South African-Spec Exports: Holden Monaro (Chev SS) and Ford XY GT (2024)

By: Joe Kenwright, Photography by: Stuart Grant, Keith Hall

They look like Aussie motoring icons but these cars have distinctly Seth Efrican accents

First published in Unique Cars #270, Feb/Mar 2007

Export Duty: South African slant on Monaro and GT

At the start of the 20th century, emerging car markets in South America, South Africa and Australia seemed to occupy parallel universes. All had growing European populations engaged in rapidly expanding primary industries such as mining or agriculture. All needed motor vehicles to service remote and often inaccessible populations where rail travel was not economic. If indigenous populations could also share in the new wealth and infrastructure, there seemed no limit to sales encouraging the US and European auto giants to turn out in force.

For a brief period in 1971, the automotive needs of South Africa and Australia converged long enough to result in an intriguing combination of shared models now generating big interest in Australia.

It only lasted for a very short time as apartheid became more entrenched and the UN sanctions that followed quickly isolated South Africa after the Soweto riots in 1976 left 600 dead. Because these compounded the impact of various 1970s fuel crises and a dependency on imported oil, the South Africans turned to Europe and Japan earlier than Australia.


South African-Spec Exports: Holden Monaro (Chev SS) and Ford XY GT (61)

Prior to this period, there wasn’t a lot that separated Australia and South Africa ideologically. It took until 1965 before Australia’s Aboriginal population were given full citizenship and the right to vote in all states. Not surprisingly, the reconciliation process continues to this day. Although these double standards were not as blatant as South Africa’s apartheid policies, they stemmed from the same thinking.

In the aftermath of changes Down Under, militant protesters from the Vietnam movement extended their attention to Australian establishments and venues that still barred Aborigines. From there, it was a short step to the violent anti-apartheid protests directed at the Springbok rugby union tour starting at the SCG in July 1971.

By the time the tour had reached Melbourne, it ran into 3000 protesters, leaving five police officers hospitalised and 138 arrests. On the following day, the violence shifted to the South African Trade Commission where baton-wielding police were waiting.

After three journalists from The Age were struck by police, these events sent shockwaves around the world. To an observer as far away as Detroit, linking Australian and South African interests no longer seemed such a good idea. At a time that protesters were also targeting French goods and Australian dockside workers refused to unload them in protest to nuclear testing in the Pacific, there was little point in tempting fate with further shipments of car parts and CKD kits to South Africa.

South African-Spec Exports: Holden Monaro (Chev SS) and Ford XY GT (62)

The 1972 election of what was perceived externally as the socialist Whitlam government further complicated matters. This increased the potential for institutionalised anti-US and anti-South African sentiment especially when the Whitlam government was openly courting the Japanese to set up in opposition to established US and European car companies.

The South African industry took a totally separate course after these events. It is significant that as values converge again today, the trade links between South Africa and Australia have never been stronger with a selection of models from Ford, Toyota, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen now imported in quantity from South Africa.

Like Australia, South Africa had a mature car industry ready to evolve into a full engineering and development capability by the late 1960s. A year before Ford Australia built its first Australian Model T, Ford had already assembled its first Model T in South Africa by 1924.

GM was building local Chevrolets by 1926 in Port Elizabeth, the same location as Ford. The South Africans were building VW Beetles over a decade before Australia.

South African-Spec Exports: Holden Monaro (Chev SS) and Ford XY GT (63)

American cars then grew too big for local conditions by the late-’60s at a time South Africa implemented a local content regime similar to Australia’s except content was calculated by weight. It made sense to share right-hand drive Australian models engineered for similar conditions equipped with heavy items made in South Africa.

Because the Chevrolet name had already been applied to various Vauxhall and Opel models, the race was on to develop a local look for Holden imports that would not only provide continuity with the last of the big US models but would unite all these models from different sources.

Thus Pontiac designer, James G Ewen, was sent from the US to establish a South African design and technical centre in much the same way former Pontiac man Joe Schemansky was sent to Holden for the same task almost five years earlier. Lou Stier, a former GMC truck man was sent to Brazil. It was the job of these three men to distil GM’s latest international design trends and apply them in a local context.

This explains how the same core products from the US divisions, Opel, Vauxhall and ultimately Holden were tweaked to look different in each market, usually on site for local tastes. Young Holden engineer Norm Thurling was sent from Europe to South Africa in 1968-69 and then seconded in 1970 to Ewen’s design team to help implement the design changes. Thurling left in 1973 and ultimately returned to Holden before he retired in Australia after Ewen’s brief never reached fruition as the South African political situation deteriorated.

South African-Spec Exports: Holden Monaro (Chev SS) and Ford XY GT (64)

Yet the foundations were established in several new models which included a new passenger car and ute range based on the HG Holden range. It had to share showroom space with a Chevrolet Firenza based on the Vauxhall Viva series that followed the model rebadged in Australia as the first Torana. An earlier Opel Rekord was given Vauxhall front styling after former Holden design chief Leo Pruneau added a bold quad headlight look to the staid British Victor during his assignment to Vauxhall. Badged as the Ranger, it was a Cortina rival.

GM South Africa had its own big pushrod fours and sixes from earlier Chevrolet days which powered the Ranger and six-cylinder versions of the HQ Holden range as well as the latest Opel Rekord series, the one prior to the first Australian Commodore. South Africa was producing a Chevrolet 3800/4100 based on an Opel Rekord with big Chevy II sixes under the bonnet almost a decade before Holden went down the same track.

For the South African HG Holden, Ewing’s team opted for a look that continued from the ’67 US Chevrolet range, the era when US styling had been frozen in South Africa. This explains why all models were given quad headlights in a full width grille flanked by corner turn indicators while the original Australian lights were left in place under the bumper.

South African-Spec Exports: Holden Monaro (Chev SS) and Ford XY GT (65)

The ute was called El Camino, the Kingswood renamed Kommando and the Brougham became a Constantia while the Monaro-based model was simply called Chevrolet SS. It was a good fit with the Ranger SS coupe with its mix of Vauxhall and Opel styling in much the same way as the GTR Torana and GTS Monaro shared a family look in Australia.

Additional reflectors were added to the rear and under the front bumper. Full wheelcovers from the 1970 Camaro replaced the Holden items.

Leo Pruneau confirmed that these spoke-effect wheelcovers which had protruding centres similar to those on the Australian 1973 Ford Landau would never have been fitted in Australia under a Holden engineering standard that measured kerb damage. This might explain why so few South African examples still feature this wheel cover.

Most Chevrolet SS models came with a vinyl roof and there were mild changes in body trim and badging at the rear compared to the Monaro. As for the Australian Monaro, there was a choice of the Aussie 308 V8 and US 350. Trim, glass and colours were unique to South Africa.

South African-Spec Exports: Holden Monaro (Chev SS) and Ford XY GT (66)

The HG series was replaced by a new range based on the Australian HQ. Pruneau recalls that Ewing came to Australia to work with the Holden team on a unique grille based on the US 1970 Chevrolet Malibu front that was combined with single and dual headlights for the South African version.

By 1982, the Chevrolet name had been replaced by Opel, in recognition of what had become an Opel-based range. Under UN sanctions, GM then sold its South African interests to management who restructured the company as Delta Motors Corporation and effectively continued business as usual.

Ford did the same with the Samcor organisation in 1988. Both GM and Ford bought back these companies after apartheid ended in the early-’90s. The Chevrolet name was revived for the Australian Commodore in 2001 as well as a range of Daewoo models. Perhaps there was a lesson there for the AWB.

South African-Spec Exports: Holden Monaro (Chev SS) and Ford XY GT (67)

The Ford story in 1971 was similar after a unique South African version of the XY Falcon GT was launched as the Fairmont GT supplemented by an XY ute rebadged as a Ranchero. This followed a toe in the water exercise with the XW series.

Because the Aussie Falcon GT had an anti-establishment larrikin quality, it was toned down for the white South African market. The budget Falcon name was discarded for Fairmont, the Super Roo decal disappeared, the five slot sports wheels were replaced by steel units with the full wheel covers of the XR-XT GT and most were automatics with vinyl roofs.

Trim was a pleated button style, similar to the Australian Futura, headlining was changed from black to white and the dash lost its fake wood grain and extra padding. Instruments featured metric scales several years before Australia made the switch. Extra reflectors were added front and rear.

Ford neatly diverted the imported Cleveland 4V powertrain straight to South Africa to avoid duty complications and the Australian 54H body shell was despatched partially assembled. Hence the engine and body ID were not linked as they were in Australia.

South African-Spec Exports: Holden Monaro (Chev SS) and Ford XY GT (68)

At some point, Ford of South Africa (FMCSA) attached the front section to the rest of the body adding an extra weld near the strut tower either as part of the assembly process or to add extra strength or both. It is believed around 1500 were produced and most worked hard pulling vans and boats. Some were raced.

As the Australian XY Ranchero replaced Ford’s US Ranchero based on the 1966 Fairlane, it won several South African awards. Hence the XA ute followed as a South African Ranchero, again to wide critical acclaim, while the sedan range was quietly withdrawn.

FMCSA then committed to a unique V6 version of the Cortina, eventually producing a P100 commercial version as a ute and cab-chassis called the Bakkie and a Cortina XR6 performance version, over a decade before Australia’s Falcon-based model.

This range continued into the Sierra series which later included a unique Windsor V8-powered XR8 muscle car version. During the UN sanction era, Samcor replaced these models with the Mazda-based Laser and Telstar similar to those sold in Australia with Ford badges applied under licence. The Aussie Falcon made a return during the EL series but was dropped in 2003.

Today, Ford’s Australian Territory supplements South African Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo models while the Australian Commodore badged as a Lumina continues to add to a strong GM presence based on European Opel and Korean Daewoo models.

South African-Spec Exports: Holden Monaro (Chev SS) and Ford XY GT (69)

West Australian Padgett Rowell owns the rare Chevrolet SS, first delivered with Holden’s 308 V8 and four-speed manual to a South African doctor. Padgett wanted an Australian HG Monaro GTS but was priced out of the market and saw the South African model as a chance to get into an affordable daily driver; a move that prompted him to replace the original gearbox with a Supra five-speed manual. As interest in this rare South African model escalates, Padgett indicated that he too is now taking its unique specification more seriously.

South African-Spec Exports: Holden Monaro (Chev SS) and Ford XY GT (70)

Victorian Brett Rochow found after selling a pristine XY Falcon GT for family reasons he couldn’t get back into the genuine XY GT market. After settling for an XT GT, he then found he could move straight across into the South African XY Fairmont GT as featured for the same money. Brett notes that it drives exactly as his XY Falcon GT did. Its rare manual spec in Gunston Orange with no vinyl roof was tied to Gunston cigarette company sponsorship of the South African race cars. Initially motivated to bring it back to Australian Falcon GT spec, Brett is now finding its unique South African origin is of more interest.

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South African-Spec Exports: Holden Monaro (Chev SS) and Ford XY GT (71)

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South African-Spec Exports: Holden Monaro (Chev SS) and Ford XY GT (2024)


What was the Monaro called in South Africa? ›

South Africa

From 1969 to 1971 the vehicles were marketed as Holden Monaro. From 1971 to 1973 the vehicles were marketed as Chevrolet SS. There was also a luxury model in the line up the 1969 Constantia was based on the Holden Brougham.

What are Holden's called in South Africa? ›

South Africa

As the Holden brand was phased out of the country in 1969, the cars were uniquely styled and branded as Chevrolet Kommando (Kingswood), El Toro (One Tonner), SS (HG Monaro), Constantia (Brougham, Statesman and Premier wagon) and El Camino (ute).

How much is a HX GTS Monaro worth? ›

The Monaro GTS 350 is a very desirable model, and yours is a very appealing colour/trim combination with low mileage. Depending on the condition it could be worth as much as $100,000.

How many HT GTS monaros were made? ›

The mighty GTS 350 with its distinctive bonnet 'nostrils' started at $3995 – substantial money but still something of a bargain. Production numbers reached 14,172, including export cars.

Why are Holden monaros so expensive? ›

Prices of classic Holdens and Fords have skyrocketed since the end of Australian car manufacturing. Ford's local assembly line fell silent in 2016 and Holden rolled down the factory shutters in 2017.

What does GTO stand for? ›

This ritual is summarized by the three most famous letters ever worn by an automobile: "GTO" stands for "Gran Turismo Omologato," which, loosely translated from the Italian, means hom*ologated (recognized for competition) grand-touring car. Enzo could have christened his car "the ultimate," and we wouldn't quibble.

Did Australia export cars to South Africa? ›

Holden announced yesterday that it will export the VE ute to South Africa which continues a five year trend of ute exports to that country.

What killed Holden? ›

No large sedan from any manufacturer sits within Australia's top-selling new vehicles. When General Motors decided that Holden could no longer build vehicles in Australia due to the high cost of labour, the death knell on Holden's future was sounded.

What is a Chevy SS? ›

Super Sport, or SS, is the signature performance option package offered by Chevrolet on a limited number of its vehicles. All SS models come with distinctive "SS" markings on their exterior. The SS package was first made available for the 1961 Impala.

What does GTS stand for Holden? ›

GTS (top performance model) Senator Signature (entry luxury model based on Calais) Senator Signature wagon. Grange (top luxury model based on Caprice) Maloo (VS series based utility)

Is Pontiac GTO a Holden Monaro? ›

The Goat Is Born Again: We drive Australia's famous muscle car, the Holden Monaro, which arrives in the U.S. next year as the reborn Pontiac GTO. It goes by the name Holden Monaro; it's made in Australia by the local arm of GM, and Bob Lutz wants it.

What is a HQ Statesman worth? ›

That said, an outstanding Statesman is still well worth owning. Neglected HQ-HZs and older restorations needing more work will sell for less than $20,000, as do reasonable examples of the big-bodied WB. Caprice WBs in excellent condition can hit $30,000.

What is the GTO called in Australia? ›

The GTO, like the Monaro, was manufactured by GM's Holden division in Adelaide, Australia. The Monaro had been wildly popular in Australia since its inception in 2001, largely due to its 350-horsepower Chevrolet small-block LS1 V8 engine.

How much is a HQ Monaro worth? ›

A factory 350 HQ GTS Monaro is very valuable today, with a 350 sedan fetching as much as $50,000, and close to $100,000 for a 350 GTS Coupe.

Who won the HG Monaro? ›

Auctioneer Bill Young sold the rare 327 Monaro – the first Monaro to win Bathurst and only one of two to win the historic event – for $200,000. Auctioneer Bill Young sold the rare 327 Monaro – the first Monaro to win Bathurst and only one of two to win the historic event – for $200,000.

Are Holden SS going up in value? ›

If the model in question comes from Holden Special Vehicles (HSV), prices have also soared over the past 12 months, with the median price climbing 30.7 per cent to $68,000 in January 2021 compared to the corresponding month last year.

What is the most expensive Monaro? ›

A late 1960s Holden Monaro is set to become the most expensive Holden vehicle ever when it goes under the hammer on Saturday. This 1969 Holden HT Monaro, credited as the very first factory-built race car to feature the roaring lion badge, is predicted to sell over $1 million at auction.

Who came up with the name Monaro? ›

'Monaro' is of aboriginal origin, meaning a high plateau or high plain. The coupe shares its name with the Monaro range, which is part of NSW's Snowy Mountains as well as the Monaro Shire, just south of Canberra, ACT.

What does omologato stand for? ›

approved , certified , released.

What does GTR stand for? ›

GTR - aka 'Gran Turismo Racer' - has been an acronym saved for only the most sacred of automotive machinery of the last few decades.

What car is called the Goat? ›

Introducing the Goat

GTO is often known as The Legend or The Great One, and has also been referred to as The Grandfather of Muscle Cars. However, the name of “The Goat” is what defined its reign, and remains common when it comes to classic GTOs.

What does it cost to ship a car from South Africa to Australia? ›

Expect to pay more if your car travels solo. Roll-on, roll-off, where cars are driven onto the ship, and container shipping offer better deals. Generally, you should expect average prices for standard cars to be in the $5,000 range.

What are Holden cars called in America? ›

The next-gen Holden Commodore will be sold in the United States. Holden will export its big sedan to North America, in reasonably grunty form, to be re-badged as the Chevrolet SS. The Commodore will take on America's showrooms, as well as the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Who owns the last Holden? ›

However, parent group General Motors still owns an identical Commodore that carries the ceremonial title of the “last car” Holden produced in Australia. It was the final vehicle to go through the general assembly process and remains on loan to the National Motor Museum at Birdwood, north-east of Adelaide.

What is replacing Holden in supercars? ›

The 2022 Repco Supercars Championship will feature the final battle between Holden and Ford. The arrival of Gen3 in 2023 will also see the Chevrolet Camaro replace Holden. The Holden brand, which was retired in 2020, has been carried to a record 590 wins in ATCC/Supercars competition.

Is the Chevy SS a Holden? ›

The Chevrolet SS is actually a Holden

Due to popular demand, GM finally decided to bring the Commodore over to the U.S. in the form of the Chevrolet SS. So basically, it's a rebadged Holden. Back in 2013, GM decided to close the Holden engine and vehicle manufacturing plant in Australia in 2017.

What is the fastest Chevy SS? ›

Koza's goals were simple: source a Chevy SS Sedan, design and build a turbo kit, be the first SS in the 8-second ¼-mile club, become the fastest SS Sedan in the world, and then break into the 7-second territory in the chunky family sedan.

Is the Chevy SS a muscle car? ›

No one will look twice at the Chevy SS, until they hear the exhaust note from its big V8. The SS gives Chevrolet a powerful rear-wheel-drive sedan as an option to the Camaro coupe. The SS shows understated exterior styling, masking its muscle car demeanor.

What does SS stand for Holden? ›

The SS (Super Sport) name for the Holden Commodore rebadged as a Chevrolet has been condemned by a Hebrew newspaper as having a Nazi reference -- and threatened with being banned from entry.

What is the fastest Holden? ›

Holden Special Vehicles GTS for Sale

Powered by a 474kW/815Nm supercharged 6.2-litre V8, the W1 is the most powerful and fastest Commodore ever built and only 300 of the vehicles will be produced.

Why are cars called GT? ›

GT stands for grand tourer or gran tourer, a type of car that's designed with both long-distance driving and high speeds in mind. These vehicles typically combine luxury and performance attributes, more often than not featuring a 2+2 seating configuration.

What is the Chevy SS called in Australia? ›

In Australia, GM calls itself Holden. There, the throaty Commodore SS is seen as the last muscle car, prestigious and high profile on those long flat highways.

What was the Holden version of the Pontiac GTO? ›

The GTO model was revived from 2004 to 2006 model years as a captive import for Pontiac, a left-hand drive version of the Holden Monaro, itself a coupé variant of the Holden Commodore.

Why is Chevrolet called Holden in Australia? ›

The company was known as General Motors-Holden's Ltd (GM-H) – and had been since 1931. So when the company chose to name its first 'indigenous' car the 'Holden', that was the car's model name.

What are old Holdens worth? ›

An original 1968 Holden HK Monaro GTS with just 42,000km on the odometer is selling for $175,000 in the northern Victorian town of Wangaratta. 'This car is priced to sell quickly at $175,000,' the ad said. A rare 1973 Holden LJ Torana XU-1, with just 47,000km, is retailing for $129,500 in Western Australia.

How much is a HZ Holden worth? ›

HQ-HZs were the biggest selling Holden models in history and decent cars remain easy to find at less than $20,000. Problems can arise though when one sells at auction for over $30,000 and the market then decides that every 1970s Kingswood should be worth that money.

How much is a HX Holden worth? ›

The Holden HX 1976 prices range from $2,100 for the basic trim level Sedan HX Kingswood to $6,270 for the top of the range Commercial HX Sandman.

Is a Vauxhall Monaro a GTO? ›

The Vauxhall Monaro VXR is a slightly modified HSV GTO, producing 297kW, where as the Pontiac GTO produces 295kW.

What engine is in a Monaro? ›

Holden Monaro 427C
Technical specifications
EngineGRM designed Chevrolet LS6 7.0 L (7,000 cc; 427 cu in) 90° V8 naturally aspirated, front engine, longitudinally mounted
TransmissionHolinger 6-speed Sequential shift plus reverse gear
Power600 hp (447 kW) @ 5300 RPM, 780 ft⋅lbf (1,060 N⋅m) @ 4800 RPM torque
18 more rows

What kind of car did the Night Rider Drive in Mad Max? ›

The vehicle is a 1972 Holden Monaro HQ, base model.

How many HQ GTS coupes were made? ›

Production of the HQ range totalled 485,650 vehicles prior to its replacement by the Holden HJ series in October 1974.

How much is a HK Premier worth? ›

The Holden HK 1968 prices range from $1,800 for the basic trim level Sedan HK Premier to $4,070 for the top of the range Wagon HK Kingswood. The Holden HK 1968 comes in Sedan, Ute and Wagon. The Holden HK 1968 is available in Leaded Petrol.

What was South Africa called before apartheid? ›

The South African Republic (Dutch: Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek or ZAR, not to be confused with the much later Republic of South Africa), is often referred to as The Transvaal and sometimes as the Republic of Transvaal.

Who lived in South Africa before 1652? ›

Before the arrival of Europeans, the area was inhabited by San and Khoikhoi peoples. In 1652, Jan van Riebeeck established a small colony on the Cape of Good Hope as a refreshment station for the Dutch East India Company.

How many kings and queens are there in South Africa? ›

Tradition continues to play an important role in the lives of many South Africans. South Africa has 10 kings and one queen, as well as thousands of lesser traditional leaders, including chiefs and headmen. In rural areas they play important roles in mediating local disputes.

Who are the South African Kings? ›

The following seven remain recognized as Kingdom:
  • The AmaXhosa (Eastern Cape) King Zwelonke Sigcawu.
  • The AmaZulu (KwaZulu-Natal) King Goodwill Zwelithini.
  • The AbaThembu (Eastern Cape) King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo.
  • The VhaVenda (Limpopo) King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana.
  • The AmaNdebele (Mpumalanga) King Makhosonke Enoch Mabena.
Aug 27, 2019

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