Vauxhall Monaro VXR500 vs Ford Falcon XR6
More value than a four-pack of Fosters, these heroes of New South Wales thunder to Old South Wales for a lesson in old-school RWD thrills
Words: Ben Barry Pictures: Laurens Parsons
It’s more than a decade since Vauxhall first shipped Holden Monaros from Australia to the UK and stuck on a Griffin.
The days of the Lotus Carlton irritating Daily Mail readers had long gone, and with the Omega dead and the Lotus-based VX220 about to exit the line-up, the Monaro was able to flex its rear-drive muscle, and create a neat little halo when the new VXR performance range debuted.
The Monaro came with four different twists on the same V8, rear-drive theme, its capacity swelling from 5.7 to 6.0 litres from 2004-2005, though some cars were registered later. But while it had a Blue Oval nemesis back home – the Ford Falcon – Ford UK seemed happy to allow the brawny coupé to terrorise its ageing Probes, Pumas and Cougars.
The sixth-gen Ford Falcon was sold from 1998-2010, but unlike earlier eras there was no Falcon coupé, just the saloon, a model comparable with the Commodore the Monaro was based on.
Only a few Ford Falcon personal imports have made it to the UK. This one's owned by Chris Young. Australian petrolheads still had their fix with the XR8, which was just as well because the XR6 Turbo we’re in made an unfamiliar substitute for cubic inches. Powered by a single-turbocharged 4.0-litre straight-six, it’s a twist on the Skyline GT-Rs that were banned from Bathurst, Australia's home of motorsport.
Young has tweaked his Falcon from 322bhp to 475bhp and lowered the suspension to suit. It’s not the unfair comparison you might expect: to mark the end of Monaro production, Vauxhall partnered with dealer Greens of Rainham to offer the VXR500 we’re driving today.
It upped the 6.0-litre V8’s power from 398bhp/390lb ft to a truly seismic 498bhp/500lb ft thanks to the addition of a belt-driven Harrop supercharger, the extra horses kept in check by six-piston AP brakes and lower suspension.
Today, you can get a Monaro for £8-15k, and residuals remain strong. The Falcon is a rarer breed, but the example we’re driving is currently for sale for £10,000. But which is the best Modern Classic?
To read more about these cars, pick up issue 4 here: https://www.greatmagazines.co.uk/modern-classics-print-single-issues/promci4/modern-classics-issue-4