FRESH from back-to-back Bathurst 500 victories in 1968 and 1969, Holden’s Monaro was rewarded by being replaced in Series Production touring car racing by the little Torana.
It had been quietly retired from competition by Holden just a month or so before the 1970 race. Colin Bond’s startling debut win for the Torana at Warwick Farm – where the dynamic little coupe beat a fleet of Monaros – just four weeks before the 1970 Bathurst classic seemed to confirm to everybody that the V8 Monaro had passed its use-by date.
However, history records that the Holden Dealer Team’s LC-model Toranas, the first equipped with the go-fast XU-1 performance upgrades, weren’t able to stop Ford from sweeping to a dominant 1-2 victory with its factory-entered cars for Allan Moffat and Bruce McPhee.
But what if history was different; what if Holden had persisted with the Monaro for one last tilt at Mount Panorama for the 1970 ‘Great Race’, pitting the new HG Monaro GTS 350 in a head-to-head duel with Ford’s new XW Falcon GT-HO Phase II.
That’s the question being posed by the latest issue of Australian Muscle Car Magazine.
Issue 117 takes a deep dive into how a Monaro-mounted campaign may have worked out, including the views of Bond and his then HDT teammate Bob Morris, who partnered with Peter Brock aboard the factory squad’s second Torana for the 1970 race, as well as veteran HDT mechanic Ian Tate.
We get a look at what a HDT-spec 1970 HG Monaro GTS might have looked like through the specifications that Harry Firth had proposed in period as the successor to the 1969-winning HT Monaro, and how it would have matched up against the new Phase II – which, as the numbers illustrate, was not the leap forward in performance that its Bathurst dominance suggests.
Then-Holden executive Joe Felice also weighs in with the reasoning behind the switch to Torana and whether it was actually feasible for Holden to take the Monaro back to the Mountain from a corporate perspective.