Holden HQ Monaro GTS 4 Door
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 4
Holden's First Performance 4-Door
Inevitably, the trendsetting two-door Monaro had such a strong influence on the rest of the Holden range that sedans took on a similarly sleek look. The process began with the HT sedan's 'faster' roofline and became more apparent with the arrival of the fluid HQ. So it was in the course of this model's long-selling life that Holden took the opportunity to test the waters with a four-door Monaro. GMH regarded it as the company's first entry into the performance four-door market – but you could actually trace that lineage back to the HD X2
, Holden had offered a limited edition sedan based on the entry level Belmont. The first SS, it was transformed by sports wheels, GTS grille, side vents, blackouts, black boot panel and unusual bonnet stripes from the headlights to the front scuttle panel. Backed up by a 4.2 litre 253 V8
mated to an Aussie four speed manual, it included luxury items such as bucket seats, sports steering wheel and GTS instruments and was finished in 'Infra Red', 'Ultra Violet' or 'Lettuce Alone' green, it became a huge hit.
The first four-door GTS Monaro arrived in 1973
. It featured new contoured front seats, trimmed in a sophisticated herringbone pattern. Black SS bonnet and boot patches were replaced by louder GTS rally panels on the bonnet and boot lid. They did the trick; there was no mistaking the GTS Monaro four-door for any other of the 250,000 HQ Holdens
already on the road. By this stage, the Monaro GTS 350 - coupe or four-door - became a rarer beast as more Australian drivers opted for the home-grown 308 V8
Holden go 4-Door, Ford go Coupe
At around the same time as the release of the 4 door HQ GTS, Ford supplemented their four-door GT with the GT Hardtop. GMH's two-door Monaro had been around since 1968 without a four-door equivalent. Prior to either company releasing their new models, if you wanted a more practical home grown 4 door muscle car, you went to Ford. If you preferred the looks of a 2 door coupe, you went to Holden. It was almost as if both companies ignored the presence of the other - in the performance section at least. Be that as it may, GMH had filled yet another gap in its model line-up and, suddenly, was competing directly with Ford in the performance class.
The GTS 4-door virtually paralleled the two-door version. The basic model was powered by the 253 V8
, developing 185 bhp. Two optional V8 engines were offered: the 308
(developing 240 bhp) and the imported 350 (275 bhp). Four-speed, floor-mounted gearboxes were standard and the 350 had the heavy duty Muncie unit. Automatic gearboxes - Trimatic for the 253
and Turbo-Hydramatic for the 350
- were optional. All cars had GTS suspension - heavy duty stabiliser bars, heavy duty shocks and up-rated springs. Tyres were ER70. H14 radials on 6-inch wide by 14-inch diameter steel "sports" wheels.
Stopping power came from servo-assisted 11-inch diameter ventilated front discs and 10-inch drums at the rear. A limited slip differential was standard with the 350 engine and was optional with the other engines. Buyers could chose from three different steering set-ups. Standard ratio was 20.0:1, and the 4 door was the first GTS model to have this ratio as standard. Former GTS models had the heavier, but quicker 16.7:1 ratio as standard, and on the 4 door this was now an option. The 20.1:1 standard ratio was obviously a concession to the less well-muscled housewives who would drive the car. The other steering choice was, naturally, variable ratio power steering.
The 253 V8
was fed by a Stromberg two-barrel carburettor while the two bigger V8s were fed by four-barrel units. Automatic choke was standard on all engines. All GTS 4-doors had 16.5 gallon fuel tanks, a reversion from the 30-gallons and more of the GT's of yesteryear. All GTS models had as standard: head restraints, five sets of seat belts, carpet, cigarette lighter, flow-through ventilation, day-night mirror, lockable glove box and steering lock. Instruments in the turned gun-metal dash included fuel, oil and temperature gauges, battery
charge indicator, speedometer, tachometer and odometer - in other words, GTS instrumentation. A three-spoked sports steering wheel was standard as was a remote control rear vision mirror.
Newly-designed moulded foam reclining bucket seats were standard. The seats were available with cloth inserts in a herringbone pattern. The revised cloth pattern looked much better than the pattern that came as standard on the successful SS. Courtesy lights were located at the feet of the front seat passenger and driver and in the side roof panels. The full range of GMH options, including integrated air-conditioning, push-button radio, power antenna, tape player, dual exhaust
system, vinyl roof, laminated windscreen, super lift shock absorbers and power windows, were available. The Monaro GTS 4-door, along with the new coupe, reverted to the matt-black panelling and go-faster stripes of the 1968 Monaro. New body colours were introduced and there were contrasting color panels on the bonnet and boot lid.
Blackouts were used on the window frames, on the bottom edge of the rocker panel, front and rear quarter panels, sheet metal work under the front and rear bumper bars, fender louvres, headlight surrounds and grille. GMH felt that the paint treatment gave the car a "masculine, sporty appearance". The 4 door version of the GTS represented a step ahead in terms of comfort and convenience in GMH's offerings and (if you choose the right options) a car that would live up to its high performance claims as well as being able to take a lot of rough work. Today we remember the final four-door HQ Monaro GTS 350 examples as a fabulous farewell to the Chevrolet small block V8 with Salisbury rear axle, Muncie four speed and 70 series radials. Very collectable.