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Exclusive: GM locks in Monza name for Australia

Name game: Opel’s Monza concept car is not only expected to inspire the next Holden Commodore but could provide the model name for a spin-off variant such as a sports coupe.

Holden could have a Monza in its future as Opel trademarks historic name

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Holden logo26 May 2015

By RON HAMMERTON

HOLDEN sister company Opel has applied for Australian trademark registration for the name Monza, potentially opening the door for a Holden model of that name in this market.

If General Motors history is any guide, the moniker could be applied to a two-door sports coupe, most likely a spin-off of GM’s new-generation global large car that GoAuto expects to serve variously as the next Opel/Vauxhall Insignia, Buick Regal and Holden Commodore from about 2017.

GM insiders caution that the company sometimes registers these names to protect them in case they want to use them at some future point, but they are not ruling out the coupe theory either.

According to a document seen by GoAuto, the Monza trademark application appears to be part of an international trademark registration process.

The Monza application was lodged in Australia by Melbourne-based trademark attorneys Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick on behalf of Opel Special Vehicles GmbH of Germany in April last year, about six months after the Monza concept was revealed at Frankfurt.

According to the document, acceptance is due in December this year.

If it eventuates, an Opel-developed Audi A5-style halo model would be a spiritual successor to the Senator-based two-door liftback Opel Monza sold in Europe between 1978 and 1986.

While that old model was rear-wheel drive, the new one would be based on GM’s new E2XX front-/all-wheel-drive large-car architecture to be shared with the imported next-generation Commodore and its Opel and Buick siblings.

These models would also share a common design language and technology drawn from the plug-in hybrid Opel Monza concept car shown at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show.

Up to four related vehicles are expected to make up this large-car range, kicking off with the sedan and station wagon. An SUV has also been confirmed by Opel, and – if our Monza speculation is correct – a coupe will follow.

And if there is a coupe, a cabriolet might also be on the cards. All these vehicles could be expected to go on sale in Australia as Holden switches to en masse Opel sourcing, bring at least a third of its line-up from Europe.

While Holden’s next large car will be imported, the company has already confirmed it plans to carry over the Commodore name when the locally produced rear-drive large sedan is replaced towards the end of 2017.

This means the Monza name is likely to apply to something else, probably a two-door sports machine.

The original Opel Monza – known as the Vauxhall Royale Coupe in Britain – was based on the 1970s equivalent of the Insignia, the Senator, and armed with a choice of four-cylinder and V6 engines.

It went on sale in Germany the same year that Holden launched the first Commodore, the 1978 VB, which was also based on the Senator.

In the 1980s, an Opel Monza made it to Australia where it was fitted with a Holden 5.0-litre V8 engine, bigger brakes and other go-fast bits by Peter Brock’s HDT special vehicles as a prototype for a potential limited-run HDT conversion coupe. However, the project faltered when it failed to get GM approval.

Opel Special Vehicles (OSV) is an offshoot of GM European subsidiary Adam Opel AG in Russelsheim, Germany, where OSV is responsible for small-volume modified cars such as Opel police vehicles and CNG and LPG variants.

OSV has lodged several previous trademark applications in Australia on behalf of Opel, including Insignia, Corsa and Mokka, and thus the latest development does not mean a Monza-badged car will be some sort of limited-edition special vehicle in an Australian sense.

If a vehicle wearing Monza badges eventuates, it most likely will also appear under Buick badges in both North America and China, alongside the Regal sedan that, like the current generation, is a rebadged Insignia made in Canada and China.

As GoAuto has reported, the Insignia/Regal/Commodore design program is being led by Opel head designer Mark Adams who oversaw the Monza concept project.

GM’s Australian design team, Melbourne-based GM Australia Design, also has a hand in penning the production range, possibly masterminding one of the variants as it did with Cruze hatch.

GM Inside News recently reported that GM North America had trademarked the name Regal Sport Touring, indicating Buick might add the next-gen wagon that, in the current generation, is known in Europe and UK as the Insignia Sports Tourer.

Holden is set to reintroduce the current European-built Insignia to Australia in June, but only in high-performance VXR sedan guise. The Insignia was previously sold here under Opel badges alongside the Astra and Corsa, but only for a year before the brand was dumped locally in 2013.

At that time, GM decided to group Holden with Opel, Vauxhall and Buick, replacing many of the Chevrolet-sourced vehicles in the Holden line-up with Opel and Buick numbers under Holden badges.

Just as Opel was exiting Australia, the Monza concept was revealed in Frankfurt where it was hailed as the new face of Opel.

The design was said to be a guide to the next Insignia, while the onboard technology was a glimpse into GM’s future.

The show car was equipped with a plug-in hybrid powertrain combining a three-cylinder CNG (compressed natural gas) engine and electric motors.

According to GM, the E2XX modular platform that replaces the current Epsilon 2 architecture has been engineered with the flexibility to accommodate, front-wheel-drive, all-wheel-drive and electrified powertrains.

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