ADVERSITY can sometimes bring about the creation of something incredible. Take Terry Grant’s HK Monaro, for example – looking at it now, you’d never guess that it was previously a failed resto with bog falling off it. Fortunately, Terry didn’t let that bad experience stop him from transforming it into a beautifully crafted example of the model his dad had always coveted but never owned.
First published in the February 2021 issue of Street Machine. Photos: Chris Thorogood
The front end has a good deal more sparkle than HKs had from the factory. “We chose to leave the front grille and headlight covers in chrome instead of blacking them out like on a standard HK; we felt the chrome highlighted the body colour better,” says Terry. AA Vinney’s took care of replating and polishing all the chrome and stainless trim
“In 1970, my father Ron went to buy a Monaro and came home with a Premier instead. All his life he kept saying: ‘I should have got that Monaro.’ My mate Tony Beatty had bought himself an HK Monaro and restored it to original, like it just rolled off the showroom floor. I said to him: ‘If you ever find another one, let me know, because Dad, my sons and I want to restore one.’ Lo and behold, in six months he rings me to tell me he’s found one.”
The HK was in acceptable condition for the resto-mod Terry was planning, and the seller even offered his services to help turn Terry’s dream into reality. Being a little wet behind the ears, Terry handed over the cash and eagerly awaited updates.
“We were invited to display the Monaro at the Melbourne Hot Rod Show by the show committee, and the first time I drove it was from the trailer into the Exhibition Building,” says Terry. The HK was displayed next to Jack and Heath Madgwick’s EH (SM, Mar ’20), also from the Maskell stable. The SLIKHK number plates were a present to Terry from his sons Jarrod, James and Glen
Once a few holes in the floor were welded up and a section of quarter was replaced with one from a wagon, the Monaro was ready for a lick of paint, and Terry asked Greg Maskell of Maskell’s Customs & Classics if he would take care of it. Greg took one look at the shell and quietly advised Terry that something was awry, so they towed the HK to Wodonga and dunked it in a vat of acid. “It was atrocious,” says Terry. “The GTS guards were full of bog, the floor was welded with either too much heat or not enough, the quarter was marked all over where he’d tried to earth the welder, and where the boot meets the body there was a 30mm gap.”
The usual GTS blackout around the tail-lights and the stripe over the bonnet, roof and boot have been recreated in silver. “When we were in LA, we spotted a brand new Cobra that was dark silver with light silver stripes,” says Terry. “That was the look I wanted to work with. Greg asks everyone: ‘Is the stripe lighter or darker than the car?’”
With lessons learned, Terry handed the project over to the team at Maskell’s, who started by repairing the damage from the first ‘build’. They cut out the botched quarter and rolled new steel to replace it, while also repairing the floor and more rust that had been missed the first time. Intro Vista 18s were chosen to supplement the street-neat theme, and the body was dropped over them so that the final ride height could be set. Many hours were spent straightening every panel and setting every gap, and the results speak for themselves. The colour chosen for the body is PPG Nickel, taken straight from Terry’s HSV Grange and laid down by Greg.
Since Terry just wanted a nice cruiser, there was no need to reach for the top-shelf race gear when it came to choosing the driveline. The donk is nothing flash; just a basic small-block Chev from Engine Master Australia, with cast-iron Vortec heads, a mild Comp cam, ICE ignition bits and a 600 Holley on top of an Edelbrock intake. Backing it up is a TH350 and nine-inch with cruisy 3.0:1 gears. The exhaust was built by Maskell’s, and the mufflers were tucked up into the floor to allow for more ground clearance when Terry fills the car with his family and hits the road.
The resto-mod theme continues under the car, with a complete front suspension set-up from Castlemaine Rod Shop, including Viking coil-overs and power rack-and-pinion steering. The rear end hangs off standard leaf springs with double-adjustable Viking shocks to control the bumps. The Rod Shop also supplied the four-piston Wilwood disc brakes bolted to every corner, so the Monaro stops and steers better than it ever did from the factory.
The boot is an exercise in restraint, with the spare wheel clearly visible but neat covers hiding all the other important bits. The battery is in the left quarter, while the windscreen washer and twin CRS brake boosters are hidden behind the rear seats
Climbing inside the cabin is like taking the TARDIS right back to 1968, as there appears to be nothing but factory GTS appointments. “I sent the seat frames over to Winner Products in Adelaide,” says Terry. “They resprung them, replaced the foams and fitted the trims. They also supplied the carpet, kick panels and golfball headlining; they did a great job.” The Dashboard Doctor resurrected the dash, and Neil from Benalla Motor Trimming was called in to take care of the uber-neat boot trim, using the same materials and patterns used for the doors and seats. The GTS wheel and tacho are Rare Spares parts, Vehglass supplied new glass for the entire car, and Terry had the classic-style shifter knob made by a bloke he met at SEMA.
Being a family cruiser and having already copped a few comfort mods, modern air con was a natural fit for the Monaro. Gone is the ugly plastic box in the engine bay, replaced with a set-up from TCR Carponents that is completely hidden behind the dash and operated with the factory HK controls
SLIKHK has come a long way from where it began, and Terry has nothing but kind words to say about those who helped bring the project to life. “Greg asked if I wanted a show car,” he recalls. “I said if it could just be a head-turner, it would make my day, as it would be something that my father would have loved. It was never designed to win trophies!”
With the Monaro taking home tinware for first place in Street Neat 1960-1970 from the 2020 Melbourne Hot Rod Show and Top Holden at Showcars Melbourne 2020, it’s fair to say the Maskell’s team have gone above and beyond Terry’s initial vision for the car. “It’s been a great journey, and we ended up with this beautiful car,” he says proudly.
1968 HOLDEN HK MONARO
Paint: PPG Nickel
Carb: Holley 600cfm vac-secondary
Heads: Chev Vortec
Sump: High Energy
Exhaust: Maskell’s custom
Radiator: Aussie Desert Cooler
Converter: Dominator 2500rpm
Diff: 9in, 3.0:1 gears
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: Viking coil-overs
Rear: Double-adjustable Viking shocks, standard leaf springs
Brakes: Wilwood (f & r)
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Intro Vista; 18×7 (f), 18×9 (r)
Rubber: Bridgestone Potenza S001; 225/40/18 (f), 255/35/18 (r)
Maskell’s Customs & Classics – a dedicated team of professional car builders who have transformed a dream into reality; the staff at Winner Products for the re-creation of a classic 1968 interior; TCR Carponents for the electronics that made 2020 technology work in a ’68 dashboard; AA Vinney’s for the chrome work; Neil of Benalla Motor Trimmers for his craftsmanship with our boot fit-out; all the manufacturers and suppliers who helped to make this car what it is; my sons Jarrod, James and Glen for all their input