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Model  : HT GTS Monaro
Owner : Paul Thoms

My fathers best friend bought this HT Monaro in late 1969 and even though as a young kid I was a hardcore Ford fan. It was always a special treat to go somewhere in the "Monaro". In February of 1983 Eric called me and asked if I wanted to buy the Monaro. He told me the price and I agreed to it, and the night before my seventeenth birthday, I picked it up and my father drove it home (no driving it as was on my I plates). The next day I passed my driving test and I hit the streets in the Monaro.

I drove it for a few years as a second car and then parked it in 1986 and did other things. In the early 90's I moved to New York city and left the Monaro in storage. On an extended trip home in 1983 I mechanically rebuilt the car with a mild 350, top 9 inch ,HQ brakes and upgraded suspension, with the intention of shipping the car to New York.

By this time the paint had deteriorated from a leaky garage and wet car covers. The idea was to have the car painted and trimmed in the US in case it was damaged in transit. Due to various reasons it never left Australia, but in 2001 I returned home after a divorce and as a divorce present to myself I wanted to paint the Monaro so the search began for someone to restore it.

After years of hearing horror stories about panel beaters and spray painters, poor quality work and stalled projects, I was determined to do my research and find the right person. After several false leads and severely overpriced quotes, through a mutual friend I was introduced to Nick Sutic who impressed me with his enthusiasm and knowledge of HKTG's. Soon after a deal was struck with Sam and Rob from McNamara's Smash which involved me stripping the paint on all the hanging panels back to bare metal. After a couple of weeks work at home in the garage, the Monaro was delivered to McNamara's. One of the first things they did was to remove the windscreens where a little more rust than expected was discovered in the rear window sill, which was replaced with a complete section of metal from rare spares. All HKTG Monaro's have a rust problem in the rear quarter panel below the small window but due to an accident in the early 1970's this car had the drivers side rear quarter panel replaced and the foam that causes all the problem in these cars was removed from this area on the passenger side and obviously not replaced on the new quarter, so this car only had a very small amount of rust in this rust prone area in HKTG's, but the bad news was the replacement quarter from the 1970 was badly fitted and caused the panel beaters much grief during the fitting and gapping of the drivers door (sorry about that Adam and thanks for all the extra effort).

The process of the paint was then started by Nick which involved several weeks of work, while all this was happening I sent all the chrome pieces including the bumper bars, door handles, sill moulds off to the chrome platers, while all the hundred plus feet of stainless steel moulds were sent to a polisher Alan McCoy for restoration and polishing with amazing results. I then started to track down an all new interior, with a trim kit coming from Melbourne, which included door trims, head lining and seat covers, carpet, sound proofing which my girlfriend at the time and now my wife bought me for a Christmas present.

The dash top, instruments panel and centre console were sent to Adelaide for new plastic chrome and fake woodgrain and reconditioned facias.

The badges are a collection of the original badges, NOS, reconditioned and reproductions.A complete set of weatherseals,rubbers,gaskets, bailey channels and seals were purchased from Rare Spares.

I also set about locating new headlights, front blinkers, rear blinkers and stop light lenses. The rear taillight housing's were also rechromed. The hubcaps had been giving me trouble no-one in Sydney was interest in restoring them, so I tried myself and was not happy with the results. But while chasing parts in Queensland I came across a retired panel beater who did a fantastic job on these hubcaps after unpicking the seams and hand beating the outer edge back to perfect condition and finishing with a correct colour match on the painted surface.

I also was piecing together the Rallye stripe dimension for Nick, after measuring and photographing several cars that has subtle differences I found the original strip dimensions on the internet, which hopefully made life easier for Nick and two weeks before Christmas 2003 Nick laid on the Kashmir white and started putting on those big bold stripes that I think make the car. Then process of putting that jigsaw back together which came together pretty smoothly.

And as the boys from McNamara were about to sit down for their Christmas party, the Monaro was rolling out on a tilt tray back home.

At home I taped up the body and repainted the entire underneath of the car. And waited for the interior pieces to be delivered or returned. Then off to the trimmers where all the pieces mentioned earlier were installed as well as new chrome moulding on the bucket seats.

Then back home when I carefully installed the dash top, instrument panel, centre facias, steering column, centre console and interior lights.

At this stage I have to thank my good friend Paul Westwell who spent many hours on the finishing adjustments of the doors and those tricky small coupe windows.And all those small time consuming problems that come up at the end of a project.

By this time it was September 2004 and I had entered in the Monaro nationals in Bathurst. Not really being into the whole car show scene, I was entered more as a target date to get the project finished. So on the Saturday morning I picked her up from having a tune up and straight to get a wheel alignment and then home to put in a freshly painted grille that Nick had restored last minute for me. A final detail and polish and it was ready to go. After a couple of hours sleep and a 4.30am start in Surry Hills, it was down the M5 to Liverpool to pick up my mate Brian who had driven down from the Gold Coast especially for the day, and onto Campbelltown to pick up Paul and off to Bathurst we went. We refuelled at Lithgow where we noticed a dramatic drop in air temperature and not long out of Lithgow we drove into a snow storm which was very surreal and slowed our progress down, arriving at Bathurst showground around 8.30am with the gates closing at 9.00am for entrants. By this time the snow, rain and wet roads had temporarily taken its toll on that fresh paint and polish so I pulled it from the judging and parked her in the show area.

Only those of you who were there that Sunday morning know how brutally cold it really was. It was great to see Nick and Adam and their partners make the trip up and show their support. Even though they were in the middle of their Jappa bike faze.

Unfortunately I don't drive it very much,but its great to take it out on a nice sunny Sunday and go for a cruise it makes all the hard work and money worth it.

I have to thank my mate Paul Westwell the boys from McNamara's especially Nick, Adam, Sam and Rob also Dean Oakey from American Auto Parts and my wife Kerrie. Who all played a big part in getting it finished to the standard that I have wanted for over twenty years!!


Paul Thoms