After five months’ work by Holden and their partners, the ‘Project Monaro’ build has been completed.
Revealed by Craig Lowndes at Holden headquarters in November, the ‘Project Monaro’ is the major prize in a competition that was announced in July and will be drawn in March, 2020.
As the ambassador for Project Monaro, Lowndes presented a series of YouTube documentaries of the rebuild and took it for some of its first laps at the Holden Proving Ground at Lang Lang.
“How awesome is this car – it is seriously something special and it sounds great! I’ve had an absolute ball driving this around,” said Lowndes.
The finished Monaro is a long way from how it was received by Holden. The 2004-model VZ Monaro CV8 had 214,000km on the odometer and was clean, but tired in some areas.
To turn the second-hand Monaro into something better than new, Holden design and engineering staff started by addressing the “big three” driving dynamics – Go, Stop and Turn.
Go, Stop and Turn
Starting with the ‘go’ department, the car’s original 5.7-litre LS1 V8 was removed and completely rebuilt by Maurice Fabietti of Fabietti Race Engines, who also runs the AC Delco-sponsored Monaro Pro Slammer. Fabietti replaced the stock camshaft with a Chevrolet Performance cam from Eagle Auto. A US-spec exhaust system, as used on the Pontiac GTO-badged versions of the Monaro sold in the North American market, was also fitted.
In what was largely a hand-built effort by Fabietti, the V8’s heads also received some attention, while Holden Genuine and AC Delco parts, in the form of consumables like gaskets and spark plugs, were used for the rebuild.
Like the engine, the automatic transmission was the unit originally fitted to the car and needed refurbishment. To ensure the transmission can handle the additional power from the upgraded engine, FluidDrive completely remanufactured it – to GM global specifications.
To improve the ‘stop’, a set of AP Racing brakes, like those found on HSVs of the period, were fitted, with identifying ‘Project Monaro’ branding on the calipers, while the ‘turn’ was improved by the addition of Sachs Performance suspension, including Eibach springs: the settings of which were tuned by Triple Eight Race Engineering.
To ensure all those improvements could be employed to their best, a set of Bridgestone Potenza S007A high-performance tyres were also fitted.
Unique Parts, Unique Finish
Bespoke trim and detail parts on Project Monaro were conceived by Holden Design, then brought to life by HP-EVOK3D; a 3D printing company that’s also a partner of the Red Bull Holden Racing Team.
Unique trim and detail touches from Holden Design for this project included the fuel filler door, bonnet vents, front splitter and rear spoiler.
Originally finished in Phantom Black, the Monaro was repainted in a unique shade called ‘Panorama Blue Suede’; a satin metallic finish developed by PPG to Holden Design’s brief and applied by Holden Certified Collision repairer, B&A Motor Body Repairs in Melbourne.
As part of the assessment and prep of the car prior to the repaint, B&A replaced the bonnet, bumpers and one of the front guards to ensure the best possible base for painting.
To provide a reminder of this car’s original finish, the roof panel was resprayed in Phantom Back gloss, while the Panorama Blue Suede was topped with three coats of PPG semi-gloss clear coat.
B&A fitted new headlights, tail lights and other parts before the car went to South Morang Holden for mechanical reassembly, while the project’s custom 19-inch alloy wheels were resprayed by Ace Alloy Wheels in Melbourne.
Inside, the Monaro’s seats were originally in black leather, but the leather and suede retrim by Auto Image Interiors, to a brief from Holden Design, combines charcoal with a centre section in light grey and contrast blue stitching. The Monaro logo in blue has been added to the front seat backs and a blue stripe to the backs and squabs to pick up on the exterior colours. The same tri-tone finish extends to the doorcards, with the distinctive blue trim also added to the centre console and dash.
Detail touches inside include ‘Project Monaro’ identification on the face of the speedometer, Monaro logos on the front splitter and rear spoiler, and even ‘AC Delco’ branding on the battery indicator.
Under the bonnet, the engine cover features a blue finish, while a plaque from long-time Holden partner LNI (Luna Nameplate Industries) confirms this car’s unique status with ‘Build 001/001’ identification. LNI also produced the one-off wheel centre caps, ‘Project Monaro’ door sill plates, 001 / 001 dash badge and build partner plaque for the boot interior. The finishing touch is Lowndes’s personal signature on the dash.
The Trubiani Touch
Responsible for fine-tuning and refining Project Monaro throughout its gestation, Rob Trubiani brought more than two decades of experience to this build. Holden’s lead Performance Engineer, Trubiani put the car through its paces at the Holden Proving Ground to ensure it was worthy of both the Holden and Monaro name before Lowndes had the opportunity to get behind the wheel.
“Some of the tests we put Project Monaro through were similar to the tests our talented engineers put the original V2 Monaros through almost twenty years ago,” Trubiani explained. “It’s a great car to drive and someone is going to be very lucky when they win it.”
For the chance to make this Monaro yours, you need to spend $110 (incl. GST) on car servicing at a Holden Dealer Service department, purchase $110 (incl. GST) on Holden Genuine or AC Delco parts, or $110 (incl. GST) on an AC Delco battery from a Holden Dealer or authorised AC Delco battery reseller before 31 March, 2020.
Once purchased, log on to ACDelco.com.au/offers and submit your receipt details. Ts & Cs apply, so see the website for more.
Second prize is ‘Lowndesy’s Ultimate Garage’ collection, which includes a Gearwrench tool chest, Red Bull Holden Racing memorabilia, posters, man cave supplies (fridge, stools and oil barrel table) and other gear, as well as a 5-year supply of Meguiar’s car care products and 1-year supply of Red Bull. Additionally, $300 Red Bull Holden Racing Team merchandise vouchers are being given away monthly in the lead up to the competition’s completion.
The competition is open to the trade, too. To find out more, go to https://acdelco.com.au/offers/