SMOOTH OPERATOR – 1976 HJ GTS

For building supervisor, Patrick Rando, cars were a way of life from a very early age. Growing up in a family of rev heads and having three older brothers, the pressure to build killer cars was full on. “We all started riding motorbikes, building bush bombs and then eventually moving onto modified cars as we grew older. Even my old man was into cars – he would take us to the drags and all sorts of other car events. He had a custom built, overlander HZ wagon we used to call “Bigfoot”. It was a weapon. Whatever we wanted to do with cars, dad supported us through and through” Pat said. It wasn’t long before the competition was on between the boys and some serious cars were rolling out of the family garage.

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Seventeen at the time; Pat was ready to create something impressive of his own, so he purchased a ’76 model HJ GTS Monaro. “It was pretty rough around the edges, but of course I loved it, it was my own after all. I drove it for a year and a half before I pulled it off the road for the first resto.  It was later at Motorvation in 2010 that I broke it and took it off the road for the full rebuild.  I made the decision right there and then that it was time to get serious” Armed with a million and one ideas, Pat sent the car off to Greg Hogan at Striped Bare to get blasted.

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“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I went to collect the car. My mint body was far from mint. It was almost laughable at how bad it was. I was stuck, so the build had to go on” Pat explained. It was Sam Rhodes from Vulcan Panel & Paint that instructed Pat to take the car back to bare metal so he could commence his work. A master of his trade, the HZ would never be the same. “I couldn’t be happier with the job they delivered. I was stoked with it” said Pat.

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The car is arrow straight and looks absolutely amazing in the Mazda Cherry Black ‘Radiant Ebony’. “Originally I wanted to go with Candy Apple red but Sam talked me out of it, and I am glad he did. The car looks both tough and classy now” The fully moulded, steel, reverse cowl scoop certainly adds to that tough look while the fresh chrome work adds some more class to the finish.

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Wanting to get maximum impact with the stance on the car, Pat approached Stan and Rita at Hicraft Wheelmodz. Stan measured the car up for the perfect wheel fit and supplied the Intro V- Rod wheels – 19x8s with 225/35s and 20x10s with 275/30s. A slight tub job on the backend had Stan offering some more advice along with diff measurements to suit. To say the car sits right these days is an understatement.

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It was good mate Brett Radford from 2 Tone Motor Trimming, in Walliston that stepped up to the plate and hit a home run in the trimming stakes. He fitted the VZ HSV font buckets (with deleted headrests) and remade the rear bench to replicate the same shape. The seats were then trimmed in a combination of tan leather and black suede – two-tone baby! The custom door panels look the goods as does the boxed in trunk. Pat kept it clean and simple with the rest of the cabin – the GTS wheel and instrumentation look the goods, and the B&M shifter practically disappears into the dark carpet. “Brett nailed it for me. When I saw the product, I was happy for both us. He did himself proud.”

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Of course, the car looks good and rest assured – she goes just as well. It wouldn’t be a proper build without some horses under the bonnet and anybody who ventured down to Motorvation this year got a taste of the Monaros fury – it was killing tyres with the best of them! Powering the big girl is 5.7-litre LS1 built by Chris at Robson Performance.  Flat top pistons, a Crane camshaft and some hefty headwork, improve the small block while the inclusion of the Black Diamond 750cfm carby on an Edelbrock manifold brings the fuel to the MSD fire. Di Filippo 4 into 1 headers reach out to the twin, three-inch, stainless steel exhaust system. Sandro and Gino at SCM Race Engines & Performance had the Monaro spinning the rollers and producing a sweet 400hp.

(Since the shoot a few years ago now, the powertrain has copped a major overhaul. The car currently runs a worked LSA 6.2L, with custom grind camshaft and a Harrop 2300 supercharger, making around 610hp)

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A manualised Turbo 400 is sorted with a Dominator 3,800rpm stall – perfect for street duties with a side of arse kicking. Who else but Final Drive Engineering would supply the shortened; TruTrac equipped 9-inch rear end. Wanting to stop as much as he likes to go, Pat fitted the HJ with Wilwood, 4-piston disc brakes on the front with HSV discs on the rear. Fully adjustable shocks and Dobinson ‘SL’ springs get the car down and amongst the weeds.

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“I loved seeing all my ideas and work come together after the long build. To be able to stand back and see the car turn out exactly how I envisaged is like a dream come true. The nice comments and the positive feedback at Motorvation was a huge thing for me, and I was absolutely floored when the car made the Top Ten. That was never expected and was a massive surprise. I was super proud of the hard work that we all put into the car. The trophy just cemented the quality of the build” said Pat. It doesn’t really stop there though; Pat already had some more plans for the car and wants to see the car sporting a big cube, big power LS to really make driving fun. Round three for the HJ looks like it could be fun.

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