Aaron Jenkins is a 33-year-old painter and a born and bred Waikato boy. He’s always been keen on fast cars. He raced an 11-second Capri running nitrous in his 20s. Then he tested his driving talents in the dirt bike and water skiing scenes, but after 10 years he had a yearning to head back to something with four wheels — something bigger and faster.
Aaron heard through the grapevine that a fellow Hamiltonian was thinking of selling an unfinished car; a 1972 Monaro. With a little encouragement from some of his mates, Aaron quickly took the opportunity to purchase the vehicle before it officially went on the market. The yellow Holden (with the correct number of doors) was formerly a six cylinder car, but arrived at Aaron’s house without the engine and trans. It was also a little lower than you see it here.
Aaron’s first priority was to adjust the ride height. As it was, he couldn’t get his creeper under the car. Now, I’ve got to ask: how many people actually buy a car and decide it’s too low? Aaron did. He found the car so low that he had no option but to add a few inches back on. The project continued, albeit slowly. There were a few issues with ‘her indoors’. “She was always complaining about me spending money on it, and then complaining about it not going.” This unproductive situation soon meant Aaron was a single man again, which allowed him to focus all his energy on the Holden. “It was great,” chuckled Aaron, “I got rid of the wife and the car came together in six months.”
HQ Monaros are scarce these days. With the Kiwi dollar’s recent strength there are considerably more American vehicles of the pro street genre in circulation. Aaron likes the fact that the car isn’t a Camaro. “They’re belly button cars; I used to like ’em, but everyone’s got one. Monaros are a good size car and the engine bay swallows a big block with no cutting and plenty of room.” The HQ is loud and stands out from the crowd. It suits his personality. Although the body was in good condition, the existing yellow wasn’t quite right. Another two applications of the Anything But Mellow Yellow by Craig and Jude Napp sorted that out.
The front suspension is HQ stock apart from the King springs and 90/10 drag shocks. The rear also features King springs and gas shocks with a few modifications to the factory four link to make the street car hook up like a race car. Some 15×7 Cragar Streetstars shod with 215×15 BFGs keep it pointing in the right direction, while the 265 BFGs at the business end put the power down on the tarmac. Hanging on for dear life is a 3:7 geared, nine-inch limited slip diff centre (built by Diffs R Us) with Holden tubes and axles.
In the transmission department, he installed a Chuck Mann-built Turbo 400. This box has a manual valve body with a 3500 Rpm stall converter. Aaron hasn’t tried to re-invent the wheel here, he’s gone with companies who have proven they know what they’re doing.
Previously, the car had a good 454 with closed chamber heads that Aaron mortally wounded (although the engine still got him home). Rather than repair it, he decided that bigger would be better. He got Cambridge Engine Services to assemble a very workable street and strip combination. “They asked me what I wanted and I said ‘more power’,” says Aaron. They built a stroker 496 big block Chevy using an Eagle rotating assembly. The camshaft is a custom mechanical grind and the cylinder heads are aluminium Edlebrock Performer RPMs. There is an unused NOS nitrous system mounted on the Weiand tunnel ram that funnels lots of pump gas from two Holley 660 carburettors. An MSD ignition lights the spark, then the spent mixture gets pushed out into a set of Tri-ys headers and a massive twin exhaust system. At this point in Aaron’s life, it was all about ‘out with the old and in with the new’. The original upholstery was replaced with new clean trim in black by Roger Boil. A custom dash, DVD player, Auto Meter gauges and a B&M shifter complete the interior.
Catch Me If You Can
Aaron uses his street/strip combo when he can. He’ll be taking his kids to the school ball in it shortly and likes to cruise without the bonnet to show off the impressively shiny horsepower maker. The pristine Holden has regularly been tormenting the streets of a little Waikato township for the last two years. Needless to say, the odd neighbour has contacted the local constabulary, who have provided a stiff warning, but are yet to catch the elusive yellow Monaro in the act. You wouldn’t have to be Tonto to track this Holden to it’s home. The entrance to Aaron’s driveway is layered with enough rubber to make you think you were on the start line of a drag strip.
When we went for a ride it took me two seconds to realise why Aaron’s new partner Kelly made it quite clear she’d rather be behind the wheel than in the passenger seat. The big block was extremely responsive, confirming that performance-built street cars are way cool. This thought was quickly followed by the notion that I should have put my seatbelt on before the car started moving.
We soon experienced a sustained loss of traction and a definite burst of acceleration and exhilaration — and we were only just pulling out of the driveway. Don’t you just love the feeling of speed fraught with danger and doing something really, really naughty?
After a few more very quick straights, I engaged my chauffeur in conversation. I hoped I could distract him enough to keep him from further proving the car is as beastly as he had indicated. While it is beastly, I also found it surprisingly comfortable. No wallows, drive shaft vibrations or unruly rattles — just a nice smooth, straight and firm ride.
Aaron reckons the DVD player is for the kids, but for some reason it was featuring a Summernats burnout competition, not the latest Sponge Bob movie. With a final dry hop into the driveway, we were back. I jumped out babbling at a hundred miles an hour about how I wanted a big block and — just as if I’d been on a amusement park ride — wore a smile that lasted until I got home.
Burn Baby Burn
So why all the skids? Because they feel good! Burnouts and burnout competitions are two of Aaron’s favourite things. He won the Fathers Day Burnout competition at Champion Dragway. He then debuted the Monaro with its new engine combination at the NZV8 vs New Zealand Performance Car Dragmasters event in January. He took out the 10.90 fixed index bracket and had an absolute blast. “The day couldn’t have got any better. I won my bracket, the car performed its best ever with a 10.70 @, 126mph, and I got to do some fun skids in the burnout competition afterwards. It just doesn’t get any better than that,” says Aaron. His next step is to put a roll cage in the car and get his 250hp NOS kit operable. “A bit of nitrous should sort things out. I’m looking forward to pushing the button. I hope to get close to a second out of running nitrous on it,” he says. Expect to see Aaron at the races a little more. He’s getting a huge kick out of having a quick, full-bodied, low maintenance car that he can race all day without any hassles.
Showing his competitive streak, Aaron explained that he loves close racing with his opponents. “One of the best races I’ve had was with Dave Bisset in his Fairlane, who I only beat by a whisker. What a fantastic race. I also love racing T-buckets or light cars that expect the Monaro to be quite a slug. They’re surprised by how quick it is”. Aaron’s ultimate car is a nine-second street and strip machine, and it looks like he’s set to achieve just that.
1972 Holden HQ Monaro SS/AA
Engine: 496 big block Chev, aluminium Edelbrock PerformerRPM heads, Eagle rods pistons and crank, Weiand tunnel ram, two 660 Holley carburettors, NOS 250hp kit, MSD ignition, Tri-y 2.5-inch exhaust system.
Driveline: TH400 manual valve body trans, 3500 stall converter, nine-inch diff with Holden axles and tubes, 3.7:1 ratio, LSD.
Suspension: Front — lowered King springs, 90/10 shocks Rear — lowered King springs,
Wheels and Tyres: Front — 15×7 Crager Street Stars 215/65/15 BF Goodrich Rear — 15×8 Crager Street Stars 255/50/15 BF Goodrich
Performance: Best ET: 10.7, best mph: 126 486hp at the wheels, 596hp with a bit of laughing gas (more to come)
Previously owned cars: 1970 Capri
Length of ownership: 5 years
Thanks to: Cambridge Engine Services, Craig and Judd Napp, Chuck Mann, Diffs R Us, Luke Melton, Roger Boil and Matangi Motors