When GM announced the end of production for the Firebird and Camaro in 2002, performance enthusiasts were left in a state of shock. There were many concerns about what GM would offer in the form of entry-level rear-wheel drive cars with a V-8 powerplant. The only remaining GM cars that fit the rear-drive V-8 platform were the expensive Corvette and some Cadillacs. Little did we know, but GM had a popular group of performance vehicles in Australia under the Holden name brand. In order to fill the missing void here in the US, GM quickly began planning to import the Australian Monaro. These cars have an excellent performance history and solid enthusiast groups in their home country, so GM decided to bring them here under the Pontiac flag as the new GTO. With a simple front fascia redesign and emblem changes, along with converting its production to the US left-hand drive spec, the cars were shipped to the States as an '04 model.
Joe Mayhew is a GTO man. His first performance car in high school was a '64 GTO, and later he restored a '67 with his father. While currently working as a parts manager at a Houston, Texas-area Pontiac dealership, Joe saw the first GTO on his lot. It was love at first sight: the car was a Yellow Jacket ("Devil Yellow" in Australia) automatic transmission '04. Joe adopted the Goat and took it home to his wife. The happy couple enjoyed it for a year, and then found out that the '05 models would be a little more potent with the introduction of the 400hp LS2 engine. They decided to upgrade to another yellow '05, but this time it was custom-ordered with a six-speed manual. Joe's wife liked the car so much, they later purchased another silver '06 GTO as her daily driver.
Intrigued by the Australian heritage of these cars, Joe decided to "restore" his car to Holden Monaro specs. As a parts manager with connections, he made a call to his friend Norm at Hunter Holden in Ryde, New South Wales, for the Australian parts. A Monaro VZ-style bumper cover replaced the Pontiac nose, and all Pontiac emblems were replaced with Holden emblems. Whereas two GTO 6.0L emblems originally sat on the front fenders, now sits a pair of Australian-spec side-marker lights, like the Monaro's. The rear trunk initially featured the huge GTO spoiler, but that was removed and the holes were filled in and painted over. Joe had his friends over at First Collision in Baytown, Texas, do the color-matching paintwork. For the interior, a custom Monaro gauge panel and pod gauges were installed, along with Holden emblems on the steering wheel and doorsill plates. To match the attitude of the car, a set of Australian-made ROH 18-inch Drift-R wheels with black centers were added as well. These wheels showcase a set of painted PBR brake calipers and DBA 4000XS drilled brake rotors.