Allan Moffat's Chevrolet Monza
The controversial ex-IMSA Sports Sedan.
By Brett Jurmann
Allan Moffatís Chevrolet Monza was one of the
controversial cars in Australian motor racing. Central to the
controversy was the issue that the Monza was a GM product and Moffat was
considered Ford property. In those days it was the equivalent to Craig
Lowndes leaving the Holden Racing Team. However Ford had almost
abandoned Moffat and he needed to earn a living as a driver and at the
time, there was good money to be had in Sports Sedans.
The Monza was originally built for IMSA racing in the
U.S. and was powered by a 350c.i. stock-block Chevrolet V8, like that
used in F5000. In fact most of the leading Australian Sports Sedans of
the time used similar power plants and this is what drew the car to his
The Monza was the brain-child of Chevroletís unofficial
motorsport manager Vince Piggins, who had seen Porsche dominating the
U.S. GT scene. He proposed that Chevrolet would be prepared to build an
all-American challenger if IMSA would frame some suitable rules. He got
the nod and had a look at the Chevrolet model range. The Camaro was too
bulky, but the Monza was compact and had a naturally slippery body
shape. Despite the fact that Chevrolet were officially not racing,
Piggins enlisted the GM styling department to develop a suitable body
for racing. After some work in the Lockheed wind-tunnel in mid í74, they
created a set of pumped out panels with air dams and boxed guards.
The next step was to find a suitable contractor to build
the cars. The job went to DeKon Engineering, headed by two old friends
of Moffatís: Horst Kwech and Lee Dykstra. Kwech was an expatriate Aussie
who had moved to the U.S. to race and build Alfas and Capris. Dykstra
was a Canadian race engineer who specialised in chassis development. The
three of them had worked together on Fordís Trans Am Mustang program in
the late Ď60s and later on Moffatís B-52 Falcon project. Kwech and
Dykstra set about turning Chevroletís concepts into a race winner.
Starting with the body, as much weight was discarded as
possible, with fibreglass body extensions. Using the freedoms granted by
IMSA, they built a tubular chassis, structurally tied in to the roof.
The front suspension was fully adjustable double wishbone supported by a
fabricated tubular subframe. The IMSA rules required the original
suspension type, so DeKon used a NASCAR type solid axle with a Ford 9
inch Detroit Locker diff, located by four trailing arms and a Panhard
rod. The box flares were roomy enough for huge BBS wheels, 300mm wide at
the front and a mammoth 430mm at the rear.
The engine featured all the race proven bits including
Kinsler fuel injection, Accel electronic ignition and Weaver dry sump
lubrication. It was pushed back in the engine bay as far as possible and
located with Aluminium plates at the front and rear of the block to help
form a structural member in the engine bay. Power was then transmitted
by a Muncie close ratio four-speed gearbox with a good range of ratios.
In the boot was an oil tank for the dry sump and a 30-gallon fuel tank.
Braking was done by a set of Lockheed discs front and rear.
Kwech gave the car its debut in mid í75, trying to
develop the car during the remainder of the IMSA championship. But a
crash and subsequent engine problems prevented decent results. However
by this stage Moffat knew the car had potential and was ready to take
delivery. For the last race of the season at Daytona, DeKon entered two
cars, one for Al Unser and the other for Moffat himself. Once again
engine problems sidelined both cars, with Moffat then packing his car
off to New Zealand to take on the Mustangs of Leo Leonard and Jim
Richards and John McCormackís Charger.
The Monza debuted in Australia in early 1976 at Amaroo
Park against Pete Geogheganís Monaro before heading to Calder Park for
the Marlboro Series. The results were pretty modest, but showed the
Monza was the right kind of vehicle for the upcoming Australian Sports
Sedan Championship. But then the legal battles started when the
Australian Sports Sedan Association protested the carís eligibility.
They werenít happy about the fabricated front end, calling for the
original chassis frame to be in-situ.
Fortunately the championship didnít start until May,
which gave Moffat a couple of months to make suitable modifications to
the chassis. He also took the opportunity to get sprint specification
engines from renowned F5000 tuner, Peter Molloy. The opening round was a
Surfers Paradise and Moffat had a dream start, winning both heats. The
second round was at Sandown, where Colin Bond debuted the HDT Torana
Sports Sedan. Moffat and Geoghegan traded wins, but the Monza was
awarded the round on count-back. Next was Oran Park and Moffat again won
the first heat but was put out of the second heat by clutch failure. The
meeting was memorable for the debut of another car, Frank Gardnerís
Chevrolet Corvair, which also caused its fair share of grumbles amongst
the Sports Sedan ranks.
Minor problems saw the Monza sidelined for the Wanneroo
(now Barbagello) and AIR (Adelaide) rounds, but Moffatís old Capri gave
him another win and a third and clinched the 1976 Championship. While
Allan had been winning in Australia, back in the U.S. a change of engine
supplier saw the Monza doing the same over there. Al Holbert used a
Dekon Monza to win the IMSA GT championship for two years in a row.
Moffatís Monza won again in the Marlboro series, but then he was faced
with a dilemma. By this time his Australian Touring Car Championship
Falcon GT was heavily supported by the Ford dealer network. To avoid
stepping on any corporate toes, the Monza was moth-balled and didnít
appear again until 1979 after the Ford sponsorship had collapsed.
Unfortunately the world of Sports Sedans had been
progressing rapidly in the Monzaís absence and Gardnerís Corvair had
been dominating. The Monza was showing its lack of development and there
were more fast cars including Tony Edmondsonís Alfetta, Jim Richardís
Big M Falcon and Bob Jane and Graeme Whincupís new-generation Monzas. It
ran a few more rounds until Moffat became busy with his Mazda programme
and was eventually sold to Paul Jones and is now believed to reside in
the U.S. where ex-IMSA cars are highly collectable.
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