OWEN Rice’s superbly presented yet brutally tough CV8 Monaro was just going to be a neat skid car. “But it snowballs, and you can’t stop it – you just ride the rollercoaster,” Owen explains. “Everyone says it’s too pretty to skid now, but that’s what it was built for.”
This article was first published in the July 2019 issue of Street Machine
FRIED might be more than show-worthy, but it’s a dedicated skid car. Owen is a truck driver, so keeping his licence intact is all-important. He doesn’t trust himself on the street, so skipped the street rego thing and went all out!
| VOTE for Owen's Monaro as Valvoline Street Machine of the Year 2019
It takes a certain amount of commitment to drag a trophy-winning, elite-quality car out onto the burnout pad and sink the slipper into it. Flailing tyre belts, unforgiving Armco barriers and searing methanol fires all stand to wreak havoc on FRIED’s glorious PPG Vibrance Orange Zest paintwork, But like it or not, that’s the car’s destiny.
The Monaro isn’t Owen’s first competition skid car, but it’s been a while between drinks. “I had a VK Commodore, but the last burnout comp I did with it was Summernats 17,” he says. “I broke the engine, sold the VK and got out of cars for a while. I should never have sold it; the wife told me not to!
Project car buyer's guide: Holden Monaro CV8
The car has many highlights, but the stance commands attention. It’s slung low thanks to a ladder-bar rear with Strange coil-overs, and XYZ coil-overs up front. Teamed with massive Intro billets, Owen likens the look to a Dub City car. Brakes are HSV Premiums on the pointy end, with nothing currently fitted up on the rear. You don’t need them for smashing tyres!
“After we had the kids, I decided to get back into it. I knew I wanted a coupe and I’d looked at a few Toranas, but then I spotted this CV8 at a wrecker in Western Sydney, completely by accident.”
Read next: Tubbed and blown 2005 Holden VZ Monaro
The car was a stat write-off on account of a crease in the rear floorpan, but when your plans include huge tubs, a rear clip and custom boot floor, that matters very little. Owen called in his mates Matt Sims and Travis Lawer to give the car their tick of approval, then did the deal, dragged the car home and stripped it bare.
When Trav gave him the nod, Owen delivered the car to Killer Fabrications for the full red-carpet treatment: a beautifully smoothed engine bay, flat firewall, six-point rollcage, ladder-bar arse-end, tailshaft loop and cavernous tubs to swallow up 20x12 Intro Vistas. Trav also knocked up the engine plates, but not for an LS engine as one might expect.
The fab work in the engine bay is next-level, but the centrepiece is the towering 400ci small-block Chev built by Matt at HiTech Modifications. Assisted by an 8/71 huffer, it offers just shy of 1200hp. Burnout guru Phil Kerjean from Fuelworx took a ‘measure twice, cut once’ approach to the plumbing, and it looks spot-on
“LS engines are just a Chinese Chev; at least now it’s a proper Chev!” laughs Owen. “LS mills all sound the same, and I wanted to be different. We were contemplating big-block, but the small-block has plenty of power for me at the moment.”
Plenty of power indeed – the HiTech Modifications-built 400-cuber stomps out a convincing 1190hp on 12psi of boost, courtesy of the TBS 8/71 billet blower. It’s chockers with all the good gear, including a Callies DragonSlayer crankshaft, Callies Ultra rods, CP Bullet pistons, AFR 227 heads and a Comp Cams stick. Methanol is delivered to the hat via a cam-driven Aeromotive mechanical pump, and a Peterson four-stage dry-sump pump keeps the whole deal nicely lubricated.
Owen opted for a reverse-pattern, manualised Turbo 400 trans with an SFI housing and TCE 5000rpm converter, while the sheet-metal nine-inch housing carries 35-spline axles, 3.2:1 gears and a full spool.
With the fab work and mechanicals in check, it was time to lay on some paint. Owen was less than satisfied with the job done by the first painter, so he enlisted the services of Roni Tarabay at Winner’s Circle Refinishes to reapply the PPG Vibrance paint. The body is largely standard, save for an HSV GTS Coupe front bar, a VZ CV8 rear bar with twin exhaust outlets, and of course a dirty big hole in the bonnet. Owen elected to stick with the factory V2 CV8 Monaro sideskirts because they’re less than a third of the cost to replace than HSV items, and he figured they’re a consumable item on a skid car.
Owen opted for a ladder-bar rear end, because the mounting points for a four-link would have meant doing away with the rear seat. Owen’s kids weren’t fans of that idea, so a ladder bar was the best option
Matt Gibbs at Artistic Trim looked after internal affairs, knocking up a custom rear seat to get around the tubs and trimming the interior (including the door trims, dash, console and headlining) in a classy and practical black-leather-and-suede combo, offset with orange stitching.
The fuel cell is a whopper at 120L and, combined with the front tank, the fuel system can carry a total of 140L of the good stuff. A good idea, considering the near-on 1200hp blown Chev gets through it at a rapid rate. The dry-sump tank was also fitted to the boot to free up space in the engine bay and maintain a degree of symmetry
“The front seats are the stock CV8 ones, but because I liked the HK/T/G Monaro seats, Matt said he would get rid of the headrests, roll the suede across the top and run the stitching across like the older Monaro seats,” Owen says. “Eventually the back seat will have lap belts, so if anyone’s game enough to get in the back at Powercruise, they can!”
Matt Gibbs from Artistic Trim has done outstanding work in the cockpit, emulating the low-backed bucket look of 60s Monaros using modern, comfortable CV8 seats. A Racepak dash keeps Owen in the loop with under-bonnet happenings
All the thrashing culminated in a public debut at the Great Meguiar’s Uncover at Street Machine Summernats 31. Owen intended to have the car judged in Tuff Street, but his mates steered him in the direction of the Elite class – after all, it was only going to look that good once. “To even get accepted to unveil the car was the best day ever, so to get Top 60 and win Top Coupe and Top Engine Bay, I was blown away,” he says. “It still feels a bit surreal. I still take the car to shows and it wins trophies, but I do that for the sponsors and the guys who helped me out; it’s not what the car was for.”
Since Summernats, FRIED has picked up a swag of awards from east-coast car shows, but its static show days are all but over as Owen starts driving the CV8 at events like Powercruise and the Bathurst Autofest. It was in Bathurst in March where, after taking out a Top 10 spot in the show, Owen hit the pad and pumped out a killer skid, which unfortunately ended prematurely when he flambéd the back half of FRIED.
“The car performed well, but the thing that let the car down was me,” laughs Owen. “It caught fire because of me, as I’d never driven a blown injected car before, or a car with this much power. After speaking to other guys with blown injected cars, they could see I was trying to save it by going on and off the throttle, which set the tyres on fire.
“It burned all the trim in the boot, burned the dry-sump tank and breather, melted the boot trim, snapped the boot release – it did do a fair bit of damage, but we’ll get it fixed and ready for Tuff Street. We’ll also do Queensland Powercruise before it goes into the paint shop, just to make sure it’s all fixed. We’re going to change the converter, as it’s a bit too large at the moment, and we’ll build a full set of pipes for the exhaust. Then we should be good to try and give it another test.
“You have to be cruel to be kind with blown and injected cars,” Owen concludes. “It’s so different to drive than a normal car. Unless you’ve driven one of these cars you don’t know – they’re absolute animals!”
2004 HOLDEN CV8 MONARO
Colour: PPG Vibrance Orange Zest
Brand: 400ci small-block Chev
Induction: TBS manifold, TBS billet 8/71 supercharger
Heads: AFR 227
Camshaft: Comp Cams
Conrods: Callies Ultra
Pistons: CP Bullet
Crank: Callies DragonSlayer
Oil pump: Peterson four-stage dry sump
Fuel system: Aeromotive cam-driven pump
Cooling: Killer Fabrications radiator, PWR core
Exhaust: Custom headers with 2in primaries
Ignition: Pro Mag 12 and points box
Gearbox: Turbo 400, reverse pattern, manualised, SFI bellhousing
Converter: TCE 5000rpm
Diff: Sheet metal 9in, 35-spline axles, 3.2:1 gears, full spool
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: XYZ coil-overs
Rear: Triangulated ladder bar, Strange coil-overs
Brakes: HSV Premium discs and calipers (f)
Master cylinder: Wilwood pedal box
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Intro Vista; 20x8 (f), 20x12 (r)
Rubber: 245/35/20 (f), 325/25/20 (r)
My awesome wife Samantha and our boys Mitchell and Lachlan for their ongoing support and input; Matt Sims at HiTech Modifications; Travis Lawer at Killer Fabrications; Tony Naughton and PPG Vibrance; Penrite Oils; Roni Tarabay at Winner’s Circle Refinishes; Dale Heard; Mark Johnson at Pedders Moorebank; Phil Kerjean at Fuelworx; Matt Gibbs at Artistic Trim; Damien and Jason Lowe at Lowe Powdercoating; Chris Robinson at Doctor Meth Racing Fuels; Paul Gates at Resolution Tyres; Jack Moss & Laura McMurdo at Finer Detail Industries; Steve Micallef at Shift Right Automatics; Matty Moot; Ricky from Ricky’s Driveshafts; Nigel at Scorpion Racewear