Some of you are pretty familiar with the big, black, Monaro money pit that has provided so much filler material for our Christmas letters. I have achieved another milestone with her and I thought you’d all love to get an update. At the moment I almost think it’s all been worth it again, even though the entire experience has played merry hell with my state of mind.
A lot of time has passed since the beginning of the Monaro restoration project. 6 years 7 months and 20 days worth to be precise. When I look back through the receipts and remember the rip offs, the failed parts, the injuries and pain I wonder, what the hell was I thinking?
Being told ‘it can’t be done’ has been a major incentive to continue dragging this old bitch back into life. Some said she’d have been better off left quietly rusting away in the field she was found in. Many repairers tried to warn me off her charms but, young and confident, I wouldn’t be told.
The first hurdle was NSW’s Roads and Traffic Authority. They weren’t too keen on giving me rego plates. The car had no compliance plates, no record of previous registration, and major modifications. In the end, I not only managed to get NSW plates on her, but she was motivated by 500+ horsepower as well. (That was the engine I blew up on our way from Orange to Sarina).
Then I had to deal with Qld laws and requirements. (They are completely different of course.) They shook their heads and said it can’t be done here too. For three and a half years I did my research and bought the parts to make it compliant and fitted a detuned version of the first motor. I’m here to tell you that a 400 rear wheel horsepower Monaro is sitting in the carport with Qld plates on it. Can’t wait to fill it with fuel for the first time at $1.80 a litre.
This massive effort has drained any urge for future restorations. The wife must be breathing a sigh of relief. It has, however, taught me many things that maybe could have stayed undiscovered. I know exactly how angry I can get without screaming (and beyond). I know one in ten bolts will strip. I know the one that strips will be in the most awkward position and will always be a special bolt not available anymore.
I wanted to finish what I started though, and the lack of knowledge, tools, and workshop space only made me more determined not to fail. Failing would give all those I-told-you-so insufferable pricks the ammunition they’d need to remind me forever after that they were right. I couldn’t allow that.
It’s hard to justify the highs with the lows though. The highs were great. There’s the two rego achievements motioned above where I got to drive around giving my detractors the finger. The first drive and burnout with a 500 HP motor. The first drive and burnout with a 400 HP motor. The Monaro’s at Bathurst weekend with 400 Monaro’s from around Australia. The first 100 metre long burnout with sun hardened tyres on the way to get new ones fitted. You get the picture.
The Monaro now waits patiently to be taken out on the odd occasion and treated in a manner befitting her general attitude. It’s a nasty attitude; she likes to hurt me. She’s spent long enough languishing in the carport, providing a home to spiders and ants and depressing me every time I looked at it. For now she’s finished with being shipped off to various repairers, gutted and molested, and fitted with Ford parts (diff).
That is until I build up the courage to get her painted. Then it all starts again.
I must take this opportunity to defend myself against something I heard a lot of during the build. To the arrogant ‘if only he’d put his talent/money/time to some other use’ people.
Talent? I’ve learned plenty of useful skills and techniques while working on that heap of crap.
Money? I wouldn’t have that money anyway. I only worked two jobs a day and did 31 hours straight every weekend for 6 months to pay for the first motor. (I have an aversion to loaning money from banks.) I stayed with companies far too long and took far more shit from bosses and co-workers than I would have normally because I wanted to finish the second motor. That money was earned for a purpose and its purpose has been achieved. There will be no ‘if only’ breast beating from me.
Time? Well, I could have gotten pretty good at my Playstation games if I hadn’t been lying under the car on freezing concrete, ramming my head into sharp protrusions and smashing my knuckles while rounding off bolts. Fair call on that one.
I might as well remind the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s while I’m feeling so high and mighty. Your arguments don't wash around here, there’s no excuse other than laziness not to achieve at least one of your goals. It might not be much compensation for what you have gone through, but you get to stick it up everyone else who can’t be bothered.
Regardless of past dramas, I’m going to feel good about myself, even if it’s for the briefest time. I persevered and I won.