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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Differences between our GTOs and Monaros in the UK

I’m on a business trip in the UK this week. I made it a goal to find our GTO equivalent in the UK, the Vauxhall Monaro. The Brits have two models – the Monaro with a LS1 5.7 for around $60,000 and a Monaro VXR with a LS2 6.0 and special sports package for $70,000. They advertise the Monaro as a muscle car with American heritage, a “Chevy V8”, and “renowned Holden enthusiasm”. They imported about 400 Monaros to the UK this year and pretty much sold out the year’s allocation in a month. Only a few special Vauxhall dealers are allowed to carry the Monaro. I found this one at Motorbodies in Luton, North of London off the M1. A lady salesman helped me out (notice her reflection in the fender). She knew little about the vehicle. The owner of dealership had the Monaro VXR and was out driving.
The basics of the car are pretty much the same. The same brakes as 05, same basic interior, radio, trip computer, and colors (black, gray, silver, red, and yellow - no blues). However, I was surprised with all the subtle changes from our GTOs. I knew about the electronic climate control, but the first thing you notice in the interior is the mirror like “piano” black trim. Instrument gauges are all black – no color backgrounds plus they have an instrument pod with oil pressure and voltage. There are no cup holders in the center console (contains a cell phone storage compartment). Instead, the cup holders swing out of the dash on either side of the radio. There are palm swells at 10 and 2. The cruise control and wiper stalks were switched around from ours (blinker still the same). The driver’s seat has 3 memory positions (I don’t think I’d let that many people drive my GTO), a matching dead pedal (right-hand drive cars only), and the pedal covers are upside down like on the US 04s.

For the exterior, the rear bumper has an integrated back-up warning device and high intensity rear fog light (typical of euro cars) in lower facia where our GTO logo is. The base model is sans spoiler. The fender sports the Aussie turn indicator and V8 emblem. Under the bonnet (hood), the engine compartment set-up was the same as the 05 GTO but with the base-model Monaro having the 5.7. It even looks like the 5.7 has the drive-by-wire (DBW) 6.0 throttle body and air intake. Only a T56 6-speed manual is offered. They have a nice set of 18-inch wheels shod with 235 Bridgestone RE 040s but they still use the plastic lug-nut covers. I think the VXR has 19-inch rims.

Some general UK observations. There is not much “consuming” going on over here compared to the US. Stores close at 5:30 or 6pm in the evenings, even in big shopping malls in major cities. Thursday and Friday evenings the stores stay open a little later. Cars are expensive and car dealerships are small and not very numerous. Gas is taxed heavily and costs over $6 a gallon. That's our gallon with 4 quarts, the UK gallon is 5 quarts but they now sell it by the liter so people think it is cheaper. There is a national consumption tax on everything, a value added tax (VAT), of 17.5%. That wouldn’t be so bad but they also have an income tax – a double whammy! The exchange rate is about $1.90 per Pound. Eat out at a restaurant and the menus look like a menu in the US – you pay the same in Pounds as we do in $s – basically twice as much – even at McDonalds. With a 5-Pound note being their smallest bill, you always seem to be getting a fist full of change back with every purchase. What makes it even worse is the 1-Pound coins are heavy enough, but they have 2-Pound coins that are even bigger. The must have reinforced pants pockets over here.
I had a bad driving experience over here 20-some years ago, but I decided to try driving on the wrong side of the road again because I had to go to so many out of the way places. Taking the trains into London than back out into the country can become a real bag drag. It turned out pretty well this time and I actually became pretty comfortable driving right-hand drive on the left side of the road, even with a manual transmission. A bit too comfortable because I got my picture taken by one of their speed cameras in a 30mph zone (didn’t realize that was the speed on the 4-lane divided carriageway.) These cameras are so intrusive – they are all over the place out here – especially in the cities. I hope it was out of film. The Brits aren’t allowed radar detectors but the locals have GPS units that warn them about the speed cameras. They can subscribe to a service and get weekly updates over the internet – now there’s technology in action for you (thought you would like this one Groucho!). Brits are used to their pictures being taken – almost every square meter of London’s public areas is under a camera.
The European’s approach to engines is different than ours. They didn’t go for the real stringent environmental standards like we did in the 70s. The high price of gas caused them to focus on power and efficiency resulting in small, high revving, fuel efficient 4 cylinders that put out more power per liter than ours. Today, the Euro engines are low on pollution also. They also have a lot of diesels over here. Don’t snicker – these are high revving turbo diesels, red-lining between 4 and 5,000 rpms. The rental car I’m in now has one and you would think it is a gas engine by the way it drives. A much better option than a hybrid by a long shot! VW sells them in the US and can’t get enough of them into our country they are selling so fast. Maybe other manufactures will follow. I also got a history lesson on why we drive on the right – we can thank the French (yes the French!). The balance of power throughout more recent history was always shifting between England, Spain, and France. The French disliked the English so much, they decided to switch and travel on the right side of their carriageways. The French were the last in power over mainland Europe when travel patterns solidified. The French were also our ally during our Revolutionary War so we followed their example. Japan (and the orient) drives on the left because the King of England gave the Japanese Emperor a right-hand drive Rolls Royce – the first car ever in Japan.
 

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Great write-up Xman. I have a sister that lives in Chingford, a suburb of London. She was at home on the day the first bombs went off in the tube; a route she normally takes to work. The pictures were also neat to look at. :cheers
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm back in the USA and enjoyed the LS1 torque on the way home from the Airport. Even took the long way to get on the backroads. I forgot to mention that the UK Monaros have side air bags. That's about the only feature I would have like to have on our GTOs. Otherwise, I'm pretty pleased with how Pontiac configured our GTOs and keep the cost less than anywhere else in the world.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
France. I've a meeting with a supplier of our oxygen regulator in September.
 
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