Paul Fava’s LS-swapped 1968 HK Monaro

Paul Fava's HK Monaro blends base-model charm with LS punch

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

Those in the drag racing fraternity are likely to know Paul Fava for his exploits in KILLAQ, his LSA-powered HQ Kingswood that’s partial to a serious wheel-lift once in a while. While the 1000hp Quey is perfect for mauling quarter-miles, in early 2020 Paul found himself wanting a more road-friendly ride to cruise around Victoria. “I just wanted to have a good, tough streeter I could take to car shows, do a bit of drag racing in and just enjoy,” the Echuca bloke explains. As car markets fell into chaos in March 2020, Paul made his move on this HK Monaro. “At the very start of COVID, business people started going, ‘Shit, I’ve gotta sell some stuff because things are gonna get real bad,’” he says. “As you know, everything then went the opposite way – it went through the roof instead! But a few people shit themselves at the start, and I jumped on it then.”

First published in the July 2022 issue of Street Machine

It was an astute decision, but while the Monaro was in reasonable shape, it wasn’t quite to Paul’s style. “It wasn’t my cup of tea, and it needed a resto,” he says. “The paint was all blistering, so we took the paint off and did a bare-metal respray.”

Shepparton’s Matt Taylor sprayed the car in its factory-optioned Kingston Cream, a tint offered on run-of-the mill HK coupes. In a world of GTS-coloured builds, it stands out from the crowd. “You don’t ever see [this colour],” Paul says. “It’s a factory 186 car, so I wanted to keep it along that path with a bit of a spin.”

Aside from the paint, other body mods include a smoothed engine bay and mini-tubs out back by MTS Custom Fabrications. Paul gave the chassis rails some minor surgery too, moving the rear spring hangers inward to accommodate the new set-up. Paul couldn’t say no to GTS styling entirely, adding a set of iconic black stripes and red-piped wheelarch trims. Another requisite touch was an interior swap, with the original colour turfed in favour of Goya Red to further complement the exterior trim accents. “It was originally a Buckskin beige interior, but it had to be the red,” Paul says.

Given his prior experience with tough LS mills, Paul didn’t struggle to choose a powerplant, and knew just who could help. Geelong guru Tim Holmyard put together the combo, which is built on a stock-bottom-end LS1 with Higgins CNC heads. It’s topped with a Holley single-plane manifold and Pro Systems 950 carby sucking pump 98. With the mill spitting out a healthy 550hp at the crank, Paul’s confident he made the right call. “You can take it anywhere; drive it down the highway, to Bright, everywhere,” he enthuses. “I can’t fault Tim; he’s a machine. I call him The Professor!”

Behind the donk is a transbraked Paul Rogers-built Powerglide matched to a 4200rpm TCI converter, while a tailshaft by A1 Automotive spins a nine-inch diff with a full spool and peppy 4.11 gears.

The stocker 1968-spec Monaro brakes weren’t quite cut out for 550 horses, so Paul bolted up HQ stub axles with matching discs, plus rear drums of the same vintage. Assistance comes from a Wilwood master cylinder on an HQ booster. He chose to keep it simple with the original manual steering box still in place.

All in all, Paul says the build took about seven months, wrapping up at the tail-end of 2020. More pandemic drama meant the car was mothballed for much of 2021, though Paul managed to hit Bright in November for the unofficial rod run. He followed up with a crack at Heathcote Park Raceway’s Holden Nationals, where the car ran consistent 11.4-second ETs.

Though Paul’s built an ideal street/strip beast, he’s since shifted focus to a couple of new Holden projects. The main event is an HR ute that’s destined to run a six-litre LS powerplant topped with an 8/71 blower and twin carbies, plus huge 15×15 rear meats. “It’s slammed, and it will be pretty pissed off,” Paul says. He’s also got a mini-tubbed HR van in the works as a matching tow car and sleeper. In other words, watch this space!


Paint: Kingston Cream
Brand: 5.7L LS1
Induction: Pro Systems 950cfm carburettor
Heads: CNC-ported Higgins
Camshaft: Comp Cams
Fuel system: Fuel cell, Holley pump
Cooling: PWR radiator, thermo fan
Exhaust: Custom Gonzo’s Racing Pipes, Hooker mufflers
Gearbox: Paul Rogers Powerglide, transbraked
Converter: TCI 4200rpm stall
Tailshaft: A1 Automotive
Diff: 9in, full spool, 4.11:1 gears
Front: Standard
Rear: Reset leaf springs
Brakes: HQ discs (f), HQ drums (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
Steering: Factory unassisted
Rims: Weld AlumaStar; 15×3.5 (f), 15×10 (r)
Rubber: Hankook Kinergy 165/80R15 (f), Mastercraft Avenger G/T 295/50R15 (r)

Tim Holmyard builds a killer motor and fits them awesomely, and is always good to have a beer with; Treddy for his unbelievable wiring skills – the best in the business; Gonzo for his magical touch with the exhaust; Jake from MTS Custom Fabrications for the tubs and VB; most of all, my beautiful daughter Lexi Fava for helping me put it together and spending hours in the shed with me – heaps of fridge runs and spanner passing. I love her!