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  1. #31
    VXR Torque of the Devil Sheriff's Avatar
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    17th December 2005

    Default Monaro, 6.0iV8 (LS2) 500,, 11/10

    Found By User: BO55 VXR
    Date: 11/10/2006
    By: Jon Smith
    Pictures: Stuart Collins

    Hang on, isn't the Monaro dead?
    Not yet, mate. The Aussie-built Calibra-for-the-Millennium Monaro VXR refuses to go quietly. And rightly so. You see it's all thanks to Greens Vauxhall dealership and tuning outfit Wortec. Between them they have conceived a tiny volume, mammoth power special breed of Monaro. The VXR 500. Officially the fastest ever production Vauxhall, it makes the Lotus Carlton seem like a minicabÖ

    VXR 500? As in Bathurst 500 and The Fender Bender 500?
    VXR 500 as in 500bhp, delivered by a supercharger bolted on top of the 6.0-litre ex-Corvette V8 lurking beneath those bonnet nostrils. You also get a satanic exhaust note and relentless acceleration. Big smiles, big drifts and big speeding fines. Being rather enthusiastic fans of GM's Australian muscle, Greens and Wortec proved to Vauxhall UK they could build a 600bhp blown version reliable enough to sell with a warranty. The VXR 500 was given the green light. Which is why you can either buy a brand new one now, or simply get the basic kit retro fitted to your existing Monaro 6.0-litre for £4995.

    Do the right thing and run us through the specÖ
    Well, all VXR 500s start out as 6.0-litre VXRs, which Greens then transform in a day (theyíre nifty with the old Snap-ons) by bolting on the Harrop supercharger, remapping the engine management and upgrading the fuel injectors to cope with the forced induction. Although the VXR 500 uses the original hefty six-speed manual gearbox, slight revisions have also been made to the plumbing of the hydraulic clutch to ensure no overheating issues occur.

    I bet it whines a lot...
    Rest assured, you're left in no doubt that this car is supercharged. The belt driven Harrop blower is so vocal, it sounds like Janet Street-Porter on a bad day. Although only preliminary performance tests have been carried out, the VXR 500 will see 60mph from rest in 4.8 seconds compared to the 5.2secs of the normally aspirated version

    Terminal speed? 'It's definitely over 180' says Brian Richards of Greens Vauxhall, who masterminded the project. 'But we haven't found a big enough stretch of road yet. Powerwise, I have a dyno print out of 503bhp, but we prefer to understate power figures, hence the 500 name'. The delivery of power is a relentless surge, right from as low as 1,200rpm. In its previous guise the torque was impressive, but now it's monstrous. Floor the pedal and the Monaro's rump squats like a dog with worms and rockets away. If the term muscle car ever needed redefiningÖ

    It costs silly money, surely...
    Amazingly not. It's actually cheaper than the 'normal' VXR. Hear us out. A forecourt fresh normally aspirated VXR Monaro currently costs £36,995, but Greens will sell you a brand new VXR 500 for just £35,995. So that's a £1000 discount for having over 100bhp more. Wortec even report improved mpg, thanks to an ECU remap. We managed 19.5mpg out of this test car over a combination of motorways and B-roads. Not bad for a 500bhp 6.0-litre. Plus, service costs are no different to normally aspirated Monaros, as the 'charger is a low maintenance sealed self-lubricating unit. A VXR 500 can be serviced at any Monaro-friendly Vauxhall dealer.

    Are there any other approved Monaro modifications available?
    The Phantom Black car we tested came equipped with the optional AP Racing brake upgrade, comprising six piston front calipers with 363mm grooved drilled discs and four pot rears with 330mm discs (£2595 fitted). It also featured UK road friendly bespoke adjustable Wortec/AVO suspension (£1695 fitted), a RipShifter to shorten the cumbersome gear throw (£490 fitted) and the mother of all stainless dual exhausts (£960 fitted). The latter is instant ASBO ammo, but it's some 20kg lighter than the stock unit and sounds wonderful. Highly recommended. The final tab tips £41k, but these choice components make a massive difference to unlocking the Monaro's every bhp on the road

    We liked the original Monaro VXR Ė enjoyed its raw muscle and unsanitised driving sensation. The VXR 500 has taken the 'big engine up front, rear drive, tough manly gearshift' recipe and evolved the Monaro into what is probably the truest muscle car on sale today. Even alongside machines such as the BMW M6 Ė a car that costs twice the price Ė the 500 dishes out a generous right hook. This is real horsepower harnessed inside a real four-seat coupe that delivers astounding value, road manners, surprising mpg and genuine usability. And for all these reasons it's the ultimate unsung hero. Aussies aren't getting this version. We Brits should rejoice and feel privileged...

    Need to Know: Vauxhall Monaro VXR500
    How much? £35,995 (£41,735 as tested)
    On sale in the UK: Now
    Engine: 5967cc supercharged V8, 500bhp@6400rpm, 500lb ft@3200rpm
    Transmission: Six speed manual, rear wheel drive
    Performance: 4.8sec 0-60mph, 10.9sec 0-100mph, 180+mph, 19.5mpg (est)
    How heavy/made of? 1687kg /steel
    How big? (length/ width/ height in mm)? 4789/1841/1397
    Other models in the range: VXR 6.0i
    Or try a... BMW M6, Mercedes CLK500, Chevy Impala SS 409

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  2. #32
    VXR Torque of the Devil Sheriff's Avatar
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    17th December 2005

    Default Monaro, 6.0iV8 (LS2) 500,, 16/10

    Found by User: BO55 VXR
    By: James Mills, contributor
    Date: October 16 2006

    Vauxhall Monaro VXR v Shelby Mustang GT500
    It all used to be so simple. If you wanted a car, you had the choice between a hatchback, saloon or estate. Perhaps, if life was treating you just fine, you might just be able to treat yourself to a roadster or coupť.
    Nowadays, car buyers find themselves baffled amidst an alphabet-spaghetti sea of acronym-tagged niche models. Donít know about you, but it has me reaching for the headache pills just thinking about it.

    But there is still one type of car which needs no explaining. A category that conjures up vivid imagery and stirs some slightly primeval urge amongst petrol heads the moment itís mentioned: the muscle car. America, Land of the Free, has so much to answer for. But the muscle car phenomenon is one export car lovers the world over are thankful for. Life would have been depressingly tedious without them: no Bullitt, Vanishing Point, Cannon Ball Run, Dukes of Hazard, Knight Rider - all culturally fulfilling art forms of the highest order, Iím sure youíll agree.

    Yet just when you thought car manufacturers had given up on building cars with all the animalistic appeal of a boxing match, along come two at once: the new Vauxhall Monaro VXR 500 and Ford Shelby GT500. Thereís a small hint in the names about what type of animals weíre dealing with here: 500bhp super coupťs. Both pack supercharged V8s. Both have the engine up front. Both drive the rear wheels. And both make the hair leap up on the back of your neck before youíve even so much as started the engines.

    Originally the birth child of Holden in Australia back in 1968, the 328bhp Monaro coupť came here in early 2004 wearing Vauhxall badges and received a warm welcome. Hotter VXR versions followed in 2005 and now we have what promises to be the Monaroís finest hour: the VXR 500. A mere £35,995 secures you the keys to the last version of Vauxhallís super coupť. Unbelievably, thatís cheaper than the standard 398bhp Monaro VXR on which itís based. And for the record, thatís £12,000 cheaper than 1990ís Lotus Carlton, the twin-turbo, headline-hogging, super saloon that would shape up as a relative lightweight these days at just 377bhp.

    Talking of the past, Ford and a certain Mr Carroll Shelby have bedded one another before. The original 1964 Mustang-based Shelby GT350 was the first official tie up between two of Americaís greatest icons, and the Shelby GT500 you see here (circa £45,000 via a typical internet importer) faithfully pays homage to the 1966 GT500. Both its forebears were packing supercharged V8s (later on, in the case of the GT350), but neither could hope to come close to todayís 5.4-litre supercharged V8, which thumps out 506bhp. All through a live rear axle, so the wheels canít operate independently of one another. Oh. My. God.

    And boy do these cars look like the full Monty. Especially the Shelby GT500. It grabs your attention like a fist in the face. This is loud and proud, the stars and stripes through and through. A car from the place where you have the right to bear firearms, and most of the population exercise that right with arsenals the size of a modest army. What a shame then that as I enjoy the inevitable petrol station forecourt Q&As enroute to great driving roads in Walesí Brecon Beacons, I canít quite shake off the feeling that the rear end rides too high and the sharply cut, machined-look alloys look a little lost in the arches. Theyíre only 18s, barely adequate for a road hog like this.

    The VXR 500 isnít quite as anti-social looking. But itís hardly the chosen wheels of your local librarian, either. There are enough scoops, vents and bulges plastered about the bodywork to make every nine year-old budding car designer feel like one of their doodles could be commissioned after all. Despite that, nothingís changed from the regular Monaro VXR, save for the addition of a 500 badge on the back. Not that other drivers will be getting a good look at that for long.

    Muscle Itís the loud mouth visitor from America Iím aching to drive. It is, after all, something of an icon. Call me an old romantic, but the appeal of driving a genuine muscle car is too much to resist. Inside, itís a lesson in the art of inefficient packaging. Think the inverse of Dr Whoís Tardis and youíll get the drift: not a lot of space and the seats themselves arenít all that special. But the driving position is good and if I raise the seat a touch I can even see out over the power bulge without the need for a periscope.

    It looks funky though. Unashamedly retro, maybe, but at least itís got a heritage worth reminding the world of. That said, anyone coming from an, admittedly more expensive, German sports car will have to try ever so hard to ignore the tactile quality. Most of the plastics and switchgear can be found in Fordís mass-consumption shopping trolleys. A pity, but hey, it helps makes the price not quite so pipe-dream for all us enthusiasts. Thereís no faddish starter button in here. Instead, itís clutch to the floor and a twist of the cheap key in the ignition. The Shelby GT500 bursts to life with a promising roar, and patters off down the road burbling away.

    Once things warm through, itís quickly apparent that thereís something missing: noise. For some reason, the most in-your-face ĎStang to date turns all shy on you. The standard exhaust system is disappointingly muted, not exactly the re-run of Bullit Iíd expected. The performance, however, is everything youíd expect. The 5.4-litre lump is a big brute of an engine. It hauls from 800rpm in sixth, but when you shift down and swing the rev counterís needle past 4,500rpm, the 480 Ib/ft of peak torque hits you in the back and sends the GT500 belting toward the horizon. How quickly? Try 0-60mph in a tried and tested 4.9 seconds. It calls for some careful recalibrating of your driving style.

    Stomach turning
    But for all its might, youíre more alarmed by its bulk. By the end of a day belting across Wales, Iím feeling like Kowalski from Vanishing Point. The Shelby GT500 is a tiring thing. It saps every last bit of mental and nervous energy to keep it moving along at a decent lick. The finger of blame lies firmly at the suspension. Itís primitive, to say the least, with a live rear axle that goes to pieces over bumps, be it in a straight line or, more scarily still, mid-bend. The primary ride is harsh and jittery, yet the secondary ride is wallowy and poorly damped Ė the worst possible combination, and quite a feat by Fordís Special Vehicle Team (SVT).

    Perhaps they handed responsibility to a team member whoís a keen amateur rodeo rider out of office hours. That said, traction isnít too bad and switching off the TCS isnít quite the sudden hair-loss experience Iíd expected. Thereís a lot of grip, but you have to manhandle it. Easier said than done, however, when youíre sat on the left side, it weighs 1,778kgs and the thing tends to straddle the white line. It never stops feeling like a showdown between man and machine.

    By way of contrast, someone forgot to style the VXR 500ís cabin. Itís dull and cheap with it. You sit too high and again the seats are nothing special. This thing feels like a Daewooíd Vauxhall. Or should that be Chevrolet these days? Whatever, itís tacky and devoid of design flair, and unlikely to impress anyone whoís come in search of high speed thrills from something like a Porsche 911. But then you start it. And you forget about switches and plastics. The optional sports exhaust (an extra £960) stuns your senses like a cattle prod. It reminds you that this is a 500bhp beast. Not a repmobile

    In a bid to rid itself of its last 50 unsold Monaro VXRs, Vauxhall turned to specialist Monaro tuners Wortec. The VXR 500 features a new positive displacement supercharger, uprated fuelling and ignition systems and clutch revisions. The good news for existing Monaro VXR owners is they can retro fit all of it. Letís start with the engine. The conversion means the Corvette sourced 6.0-litre V8 now musters a true 493bhp and 499Ib/ft. Sufficient, I think youíll find, to give the GT500 a gruelling workout. One thingís for sure, the VXR 500 feels and sounds faster on the road. 100kg lighter, packing slightly more torque, and bombarding you with its TVR Griffith-esque exhaust note, it takes some beating in the exhilaration stakes.

    It also takes some beating dynamically. The VXRíd Monaro chassis was always a cracker. Exploitable, engaging and entertaining, it refreshed driverís parts other so-called sports cars couldnít reach. Our VXR 500ís adjustable sports suspension (£1,695) goes one step further, giving the chassis a tauter, tied-down feel without robbing the car of its likeable, laid back character. On wet roads, the traction control has trouble containing the huge torque and power, intervening half way through the wheelspin or, worse still, the tail slide.

    Switch it off entirely, pop a handful of brave pills, and you can make the most of the chassisí friendly on-the-limit behaviour, delightful throttle response and limited slip differential, adopting an angle of your choice in second and third gear corners. Yet none of this comes at the expense of ride comfort. It proves remarkably absorbent yet never soft or sloppy when you open up the loud pedal and revel in that exhaust note. The VXR 500 is a car drivers can immerse themselves in. That feeling of being a part of the machine is getting increasingly rare these days, especially in larger sports cars. But this Vauxhall pulls it off perfectly.

    You donít approach either of these cars with a rational mindset. Itís the heart doing the soft sell to the head. But ironically, they can make sense. Try finding another coupť with 500bhp for so little money. Despite its crowd-pulling abilities and emotive whiff of nostalgia however, itís obvious the Shelby GT500 canít cut it here in the UK. Itís out of its depth, challenged by our peculiar roads and caught off guard by our distinct dynamic tastes. As an example of how to do it, Ford should have checked out the Monaro VXR during the Shelby GT500ís development phase.

    Theyíd have found a great car, and one which has leant itself so well to this 500bhp, final-fling conversion. Itís an honest, hilarious bit of kit, the VXR 500. And thatís before youíve even started considering the fact itís the bargain of the moment. The most iconic muscle car of all time feels like itís been stood still in certain dynamic areas. Perhaps Ford Americaís SVT department interpreted its brief to pay homage to the past a little too literally. Whatever, Vauxhallís VXR brand, via Holden Australia, has well and truly stolen the Mustangís thunder.
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  3. #33
    VXR Torque of the Devil Sheriff's Avatar
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    17th December 2005

    Default Monaro, 6.0iV8 (LS2) 500,, 25/10
    Date: 25/10/2006
    By: James Mills
    Photos: Nathan Morgan

    Get ready for the most powerful Vauxhall ever Ė and the supercar bargain of the year!

    Auto Express is first to drive the mighty Monaro VXR 500, and we will let you into a secret: its phenomenal performance left us short of breath.

    Even better, while this 500bhp (Ed, actually 500ps) scle machine has the ability to set your pulse racing faster than any heavy-metal workout, its price wonít get supercoupť drivers breaking into a sweat. How so? Well, at £35,995, the VXR 500 is nearly half the cost of the next nearest 500bhp (Ed, ps) two-door. Amazingly, it is even cheaper than the standard Monaro VXR, which is £37,040!

    Vauxhall has teamed up with specialist tuner Wortec to develop the newcomer, and is limiting sales to one dealer only, Greens Vauxhall of Kent. Choose from red, silver or black, but whatever you do, order fast Ė only 50 (Ed, only 15) cars are available in the UK, ensuring exclusivity the likes of which Ferrari drivers could only dream of.

    Yet what about the driving experience? It may be half the price of similarly potent machinery, but is it half as thrilling? With its existing 6.0-litre V8 (shared with Chevroletís Corvette) boosted by a supercharger, the VXR 500ís headline stats climb from 403bhp (Ed, ps) to 500bhp (Ed, ps), and from 530Nm to 677Nm. But itís the way this engine goes about its work that impresses most. Pick a gear, any gear, and the car hauls in the horizon as if capable of defying the laws of physics. Torque is the secret to its unrelenting urge, the supercharger giving the V8 bigger lungs than ever.

    So the performance is mighty. But what of the handling and, more importantly, the brakes? Again, our car was fitted with options in both these areas. Adjustable sports suspension is £1,695 and strikes just the right blend of fluidity and tautness, ensuring the VXR 500 is never less than entertaining, but without giving cause for discomfort.

    Uprated six-piston AP Racing brakes keep all that performance on a tight leash. Theyíre £2,595, but with 190mph potential, are definitely worthwhile.

    Criticisms? Well, the VXR 500 is hardly the last word in sophistication, and Vauxhall would have been wise to recalibrate the traction control, which struggles to keep check of the power in the wet. But then, itís precisely because this Monaro is such an anti-cool car and a riotous ride that buyers will love it.

    For the Monaro to make an even bigger noise than when it was first launched in the UK is quite staggering. True to the Vauxhall modelís appeal, the powerhouse VXR 500 wears its heart on its sleeve Ė and itís a giant one at that. Throw in the firmís full three-year warranty, and the VXR 500 is a seriously tempting route to supercar sensations at a fraction of the price.

    Our VXR 500 test car could be heard coming from miles away. It was fitted with an optional sports exhaust system (£960), which is well worth the money. Popping and gurgling on the over-run, itís up there with TVRs as far as acoustic sessions go!
    Engine: 6.0 V8 sícharged, 500bhp
    0-60ph: 4.8 seconds (claimed)
    Price: £35,995
    Rating: 4/5
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