Lots of hard work and an eye for detail produced a landmark pro touring Holden HT Monaro
This article on Adam's HT Monaro was originally published in the August 2010 issue of Street Machine
HAVING put his stamp on a few tough LS1 Commodores, Adam Barnes decided he needed an old-school machine. While the late-model cars were good for mixing bulk horsepower with modern comfort, he wanted something classic for his next ride.
“All my friends were telling me an old car would be heaps of trouble,” Adam says, “but it wasn’t that bad.”
It would have been worse without help, though. Luckily, his mate Clay Barker signed up as project manager for the car now known as HARDHT.
Adam had already found a neat HT Monaro in South Australia, so at least he wasn’t rebuilding the body from a delicate cobweb of rust.
“It was red and someone had fitted a 308. I originally wanted to keep it looking standard — even the small wheels — with twin turbos to make it a sleeper. It didn’t quite work out like that.
“I was struggling a little bit when I caught up with Clay. He knew I had a good thing going, so he came on board and helped source sponsors.”
Clay saw it as an opportunity to create something special: “We wanted the best people involved in the project; we wanted them to do their best work.”
They both dig the idea of new-age grunt and comfort in older bodies and looking at American websites lateral-g.net and pro-touring.com swayed Adam towards building a pro tourer — an iconic muscle car with modern performance. That meant electronic fuel injection, decent handling and brakes, manual gears, big rims, turbos, and a luxury interior.
Knowing what they were after engine-wise, they enlisted Sydney’s C&V Performance to build a 440ci LSX iron block with World Industries heads. Con and Vic then talked them into the massive single turbo and came on board as sponsors. The combo delivers 1200hp at the flywheel yet unlike many mega-power turbo motors, the injected Chev is easy to drive on the street thanks to its low-down torque.
That’s backed by a tough triple-plate Textralia clutch and a Tremec T56 six-speed manual ’box.
As much as he was inspired by the Yanks, geography played a part in Adam’s build. Unlike US street machiners, he wasn’t tripping over bolt-in independent rear suspension kits, and conscious that he was building for the road rather than the racetrack, he stuck with tried and true leaf springs and Caltracs under the shapely rear end. They carry a sheet-metal nine-inch filled with a Detroit Truetrac 3.9:1 LSD and Moser 31-spline axles.
“I could have fitted a four-link but it’s a lot of work and I’m not going drag racing. It’s a street car, so you have to work out where to stop. So far it hasn’t had any problems hooking up.”
The front end, however, is more modified. “It was all custom-made, by a guy in Adelaide. We basically threw the HT front away. Now it has arms made from stainless tube, adjustable coil-over shocks, runs HQ stud pattern and has rack and pinion steering made using two UC Torana racks.”
While some cars are about form and others are all function, HARDHT has both, intelligent engineering melding seamlessly with style. Even small details such as the Ring Brothers bonnet hinges show that. Sourced from the States and designed for Camaros, they’re a beautiful yet practical touch.
Inside is trés tasteful, with a Budnik tiller, centre-pull handbrake, custom billet shifter, reshaped factory buckets and hidden Axis auto. Lashings of Dynamat Xtreme were used throughout the car, including the floor, firewall, trans tunnel, boot and hoodlining, keeping the cabin quiet and cool
Everywhere you look you’ll find more examples, such as the billet-looking engine and radiator mounts. They were knocked up by Glenn Davies of GD Race Cars, who also made the custom headers, wastegate pipe-work and that smooth five-inch dump pipe.
But this wasn’t a chequebook build — Adam got his mitts dirty, from helping Glenn with the piping to hand-finishing the brushed metal in the engine bay. He took polished pieces, including the Hogan intake manifold, and sat down with the scouring pads to create a more industrial feel. “I was involved in every part of the build,” he says proudly.
The instrument cluster looks factory but was custom-made by Mark Bonello, with the ignition and switches moved to the column, leaving room for extra Auto Meters. “We worked out that the glovebox is the same size as the binnacle, so Mark cut one up, welded pieces of pipe in and fitted the gauges,” Adam says
Talking of ‘involved’, the interior took several meetings with Mark Bonello of Sydney Motor Trimmers before they even nailed what they were after. “I wanted a classy finish on the car, which is one reason I chose the Mercedes grey paint, and I wanted the same class for the interior,” Adam says. “Picking the colour took time. Mark wanted burgundy but I couldn’t do that, so after hours of research — and with the help of my wife — we eventually convinced him grey was the way to go.”
Sketches were done, then Mark cracked on. Keen to showcase his best work, he pulled the resprung and rebolstered HT seats apart several times to fix up some very slight imperfections.
“Mark spent ages wrapping the dashboard but there was a tiny scratch in the leather — and I mean tiny — so he started again,” Clay says.
He also whipped up the soft-touch storage box, custom console, billet and leather shifter, and the custom metal gauge binnacle.
“No one part of the car overpowers another,” Clay adds. Details such as the brushed-finish fuel cell in the boot or the billet grille that could pass for OEM knock your socks off just as much as the obviously expensive BMW carpet and Lamborghini headlining that grace the cabin.
The shell — prepared and painstakingly fitted back together by Jack Wrench, then coated in Glasurit Mercedes Grey by Mick O’Brian — is almost as it came from Holden. That grille and the pumped guards are the only changes from stock. However, this Munro has a hell of a lot more swagger than it came with from the factory, thanks to 20x8 and 20x12 Intro billet rims.
All this work has been rewarded by show judges, starting at the Meguiar’s Great Uncover at Summernats 2010. On debut, HARDHT took 2nd Top Coupe and scored a spot in the Elite Top 10, then backed up with Promoter’s Choice at the 2010 Powercruise in Sydney.
There aren’t many rides that look this good yet are engineered well enough to be a weekend cruiser, all while kicking out 1000 ponies at the bags. Adam wanted something different and he’s got it.
“I haven’t used more than about 25 per cent throttle yet. I gave it a squirt on a straight road the other night and it just slammed me back in the seat. It’s like everything goes into warp speed!”
- The 101mm compressor dwarfs anything offered on a production car but keeps exhaust temps cool, improving engine longevity. Lag means you only get boost when you really want to go fast so cruising relies on the 440ci donk’s low-down torque
- The black hose fittings and Wiggins clamps are designed for high-pressure applications. Wiggins clamps are favoured on engines producing huge boost pressure — and the turbo on this thing is set up to give it plenty
- The huge turbo demanded a huge exhaust — it’s five inches off the back of the housing, which was a problem with the inner guard. A section was scalloped out to clear the pipe and lined with Dynaplate heat-proofing to prevent paint blistering
- Fuel of choice is 98RON Shell fuel. Many big turbo builds are running E85 ethanol blend which allows more timing and boost, but it can be hard to find servos that sell E85 around Adam’s way
- Adam hand-finished the custom overflow tanks on the firewall, the Hogan intake manifold, the fuel rails, the custom radiator and intercooler cores, the intricate custom brace for the mufflers near the exhaust tips and the fuel cell in the boot
- Other almost-hidden pieces of fab work you’ll find in HARDHT’s engine bay include the industrial-looking engine mounts, radiator mounts and the one-piece looking radiator and intercooler cores
- With many drive-belts reversed, the front of the engine is clean, while the wiring has been tucked away to keep it neat. The LS1 coil packs are under the guards, neatly out of harm’s way. If you didn’t know better, you wouldn’t think it was a drivable car
ADAM & STEPHANIE BARNES
1969 HT HOLDEN MONARO
Colour: Glasurit Mercedes Silver-Grey
Brand: Chevrolet LSX, 440ci
Induction: Custom Hogan EFI
Turbo: Precision 101mm
Camshaft: C&V Turbo
Sump: Moroso, customised
Fuel pump: Magnafuel 750
Cooling: Custom radiator, Spal thermo fan
Exhaust: Custom steam-pipe headers, five-inch dump pipe, twin four-inch system
Ignition: Stock coil packs, custom leads
ECU: Big Stuff 3
Gearbox: Tremec T56 six-speed manual
Clutch: Textralia triple-plate
Tailshaft: Custom four-inch
Diff: Detroit Truetrac, 3.9:1 final drive, 31-spline Moser axles
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: HT crossmember with tubular arms, coil-over shocks
Rear: Nolathane bushes, reset leaves with Caltrac bars
Steering: Modified UC Torana
Brakes: VY Commodore discs, Wilwood twin-piston calipers (f), HQ drums (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
RIMS & RUBBER
Wheels: Intro Vista, 20x8 (f), 20x12 (r)
Tyres: Pirelli 235/30/20 (f), 325/25/20 (r)