Nov 20, 2010

about Opel Monza GSE at1985

1985 Opel Monza GSE

NZCC reader Neville Cross talks about his pair of Opel Monza coupés
Ask any regular Kiwi motorist what the Opel brand means to them, and the usual response is Calibra or maybe a recent model Omega. Ask about the Monza model and they will come back with the Chevrolet Monza or possibly the Manta. So for the few enthusiasts in the know, the sleek two-door hatchback shape of the early ’80s Opel Monza is a rare sight.

As a development of the Opel Commodore range, the Opel Monza coupés and Senator saloons were designed and built in GM’s Russelsheim factory, and released in 1978 for the European sports executive market. Due to the models sharing so much of their design and components. Senator details are included where appropriate.
The luxury of the largest cabin and trunk capacity in the market at that time, due to new independent rear suspension and a patented tapered coil spring which compressed within itself to save on room, was well received by the motoring press, as was the added bonus of a quieter executive ride.

There were also an equivalent Vauxhall Royale coupé and saloon models for the UK, with lower specifications than the German cars, plus revised styling and carburettors instead of fuel injection.
The European market had a range of engines, from 2.3 diesel, to 2.0-, 2.2-, 2.5-, and 2.8-litre petrol; later increasing to 3.0-litre for the Series 2, with only the 3.0-litre 12-valve engines offered in the NZ-new Monza models.
The engine itself was a development of tried and trusted Opel engines, using the new L-Jetronic fuel injection system, the 3.0-litre producing a healthy 134kW at 5800rpm. The straight six, cam-in-head engine with hydraulic tappets is relatively economical. The straight-six, cam- in-head engine with hydraulic tappets is relatively economical with careful driving. The onboard trip computer provides instant feedback on fuel consumption, and other useful performance data. Series 2 Monza.
Early 1983 saw the release of a sleeker Monza, with a whole range of improvements over the earlier models. The most evident was the front and rear polycarbonate bumpers – with built-in front fog lamps – replacing the outdated chrome items. Clear front indicator lenses were also evident changes, along with the Getrag five-speed gearbox and limited slip differential as standard equipment.
Engine size was increased to 3.0 litres for all cars. The Senator also offered an impressive standard equipment list, including air conditioning, which was still an option on the Monza.
Monza GSE
After the success of the Series 2 upgrade, the top model GSE was released in March 1984. With lowered suspension, side skirts, rear spoiler, and a new LCD dashboard, this eye-catching GSE also featured Recaro bucket seats. Compared to the Toyota Celica Supra 2.8i of that era by the motoring press, the 134kW GSE was found to be noticeably faster. ABS and self-levelling suspension were options offered only in the last model year, 1985, with production ceasing in  1986.
4×4 Option
In a motoring milestone during early summer of 1980, FF Developments of Coventry, in England, already well-known for the Jensen Interceptor FF, announced public availability of a 4WD conversion for the Monza and Senator which they had developed for a UK Ministry of Defence contract. As the cost of this conversion added about 50 per cent to the price of the new car, only a few were converted for the general public. The viscous control unit offered the first credible alternative to the Audi quattro system, and was used in later Cavalier/Vectra A 4×4 GSi and Calibra models, as well as several Fords including the Cosworth.
Opel Straight-Six Cars Down-Under
GM in Australia rebadged and manufactured its own version of the new Senator A saloon body with their own six-cylinder and V8 engine and gearbox combinations and called it the Commodore VC range.
However, there was no Monza equivalent in the Aussie range, so it was only when the late Peter Brock was offered a Series 2 Monza to use during a European visit that he saw the potential for the Monza with a V8 engine. He developed plans to import semi-complete rolling chassis as parts, and then finish them to Australian specification, replacing – among various changes – the recirculating ball steering with conventional rack and pinion, inserting a 5.0-litre V8 engine, Borg Warner five-speed ’box and uprated brakes. Just one of these cars was completed, the project halted by Australian certification restrictions, and the Brock Monza is now owned by a private enthusiast.For the NZ market, Opel was very slack with publicity and marketing of its luxury cars, and the Series 2 Monza was an expensive vehicle for that era.
At $57,360 in 1986, the Monza GSE was competing with the likes of BMW and Jaguar. No total sales figures are available, as batches of cars were imported by individual dealers, but according to current LTSA data, there are now just 31 Monzas currently on NZ roads, with a handful more declared SORN.
The early Senator A/Monza Series 1 was not sold new in New Zealand, although there may have been some personal imports. After the Monza model had ceased production in 1986, it was the later Senator B that was sold here between 1986 and 1993 alongside the Omega A, or Opel 3000 or GSi, as it was known in NZ due to Subaru having already registered the Omega name for one of its models.
While there are smaller-engined Omegas with 2.4 and 2.6-litre engines, the top of the range Senator was competing for sales with the 3000 GSi. Of the remaining cars on NZ roads, according to LTSA figures – Senator, 52; 3000 GSi, 32 – few appear to be running 24-valve engines, which offered increased power, but higher running costs over the 12-valve engines. As a result, Opel straight-six cars are still a rare sight in New Zealand.
Neville’s Monzas
My passion for Opels stems from the fact I grew up with the marque, my family were big Opel fans and owned models such as the Kadett, Ascona, Manta, Opel Commodore, Senator and a white Monza GSE. After I drove my father’s GSE I vowed that, one day, I would have one myself.
I now own two Monza GSEs, and consider the car’s styling and classic shape to be timeless. When I had the opportunity to buy the Anthracite (grey) Monza, I couldn’t pass it by. I had already shipped the red car over from England.
When I emigrated to NZ in 1999 I gave up the idea of the Monza, as I hadn’t seen any during previous visits to NZ. I was so stunned to see a Monza in Christchurch, in 1992, that I didn’t think to follow and speak to the driver.
However, after investigation I found they were in fact sold new here for a couple of years. After checking one in Hamilton – $7000 without a WoF – and then ruling out another for sale in Auckland for $10,000, I gave up on finding a NZ-new Monza and sourced my Carnelian Red  GSE through the UK Opel Club that I still belong to.
Import hassles
After waiting until the Monza was a 20-year-old car, thus not requiring compliance with modern frontal impact legislation, I shipped the Monza to Christchurch. Border control picked up on some rust on the chassis, which was then pounced on by the local testing station, and the car was referred to a repair certifier for checking over. To summarise a long saga, I had some rust repairs made, but the big problem was the independent rear suspension.
Although suspension parts on the Monza were welded during production, current NZ regulations stated that no welding repairs were permitted to suspension parts. This seemed to be because of a blanket regulation introduced by some bureaucrat, presumably in response to a flood of Japanese imports with faulty cast suspension components. While I managed to find and import one brand new trailing arm from Europe, I was unable to locate a second.
I finally found an LTSA expert who could see the rule was inappropriate for my situation, and he kindly offered to start the exemption process for my car. However, this was going to require a photographic record and non-destructive testing of the components, which seemed to be beyond the abilities and experience of local welding engineers – they also quoted an astronomical price.
As I had been building up contacts all this time, and chasing down any mention of Monzas in breakers’ yards, I finally came across a Monza in Auckland which needed a bit of work done to it. After flying up to check it over, I assessed the trailing arms were in good condition, and brought the whole car back south as it was still driveable. After removing the trailing arms and getting them sandblasted, they were approved for fitting to the UK car, which could then be signed off by the repair certifier.
Taking the car back to the same VINZ testing station for complete strip and rechecking, I was disgusted to have it refused again for items like headlight aim, and a couple of other small items which should have been picked up the first time, since the car had not turned a wheel in the previous 12 months there was nothing to have caused these items to change.
However, thanks to the help of a friendly local garage, the UK Monza was eventually assigned a NZ number plate 15 months after it entered the country. What a performance! Worth the effort.
Well, I won’t be selling the UK Monza any time soon. It’s a beaut car, and the sport suspension and low centre of gravity mean it holds the road well. The straight-six engine really gives you smooth acceleration when you need it for overtaking, and for cornering around the local race course when the opportunity came up. When I drove a Monza down from Auckland, the Recaro seats proved so comfortable that I could have got back in and driven back up the country.
Fuel consumption varies from a respectable 7.6l/100km on long runs, down to about 12.8l/100km (37mpg to 22mpg) around town. The engine is considered bullet-proof, and provides smooth instant power when required. The five-speed Getrag ’box is the same used on BMWs, and while the rear wheel drive can be interesting in the wet, you would need to be using a lead foot to get into serious trouble. Both the Monzas draw admiring looks.
When I was offered the grey Monza GSE recently, it was too good an opportunity to resist, but it will be up for sale shortly due to other projects requiring more time than I expected.
Opel network
I’m building up a good network of Opel enthusiasts across NZ with about 15 Monzas, four Senators and five Omegas so far – five of these owners have two Monzas each. There’s more out there too. I’m trying to raise the profile of Opel’s luxury cars in New Zealand – when I was bidding on some Holden HSV wheels on TradeMe recently, the sellers thought the Monza was a Japanese car!
I’m currently trying to expand membership for an internet forum – – for NZ classic Opel owners, which is intended to give a club-like environment without the committee-type requirements which put some off car clubs. There will also be club meets at events around the country, like the Wings & Wheels at Hamilton in early March 2008.
I particularly want to hear from owners of Opels from the ’60s to early ’90s – which LTNZ statistics have shown to exist around the country – like the Opel Commodores and Rekords from the ’70s, as well as other Monza, Senator and Omega 3000 models.
I’m also trying to build up a register of all those cars currently in New Zealand. I’ve only just heard of an Opel Commodore B in Waiouru – which was crushed a year ago!
Racing Monzas
The Opel Monza’s career in motorsport was fairly low key, but a Group A Dealersport Monza won the UK Touring Car Championship in 1983. A trio of Monzas – driven by John Cleland, Tony Lanfranchi in the Monorep Monza and Gerry Marshall – came second, third and fourth respectively in the Monroe Saloon Car Championship in March 1984. These Monzas used the standard suspension, but shells were stripped to a bare minimum to shed weight. Cylinder heads were reworked, and compression ratios were raised from 9:1 to 12:1. Power output was increased from 134 to 172kW (180 to 230bhp), and the upper rev limit was now 6800rpm. Top speeds were estimated to be in the region of 233 to 241kph (145-150mph).
In 1985, Austin McHale successfully raced the Dealer Opel Team Monza in the Circuit of Ireland Rally in 1987 against RS Cosworths and Audi quattros, securing a very creditable fifth position. Monzas were still making appearances in UK motorsport in the early 1990s, including the Lombard RAC Rally in November 1992.
1985 Opel Monza GSE – Specifications
Engine    Six-cylinder, cam-in-head
Capacity    2997cc
Valves    dohc, four per cylinder
Max power  134kW (180bhp) at 5800rpm (12-valve)
(153kW/205bhp, 24-valve)
Max torque    186Nm at 4600rpm
Fuel system    L-Jetronic fuel injection
Transmission    Getrag five-speed, limited slip differential
Final drive    3.45:1 (manual), 3.15:1 (auto)
Suspension    Front Independent; MacPherson struts with coil springs and anti-roll bar; Rear Independent; semi-trailing arms and progressive rate coil springs
Steering    PAS recirculating ball
Brakes    Dual-circuit, servo-assisted, 292mm front ventilated discs, rear 281mm solid discs
Wheels/tyres    6Jx15 alloy wheels; 205/60VR15
Wheelbase    4720mm
Width    1722 mm
Kerb weight    1382kg
Height    1356mm
Max speed    217kph (135mph)
Economy    10.4-12.8l/100km (22-27mpg)

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