Monaro the Name

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In late 1967, with nine months to go til its launch, Holden's new sports coupe was still without a name. Its strongly US-influenced design suggested something along the lines of Chevrolet's Camaro, or the Oldsmobile Toronado from which it took several styling cues - but although Holden had sifted through hundreds of suggestions, none seemed to have that special ring.

Then Noel Bedford, a technical stylist and member of Holden's design team, was driving through Cooma, New South Wales, Australia on holiday when a sign on the council offices took his eye: 'It said Monaro County Council' in western-type lettering that reminded me of 'Marlboro Country' and Camaro. It seemed to me so simple and logical. Why didn't somebody think of it before? I was quite excited and couldn't wait to get back to work.' After quickly checking for copyright and dialect meaning, an impromptu board meeting , held next to Noel Bedford's drafting table, instantly approved the name.

'Monaro' is of aboriginal origin, meaning a high plateau or high plain. The coupe shares its name with the Monaro range, which is part of NSW's Snowy Mountains as well as the Monaro Shire, just south of Canberra, ACT.

One of the men responsible for the Monaro lines that ran like arteries of aggravation over the staid old HK bath tub was John Schinella, a talented young designer on loan from Detroit. He was to later impart the same sense of urgency over the whole passenger car range on the arrival of the HQ.
Latin blood ran through his veins and it was he who is credited with applying the GTS tag to the sportier versions of the Monaro in sympathy for Ferrari. For what it is worth, GT in Italian is Gran Turismo. Add an S for GTS in Ferrari speak and you get Gran Turismo Spyder or an open roof version. Add a B for GTB and that means it's a Gran Turismo Berlinetta or a two seater fixed head coupe. It is a nomenclature used to this day on Ferraris. The Monaro was often ruthless, never roofless. The Monaro gave GTS its own special Australian meaning. Today's GTS superimposes a more authentic European flavour over the brute force of the early Monaros. The local GTS lineage is a story of being there when the time was right and absent when it wasn't.


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