Blown WB-fronted custom 1974 Holden HQ GTS Monaro – TUFF HQ

Holden WB Caprice front end on this HQ Monaro is only part of the story. Wait 'til you see the inside

Photographers: Peter Bateman

Outside she’s one awesome (WB-fronted) Holden HQ. Inside it’s a CV8 Monaro!

This article on Jason’s HQ Monaro was originally published in the March 2010 issue of Street Machine

FROM the outside and under the bonnet, Jason Manley’s HQ GTS Monaro is every inch a new millennium street machine. While the basics are the same as they’ve been for 30 years — a classic 70s muscle car stuffed full of grunt and dropped on the latest and greatest rims — these days, boys at the pointy end take things to a level we couldn’t have dreamed of in the early 80s.

Jason’s HQ bristles with the right details that make for a sharp car in 2010: shaved door handles, billet bonnet hinges, monster stoppers and a bonnet that looks like it came from the factory with an 8/71 sticking through it. Old-school but smoother than hell.But inside the cabin you’ll get a surprise. Instead of the classic black HQ seats and dash, you are confronted with a complete CV8 Monaro interior, right down to the electric seats.

“Halfway through building the HQ, I was sitting in my brother’s CV8 and I wondered if the interior would fit into my car,” the Queenslander says. “I asked my mate Mark what he thought, and he looked at me as if I was off the planet [laughs].”

He knew it would be a massive undertaking but the idea had taken root so he raided eBay for a full dash and console unit, seats and door trims, then took the lot to Daltrim on the Gold Coast. “We emptied boxes and boxes of plastic bits and not one of us knew where it all went or if it would fit,” Jason says. “We said: ‘Have fun with that!’ and left them to it.”

The Daltrim crew knew what was what and the CV8 bits now look as if they were created for the HQ. The power seats and windows work a charm. The handbrake was moved and the factory gauge clusters were sent to Dakota Digital in the US to be filled with new internals. About the only thing that gives the game away is the TCI Outlaw shifter but Jason reckons it looks better than the factory unit and that’s hard to deny.

The rest of the build didn’t go quite so smoothly, though. Jason found the car in the Trading Post in 2001.

“It had all the good gear on it, was running a small-block Chevy with a tunnel ram, and was reasonably priced.” So far so good.

Plus, it was a genuine GTS that had been tubbed by John Taverna and had the trans tunnel lifted to allow it to hug the ground. The complete WB Caprice front clip (no guard flutes) was on and it rolled on a set of Center Lines. Cool, but Jason had grander plans. He and his mates stripped it and sent the shell to the panel shop. Which as we all know is the traditional place for the shit to turn sour.

“It was always going to be red; it was just the right shade of red that was imperative. I told the panel shop to paint it Holden Sting Red. They went through eight litres and had to order another four to finish the job but the second batch was brighter. I wasn’t happy so once the car was painted we shelved the project, as I didn’t even want to look at it.”

Custom mini-inner guards, tubular A-arms, billet bonnet hinges and a filled ’n’ smoothed bonnet make for a slick engine bay

Paint aside, the boys did a great job on the body, shaving the boot and door locks and plating up the rear quarter indicators to emphasise the coupe’s smooth, flowing lines. Three months on, Jason calmed down enough to take another look and with another panel shop enlisted, it was sprayed Sting Red a second time.

Turning his attention to the engine, Jason opted for a 498ci big-block Chev topped with an 8/71, just in case. The engine hasn’t been dynoed but with four-bolt mains, Scat crank and rods, SRP forgies and an 8.0:1 static compression ratio, it’s ready to cop a fair whack of boost should Jason ever decide to chase some numbers.

TUFF HQ monogram adorns the polished Wilwood brake calipers, as well as the blower brace and snout

The car was coming together, and with it looking pretty top notch, the boys made the decision to go the whole hog, stick it on a rotisserie and smooth and paint the undercarriage. With yet another painter tasked with the job, disaster struck yet again.

“The paint underneath the car didn’t match the body. It was another mix-up with a different supplier, so that’s when I decided to make my own colour, and Jason’s Red was born.” Which meant shelling out to have the whole car painted a third time.

Airbrushing in the boot, firewall and underneath are the work of Little Mick. “I told him I wanted the 3D exhaust pipes under the car but the rest was out of his imagination”

The car was displayed complete but not running at the Brisbane Hot Rod Show, with a mate’s blower and a borrowed set of Intro Vista rims. The reaction from the public was encouraging and Jason decided to present the car in a more finished form at MotorEx 2009.

“Mark and I took a week off work and got stuck in. We worked night and day and all my mates came over to help out. We even had Gavin at Newlook polishing parts for us in the middle of the night.” The car made MotorEx and won Top Coupe.

Making the factory gauges work without the CV8’s body computer would be kinda tricky, so the boys sent the clusters to Dakota Digital in the US to be fitted with new guts. “We were able to pick and choose what we wanted the gauges to be, put them in km/h or mph and so forth”

For Summernats, the borrowed blower was replaced with a billet 8/71 Blower Shop pump, complete with TUFFHQ logos machined into the snout and support. Boyd Coddington billet rollers were ordered in 20×8.5 and 20×10 and the fronts were cut down to seven inches.

The custom leather CV8 Monaro interior soaked up an amazing 370 hours. To make fast glass work, a set of HQ electric regulators were sourced from eBay for a cool $2000!

The car went straight into the Elite Hall despite more paint woes when the heat in the enclosed trailer created blisters. Nevertheless, the boys had a great time, winning 3rd Best Coupe and a Top 20 spot. They think the paint problem is buried in an earlier layer, so Rene at Paintworx is stripping it right back to fix it, once and for all.

“It’s very satisfying to have built this car in my garage with all my mates, and now everyone can enjoy it. I try to take the car to interstate shows in country areas, like Kandos, as these people may never get to see a car like this unless it’s in a magazine,” Jason says.

Something a lot of people don’t understand about show cars is how someone can pour so much cash, sweat and time into a car, only to ship it from show to show in an enclosed trailer and never drive it.

“The idea is to show the car for a couple of years, then I’ll pull the blower off, put on a side mirror and drive it with my friends and family.”


Colour: Jason’s Red

Brand: Chev 498ci big-block
Blower: Blower Shop billet 8/71
Carbs: Demon 750DP boost-referenced
Heads: Edelbrock alloy
Camshaft: Custom roller
Conrods: Scat
Pistons: SRP forged
Crank: Scat
Oil pump: Mellings high volume
Fuel pump: Magnaflow
Ignition: MSD Digi 6
Cooling: Aussie Desert Cooler
Exhaust: Twin three-inch HPC-coated system

Gearbox: Turbo 400, manualised
Converter: Red Diamond, 3000rpm
Diff: Nine inch, 4.11:1 gears, 35-spline axles

Front: HQ with tubular A-arms
Springs: Lowered, chromed
Shocks: Spray chromed
Brakes: Wilwood four-piston calipers, 330mm rotors

Rims: Boyd Coddington 20×7 (f), 20×10 (r)
Rubber: 22/35/20 (f), 275/40/20 (r)