Holden HQ Monaro GTS - buyer & value guide

By: Cliff Chambers, Unique Cars magazine

Presented by

holden hq monaro GTS350 Holden HQ Monaro GTS350. holden hq monaro GTS350

One of the best-looking cars ever to leave the doors of GMH.

If you were around in the 1970s and didn’t think Australia built some of the smartest looking cars on the planet then you were hard to please.

Pick of the bunch was quite likely the HQ Monaro that hit showrooms in August 1971 and literally stopped traffic with its looks. Holden already had a race and rally-winner with the compact XU-1, so the new Monaro could concentrate on delivering glamour and big profit margins in a market where the other contenders (Ford and Chrysler) were still playing catch up.

On the same 2819mm wheelbase as sedans, the Monaro two-door was a genuine ‘family’ car with style and performance on its side. It was intended to funnel buyers towards the volume sellers in Holden showrooms but dealers from those days recall plenty who came looking for a Premier but drove out in a Monaro.

The sporty GTS cost less than the Premier-spec LS and was the bigger seller. Unlike HK-HG versions, there was no six-cylinder engine option for the GTS range, just a choice of three V8s.

Most were sold with locally-made engines, either a 4.2-litre ‘253’ or 5.0-litre ‘308’, but there was also the fabled Chevrolet 350 as an extra-cost option.

Critics complained that the all-coil HQ didn’t handle at high speed with the same precision as earlier cars but acknowledged that its ride and predictability on rougher roads were superior.

Yes the Monaro did want to scrub its front tyres in tight bends but as demonstrated by people who have successfully developed HQs for racing, it didn’t take too much talent as a suspension tuner to turn mush into rush.

Brakes on GTS versions were disc front/drum rear with a tad too much power assistance. Jump hard on the brakes and the nose would dip alarmingly, encouraging the rears to lock and increase stopping distances.

Inside the GTS were comfy looking seats partially-trimmed in a checkerboard material known as ‘hounds tooth’. Access to the rear seat was easy and the view wasn’t obscured too badly by the new front head restraints.

MARKET REVIEW

With money on offer for HK-HG versions soaring into territory previously untravelled, it was inevitable that demand for HQ models would surge as well.

Without the kudos of being a ‘Bathurst’ winner, the 350-engined HQ may not - for a while anyway - reach $300,000, however, excellent HQ350 two-doors can reach $150,000 and higher .

More common and affordable are 4.2 and 5.0-litre V8s; mostly with automatic transmission. Even these need to have their identity verified via their various build and ID plates. These will confirm the car was originally a GTS and that the engine and transmission types are correct.

Around $100,000 seems to be a realistic price for 5.0-litre HQs with manual transmission. Automatics are more common and can be $20-30,000 less, as can cars built originally with 4.2-litre engines. Some HQ Monaros have acquired engines larger than originally supplied and other modifications as well. This isn’t a problem when buying for enjoyment and perhaps even as semi-regular transport but caution is encouraged. If values falter, modified cars will likely be the first affected.

CHECKLISTS

BODY & CHASSIS

A major reason for the shortage of HQ Monaros in the market is their susceptibility to rust. Back when even a two-door GTS wasn’t especially valuable, the cost of repairing rusted window surrounds, replacing floor pans and rear quarter panels wasn’t viable. A lot of cars were scrapped or ended their lives against the fence at various speedways. With cars now worth vastly more and major panels being manufactured again, even a seriously rusted HQ is a candidate for restoration. If the body looks sound and free of bubbling or filler, check that the doors close easily without needing to be lifted (it may need new hinge mounts) and that the suspension and sub- frame locating points are sound.

ENGINE & TRANSMISSION

Nothing nasty or mysterious about any of these engines. When worn they blow smoke and the valve trains rattle but they still run. Main bearing and timing cover oil leaks are common but all problems are fixable for minimal outlay. Neglected cooling systems can cause engine damage and some owners recommend a pair of electric fans to replace the engine-driven single. Automatic transmissions that clunk or shudder need a rebuild but again there are no parts problems and plenty of shops will fix your clagged Trimatic or T350.

SUSPENSION & BRAKES

Before even considering suspension components, look hard at the hefty cross-member that supports the engine, suspension and brakes. If it is bent downwards or has impact damage the whole lot will need to come out, otherwise nothing anyone does will make the car handle. Coil springs collapse and in rare instances can snap but new ones are available. Just a set of quality shock absorbers for around $600 can make an amazing difference. Brake replacement starts below $1000 but can top $5000 if you go for an all-disc conversion.

INTERIOR & ELECTRICS

Close to half a million HQ Holdens were sold and several specialists provide extensive parts back-up, however some trim items and embellishments remain hard to replace. Full sets of seat coverings with their hounds tooth inserts cost around $2000 but to that must be added the cost of fitting and possibly new seat foam. Leaks through side-window seals are common and if wind is whistling through the gap, water will get in as well. Make sure the winders work without being forced and that the heater/demister controls do the same.

VITAL STATS

NUMBER MADE: 13,700

(all HQ 2-door )

BODY STYLES: steel integrated body/chassis two-door Hardtop

ENGINE: 4142cc, 5048cc, 5740cc V8 with overhead valves & single downdraft carburettor

POWER & TORQUE: 179kW @ 4800rpm, 425Nm @ 3200rpm (5.0-litre)

PERFORMANCE: 0-96km/h 8.4 seconds, 0-400 metres 16.0 seconds (5.0-litre auto)

TRANSMISSION: three-speed automatic, four-speed manual

SUSPENSION: Independent with coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers & anti-roll bar (f) Live axle with coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers (r)

BRAKES: disc (f) drum (r) power assisted

TYRES: D70H14 cross-ply

VALUE RANGE

FAIR $35,000

GOOD $65,000

EXCELLENT $100,000

(Note: concours & special cars may demand more.)

Numbers from our 2017-18 Muscle Cars Value Guide.

Muscle Car Value Guide home page

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