2003 Holden HSV GTO Coupe (Special Build)
When Holden unveiled the second-generation Monaro it was only a matter of time before Holden Special Vehicles put their signature touch to the stylish coupe, adding some serious muscle and exclusivity to the Monaro recipe. Launched in two versions, HSV created the Coupe GTO and GTS (dropping the Monaro badge altogether), the former was powered by a 255kW version of GM’s 5.7-litre LS1 V8 with the option of either manual or automatic transmissions. Using a name evoking Pontiac’s classic muscle car of the 1960s, the rear-drive GTO sported unique body enhancements including special projector headlamps, side skirts and three-piece rear spoiler. The aero package was complemented by a bespoke interior featuring full leather upholstery (in black, yellow, red or tan), eight-way power front seats, side air bags, dual-zone climate control and an eight-speaker 10-stack CD player. Under the bonnet, HSV’s unique Ram Air Induction system combined with stainless steel headers, dual converters and 2.25-inch exhausts to boost power to 225kW (360 horses in old money) at 5600 rpm. Bigger brakes (ABS was standard) and revised suspension, along with unique 18-inch alloys shod with Bridgestone 235/ZR18 S03 Potenza directional rubber ensured exemplary handling expected from HSV’s big coupe. From March 2003 a Series II version arrived with a 260kW engine, revised exhaust system and more cabin instrumentation. Retailing at $73,750, the HSV offered terrific value for many compared with high performance European coupes from the likes of BMW and AMG, but with a character that was uniquely Australian. The GTO’s muscle car credentials are backed by the numbers – 0-100 km/h in just 5.7 seconds and a quarter-mile of 13.9 seconds are still quick almost two decades later.