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Sunday, May 26, 2024


NATHAN Pretty knows better than most about how Holden’s Nations Cup Monaro 427C compared to a V8 Supercar of the same era.

Along with being one of its four pilots in both of its Bathurst 24 Hour campaigns, Pretty was the yellow Monaro’s driver across its two seasons of racing in Nations Cup.

He dovetailed the program with V8 Supercars enduro drives; his win in 2002’s inaugural Bathurst 24 Hour came just a month after he and Rick Kelly claimed fourth place in the Bathurst 1000.

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There were obvious key differences between the Monaro and Commodore beyond the former having two less doors.

The seven-litre engine, sourced from the Corvette GT sports car program, gave the Monaro two extra litres of capacity and more torque than the Commodore, although the V8 Supercar carried 50 kilograms less than its coupe counterpart.

Both were equipped with a six-speed Holinger gearbox, but the Monaro’s was a sequential compared to that era Commodore’s traditional H-pattern.

Pretty finished fourth with Rick Kelly in the 2002 Bathurst 1000, one month prior to winning the Bathurst 24 Hour in the Monaro. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

While the Monaro’s independent rear suspension compared favourably with the Commodore’s live rear axle with Watt’s Linkage, the two-door also benefitted from bigger 18-inch wheels compared to the V8 Supercar’s 17-inch rims.

Pretty joined our look back at the yellow Monaro on the V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Repco and summarised the difference between Holden’s two-door and four-door supercars.

“(The Monaro) actually handled!” he laughed.

“You really had to wrestle and muscle a Supercar; the Monaro was independent rear end, it had sequential (gearbox), it had everything – as a race driver – that you wanted to have in a Supercar.

Listen to the full episode in the player below!

“The big tyres stuck really well; you could basically never oversteer that car.

“It would always have understeer, that was the common trait, because those massive rear tyres and that independent rear end were always just pushing the front, unfortunately. It was always an understeering car, never oversteering.

“It handled so well. Once we got the parity stuff where it had massive induction restrictors put in place and a lower RPM, you were doing a lot of gear changes, that’s for sure, because it was changing gears at 5,800 – it wasn’t really making its horsepower until well after that!”

Pretty claimed the Monaro’s first Nations Cup championship race win in Round 2 of the 2003 season at Symmons Plains. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

Pretty notched up four race wins and two round wins on his way to third place in the 2003 Nations Cup standings, adding six more race wins and two more round victories in the car’s final season in 2004.

In terms of lap times, the Monaro never came close to matching the Commodore’s pace at Mount Panorama.

The yellow car set the 427C’s fastest time in qualifying for the 2003 Bathurst 24 Hour with a 2m13.2856s, over six seconds slower than Greg Murphy’s legendary Lap of the Gods’ effort in the Top 10 Shootout for that year’s Bathurst 1000.

In fact, of all the tracks visited by both V8 Supercars and Nations Cup across that 2003 season, Oran Park was the only place the Monaro proved quicker than the Commodore in both qualifying and racing.

In the podcast, Pretty tells the story of the yellow Monaro’s final race win at Winton in 2004 (with a little help from Garth Tander as weatherman), as well as the unseen moment that nearly cost the machine its first-up triumph at Mount Panorama.

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