Author Topic: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds  (Read 80180 times)

Steve Holmes

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 259
    • View Profile
    • The Roaring Season
Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds
« Reply #180 on: June 15, 2016, 08:01:44 PM »
Not a Camaro, but a close Australian cousin, the Holden Monaro GTS. This particular car was raced in New Zealand from 1969. It was built from a new GTS shell, to be the team mate to the Cambridge Camaro featured elsewhere in this thread, raced by Rod Coppins.

The Monaro was raced by 'Spinner' Black, Grady Thomson, and later by John Riley and George Bunce, before being converted to a road car (still with rollcage intact) in the mid/late 1970s.

It was thought to have been lost forever when it was involved in a road accident in the 1980s, but I identified the car on a New Zealand auction website a few years ago, in very, very rough shape. Its condition was such even the seller had no idea what he had. Although there were some key aspects that suggested this was the old Cambridge car, such as the relocation of the fuel filler to the top of the rear quarter panel to make way for the big flares it wore, plus a few other details, there were a few doubts in my mind, and I decided not to bid. In addition, I didn't have the time to go look at the car in person.

Fortunately, a friend decided to bid, and ended up winning it. And indeed it turned out to be the Cambridge Monaro. Interestingly, it was this very car that got him hooked on motor racing. When he was a young guy back in 1970, he stopped by the Pukekohe race track having just been surfing, and he saw this Monaro racing around the track. He fell in love with it, and it became his dream car. Even he wasn't convinced it was the Cambridge Monaro when I showed him the auction, but he bid anyway, purely because he wanted to save the old car, as the other bidders wanted it purely for the very valuable GTS body tags. The auction had a $1 reserve, and John eventually won the auction, paying around $1,200.

After a massive restoration, the car is almost finished, and will be a great addition to the New Zealand vintage racing scene. Here are some cool old period photos of the Cambridge Monaro.








Jon Mello

  • CRG Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3923
    • View Profile
Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds
« Reply #181 on: June 16, 2016, 04:07:42 AM »
Steve, thanks for sharing that story and also the photos. That's incredible that the car was found and saved. I really like the Monaros. They are well styled. Do you have any pics from the auction that we can see? Congrats to your friend for bringing her back to life.
Jon Mello
CRG

Steve Holmes

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 259
    • View Profile
    • The Roaring Season
Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds
« Reply #182 on: June 16, 2016, 07:45:47 AM »
Hi Jon, this is the Monaro as it appeared in the auction. As you can see, it was in unbelievably poor state. It'd been crashed, neglected, and obviously spent time near the ocean. The seller had no idea what he had, and neither did the other bidders. He suggested it may have been a race car at one stage, because there were signs of there once being a rollcage fitted, plus a couple other things.

The thing that stood out for me was the position of the gas filler, on top of the left side quarter panel. Monaros have these down the side of the panel, behind the wheel opening. The Cambridge Monaro had the modification done a little later in its racing career when it was fitted with large rear fender flares which occupied the space the gas filler would normally take. The other thing that stood out were the large rear fender flares.

The other bidders only wanted the car for its body tags, as there are a few Monaros around that don't have these tags, for various reasons. As a result, they can't be road registered. So the other bidders wanted to get the car, remove the tags, and scrap the body, as it was considered junk. Even the seller would have junked it, but didn't want to have to go to the trouble of taking it to a scrap yard, so hence wanted to sell the body with the tags, and thus save himself the hassle.

Because John McKechnie, who won the auction, has always loved Monaros, he bid specifically to win, and purely to save an old Monaro from being crushed, because he knew that would be its fate otherwise. He came to love Monaros because of the Cambridge Monaro he saw at Pukekohe back in 1970. His love for these cars was the thing that made him want to save this particular car. And as it transpired, the car he saved was the Cambridge Monaro.






Steve Holmes

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 259
    • View Profile
    • The Roaring Season
Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds
« Reply #183 on: June 16, 2016, 07:50:47 AM »
This is the car when owned by George Bunce, in the mid-1970s. Although the gas filler isn't visible here, its clear to see the huge rear fender flares that had been grafted on for the wide Australian made Mawer Wheels.


Steve Holmes

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 259
    • View Profile
    • The Roaring Season
Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds
« Reply #184 on: June 16, 2016, 07:56:51 AM »
This is the Cambridge Monaro as it looked in the 1980s. This photo is courtesy of Bruce Thompson. His friend owned the car. What is notable here is that the flares have been removed. New flares would be added (those which were still on it when it appeared on the auction a few years ago I assume), and the car painted blue and sold. The next owner crashed it.

The crash was thought to have been quite bad. Story was, it was wrapped around a power pole. This appears likely not the case, as given these cars didn't carry a lot of value in the 1980s, it would have been scrapped, because repairing it would have cost more than the car was worth.

Note it still has the rollcage fitted.


69Z28-RS

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4428
  • owner since 4-Apr-1976
    • View Profile
Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds
« Reply #185 on: June 16, 2016, 11:31:55 AM »
I like the stance and the 'look' of the Monaro..  it seems to have some flavor from both the Camaro and the Nova of the time... :)
Gary W / 09C 69Z28-RS, 72 B 720 cowl console rosewood tint
69 Corvette convertible, silver/black 350 hp,
60 Corvette white/red, 72 Corvette coupe, '70 Mach I 
90 ZR1 red/red #246, 90 ZR1 white/gray #2466
72 El Camino, '55-'56-'57 Nomads, '55-'57 B/A Sedan

Steve Holmes

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 259
    • View Profile
    • The Roaring Season
Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds
« Reply #186 on: June 16, 2016, 06:25:26 PM »
I like the stance and the 'look' of the Monaro..  it seems to have some flavor from both the Camaro and the Nova of the time... :)

Yes, absolutely. Holden are the Australian arm of General Motors, and so the styling is kept in the family. Even though this is an Australian made car, the styling has US input, and its important to GM that there be strong influences from their US models.

The Monaro had various engine options, the top one being a small block Chevy. The rest of the running gear is also typical GM. So in many ways it is a Camaro or Nova wearing a different suit.

Steve Holmes

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 259
    • View Profile
    • The Roaring Season
Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds
« Reply #187 on: June 16, 2016, 09:07:35 PM »
Holden produced three models of the first generation Monaro; the HK from July 1968 - May 1969, the HT from May 1969 - July 1970, and the HG from July 1970 - July 1971.

By American standards, production numbers were quite small. The HK, which is what the Cambridge Monaro is, had a total production number of just 8,945. That includes everything from the base model 161 cu.in inline-6, through to the Chevy powered 327 cu.in V8. The GTS was the sporty version, and the GTS327 was that created to homologate the required parts for racing.

From the late 1970s through to the mid-1990s, Monaros, like many of the Australian muscle cars, weren't considered very important, and as such, their values were low, and many were street raced and wrecked, or ended up on speedways, or just rusted away. It was really only in the 1990s their values began to rise. But the survival is relatively low, given their low production number to begin with.

So John McKechnie went into that auction with the intention of just saving an old neglected car from certain death. He was the only one who wanted the body shell more than the body tags, which is what everyone else wanted.

It was only when he went to collect the car from the seller that he saw it in person for the first time, and walking around examining the car, saw the old orange painted and hand painted lettering from when the car was owned and raced by George Bunce. This was his first confirmation the car he saved was the Cambridge Monaro. He has since carefully taken down each layer of paint which has revealed the cars different owners, which has helped tell the story.

This image is the section where the heavy filler has fallen away around one of the flares to reveal the orange paint and hand lettering.


Jon Mello

  • CRG Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3923
    • View Profile
Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds
« Reply #188 on: June 17, 2016, 01:44:54 PM »
Steve, thanks for the extra pics and info. Sounds like the car has ended up with the perfect owner. Congratulations to John for successfully getting the car and saving it from destruction. It would be great if you could post more pics when the restoration is complete.
Jon Mello
CRG

exracer29

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 47
    • View Profile
Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds
« Reply #189 on: June 17, 2016, 06:27:48 PM »
Some more of the Bryan Thompson car.

Are there any photos of the Bryan Thompson car when raced with the "IMSA" style body? After vintage T/A racing cars, my next love is the IMSA series cars with the fat fenders.

Steve Holmes

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 259
    • View Profile
    • The Roaring Season
Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds
« Reply #190 on: June 18, 2016, 05:44:47 AM »
Sorry, I don't seem to have any pics of the Camaro in its big body guise to hand. I have seen some, but can't remember where. If I find them I will post them here.

Steve Holmes

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 259
    • View Profile
    • The Roaring Season
Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds
« Reply #191 on: June 18, 2016, 05:46:23 AM »
Steve, thanks for the extra pics and info. Sounds like the car has ended up with the perfect owner. Congratulations to John for successfully getting the car and saving it from destruction. It would be great if you could post more pics when the restoration is complete.

Yes indeed, it really did go to the right owner. The restoration has been epic, in every sense of the word.

Here is a recent photo of the Monaro having just had its Cambridge stripes painted on.


Jon Mello

  • CRG Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3923
    • View Profile
Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds
« Reply #192 on: June 18, 2016, 03:08:01 PM »
Wow, it looks terrific! That is quite a large wheel/tire combo on the back but the body doesn't look flared out. I have to think some work went into making those fit. How come the signature gas filler location has been filled in?
« Last Edit: June 19, 2016, 08:25:28 PM by Jon Mello »
Jon Mello
CRG

Steve Holmes

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 259
    • View Profile
    • The Roaring Season
Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds
« Reply #193 on: June 18, 2016, 09:34:23 PM »
Yes it does look good. The rear wheels I believe are 10 inches, and the fronts are 8.5 inches. Amazingly, John bought some original magnesium American Racing wheels at a swap meet about 20 years ago that were apparently fitted to this car in period, which is how he got the measurements.

The fenders have a small amount of flaring, probably around 1.5 - 2 inches in the rear, and a little less at the front. There really wasn't anything left of the original fenders to gauge the exact size, so old photos had to be used instead, and those old mag wheels.

Good spotting on the gas filler Jon! John restored the Monaro back to its 1969/70 season Cambridge guise, at which time the gas filler was still in its original location. It was only relocated a few years later when much larger flares were grafted on the rear, as in the photo of the car in orange paint, when George Bunce had it. I believe these were courtesy of a VW Beetle.

John was at pains when making the decision on the gas filler. Even though it was still in its factory location when the car was in Cambridge colors, if it weren't for the relocated gas filler, which was the first tell tale sign when I saw the car on that auction sight, the car might well have been overlooked and bought by someone who just wanted it for the body tags, at which time it surely would have been crushed.

Jon Mello

  • CRG Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3923
    • View Profile
Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds
« Reply #194 on: June 19, 2016, 08:29:41 PM »
Thanks, Steve. If the filler was not up there while it raced in the Cambridge livery and he's (obviously) restoring it to that era, then I'm of the opinion that he made the right choice.
Jon Mello
CRG