This dead-straight HT was built way out west in Karratha!
WHEN this HT Monaro showed up at the 2022 WA Hot Rod & Street Machine Spectacular, a lot of punters were trying to figure out which big-dollar custom shop had built it and, more importantly, who had done the arrow-straight panel and paint. Well, no big-dollar custom shop was involved, and the bloke who did the panel and paint was the same person who did 95 per cent of the other work: Lloyd Taylor.
Lloyd’s a pretty laid-back bloke, humble about his talents but more than happy to talk at length about what went into making one of the nicest HT Monaros you’ll ever lay your eyes on. Admittedly, it’s not exactly a ‘backyard build’, as Lloyd and his wife Caroline own Precision Collision in Karratha, a coastal town 1500km from Perth in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, famous for its iron ore, rust-red dirt and not-so-flash roads.
That’s partly why you won’t see the Monaro cruising the streets of Karratha, but mainly it’s because the car earned a Superstars invite to this year’s Meguiar’s MotorEx in Melbourne, so Lloyd has been trying to keep it as pristine as possible but also tidying up a few things on the car he wasn’t quite happy with. If you’re still counting, it’s almost 4500km from Karratha to Melbourne.
So, how does a bloke, miles away from any other custom, high-performance or even parts shop, build a car to this level? Well, it does take time – around five years, to be precise, but even by city standards, that’s not too long. Keep in mind, too, that the build was done mainly on spare weekends in between Lloyd and Caroline running their business and bringing up two kids.
The kids are part of the reason Lloyd built the Monaro. He was well into an EH ute project but realised it was becoming more of an event car rather than something he could actually enjoy with his family on board. Enter the HT. “The car was originally a yellow base-model Monaro with Antique Gold interior,” Lloyd says. “When I came across it, I thought I’d just chuck a driveline in it and drive it, and then I thought I’d just give it a quick paintjob – and that’s how it went down.”
Since Lloyd wanted to make sure he ended up with a nice family street cruiser, some decisions around rim size, engine, horsepower output and rear suspension set-ups had to be on the tame side due to the edicts of the WA Department of Transport. The car was originally a six-banger with a Powerglide, but that all changed when Lloyd repurposed some of the parts from his now-sold EH project, including the 383 Chev with forged internals, Edelbrock E-Tec heads, Air-Gap intake, solid-roller Comp cam and APD 750cfm carb. It’s not crazy, but it’s stout enough to make somewhere around 450hp at the crank. There’s still a Powerglide in the tunnel, but it’s a fair bit tougher than the original unit, fully manualised with a reverse pattern and filled with a Dominator 3500rpm stall. No prizes for guessing the stock diff got tossed for a nine-inch filled with 3.7:1 gears and a Truetrac LSD. A rock-solid combo, no doubt.
But this car’s not really about the driveline; it’s all about the bodywork, mile-deep paint, dead-straight body lines and perfect panel gaps. Lloyd’s day-to-day work is collision repair, mostly on 4WDs, so there’s no custom panel and paintwork going out the door, but what he did bring to the Monaro was his knowledge of how OEM stuff goes together, not to mention his strong love for Holden’s original design. That’s why you won’t see any radical changes to the car, even in areas that have had a ton of work done on them, like the engine bay.
One area Lloyd didn’t want to touch was the tubs. “I just did not have it in me to cut the tubs out of the car; it was such a beautiful body,” he says. “Admittedly, the whole bottom few inches of it is new, with all the lower inner and outer sections removed and replaced with fresh steel from Deano’s Auto Restorations, but that was more about not wanting to do small rust repairs.”
The original door skins were carefully unpicked with the intention of repairing and refitting them to the frames, but in the end, Lloyd chose to use a bunch of Rare Spares reproduction panels, including new door skins, fenders, bonnet, front apron and rear beaver panel. Even with these new, rust-free parts, plenty of hours went into ensuring precise fitment. The gaps on the car were all set to 4mm, but after paint, they’re more like 3.8mm.
The real secret to the body’s straightness all came down to the blocking, and for that, Lloyd has Tyler Krause from True Blox to thank. “I got hold of him online, and we just really hit it off,” Lloyd says. “He sent me a set of sanding blocks, and they were an absolute game-changer. His knowledge of the trade is phenomenal, and we really enjoyed sharing the same passion for paint and bodywork.”
The hardest part of the build for Lloyd was deciding on a colour. He knew what he wanted; he just had to find a way to get there. “It took me months to do spray-outs and get my head around it,” he admits. “I wanted it to be a warm grey rather than a violet- or green-grey. Trying to achieve that effect took a long time. It’s only got the one special-effect tinter from the PPG Vibrance range in it, which gives it that sharp, faux-metal look.”
There is one more trick to the paint: “The car is actually painted black underneath. You cannot put this tinter directly over the top of sanding scratches; it’s impossible. Even 800- or 1200-grit would be seen under this colour because the metallic is so fine. It’s really difficult to work with.”
Throughout the build, Lloyd’s focus was always on simply refining what Holden had built. “The Monaro is a beautiful car, and I didn’t need to change it; I needed to enhance it while trying to tie in an OEM build appearance,” he says.
Well, the effort was certainly worth it, as people raved about the car the entire weekend it was on show at the Hot Rod & Street Machine Spectacular, impressing not only regular show-goers but the judges and veterans of the Perth car scene. Just check out that horizon line along the HT’s side – not a single dip or wobble to be seen. It really doesn’t get much better than that.
Story: Boris Viskovic
Photos: Jordan Leist