BLACK GOLD

Street Machine - - Contents -

Bren­dan Cherry swaps his AGRO-01 HQ for a show-wor­thy, big-grunt twin-turbo HK

THEY say that change is as good as a hol­i­day, al­though I’m sure many would hap­pily em­brace the sta­tus quo if it meant own­ing an eight­sec­ond HQ coupe. But if the pas­sion for a cer­tain build has run its course or there’s the burn­ing feel­ing of un­fin­ished busi­ness, maybe it is time to change things up.

Street Ma­chine Drag Chal­lenge stal­wart and burnout en­thu­si­ast Bren­dan Cherry was at these ex­act crossroads ear­lier this year. “My AGRO01 HQ Monaro was in a great place with its twin-turbo 408-cube LS combo and a heap of cruis­ing and rac­ing un­der its belt, but I was start­ing to get a lit­tle bored,” he ex­plains. “My ul­ti­mate car has long been an HK Monaro, but own­ing one just plain eluded me. If the right car popped up I couldn’t af­ford it, or if I had some cash to throw around there was noth­ing de­cent on of­fer.”

So one evening Bren­dan de­cided to post a wanted ad for an HK on Face­book, just to ca­su­ally see what may have been up for grabs. Next minute he’d laid down a healthy de­posit on this show ’n’ go Monaro from Queens­land dubbed SIRHK, and his HQ was on the mar­ket.

“It all hap­pened so fast,” he says. “When the orig­i­nal owner, Scott Bliss, sent me pho­tos of the car I couldn’t say no. I bought it sight un­seen and im­me­di­ately ad­ver­tised the HQ; that sold within 18 hours of list­ing it!”

The now-candy green HQ found its way to a new home – mi­nus his trade­mark AGRO-01 plates of course – and Bren­dan read­ied him­self for the ar­rival of his new ride. “The two-week wait was a killer,” he says. “It was a fresh car on the scene and built in Mackay; Scott had shown it at Motorex in Syd­ney, but that was it. I knew it was a qual­ity thing, but the fin­ish in the flesh knocked me for six; you just know it’s been done right. It is prob­a­bly a bit too nice for me and how I treat cars though!”

So with the HK safely nes­tled at Bren­dan’s digs, he hatched a plan to ready the car for this year’s Drag Chal­lenge. The Monaro was al­ready big block-pow­ered and sport­ing EFI, which cleared two large hur­dles, and had been prop­erly ‘caged and tubbed – the lat­ter to house a set of fat FR18 Sim­mons rims.

“The wheels were the first thing to go, be­cause it needed to be dragspec, not the show look,” Bren­dan says. “That, along with a change to the ride height, meant a re­set of the pin­ion an­gles, which wasn’t easy since the trans­mis­sion tun­nel had to be mod­i­fied to suit.

“I want the car to run eights on a small tyre, so next on the agenda was to step up the ‘go’ side,” he con­tin­ues. “I did race it as-bought, and laid down an N/A 11-flat at 127mph, so it had some grunt to match its showy looks. Mind you, that was with a shit­load of wheel­spin and a dis­mal 2.2-sec­ond 60-foot time! I was rapt when I changed from a sin­gle turbo to twins with the HQ, so de­cided on the same set-up for this one.”

The car was sent to Stroke Me Rac­ing Fab­ri­ca­tion to have the twin-turbo in­stal­la­tion sorted, which in­volved the fit­ment of a pair of Borg­warner S480 80mm units matched to Tur­bosmart waste­gates, along with a cus­tom in­ter­cooler plumbed via cus­tom stain­less pipes.

The process of fit­ting a heavy-breath­ing combo like this and ac­tu­ally mak­ing it pump out re­li­able ned­dies was made sig­nif­i­cantly eas­ier due to the en­gine al­ready in the HK be­ing no shrink­ing vi­o­let. Un­der Scott’s tute­lage, the Monaro was specced with a ni­trous-ready 572-cube Mer­lin big-block Chev, run­ning a Cal­lies crank and Oliver con­rods, while Mer­lin 3.0 al­loy heads were topped with an Edel­brock in­take and a Hol­ley throt­tle­body.

Bren­dan’s horse­power needs were sorted at Ka­naris En­gines with a cam change and fit­ment of ID 2200 in­jec­tors, and the ex­ist­ing FAST XFI ECU was re­pro­grammed to suit.

An E85 diet is fed via a trio of Wal­bro 460S fuel pumps, with the re­sult­ing ex­haust whisked away through a cus­tom twin 3.5-inch sys­tem. A hefty alu­minium ra­di­a­tor was cho­sen to keep both the street and strip temps in check, and since these pho­tos were taken, the ig­ni­tion has been up­graded to a crank trig­ger sys­tem us­ing a brace of LS3 coils.

A Turbo 400 trans­mis­sion con­tain­ing all the fruit was built by An­drew from Pre­ston Au­to­mat­ics, along with a TCE 3200 con­verter – both nec­es­sary up­grades as Bren­dan and Frank from Allsparks Per­for­mance re­fine the sig­nif­i­cant boost in horse­power.

“There have been a few teething prob­lems, as you’d ex­pect from a brand new build; there were only 214 miles on the clock when the HK ar­rived,” Bren­dan says. “But we are start­ing to see great po­ten­tial with this car and have seen 1000rwhp on the dyno, with more to come with fur­ther tun­ing.”

An­other pro­jected change will be a switch to 3.2 gears from the cur­rent 3.5s

BREN­DAN DE­SCRIBES SPRAY PAINTER BODY AND PAINT THE MONARO’S THAT’S NOT HIM AS “MINT”, AND TRUM­PET; IT WAS BLOW­ING HIS OWN PACE AT PACE’S THE WORK OF CHRIS AU­TO­MO­TIVE REFINISHING

in the sheet-metal nine-inch, and Bren­dan has al­ready out­fit­ted the rear sus­pen­sion with a se­lec­tion of Gaz­zard Broth­ers com­po­nen­try and AFCO shocks.

The orig­i­nal front end fea­tures Ped­ders springs and 90/10-rate shock ab­sorbers, while a To­rana steer­ing rack con­ver­sion has re­placed the con­ven­tional HK re­cir­cu­lat­ing ball set-up.

A mix of VE Commodore front discs and Wil­wood rears are ac­ti­vated by a Wil­wood mas­ter cylin­der and housed in 17-inch front and 15-inch rear Weld V-se­ries rims wrapped in match­ing Mickey Thomp­son front-run­ners and 255/60 ra­dial R tyres.

Spray painter Bren­dan de­scribes the Monaro’s body and paint as “mint”, and that’s not him blow­ing his own trum­pet; it was the work of Chris Pace at Pace’s Au­to­mo­tive Refinishing in Mackay, who han­dled much of the orig­i­nal build. The body re­mains close to stock apart from delet­ing the fuel filler and swap­ping out the orig­i­nal han­dles for HQ items. The pic­tured re­verse-cowl bon­net has since been re­placed with a ’glass ver­sion that fea­tures more of the orig­i­nal cen­tre press­ings. “I’m happy not to have to paint the car; I’ve got enough to do as it is,” Bren­dan laughs. “Of course I painted the new bon­net and touched up the en­gine bay after the turbo con­ver­sion, but other­wise the ex­te­rior is as-bought.”

The colour is a cus­tom mix dubbed Black Gold, which goes crazy in dif­fer­ent light; I’m not sure whether to call it green, brown, black or gold, so I’ll let you make up your own mind.

If the en­gine and paint haven’t left you speech­less, then swing open one of those big coupe doors and take a peek inside. Mackay’s Jim Mcgill Mo­tor Trim­mers stitched the gor­geous cream leather trim that sur­rounds fac­tory GTS front and rear seats, with the cus­tom sheet-metal con­sole, chrome-moly six-point ’cage and any re­main­ing ad­ja­cent sur­faces fin­ished to match. An HK GTS steer­ing wheel re­tains the Monaro fac­tory mus­cle pedi­gree, while a TCI shifter and Auto Me­ter gauges match its mod­ern per­for­mance ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

“My im­me­di­ate goals for the HK are to com­plete this year’s Drag Chal­lenge, land a spot in the Summernats Top 60 and get it to run mid-eights like my old HQ,” Bren­dan de­clares. “There’s still a lot to do be­fore Drag Chal­lenge, with a heap more tun­ing and set­ting up of both the boost con­trol and trac­tion con­trol to help it all come to­gether, and of course mount­ing a para­chute and get­ting the car An­dra-teched.

“The hard­est part though will be to keep it look­ing as good as it does now; I’m used to hav­ing stone chips and marks on my cars, but will clear-wrap the lower guards on this for Drag Chal­lenge and hope like hell that my mates can keep their grubby mitts off it too! They’ve al­ready nick­named it ‘Tro­phy Hunter’ be­cause of its showy fin­ish, but it’s the rac­ing tin­ware that ap­peals to me more.”

ON THE WARPATH: No stranger to ground-up re­builds, Bren­dan chose a dif­fer­ent path this time around, buy­ing the HK as a fin­ished build. “I know this car has been done right. There are so many lit­tle things I’ve spot­ted like cus­tom CNCED wash­ers un­der the bolts,” he says. “There’s still plenty to do be­fore this year’s Drag Chal­lenge but the big­gest hur­dle has been a lack of track time. We’ve been wait­ing months for Calder Park to re-open, so can only hope we get some de­cent runs in be­fore the event

EN­GINE BAY: A Mer­lin-based 572ci BBC was al­ready front and cen­tre when Bren­dan bought the HK, so the twin Borg­warner S480 turbo set-up and sup­port­ing plumb­ing and fuel sys­tem re­quire­ments were added to the ex­ist­ing combo. “Go­ing from an LS in my HQ to a big-block has been a to­tally dif­fer­ent ball­game,” Bren­dan says. “The torque and easy power this en­gine makes at low boost is in­cred­i­ble!”

The Gts-based in­te­rior fix­tures were trimmed in cream leather by Jim Mcgill Mo­tor Trim­mers, with the ’cage and dash frame painted to match. Bren­dan hopes he can keep the show-spec fin­ish look­ing schmick through­out the im­mi­nent rigours of Drag Chal­lenge and reg­u­lar street use. “I think I’ll just whip up a set of seat cov­ers that blan­ket the en­tire in­te­rior,” he laughs

Vis­ually the Monaro re­mains as-pur­chased save for a set of dragfriendly Weld V-se­ries rims that re­placed big-inch Sim­mons FR18S. The shapeshift­ing Black Gold hue has been lav­ished over a near-stock ex­te­rior, save for a re­verse-cowl bon­net (now changed to a fi­bre­glass item), HQ door han­dles and the shaving of all badge­work

BREN­DAN CHERRY 1968 HOLDEN HK MONARO Colour: Black Gold DONK

En­gine: Chevro­let 572ci Block: Mer­lin Tur­bos: Borg­warner S480 In­take: Edel­brock Throt­tle­body: Hol­ley Heads: Mer­lin 3.0 al­loy Crank: Cal­lies Rods: Oliver Cam: Cus­tom roller ECU: FAST XFI 2.0 Ig­ni­tion: 8 x LS3 coils, crank trig­ger Ex­haust: Cus­tom 4-into-1 head­ers, twin 3.5in sys­tem SHIFT

Trans­mis­sion: Turbo 400 Con­verter: TCE 3200 stall Diff: Fab­ri­cated 9in, 3.5:1 gears

BE­NEATH Front: Ped­ders coils, 90/10 shocks Rear: Gaz­zard Bros monoleaf, AFCO shock ab­sorbers Brakes: VE Commodore discs (f), Wil­wood discs (r); Wil­wood mas­ter cylin­der ROLLING STOCK

Rims: Weld V-se­ries 17x4 (f), Weld V-se­ries bead­lock 15x8.5 (r) Tyres: M/T front run­ners (f), M/T 255/60 Ra­dial R (r) THANKS

Allsparks Per­for­mance; Pre­ston Au­to­mat­ics & Dif­fer­en­tials; Stroke Me Rac­ing Fab­ri­ca­tion; Ka­naris En­gines; Scott, the pre­vi­ous owner for sell­ing me such an awe­some car to start with!

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