The car the team over at NZV8 has chosen as their Weekly Motor Fix is a strange one — it’s no show pony; in fact it’s rough as guts, and that’s why it appeals to us so much. What you’re looking at is a late-model Holden Monaro owned by Maurice Shapley. We can’t tell you whether it’s a VX or VY, but we can tell you that to write it off as a half-baked race car would be gravely wrong.
Maurice’s Monaro is a full-blown race car, and he has modified it beyond recognition where it counts, and not where it doesn’t. As such, one of the most glaring modifications becomes obvious once the vented bonnet is raised — the engine looks like what you’d expect to see under there, but it is not where you’d expect.
In the pursuit of handling, Maurice has recessed the stock LS2 by 300mm — a modification that he claims has netted him an extra two seconds per lap everywhere. Of course, you don’t simply shift the engine rearwards and carry on your merry way. The firewall needed to be cut out to accommodate the large portion of LS2 now sitting within the cabin, and a new recessed firewall has been fabricated to suit.
There isn’t much of an interior to speak of, naturally. Carpet, rear seats, and a radio won’t help Maurice get around a track any quicker, so they ended up in the bin. What he does have with him inside the car is all functional. The MSD 6LS ignition control sits on the firewall, presumably for easy access, and nearer the driver’s seat is a switch panel controlling the Monaro’s vitals, along with the Tremec T56’s long shifter within easy reach.
The two most important of gauges — water temperature and oil pressure — are housed in Steinlager cans. Though the weight-saving benefits of using beer cans as gauge cups is evident, we think these might have been used more for their Kiwi cool factor than anything else.
Following what we mentioned about making changes where it counts, the Monaro still runs standard lower-control arms and the factory ABS system. The LS2 is stock, though it has had its rotating mass balanced. Despite what some might assume would be a severe shortfall in power, the Monaro’s extraordinary handling has seen it lap Pukekohe in one minute and 14 seconds — though Maurice races in the (relatively) relaxed NZGT class, his lap times are getting to the stage where he’s close to breaking out to the tougher GT2 class.
Next time you think you need buy power or a flashy paint job to get things done, remember Maurice and his Monaro — taking a smart approach to outside-the-box thinking can, as you can see here, pay dividends.