9 September 2004

Vauxhall Monaro VXR not quite brutish enough for you? Then take a look at the car that could inspire its replacement – General Motors’ 6.4-litre, 575bhp, 180mph Pontiac GTO Ram Air 6. Built by GM’s Performance Division for this year’s Woodward Dream Cruise in the US, its designers call the Ram Air 6 ‘the ultimate GTO’. Its basis is the Australian Holden Monaro, which is imported to the US and re-badged as the Pontiac GTO – one of the classic badges in American motoring history.

A low-key one-off project built by a small team of specialists in their own time, its creators are playing down its significance. At this stage, its makers won’t be drawn on its future. GM spokesman Andrew Schreck told Autocar that it was created ‘mostly for fun’, but went on to admit that the performance division’s work was ‘always up for consideration for production’. However, this exceptionally professional execution might be a big clue the shape of the next production GTO. After GM boss Bob Lutz pushed through the plan to import the Monaro to the US, sales have not been as good as was hoped. GTO enthusiasts have criticised the car for its tame styling (right). Hence this stunning creation – a sort of supreme market-research exercise.

Painted rollback orange to echo the maker’s GTO Judge classics of the ’60s and ’70s, the slammed street special’s outward makeover includes completely new body panelling. Deeper bumpers, sculpted arches, a new bonnet and a bigger spoiler add visual impact to the standard coupé’s ordinary looks, while massive 20in alloy wheels on low-profile 335-section rear rubber take care of the grip. But it’s the work out of sight that really fuels this car’s transformation. The standard 5.7-litre iron block V8 has been replaced by a 6.4-litre all-aluminium V8. Custom-made pistons and camshafts increase maximum engine speed to 7000rpm, and new exhausts help create 575bhp just 200rpm from the red line, and 500lb ft of torque at 5200rpm. That’s 225bhp up on the standard V8’s output, and even with the standard car’s tall gearing, should equate to a maximum speed much closer to 200mph than the Monaro VXR’s claimed 180mph.

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