Ratty HK Monaro at Summernats 36

Rod Cordingly and his son thrashed long and hard to get this wonderfully weathered, methanol-chugging Monaro to ’Nats 36

Photographers: Shaun Tanner

SYDNEY-based automotive spray painter Rod Cordingly has painted many a showstopper, including Chad Ribbons’s Street Machine of the Year-winning HD ute. But he’s done very little to the duco on his own HK Monaro, other than suitably neglect it and let nature take its course.

“My son wanted to bring something to Summernats this year; something old and beat up with a big motor,” Rod said. “He wanted to do a VS ute, but I said, ‘Mate, we’ve got Monaros. We’ve got plenty of parts, and we can throw something together with junk we’ve got lying around.’ I had a diff and a gearbox, and I figured we could build something with what we had.”

The car had been lying dormant in a shed in the country for over 13 years, so when Rod returned from a holiday in America, he went and grabbed it. “It’s still covered in possum and cat prints!” 

Recalling that a “big motor” was a key part of the brief from his young bloke, Rod screwed together a staunch methanol-chugging 400ci small-block Chev topped with a Hilborn mechanical injection set-up that should be worth around 600hp. The diff was pilfered from an LJ Torana, and as such, the wheels needed to be fitted backwards with the dish facing out. It runs 31-spline axles, a full spool and tall 3:1 final gearing ratio for skids.

Typically, it took a last-minute slog to get the car done. “I worked on the car for 68 hours straight with no sleep to get here – I got three hours’ sleep last night – so I’ve been like a zombie!” said Rod. When the tow car failed a mere 1km from scrutineering immediately before it closed, it looked like the Summernats dream might be over, but the ’Nats team squeezed them through. 

“My son has put a huge effort in too, and he would have been hugely disappointed if we didn’t make it, said Rod. “I’d love to do some cruising in it and put it out in the show ’n’ shine tomorrow. Maybe I’ll get down to Tuff Street with it. I’m keen to let people see it.”