Named after the Monaro region in New South Wales (although pronounced differently), the Monaro was introduced in July 1968 as a two-door pillarless hardtop coupe available in three models: the basic Monaro coupe, Monaro 'GTS' coupe and Monaro 'GTS 327' coupe. The GTS versions had "full instrumentation" which included a tachometer mounted on the centre console. This proved to be a bad location as the drivers knee would obstruct the view and it often rattled.
The cars could be ordered with a choice of six-cylinder engines of 161 cu in (2,640 cc) capacity (base only) or two versions of 186 cu in (3,050 cc) capacity (GTS with the uprated 186S only), or a 307 cu in (5,030 cc) capacity Chevrolet-sourced V8. The exclusive 'GTS 327' model was powered by the 250 bhp (186 kW) Chevrolet 327 cu in (5,360 cc) V8.
The HK Monaro GTS327 also saw Holden's first victory in the Bathurst 500 in 1968 when Bruce McPhee and co-driver Barry Mulholland (who only drove one of the race's 130 laps) drove their car to victory after McPhee had set both pole position and recorded the fastest race lap.
In early 1969 the HK Monaro range was awarded Wheels magazine's Car of the Year for 1968.