Friday, July 24, 2009

2006 Pontiac GTO - Muscle Car From Oz

This is not a typical Just A Car Geek car.

As I wrote in my first post, I used to send car related e-mails to a business associate. These e-mails would often lead to many, many follow up e-mails and some really good automotive discussions and debates.

When those e-mails faded away I came up with the idea for this blog. (Why limit myself to boring and annoying one local person when, with help from the internet, I can potentially bore and annoy the whole world?) This has led to some great e-mail discussions and debates, too. Some of my favorite e-mails have come from a man named Simon in Australia. Simon has given me some insight into the Australian car culture.

Australia has a unique and interesting automotive history. It was important to the Brits, so much so that BMC / BL had a factory in Australia. That factory turned out some unique to Australia BL / BMC cars, including a 6 cylinder Morris Marina (find some info here) and a large sedan called the P76 (find the P76 Club website here). It's still important to the Europeans; Renault, Peugeot, and Fiat still sell their cars there as do all of the European brands we can still get in the US. Given its proximity to Asia, the Japanese and Koreans do a thriving business in Australia. Malaysia also sends their Proton cars to Australia.

But Australia isn't just about imports. It still has its own auto industry.

One of the companies turning out cars in Australia is Holden, a GM subsidiary. Here is the U.S. we recently received a damn nice car from them. Unfortunately, it was considered a failure.

The 2004 - 2006 Pontiac GTO was based on a Holden Monaro and built in Australia.

It was considered a failure because GM had hoped to sell 54,000 cars, but managed to "only" sell just over 40,000. Its styling took some criticism and there were many people who felt that any car wearing the Pontiac GTO badge should be built in the United States and not overseas.

I have no opinion on the car being built outside of the US, but they may have a point about the styling... I thought it was a great looking car. That was probably not good news for GM, as I, a fan of conservative euro-styled cars, was not their target buyer.

Nobody criticized the car's performance... The GTO came equipped with the Corvette's LS1 ('04) and LS2 ('05-'06) V8 engine mated to either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic. The car was quick, with 60 MPH coming on later models in under 5 seconds.

This is a really nice, extremely fast, good handling, comfortable, conservatively styled car. There's nothing wrong with that. Maybe more people would have appreciated it if they had called it a Pontiac Monaro instead of a GTO.

The platform of this car lives on in the new Chevy Camaro, a car that's been getting some rave reviews. Also of note is the fact that GM has stated that Holden is not for sale and will not be shed as part of its reorganization. GM, having shed most of its European and Japanese brands, appears to be ready to use Holden's technology in US cars. (You can find a Holden press release regarding their future here.)

The new generation GTO may never be held in the same regard as the original GTO, but it is one of the last of a dying breed; the American muscle car. This American muscle car just happened to have come from Australia.

As they're only a few years old, there are plenty of GTOs available nationwide. An AutoTrader.com search turned up 750 nationally. The only reason I chose the car pictured above is because it's being offered at a dealership very close to where I live. The car has very low miles, appears to be in great shape and the dealer has a good local reputation. Click here to see the listing.

I started this post by saying that this was not a typical Just A Car Geek car, but it's one of only two I can think of that have come to this country from Australia. (The last generation Mercury Capri being the other.) If the Monaro / GTO is a typical example of Australian technology, I can't wait to see what else comes from "the land down under".

You can find more info on Holden at www.holden.com.au.

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