The Holden Monaro began its burly life as an Australian muscle car back when drugs were as abundant as big hair. The year was 1968. Johnny Cash sang live at Folsom Prison, Martin Luther King Jr was shot dead, NASA launched the first manned Apollo mission and those zany French let off their first hydrogen bomb.
Amidst all of these headlines you might not think something as subtle as a two-door coupe version of the Kingswood, based on the Opel Commodore, would make much of an impact. But then you should remember that good old saying: less is more. And in the case of 48-year-old farmer Peter Schimanski’s 2005 VZ HSV GTO, that is certainly the case.
Peter’s VZ is lavishly subtle ” okay, that might sound like an oxymoron, but don’t be too quick to judge.
Upon first glance, this Sting Red two-door might look as standard as the acting on Shortland Street [um, weren’t you Nick Harrison? Ed] but take a closer look and you’ll see some serious hints of Robert De Niro and perhaps even slight glimpses of Scarlett Johanssen. This car is silently stunning.
From the only vaguely visible Holden lion head artwork (an idea concocted by Peter’s wife, Delilah) on the subtly widened rear haunches to the chromed rollover bar, this HSV-spec Monaro emits personality through minimal use of performance aesthetics.
Add Blower, Add Power
Peter laughs in the face of the rice rocket-owning teenagers whose Lancers boast flight deck rear wings, ugly bolt-on side skirts and drainpipe exhausts. Of course, Peter has let himself loose with a little bit of bling in the form of some sexy Foose 20-inch rims, but hey, they look better than a cold beer in summer.
Under the hood you’ll find a slightly less aggressive approach to the less is more theme. The GM block has been hit hard with the horsepower hammer and as a result it thumps out a decent 360kW. That may not sound extreme but it’s the torque that impresses: 1493Nm at the wheels. That’s more than enough to rip the faces off any roadside onlookers as the red rocket thunders by. Peter has also put the numbers to the test, recording a quarter-mile run of a supercar-fast 12.4 seconds with what he casually describes as “a lot of wheel spin”.
To ensure the car had more than enough power to match its stunning looks, Peter dropped it in to Paul Manuell and the team at Eastern Automotive, where they fitted an intercooled PWR supercharger with 14lb overdrive pulley kit. Pete’s also made sure the car gets plenty to drink by way of 43lb, 700hp high-flow fuel injectors with a pump in the boot that has enough grunt to drain Lake Taupo. The GTO also likes to breath quite heavily, so Peter has helped it out with an over-the-radiator (OTR) intake system and full DiFillipo 3-inch twin-exhaust setup mated to stainless 1.875-inch extractors.Making sure that the power gets to the hind rubber is the rebuilt automatic transmission, thrown together to race box spec courtesy of parts from the US of A. This is then linked via a standard driveshaft to a Diffgears 3.9:1 differential that sends the torque through to those Foose rims shod with Falken 285/25R20 rubber. Peter has opted to continue his less is more approach when it comes to the suspension and brakes, as the HSV stockers are more than up to the job of negotiating sweepers and stopping on a 10-cent coin.
Jump inside the cabin and you’ll probably hit your head on the shiny chrome rollover bar that bends its way across the headliner above the two front seats. Best not to jump then and just sit down as normal people do. Once your bum is rested in the comfy leather HSV rump wranglers, you’ll notice that not a lot is different to the standard car. Peter has again decided that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In fact, apart from that rollover bar, nothing has changed. There are those big, red leather rib-gripping seats and the HSV lion head-emblazened leather steering wheel. Perhaps Peter could just spend a little more and at least get some fluffy dice. Nah, those are for Ford owners.
Back outside and again true to form, little is different from the standard-trim car. The rear guards have been fattened slightly by Kruzin Kustoms in Palmerston North, which also added the semi-visible HSV lion’s head emblem to the rear guards (so subtle it’s almost impossible to see in photos). This idea came to Peter’s wife Delilah in a dream. Apparently God said, “Let there be a barely visible lion’s head on the arse end of a red Holden coupe,” and there was. It’s this attention to detail that really sets the car apart from your run-of-the-mill GTO. It won’t make people’s heads turn like a modded Japanese pocket-rocket but let’s face it, that’s a good thing. What this car will do is make you stand back away and say, “Wow, look at that, I never noticed that before”. It’s a little book of secrets, with each morsel of aesthetic appeal uncovered slowly and tastefully. Except it’s not a book, it’s a car. A car with more than enough power to crush small Third World nations.
Then there’s the feeling you get when you wind the ignition key to the right and experience the almighty chest-punching thunder that comes from the mound of metal muscle under the hood. This GTO is a proper Australian muscle car. It hasn’t been ruined by the overzealous use of add ons, nor has it received so much engine treatment that it is unruly and barely worthy of street use. Peter’s GTO is an understated, immaculately presented box of wonders that keeps the viewers occupied as it slowly and seductively unveils each of its not-so-factory options ” all without whacking you in the face with vulgar use of carbon fibre and vinyl flames. It’s a bit like a good stripper, only with fewer plastic enhancements.
In 1968 Holden offered the world the Monaro. But it took until 2008 for Peter Schimanski to do it right.
2005 VZ HSV GTO Coupe
Engine: Chevy LS2 V8, ported and polished head, high-lift valve springs, race camshaft, 43lb high-flow injectors, OTR cold air box, PWR supercharger with intercooler, 14lb pulley kit
Driveline: Rebuilt automatic transmission, standard driveshaft, Diffgears 3:9 diff ratio
Wheels/Tyres: 20×8.5 and 20×10-inch Foose 20 rims, 245/30R20 and 285/25R20 Falken tyres
Exterior: Mild rear guard widening, custom HSV emblem paint, tinted windows
Interior: Stock with chrome roll bar
Performance: 360kW, 1493Nm, 12.4-second quarter mile
Previously Owned Cars: ’69 Bathurst Monaro
Dream Car: ’69 Monaro, 850+ BHP
Length Of Ownership: 3 years
Build Time: 3 years-plus
Peter thanks: Eastern Automotive, Kruzin Kustoms, Simpson’s Tyres and wife Delilah
Story: Karl Burnett | Photos: Adam Croy