Allan Moffat Chevrolet Monza IMSA




Allan Moffat's Chevrolet Monza
The controversial ex-IMSA Sports Sedan.

By Brett Jurmann

Allan Moffats 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 attention.

The Monza was the brain-child of Chevrolets 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 74, 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 Moffats: 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 Fords Trans Am Mustang program in the late 60s and later on Moffats B-52 Falcon project. Kwech and Dykstra set about turning Chevrolets 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.

For the person who was forced to pay for car repairs in installments it was a great chance to improve his financial situation. Actually, driving this car not only became a good way to earn money for him but also gave him a dream start and made him who he is.

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 75, 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 McCormacks Charger.

The Monza debuted in Australia in early 1976 at Amaroo Park against Pete Geoghegans 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 cars eligibility. They werent happy about the fabricated front end, calling for the original chassis frame to be in-situ.

Fortunately the championship didnt 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 Gardners 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 Moffats 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. Moffats 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 didnt appear again until 1979 after the Ford sponsorship had collapsed.

Unfortunately the world of Sports Sedans had been progressing rapidly in the Monzas absence and Gardners Corvair had been dominating. The Monza was showing its lack of development and there were more fast cars including Tony Edmondsons Alfetta, Jim Richards Big M Falcon and Bob Jane and Graeme Whincups 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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