IIt’s no secret that the 1978 Holden VB Commodore was inspired by European design. Heavily re-engineered for Australian conditions, it was based on Opel’s V-car: the Record – designed as two- and four-door sedans and wagons, with four-cylinder power – but the long nose of the Senator ( and wheelbase) is a more upmarket four-door sedan with a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine and independent rear suspension. There was also a premium two-door hatchback bearing the Monza badge.
And that, folks, is the short story of how Peter Brook built the car you see here, the one and only. HDT Monza V8.
In 2001, I was lucky enough to interview Brock about his HDT Monza V8 built in 1983 and ’84.
“There were two projects I wanted to do. One was the Opel Kadett,” Brock began, referring first to the twin-cam hot hatch version of GM’s European small car and two lesser-known Australian performance car stories. Lift the lid. History.
“I bought a GSi with a two-litre engine and it was a weapon,” Brock recalled. “We wanted to use it to pick up. [Toyota] Corolla in two-litre racing and currently two-litre rallying, such as Bathurst and The [Australian] Rally Championship. I thought, ‘Yeah, this will work,’ and we actually approved it with Type. [required] Side intrusion bars and everything else – we did all the work.
“And then Holden said, ‘No, we won’t do it.’
No doubt this decision was made because, from late 1984, Holden planned to replace the rear-drive TG Gemini with Isuzu’s Japanese front-drive design, rather than the European Opel/Vauxhall toy with the Brook. . From Holden’s point of view, it was more likely that there was no relevance in supporting Brook/HDT’s motorsport efforts that were not intended to sell the car.
Another forward-thinking Brock included GM’s German-made 3-liter six-cylinder premium hatchback, the Opel Monza.
“That’s when I bought it. [Kadett GSi] “I bought an Opel Monza,” explained Brooke. I liked it. It was a very nice car, very well engineered. And I loved the look of it. It was a good looking car.”
Peter sampled the Opel Monza in 1981 when he traveled to Europe with Colin Bond and Jim Richards for the Australian-entered Porsche to race at Le Mans. Peter decided he wanted to combine the Australian high-performance V8 power and handling prowess of the HDT with European style and substance in an executive-style premium hatchback.
With the Monza’s styling originally shared with the VB Commodore, by 1983 Opel gave the Monza a smoother nose, lower bonnet and more symmetrical headlights, and integrated bumpers. There was also a new dashboard.
But the core components were identical to the previous model, which meant it remained a close match to the Commodore. This meant that Brook and his HDT crew could easily replace the Monza’s original front cross member, engine and steering with high-performance parts sourced from HDT-fated Holden Commodores. So Brock installed a Grunt Group three-spec 5.0-liter V8, mated to Borg Warner’s new T5 five-speed transmission from the Corvette – and soon to be optional on HDT cars – instead of Holden’s M- Series four speed boxes.
Brock also upgraded the front brakes. The calipers were a new design – also used on the Corvette – working on large vented front discs. Ironically, the calipers were manufactured by PBR in Melbourne and exported to the US. Holden intended to use them but in 1983 when Brook was mapping out his Monza, the components were more than three years away from their Australian debut under the VL Commodore Turbo.
The final piece of the HDT muscle-hatch matrix was the Opel’s independent rear suspension, which, although a fairly conventional semi-trailing arm layout as used in many vehicles – from VW Super Beetles to Datsuns to BMWs – had to stand up. . Controversy erupts a few years later when, against Holden’s wishes, Brooke installs him under his HD director…
After the first HDT Monza V8 was completed and given rave reviews by both Wheels and Modern Motor magazines at the time, Brock deemed his HDT Monza V8 worthy of pursuit.
“I ended up going to Opel and arranged a way to buy a car semi-finished,” he continued on his Monza mission. “It was a very old assembly line that they were doing monzas on in Russellsheim. [Germany] And it was a two-story job.
“I walked along the assembly line and we realized it at a certain point. [on the line] It had a fuel tank. It had no diff or engine or trans but it was completely trimmed.
“So we said, ‘Okay. As soon as it turns the corner here, we’re going to take the car off the line and put it in a box and we’re cooking with gas!
“We could buy the rear end complete (separately – because it had not yet been installed in the Monza shell where Brock planned to stop the production process) with the tailshaft, but we didn’t need the gearbox, the engine. Didn’t need to. And the landing cost in Australia would have been very cheap. We were set. From memory, cost to get the trimmed body shell, with dash in it; no engine, trans, radiator; all Willing to accept Commodore mechanicals.$14,000
“I said ‘OK. We could probably get that car on the market for about $30-$35,000 — about $8000 more than an SS at the time; it wasn’t much more than an SS. We could do it. Any two-door. Those were well below the Euros, even if the dealers put a bit more fat on it to make it a 37; it had a nice five-litre, T5 gearbox, Corvette brakes on the front – which Holdens did. Years later. Not even.
“Anyway,” and I remember Peter’s smile fading a little at this point in our conversation, “it was one of those marketing decisions where somebody said ‘no.’ I don’t know who it was. It was There was someone in Holden.
“I think it was a threat to the Commodore line. I always saw it as an addition.”
Given the green light, it’s anyone’s guess where the beautiful Monza might place itself in the pantheon of Australian performance cars. Near the top, probably.