Paul Harris’s Holden HG Monaro GTS

We caught up with former drag competitor Paul Harris and his tidy green HG Monaro at the recent Bronze by the Lake charity fundraiser at Lakeside Raceway

Photographers: Ashleigh Wilson

We spotted a tidy green HG Monaro hauling around Lakeside recently, and once we got chatting to its owner, Paul Harris, we discovered that he was a bit of a Willowbank legend back in the day.

Geez mate, you don’t mind giving this thing a bit of curry!

Yep, I probably don’t care about this car being a Monaro as much as I should [laughs]. But hey, there’s no point having cars if you’re not prepared to go out and enjoy them. I’ve given the HG a hiding today, but it’s enjoyed and handled every minute of it.

It’s just a no-fuss, pump-fuel, reliable combination that I drive a heap of street miles in, too. I’ll hopefully race it at a Drag Challenge event in the future. I did get beaten by a Sigma wagon today though, so I better lift my game!

How long have you owned it?

I bought it off a family friend about 17 years ago who’d owned it since new. It had heaps of rust and had copped some very average repairs over the years. It is a genuine GTS though, and still had the original 253, which I’ve tucked away for safekeeping.

I used to regularly drag race, and back then I had Gerry Cooper at Advanced Engine Performance build me a stout, cast VN-headed 355ci stroker for an HQ ute and later an HK sedan I had [pictured below]. It was pretty quick back in the early 2000s – the red HK ran an N/A 10.95@125mph best – so I went back and saw Gerry years later to build me a similar thing for the HG.

Did this red HK have a white roof and Pro Stars? It was a bit of a wheel-popper, from memory.

Yep, that’d be it. In the late 90s I was class runner-up at one of the Performance Street Car Shootouts, and I later won the Individual Challenge at the first Cruzin Nostalgia Drags. In amongst those years were a number of wins and runner-up placings at the Willowbank Street Series, so I did pretty well for a dipshit!

A move further north plus work and family commitments meant I drifted away from racing, but I still always loved cars and knew I’d get back into it one day. This HG sat around for a number of years before I got into it, but it came together pretty quickly. I tackled a fair bit of the bodywork myself, plus all of the disassembly and reassembly.

Are you a fan of the Holden V8 in particular?

It’s definitely in the blood. Growing up, my dad had an ex-police HG sedan running a 253, which he later replaced with an HZ Premier wagon that had a tough 308. He then bought a near-new, yellow ex-Highway Patrol 308 VK Commodore, which really sealed the deal.

I had one of those myself as my second car back in 1993, but it got written off by a drunk driver two weeks later. I reckon I’d still own that car if it had survived through to today. HK-T-G Monaros were always an even favourite to the VKs growing up, and still are today.

Any other projects on the books?

I’ve got a pair of HG Holden utes that I’m planning to do something with, like a build-one-from-two scenario. I swear one of them looks like it was owned by Brian Plankkman though, as it’s got all this weird stuff fitted to it. It’s oddly cool, so I’m really tempted to just leave it looking as-is and fit a strong driveline.