The sad news of Holden’s closure hit hard, no matter how much of a forgone conclusion it seemed to some. However, there are plenty of models to champion in the Red Lion back catalogue, one being the last of the reborn Monaro. Clean, ultra-low kay CV8 Z examples (VZ) are going for big money – although they have to be absolute minters. So much so that you could buy a new Camaro 2SS for the same spend. Which would you choose?
Chevrolet Camaro 2SS
It’s an American icon that’s found favour down under. And it’s not just the loss of Aussie muscle that’s created the following, with the Camaro’s history also resonating. Converted to right-hand drive by the gurus at HSV, the 2SS costs $85,990 in six-speed manual form and $89,190 for the 10-speed automatic.
What you do get for option for the newer model is more power. The 6.2-litre atmo V8 in the 2SS offers up a healthy 339kW and 617Nm, with the auto version quoted as reaching 100km/h in 4.0 seconds (4.5 seconds for the manual). Much like the Monaro, it sounds tough, too. However, the newer Camaro has the edge in terms of dynamics – which you’d expect with progress.
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Inside the conversion is very hard to pick, with hardly any remnants of its life on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. Vision is compromised by the high belt line and low roof, with the rear seats a domain for kids only. Like the Monaro, the boot is useful, if not huge at 260 litres.
As we were writing this story, HSV confirmed that it was ceasing the re-engineering process of MY19 Camaro 2SS models, so if you want one new, you’ll need to get in quick.
Holden VZ Monaro CV8 Z
It’s 1998. The VT Commodore is selling like hotcakes and Australia is gearing up for the Olympics. However, for the car world and Red Lion fans, Holden dropped a bombshell at the Sydney motor show – the Commodore Coupe Concept. Jaws dropped. Of course, we now know that concept became the reborn Monaro in 2001. And you’ll be shelling out more now for an end-of-the-line CV8 Z than when it rolled out of Elizabeth in 2004 (Series III).
HSV versions aside, the double-nostril CV8 Z receives the most grunt with a 260kW/500Nm 5.7-litre V8. The firepower is sent to the rear wheels alone via a four-speed automatic (there is also a six-speed manual). While not enjoying the full dynamics of a sports car, the Monaro is a big and comfy coupe with a strong soundtack and long-legged cruising ability.
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It looks good too – especially from the outside. The Series III gained a cleaner interior layout, but being a car of a mid-noughties ilk, it lacks modern tech like smartphone mirroring. It’s a dedicated four-seater, with a degree of head and legroom in the back, while the boot is useable.
Holden opted not to develop a two-door coupe version of the praised VE platform. So the Monaro story came to an end in 2006 with the impending release of the ‘billion-dollar baby’.
Wheels staff picks
If I’m thinking in terms of an appreciating asset, then of course the Aussie Monaro has my attention. From 2001 to 2006 Holden sold around 55,000 Monaros (here and in America), so you’d think finding one shouldn’t be too hard. It’s just a case of asking yourself how much you’re willing to pay. However, the Monaro shouldn’t be viewed as just an investment proposition. Yes, the Camaro has a dynamic and performance edge, a very clear one actually, and some would argue that it’s just as cool – or even more so. I’d understand if you chose the Camaro. However, there is something more intrinsically special about driving a piece of local automotive history.
It has to be the Monaro for me. While I think the market has become artificially inflated as people try and fluff prices in the wake of Holden’s demise, the Aussie-built product still offers great long-term value if you hold onto it long enough and keep it in good nick. While I probably won’t be taking it out for daily duties, I wouldn’t want to keep something this classically beautiful as a garage queen. This is a V8 coupe built to be enjoyed and driven, and that’s exactly what I’d do – my heart swelling with Aussie pride every time I hop behind the wheel. Heart over head.
Camaro or Monaro? Here’s the weird thing. Both head and heart say Holden. The Monaro would not only be a safer home for your hard-earned cash, but it also tugs at the heart strings like few modern motors. It is, quite simply, the loveliest hunk of Australiana that ever rolled from a local production line. Even if the Yanks didn’t get the styling, I believe the clean lines will continue to shrug off the years elegantly. So an easy win for the Holden? Not so fast. The Camaro is so much quicker and angrier that it is indisputably a better muscle car. It’s a league more capable in so many regards that it would be hard to overlook. With GM abandoning right-hand drive markets, Aussie right hookers aren’t about to suddenly become cheap either. So it’s the Camaro for me. Sorry, people.
CHEVROLET CAMARO 2SS SPECS
- Price: $85,990 (manual); $89,190 (automatic)
- Engine: 6162cc V8, OHV, 16v
- Output: 339kW/617Nm
- Transmission: 10-speed automatic
- 0-100km/h: 4.0sec (claimed)
- Efficiency: 11.5L/100km
- Drivetrain: RWD
- Doors: 2
- Seats: 4
- Wheels size: 19-inch
- Country of Origin: USA (converted to RHD in Australia)
Read next: Holden’s concept cars could be saved
HOLDEN VZ MONARO CV8 Z SPECS
- Price (new): $60,490
- Engine: 5665cc V8, OHV, 16v
- Output: 260kW/500Nm
- Transmission: 4-speed automatic
- 0-100km/h: 5.8sec (claimed)
- Efficiency: 13.7L/100km
- Drivetrain: RWD
- Doors: 2
- Seats: 4
- Wheels size: 18-inch
- Country of Origin: Australia
Reckon we’ve got it right? Or are we way off the money (literally)? Find your best and let us know in the comments what you’d buy.