvette, while others are touting something similar to the current Monaro, based on GM's new full-size rear-drive architecture. Yes, that's the same global family of rear-wheel-drive cars that the next-generation GTO will come from, commented Pontiac spokesman Jim Hopson.


Those inside GM close to the project are saying that
the new GTO's will be "more eye-catching" than the
current car. (Photo: General Motors of Canada)

Those inside GM close to the project are saying that the new GTO's will be "more eye-catching" than the current car, which will be essential to its success, and should go into production sometime in 2008, most likely in Australia.

"The next-generation GTO will fulfill the promise of the current car," Hopson stated. "We have every intention of getting it on the street as soon as possible."

So, with a new more appealing GTO on horizon and much conjecturing about an upcoming Camaro (see automotive news section for Apr 16, 2005: Pure Speculation: Camaro Being Readied to do Battle with Hot-Selling Mustang), it doesn't appear that the current wave of muscle cars will be short lived. Both Ford and DaimlerChrysler have seized the moment, plus the imaginations and desires of buyers with their retro-styled Mustang and powerful Charger respectively, and with an LX-based Dodge Challenger expected in the immediate future the opportunity is ripe for a new Camaro/Firebird combo. Fans are simply begging for the return of this classic American muscle car duo, which will undoubtedly capture the heartbeat of "bowtie" muscle car fans far more than the inconspicuous GTO.


The opportunity is ripe for a new Camaro/Firebird combo;
fans are simply begging for the return of this classic American muscle car duo.

If GM is truly on the ball with this project, expect it to arrive sometime during 2007 or 2008. And this one will definitely be coming to Canada. As for the next generation GTO, it is unknown if Pontiac plans to make it another niche model or open it up for mass market consumption. If the latter happens, it could very well make it north of the 49th.
 

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I didn't know that Pontiac had sold 40,000 GTO's. I didn't know we had a 400hp LS7. This car just never ceases to amaze me. Just goes to show you don't need to drive a car to evaluate it, and you don't need the correct data to report on it. You do have to have the Gotta-have-it-factor to win road tests though.
 

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I keep reading that the GTO is lacking in looks and it will be adjusted in the future... Even the MPH article dissed the looks . I think the looks are just right , but then again I'm NOT a "Gold-Collar" where Bling is King. We all look to add/subtract for uniqueness , but why does the Press keep dissing the Looks ?

Oh yea , forgot the $$ from special interests. IMO Fast Driving demands Stealth so the "understated looks" are perfect. Maybe I should put a Rebel Flag Decal on the Roof and add some "Gotta Have" recessed headlights and have all the attention I always dreamed of ... NOT
:)
 

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Groucho said:


Izzit just me, or does that new "Camarobird" look like a Dave Deal cartoon?

Ick.
As everyone knows, I'm big F-body fan. This one will never see a place in my garage.

What is with the Orange paint? I for one can't stand it. I like bold colors like Red, Impulse Blue, Yellow, but this is just horrible.
 

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I think 40,000 units is what the total Monaro run was world wide. Most have come to the US.
 

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The front looks too much like a Mustang GT....The sides resemble a camaro.... I wonder what the rear looks like. I hope not a Charger. Maybe the rear looks like a Grand-Am, or a Cavalier.

I love mine goat very good ....thank you very much
 
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