A classic Holden Monaro has sold at auction over the weekend for $715,000 – short of the expected $1 million – but the car is deemed so valuable it could be banned from being exported because it is classified as a national treasure.
The 1969 Holden Monaro GTS350 V8 was the company’s first factory-funded race car.
It competed in the Sandown 500 wearing the number 57 in the hands of Spencer Martin and Kevin Bartlett, but crashed and never raced again. It has since been restored.
Another identical 1969 Holden Monaro wearing the number 44 – raced by Colin Bond and Tony Roberts – won that year's Bathurst race.
Earlier in the week, Lloyds Auctions said the vehicle was expected to fetch up to $1 million, however the sale price still makes it one of the most valuable Holden cars to go under the hammer.
Prices of classic Holdens and Fords have skyrocketed since the end of Australian car manufacturing. Ford’s local assembly line fell silent in 2016 and Holden rolled down the factory shutters in 2017.
However, industry experts say prices for classic Holdens are starting to climb even further now that US car giant General Motors has announced the iconic brand will be axed altogether by the end of 2020.
Before online and phone bidding was due to commence on midday Saturday, Lloyds Auction advised it was likely the buyer of the vehicle would not be allowed to export it.
“In a last minute development Lloyds Auctions received contact from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications to state that the rare Monaro could be an Australian Protected Object,” a statement from the auctioneer said.
The auction house said it “commended the government’s stance in protecting Australian motoring history for the future of Australian enthusiasts”.
“While we’re seeing rare classic cars like Holden Toranas and GT Falcons selling for hundreds of thousands (of dollars), none have the colourful backstory or cultural significance of this Monaro, which is what makes it so rare and special,” said Lloyds Auctions CEO Lee Hames.
He said this particular 1969 Holden Monaro race car is “a significant piece of Australian motorsport history, not only shaping the success of Holden as a company, but also setting the stage for the domination by Holden and Peter Brock for the following two decades.”
The 1969 Holden Monaro was built for racing by talent spotter and former Bathurst winner Harry Firth, who gave a young Peter Brock his start in the factory-backed team.
Brock co-drove in the second of the two factory-backed Holden Monaros entered in the 1969 Bathurst event – and finished third in his debut.
It would be another three years before Peter Brock clocked up his first Bathurst victory, in a Holden Torana in 1972, preventing the mighty Ford Falcon GT from winning for the third year in a row.
And thus the Holden versus Ford battle had begun.
Although the 1969 Monaro’s auction sale of $715,000 is one of the highest prices paid for a Holden, in 2018 the 1982 Holden VH Commodore HDT race car driven by Peter Brock sold at auction for $2.1 million.
Meanwhile, the other HDT Holden Monaro entered in the 1969 Bathurst event – which finished third in the hands of Peter Brock – fetched $455,000 at auction last year.