A bar­gain on ebay

Australian Muscle Car - - Bck In The Day -

As it hap­pened, the car was sit­ting at Rex Mon­a­han’s place in Nagam­bie near Shep­par­ton when Luke Dimech bought it. He ew down to in­spect and pick up his pur­chase.

“I had no idea how I was go­ing to move it or what I was go­ing to do with it, but when I ar­rived Rex was fan­tas­tic. He lent me his ute and trailer so that I could move the car to my cousin’s place in Hurst­bridge, in the outer north of Mel­bourne.

“Rex even said stay at my place and don’t bother with a mo­tel, so I took him out to din­ner and spent the evening hav­ing a pub meal and shar­ing lots of re­ally cool Holden Dealer Team sto­ries.

“The irony of the fact that I moved it to Hurst­bridge, which of course was the home of Peter Brock, was not lost on me but the Monaro was stored there for a while ‘till I gured out what to do with it.”

The old rally Monaro got plenty of at­ten­tion on the drive down with just about ev­ery sec­ond car ei­ther slow­ing down or honk­ing the horn to ac­knowl­edge the old ‘HDT’ ma­chine, ac­cord­ing to Luke.

“Once I got back to my cousin’s place we were stand­ing around the car hav­ing a beer and he said we should try and start it. So we

red it up and it started al­most rst go, which was amaz­ing.”

It sat at his cousin’s for a few months while Luke gured out a strat­egy for get­ting the car back in shape.

Luke, a met­al­lur­gi­cal en­gi­neer in the min­ing in­dus­try, had ral­lied a Dat­sun for a while at univer­sity in his na­tive South Aus­tralia. His brother Neil still lived in Ade­laide and new of a re­tired panel beater/spray painter, Gra­ham Jensen, who was the fa­ther of a friend who could do the restora­tion.

“It was on the ba­sis that he would do the car when he had spare time and he made sure I knew that he spent a good part of the year car­a­van­ning, but it was ne with me be­cause I wanted a good job but was not in a hurry and wanted to keep the costs down.”

Luke’s brother Neil got the car across to Ade­laide to get the ball rolling to give the Monaro a birth­day, with the aim of keep­ing it as orig­i­nal as pos­si­ble, straight­en­ing out pan­els and giv­ing it a fresh paint job

“It had a lit­tle bit of rust, but not much for an old Monaro es­pe­cially since it had been sit­ting in Rex’s shed for about four years.

Even­tu­ally af­ter a cou­ple of years of part time work by Gra­ham Jensen the Monaro was back in shape. Luke was keen in­stall a 350 Chev in lace of the 308, and so af­ter a false start with a dud sec­ond-hand en­gine, he had a new en­gine built by Kevin Stan­ley of Stan­ley Au­to­mo­tive in Ade­laide, and matched it to a Turbo Hy­dra­matic three-speed GM auto. The auto was han­dled by some­time Dat­sun ral­ly­ist, Glenn ‘the trans­mis­sion ma­gi­cian,’ as Luke calls him, from the Bris­bane sub­urb of Darra.

“In build­ing the new donk, Kevin used a new cast block in the old style so we didn’t have to worry about cor­ro­sion or any of the prob­lems with the old block.

“As I say I’m a met­al­lur­gi­cal en­gi­neer by pro­fes­sion, so I knew some of the de­fect is­sues you could get with an old block cast in the 1960s, so it is a new block with the ad­van­tages of pre­ci­sion ma­chin­ing.

“It has some great heads off a dud 350 we had bought, it’s got a fan­tas­tic crank and when we put it on the en­gine dyno it pro­duced 405 horse­power, which is just phe­nom­e­nal,” said Luke with a smile.

The car is now back with Luke in Bris­bane where he lives. The day we met with Luke and Ken Cu­sack, who drove up from his home on the Gold Coast, it was at the Narangba work­shop of noted Queens­land rally ex­po­nent, Keith Fack­er­all. A lot of the nal de­tail and safety work such as seat mounts, har­nesses and tun­ing has been han­dled by Keith and his team at KCF Rallysport.

Ken Cu­sack is still in­cred­i­bly fond of the big car. If cir­cum­stances were dif­fer­ent, he would still love to have the Monaro in his life. But he also ac­knowl­edges that Luke has saved it, and has done a great job in giv­ing it a new lease of life.

“Af­ter the di­vorce and with my three kids show­ing no in­ter­est in the Monaro, and my com­mer­cial ying work saw me liv­ing on the Gold Coast in Queens­land and with no chance to use or run the car, I sadly de­cided to sell it,” said Ken.

More re­cently an episode of bowel cancer and the chemo ther­apy that went with it has seen Ken re­tire. Thank­fully he has beaten the cancer and is en­joy­ing re­tire­ment on the Gold Coast

‘With the Monaro in safe hands thanks to Luke buy­ing and restor­ing it I am very pleased to see it will still be turn­ing heads and throw­ing rocks at spec­ta­tors and I can now spend my days as chief bikini in­spec­tor from the bar at the Burleigh Heads Surf Club,” said Ken with a smile.

Cur­rent owner Luke Dimech and for­mer owner Ken Cu­sack, re­united with the old Monaro in which he started ralling way back in 1972!

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