WWhen governments are trying to kill our sport out of existence and the police are targeting well-meaning enthusiasts and sanctioned events with military precision, focusing on the negative and glossing over this reality is counterproductive. Simply put, the golden age of street machining is upon us.
The goal was to create a car that drives and performs like a new factory car using only off-the-shelf parts.
Clay Barker’s ball-tearing HQ GTS Monaro, BUILTQ, is proof of that. Inspired by the heavy hitters of the US Pro Touring scene, Clay has partnered with some of the greatest minds in the Australian aftermarket to create a car that looks like an HQ coupe, drives like a VE GTS, It spits out 820hp and more at will. Boasting clockwork reliability. That we as street machinists have the technology to build a car that deserves to be celebrated.
Importantly, BUILTQ isn’t flogging unattainable, one-off custom parts. In contrast, Clay’s strategy was to use as many off-the-shelf components as possible, and in doing so, showcase the wealth of high-performance hardware available to modern Australian carmakers.
Clay originally bought the car about twelve years ago for $4000. Headquarters are not what they used to be.
“In the States you can pick components from a catalog and build an entire car, and I wanted to make it clear that you can do the same thing with an Australian muscle car in a very straightforward way,” Clay said. “It was a way to simplify the project, but it meant two years of research to organize all the right vendors and components.”
Clay shelled out $4000 for the car 12 years ago, when it was green with a 308 and four-speed. The initial build took four years to complete and saw it painted and restored by Lakeview Smash Repairs, fitted with custom tan leather trim and re-powered with a five liter injection from VS HSV. Clay enjoyed driving the car in this guise for a few years before deciding to strip it down for a more serious resto.
Under the bonnet is a Harrop supercharged 427-cube LSX mill making around 820hp.
“It was a really neat drive car, but I wanted it to be show car quality. That’s when I decided to really tackle the pro-touring concept and bought the LSX from America. Said LSX through Mast Motorsports. was achieved, and, featuring a Callies crank and rods, Mahle forged pistons, a 9.5:1 compression ratio and a hydraulic roller blower cam, was built with the rigors of forced induction in mind.
The body was returned to Lakeview Smash Repairs who stripped the car back to the metal, pumped up the rear guards, shaved off the door locks and laid on the stunning Indianapolis Red Glasurit duco, a stunning color that matches Quey’s lines and Pro. Touring fits the theme. down to earth.
Widening the tubs was difficult since the paint, interior and bodywork were already done.
The Monaro was then sent to the auto body gurus at The Chop Shop, who carefully removed the fab work without damaging the freshly applied paint. “We did a little bit of back and forth on that, but if you get the right people involved, you get the right results,” Clay said of The Chop Shop’s iconic handiwork.
The guys widened the tubs four inches to make room for 19×11 Rushforth Whiplash wheels and 315/35/19 Michelin Pilot Super Sport hoops, and installed a larger trans tunnel to accommodate the six-cog Tremec TR6060 manual gearbox. Inside went a custom fuel cell, and the rear end was tweaked – an adjustable four-link setup with Strange coil-overs in a Di Filippo sheet metal nine-inch housing, Eaton Truetrac, full-floating hubs and 31- Spline billet axle. The housing and rear components were powder coated by Oxitec.
The rear suspension is an adjustable four-link coilover setup with a nine-inch diff housing.
Before her tragic death in July of this year, Laurie Starling of The Chop Shop outlined some of the construction difficulties. “The hardest part of the job was to do it without damaging it,” he said. Removed the boot floor for The new tunnel runs from the firewall to the diff to make it nice and low, and we lifted the original tubs to the rail, then TIG welded a strip inside. They came very well. They still have the factory look.
The engine and gearbox were also installed on The Chop Shop, but before that they were equipped with an intercooled Harrop HTV2300 blower and a Katek Performance ZR1 Corvette clutch, respectively. Other Harrop hardware includes a short shifter and monstrous anchors – 356mm discs with four-piston calipers at the rear and larger 386mm discs with six-piston calipers at the pointy end, hiding just inside the 19-inch wheels.
The stainless steel TIG welded exhaust system is fed through one of four headers.
The electrical side of the conversion was handled by Ultimate Conversion Wiring, while a set of off-the-shelf Di Filippo four-to-one headers by LS-into-HQ worked a complete treat. The rest of the exhaust system was built in stainless steel by Castle Hill Exhaust – a twin three-inch arrangement with no less than 52 TIG welded joints.
The interior was finished by Sydney Motor Trimmers in black Alcantara and leather, built around Recaro Cross Speed front seats and a modified HQ rear bench. The cabin is beautifully insulated from sound, heat and water thanks to Dynamite Underlay and Dyna Deck, an alternative to an insulated carpet. A clean, utilitarian cockpit layout and style is the very essence of Pro Touring.
Recaro bucket seats are heavily bolstered, which Renault and Ford use in their tough track models.
“To me, a true Pro Tourer is a high-powered car that you can drive every day and turn, stop and handle,” Clay said. “It should be able to do everything a modern car can do, but look better while doing it.”
With almost every component for the build converted into a fitment-ready box, Clay happily emphasizes that BUILTQ can serve as a template for other Pro Touring builds. “Anyone can follow that build using the same partners and parts I have, and build the car I built. It’s an exciting time for our sport as technology takes a muscle car.” Available to go and transform it into something that is truly a supercar in every respect.
1971 HQ GTS Monaro
Color: Glasurit Indianapolis Red
- Brand: 427ci LSX
- Induction: Harrop HTV2300 intercooled supercharger, custom air intake
- Heads: Mast CNC LS3
- Camshaft: Mast custom hydraulic roller
- Conrads: Callies H. Beam
- Piston: Mehle Motorsport
- Crank: Callies fake
- Sump: Mast Motorsport
- Preferred fuel: 98 octane pump
- Fuel System: Custom fuel cell, custom ASE surge tank with twin internal Aeromotive 650hp pumps
- Cooling: VE Commodore radiator and fans.
- Exhaust: Di Filippo 1⅞in 4-into-1 stainless headers, twin stainless 3in exhaust, custom stainless mufflers
- Ignition: LS3 coil pack
- Gearbox: Tremec TR6060 six-speed, Catac Performance-modified ZR1 Corvette clutch
- Differential: DPE 9in housing, Eaton Truetrac, floating hubs, 31-spline billet axles, 3.9:1 gears
Suspension and brakes
- Springs: Odd coilovers (f&r)
- Shocks: Strange coilovers (f&r)
- Brakes: Hirop 386mm disc, six-piston calipers (f); Harrop 356mm discs, four-piston calipers (R)
- Steering: HQ Racing steering box, revised ratios, power steering
- Master cylinder: VE Commodore Master and Booster
- Seats: Recaro Cross Speed (f), Modified HQ (r)
- Wheel: Budnik billet
- Mods: Custom Dash
- Trim: Black Alcantara and leather
- Instruments: New vintage shadow chrome gauges
- Shifter: Harp short shifter
- Seat Belt: Standard
- Stereo: JVC Head Unit, JVC MPS, Clarion Speakers
Wheels and tires
- Rams: Rushforth Whiplash; 19×8 (f), 19×11 (r)
- Rubber: Michelin Pilot Super Sport; 255/35/19 (f), 315/35/19 (r)
Gerch and Peter from Harrop LSX Tuning; The Filippo; Castle Hill Exhaust; Lori from The Chop Shop; Peter Cleary; Sign from Sydney Motor Trimmers; motorsport connections; my good mates Ian and Ricky from Lakeview Smash; Ultimate Conversion Wiring; dynamite; Oxytec; Adam Barnes (Hard HT); square; Michael Taylor for BuiltQ.com. I would especially like to thank my wife Sarah and my girls for going through this madness.