Holden HQ GTS Monaro - Buyer Guide

By: Cliff Chambers

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holden hq monaro holden hq monaro

With the Torana handling Holden's racing duties, the Monaro took on a more glamourous position in the showroom

 

Holden HQ GTS Monaro

If back in 2015 you liked the idea of owning an HQ Monaro but elected to put in a pool or go to Disneyland instead, now is the time to start sobbing quietly.

During the past five years, demand for two-door versions of the HQ has surged, with values climbing faster than for the higher-profile GTS327/GTS350 models.

This trend occurred largely because buyers wanted alternatives to the increasingly expensive HK-HG models. However, when those cars hit their peak and prices retreated, demand for high-quality HQs didn’t slacken at all.

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Holden’s HQ range was launched in August 1971 and every dealer who could secure a GTS wanted one of these gorgeous cars as the centrepiece of their showroom display. HQ Monaros in those days literally stopped traffic with their looks.

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Holden already had a race and rally-winner in the guise of its XU-1 so the new Monaro could concentrate on delivering glamour in a market where the other contenders (Ford and Chrysler) were still playing catch up.

Built on the same 2819mm wheelbase as Holden’s sedans, the Monaro two-door was a genuine ‘family’ car with style and performance on its side. The sporty GTS cost less than a Premier-spec LS and was the bigger seller. Unlike HK-HG versions there was no six-cylinder engine option for the GTS, just a choice of three V8s.

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

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

Brakes on GTS versions were disc front/drum rear with power assistance. Thanks to soft springs, a panic stop would cause the nose to dip and rear wheels to lock which increased stopping distance. Tweaked springs not only improve handling but also help brake performance.

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Inside the GTS were comfy looking seats partially-trimmed in a checkerboard material known as ‘houndstooth’. Access to the rear seat was easy and the view wasn’t obscured too badly by mandatory front head restraints. Mounting points for front seat belts weren’t ideal but inertia reel replacements are now available.

Without the kudos of being a ‘Bathurst’ winner, the 350-engined HQ hasn’t as yet matched the values achieved by HT versions. However, these cars in show condition and with their original engine will top $200,000.

Even 5.0-litre versions of the HQ GTS coupe have become difficult to find and one four-speed manual car has sold for more than $150,000. Automatics are easier to find and can cost $20-30,000 less than a manual, as do cars with 4.2-litre engines.

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All of them but especially big-engined and four-speed cars must have their authenticity verified via their build and ID plates which are located in the engine compartment. These will confirm if the car was built as a GTS and that its engine and transmission types are correct.

VALUE RANGE: Holden HQ Monaro (5.0-litre manual)

Fair: $45,000
Good: $100,000
Excellent: $150,000

(Note: exceptional cars will demand more)

BUYER'S CHECKLIST

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Body & chassis

A major reason for the shortage of HQ Monaros is their susceptibility to rust. Back when these cars weren’t especially valuable, the cost of repairing rust in the roof, floor pans, firewall and rear quarter panels was often more than the car was worth and rusty ones were scrapped or ended their lives against the fence at various speedways. With HQs now vastly more valuable and major panels being manufactured again, even a seriously rusted one can be salvaged. If the body looks sound and free of bubbling or filler, still check that the doors close easily without needing to be lifted and that the suspension and sub-frame locating points are sound.

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Engine & transmission

Australian-made Holden V8s were built literally in their millions and repairing a worn motor is no big deal. However, at the prices being asked by HQ vendors, a top-level car should display no mechanical shortcomings at all. A worn motor will blow smoke and the valve train might rattle but they still run. Main bearing seal 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 happily fix an ailing 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 for repair. If left that way, nothing anyone does will make the car handle or stop the tyres wearing rapidly. Coil springs collapse and in rare instances can snap but new ones are available and at $600 a set of quality shock absorbers can make an amazing difference. Full brake overhauls including new rotors cost less than $1000, or around $2500 if you upgrade the system and switch from rear drums to discs.

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Interior & electrics

Close to half a million HQ Holdens were sold and specialists provide extensive parts back-up, however correct Monaro trim items and embellishments can be harder to find. Sets of seat coverings in the correct pattern cost around $1000 but to that must be added the cost of fitting and possibly new seat foam. Genuine door trims were seen at $1500 for a pair, with sets of repro trims at around $900. Leaks through side window seals are common and wind can whistle through the gap, however sets of rubbers are available. Make sure the winders work without being forced and that the heater/demister controls do the same.

1971-1974 Holden HQ Monaro GTS coupe

Number made: 13,70 (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, wishbones, telescopic shock absorbers, anti-roll bar (f) live axle with coil springs, locating links & telescopic shock absorbers
Brakes: Disc (f) drum (r) power assisted
Tyres: D70H14 cross ply

 

 

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