EARLY Holden Monaros fetch big bucks these days, so one that’s been modified to the extent of Peter Schimanski’s incredibly tough, pro street-style HT will surely have purists sobbing into their cups of Earl Grey. But the New Zealander has built the car of his dreams, so it’s fair to say his care factor is zero.
First published in the March 2021 issue of Street Machine. Photos: Alastair Brook
Packing a brutish, blown 1200hp big-block Chev up front, this Monaro has been built for the street, despite its show-quality finish. The stunning creation is the work of Kendal and Rachel Smith from Kruzin Kustoms Rod & Kustom Shop in Palmerston North.
Things kicked off back in 2008 when Peter and wife Delilah took a trip down to Invercargill, returning with an HT Monaro complete with Orchid paint and a tunnel-rammed 350ci Chev. It was an emotional purchase for Peter, with the HT replacing the ’69 Bathurst Monaro that he’d regretfully let go around 30 years prior.
For six months, the pair cruised the tidy coupe while reliving their youth, before Peter handed over the keys to Kruzin Kustoms. “It was going to be a pull-down to fix rust, add fatter tyres and then have fun,” he recalls. “Ten years later, it finally came out of the shop!”
The timeframe blow-out was due in part to the Schimanskis’ variable income from dairy farming, which saw the Monaro shelved for months on end at times, but also because of the inevitable project creep as Peter and Kendal implemented new ideas with increasing escalation. Yet the overriding vision for the build remained throughout: Peter wanted a street-legal ride with a ton of power and finished differently to any other Monaro around. A weighty undertaking, but Kruzin Kustoms got it done. “Peter turned up with a running and driving Monaro. Now the only original part is the shell; everything else has been replaced or modified,” Kendal says.
The underside of the car incorporates a host of improvements, including Heidts Superide II independent front suspension, Heidts coil-overs throughout, a McDonald Brothers triangulated four-link in the rear, massive tubs and the addition of a full chassis.
That front clip is now one piece, with both the firewall and inner tubs smoothed. While not easy to spot, the floor is raised 100mm, channelling the body to lower the ride height while retaining suspension travel and enough of a gap to allow for exhaust-to-blacktop clearance.
Externally, the body has been simplified by removing all badging and locks, blackening the remaining chrome trim and rolling the sill panels for a seamless line.
Yet PROHT’s crowning glory is the mountain of metal soaring through the bonnet. The spectacular set-up has an unusual back- story. “We got a wee bit distracted and bought a fibreglass 1934 Ford five-window coupe,” Peter says. “It needed some paint and was minus an engine, so the ’34 took the nitrous-fed 434ci small-block Chev that was planned for the Monaro.”
Now Peter needed a decent substitute for the HT. “I figured there was no point in putting another little motor in it – everyone has one of them!” he laughs. Given that Peter pilots both a seven-second Fiat Topolino and the ex-Ted Brine #134 1934 Ford nitro altered from the USA, it’s no surprise that he chose an outrageous replacement.
The monster 8/71-blown and injected 540ci Dart big-block Chev comes from Dean Cadman’s eight-second Willys drag car. “The car went from a 600hp small-block to a 1200hp big-block,” Peter says.
Behind is a Tremec TKO five-speed stick-shift feeding down to a nine-inch with Strange centre, LSD, 3.5s and 31-spline axles to get the tonnage of horsepower to the blacktop.
Maintaining the ‘something different’ vibe is the understated hue of PPG High White flowing over the coupe body, punctuated with PPG black bumpers and grille. The rear is devoid of the standard Monaro fodder and also finished with black accents. The interior is similarly fresh yet restrained. “I went to Chris Pocock from Classic & Custom Motor Trimmers and asked for his ideas. I wanted something with a point of difference and to not copy others,” Peter says.
Chris cut down the coupe front seats and binned the rear pew before covering the majority of surfaces in black hide finished with metal trim. It’s a sympathetic adaptation of the factory stylings while encompassing modern touches and necessities like a collapsible steering column and updated Classic Instruments gauges.
And let’s not forget that massive rollcage. “The Monaro needed a Funny Car-style of ’cage, so we just rolled with it,” Kendal explains of what was more of a design choice than a drag requirement. “The cars talk to you and tell you what they want.”
“We went further with the Monaro than I first planned, but it came out good,” Peter says. “Going through a business like Kruzin Kustoms was great. And they work with a certifier, which makes the registration process so much easier.”
So, with all of the drag clobber, will Peter race PROHT? “Probably one day. Though there’s no real point – I have other dedicated race cars. It’s probably too nice to race.”
For now, Peter and Delilah want to share PROHT with the masses. “With the build finally done, we plan to show the car off, and drive it on the street,” Peter says. “The wait has definitely been worth it.”
1969 HOLDEN HT MONARO
Paint: PPG High White
Brand: 540ci Dart big-block Chev
Induction: 8/71 Littlefield supercharger
EFI: Hilborn and Joe Blo
Oil pump: Melling
Fuel system: PULP; custom tank, Barry Grant fuel pump
Cooling: Twin 12in fans, four-core Aussie Desert Cooler radiator
Exhaust: Custom 2in headers, 2½in dual system, Flowmaster mufflers
Ignition: MSD and crank trigger
Gearbox: Tremec TKO five-speed manual
Diff: 9in, Strange centre, LSD, 3:50:1 gears, 31-spline axles
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: Heidts Superide II IFS, Heidts coil-overs
Rear: Heidts adjustable coil-overs, McDonald Brothers triangulated four-bar
Steering: Heidts power steering rack, Flaming River column
Brakes: Wilwood discs & calipers (f & r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Billet Specialties Street Lite; 17x5.5 (f), 15x12 (r)
Rubber: Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R; 26/6 (f), 29/15 (r)
Kendal and Rachel Smith at Kruzin Kustoms; Bert at Mike Murphy Auto Electrical for the wiring; Andy Smith at Smith Autos for
the certification; Chris Pocock and all others who have worked on the car; most importantly, my wife Delilah for allowing me
to build it
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Street Machine is the bible of Aussie modified auto culture, celebrating wild muscle cars, customs and hot rods – and the incredible humans who create them.
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