Regardless of which side of the Holden/Ford fence you sit on, it’s pretty bloody hard to argue that the HQ coupe isn’t one of the coolest shapes ever to roll off an Aussie production line. Greg Eslick certainly thinks so, and his beastly slammed, LS3-equipped, badarse-black ’71 HQ Monaro is a properly good example of how to go about taking one to the next level.
First published in the May 2023 issue of Street Machine
Greg first got the coupe around 12 years ago, when it was wearing red paint and harbouring an injected five-litre. “It was a good runner, but then it got an oil leak, and what was meant to be a simple fix turned into a full nut-and-bolt deal,” says Greg, who’s a bricklayer by day.
Greg and his good mate Damien Reeves spent the next three or so years building the HQ after hours in Damien’s shed, creating what would become a Summernats Top 60-worthy machine. “
As we kept going, the build just kept getting more involved, to the point where I was even linishing the markings off bolts – there’s so much you don’t see that we did in the finer details,” Greg says. “The car only left Damien’s shed to get painted; we did pretty well everything else.”
The upgrades obviously weren’t just cosmetic, with the Quey’s iron lion making way for an LS3 crate motor. Right now, the mill is pretty much stock, aside from the Comp Cams stick and Holley dual-quad manifold with dual 4150 EFI throttlebodies.
“The LS just made sense; it’s easy power and works well for a cruiser,” says Greg. Running Holley EFI, the combo hasn’t been on the dyno, but Greg says she cruises well with plenty of pep. Behind the Bowtie mill is a TH400 ’box and a 31-spline nine-inch nestled under a pair of widened tubs.
When the HQ was unveiled at Street Machine Summernats 32, it was wearing a set of 22-inch wire wheels (read more, below) and slammed on airbags. Now it sits on a set of Weld rims and uses Viking coil-overs in the front. “The wire wheels worked well at the shows, but I wanted to change the look afterwards, and I went to coil-overs in the front to make it drive a bit better, because the ’bags tended to mess up the alignment,” Greg explains.
Step inside the big ’Q and you won’t be greeted by another run-of-the-mill GTS interior. The Monaro is instead adorned with beautiful red Nappa leather, put together by Richard from Instyle Custom Trim. It starts down as far as the floor, covering everything from the dash and steering wheel to the scuff panels.
As for the seats, they’re electrically adjustable units from a CV8 Monaro, wrapped in diamond-stitch trim. “I’d had a vision of the black paint with red exterior during the build, and I think they both work together really well,” Greg says.
Of course, there wouldn’t be much point spending this much moolah on the interior if it was going to be tossed inside a paddock bomb, so the Quey’s exterior is just as special. Greg wanted a nice slick black, but there’s also plenty of cool body mods that take a moment to notice. The door and boot locks have been deleted, as have the rear-quarter lights.
The sills have also been extended by 50mm, further contributing to the low stance Greg was after. “We spent a lot of time getting the finer details right on the body, which is super-important when you’ve got a bloody black car, because it shows everything!” he laughs.
The colour and final bodywork were taken care of by Jason Hoctor. The judges at ’Nats 32 certainly thought the work paid off, with the coupe landing in the Top 60 and scoring a Rare Spares Encouragement Award.
“That was pretty cool, and having it unveiled at Australia’s biggest car event was a cool bucket-list moment,” says Greg. “We also got into the Superstars pavilion at MotorEx, but going to those shows is a lot of work, so now I just want to enjoy it.”
And enjoy it he has, with Greg taking the HQ to a number of car shows around his local Geelong area, as well as the occasional cruise with mates. “That’s really what I built it for; that’s why it has four cup holders built into it!” he laughs.
As for future plans for the big ’Q, Greg is currently looking into throwing some forced induction onto the LS3. “I’ll probably go for a blower; I’m just sorting out which one I can fit under the bonnet, because I still want to keep the original HQ lines,” he says.
“But this is a forever car. That’s why we put so much effort into it, and it’s turned out better than I could’ve ever imagined.”
When Greg’s HQ debuted at Summernats 32 in 2019, it was wearing an eye-catching set of 22in wire wheels (above). They did the trick, with the coupe making the Top 60 and scoring a Rare Spares Encouragement Award.
The Quey also bagged a Superstars qualifier berth at MotorEx 2019, and won Top Holden at Showcars Melbourne the same year.
1971 HQ HOLDEN MONARO
|Glasurit Straight Black
|Bosch 044 pump
|Custom 17/8in extractors, twin 3in system
|9in, 31-spline axles, 3.9:1 gears
|SUSPENSION & BRAKES
|Pedders shocks, AccuAir airbags
|Wilwood discs (f & r)
|WHEELS & TYRES
|Weld Racing V-Series; 18×6 (f), 15×9 (r)
|Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R 26×6.00R18 (f), Mickey Thompson ET Street 275/50R15 (r)
Damien Reeves; Jason Hoctor for paint and panel; Richard at Instyle Custom Trim; Race Parts Melbourne; Andrew Darby at Moolap Mufflers; Ryan at Race Coatings; Andrew Tribe at Werribee Brake & Clutch; Shannon Jennings for pinstriping; Kellie Smith; Shannon Reeves; and my partner Melinda.