Buying used: Vauxhall Monaro

Buying used: Vauxhall Monaro
Buying used: Vauxhall Monaro

This Aussie muscle car is over-powered and over here

There’s always a market for big, simple V8 muscle cars, everywhere from Australia to the USA. And of course the UK, where we’ve long been fans of the Aussie Holden Special Vehicles, like the Vauxhall VXR8 GTS-R and the VXR8 Maloo. But with Holden closing in Australia last year, and with the last examples of those two UK VXR8 models now having been sold, what can you do if you want the muscle but you don’t have the £33k you’d need just for a 2009 VXR8?

You find £6500, that’s what you do. And with that you could be the owner of a 2005-plate Monaro CV8, with its 5.7-litre V8 in a coupe body. That should be good for 328bhp and 376lb ft of torque, which in turn should be good for a 0-60mph time of just six seconds. Okay, so the particular car we’re looking at has done 145,000 miles, but with full service history and a proper check it should keep you laughing for quite a while.

The model was launched in 2004 alongside the even more powerful VXR model, and by the following year a facelift brought more aggressive nosework including air scoops in the bonnet and a rise to 344bhp. The VXR moved to a 6.0-litre V8, with 397bhp and 390lb ft, giving a sprint time to 60mph of just shy of five seconds.

The next year was the last year of production and the VXR celebrated by becoming the VXR500, with a supercharger pushing power to 479bhp. The Monaro didn’t actually sell that year of 2006 so some weren’t registered until 2007, something worth bearing in mind if you’re tempted to find one.

MW Performance is an independent VXR centre, and they rate the cars. Marc Wale, the founder, has some simple advice: “Find a good one at a reasonable price, look after it and watch its value climb.”

The engines are pretty bullet-proof, like so many V8s, but watch out for rusting radiators and fuel pipes. Otherwise the engine should be very durable.

The six-speed transmission can be a bit clunky but should be reliable. Check for strange noises and check the clutch slave cylinder since if it fails it means taking the gearbox out.

The other issues are generally to do with an Australian car trying to survive in our more challenging environment. Check for rust on everything from panels to pipes for both power steering and rear brakes, and a power-steering pump prone to failure after long miles.

So how much should you spend, if you can find one? They’re increasingly rare, so that is inevitably pushing up prices, but, as mentioned, you could start proceedings from just £6500.

For £10,000 to £14,000 you can have a facelifted model with low mileage or an earlier VXR with sensible miles. But really a budget of £14,000 to £20,000 will net you the best examples including the 6.0i VXR with FSH and sensible mileages. Above that live the supercharged VXR500 special run-out models – if you can find one.

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