Project GTS - part 8

By: Guy Allen, Photography by: Guy Allen

Presented by

Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS
Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS
Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS
Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS
Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS
Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS
Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS
Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS
Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS
Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS
Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS
Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS
Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS Project HQ GTS

Our HQ ex-racer shows off its new suit...

Project GTS - part 8
Project HQ GTS


Project HQ GTS tribute - part 8

- Watch the video


Last time we wandered through the doors of Bendigo Retro Muscle Cars, it was all happening in the spray booth. Layers of PPG black were being added to the completely reworked panels, which signalled the end of the laborious prep process for the body.

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. If you’re intent on doing the job properly, the pre-paint stage of the body prep is by far the biggest sinkhole for time and resources. That said, if you do invest at this stage, the reward is a car that will last several decades, rather than several years.

The cunning plan was to apply a black, with just a twist in its tail, in the form of a hint of pearl. The idea was to have it subtle enough to be almost invisible, but having enough presence to almost imperceptibly change the colour of the car under different light.

And no, we’re not yet revealing what the pearl tint is. Green, red, yellow, blue? You tell us when you see it at the shows towards the end of the year.

"It takes the black from just being a boring black. Everyone has done black," says Gary O’Brien, ringmaster at the Bendigo workshop.

The HQ copped a few coats of colour, then some of a ceramic clear. Not so long ago, the ultra-hard top coat would only be used on very high-end cars, but now it’s more readily available.

Once it had all been baked and dried, the end result was rubbed down by hand for a finish that almost defies description. The depth of the shine in the panels, which themselves are ultra-straight and flawless, is phenomenal.

"Everything was hand-rubbed and detailed and the car has been screwed together. It is possible to put them together without banging them up – it’s just a care factor," says O’Brien. "It’s a credit to the guys. They’re all at the top of their game. They love what they do and it shines in their work."

Our own Uncle Phil, the world’s fussiest man, seems to be in agreement. He can read his watch in the reflection on the paint from the proverbial six feet away, so he’s happy. While the paint was finished off, the crew also got stuck in and finished off a lot of the ancillary pieces. For example the battery box is now done, complete with bolts from Rare Spares that closely replicate the originals. O’Brien is impressed ‘Rares’ is going to that sort of detail – actually making bolt kits that closely mimic the original fasteners – as it makes the life of a restorer a whole lot easier.

In fact, we’ve given the Rare Spares cattledog a fair old hiding. The change-over from Touring Car Masters race competitor to a road car is complex and swallows a huge range of bits. O’Brien reckons he’s going to count the parts at some stage – the list is already up to 20 pages.

There was a fair bit of debate about the exterior trim, and initially we were talking about having a chrome-free car. However the crew ended up deciding a hint of chrome here and there lifted the looks and just made for a lighter-looking end result. They’re right. The first HQ body was a really elegant shape and it would be a shame not to allow it a few highlights to bring out its curves.

With the grille, GTS badges and Monaro tags in place, it’s not hard to imagine how the end result will look. Something that will have a huge impact is the choice of wheels – that debate still rages on.

Where to from here? The Bendigo Retro Muscle Cars crew reckons the next stage will take a bit of planning and co-ordination.

Top Performance in Melbourne is building us a 355 cubic inch V8, using parts from the good folk at Precision International, and they’re confident of getting 500-plus horses.

"We really wanted that Holden-based stroker engine," says Gary, "because it gives good torque and the engine systems in these are now well sorted. If you’ve got 450 in one of these you’ll be frightening Nanna. If they get 500 it will be a real stunner."

Behind that, we’ll be running a Tremec Gearbox, and the car’s transmission tunnel has already been modified to accept it.

However, rather than wait for the engine to be built and then wait for the exhaust system to be fabricated by Di Filippo in Melbourne, O’Brien wants to see the two things happen at the same time as our deadline now looms close.

"We’ll mock fit the engine," he explains, "put the gearbox in, put the rear end in, get the brakes and everything on it, then take it to Di Filippo so they can have a bit of a play with it while the engine’s getting done.

"Along the way we can pre-fit fuel and brake lines."

Koni is taking care of the suspension for us, so the handling will be up to the performance. Plus O’Brien’s particularly chuffed that he’s managed to track down a complete set of the tinted glass that would have been fitted to the Premiers of the day. It’s got a subtle green tint that will work well with the black duco.

"We’ve got a bit of planning to do - to marry it together, that’s the tricky bit," says O’Brien. "Nevertheless, we’re starting to feel like we might be on the downhill run." Watch this space….




Visit the website:
Rare Spares: Looking to restore, repair or rebuild a HQ? Contact your nearest Rare Spares store for parts, advice and service. Visit the website:

Sign up to our free weekly newsletter for more unique car reviews and features plus see the latest unique and classic cars for sale.

Subscribe to Unique Cars magazine
- Print edition
- Digital edition