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    My 2004 Monaro

    I haven’t ever written a thread about my car and it’s probably quite boring but maybe some people will enjoy it. So, apologies if the thread is a case of TLDR.

    The car is a 2004 Holden Monaro CV8-R V2 Series III. One of 320 made. The last of the original shape Monaro. At the time I was waiting around for the VZ release but after a sneak peek at one before official release thanks to Suttons Waitara I wasn’t a fan of the scoops etc and so I purchased the last 6 speed manual CV8-R available new in Australia. It was shipped in from a rural dealer in Victoria.

    I have owned many different types of cars, including 4s, 6s and V8s (more turbo’s than anything else actually) but the longest I had owned a car before the Monaro was 3 years, that car being my first V8, the HSV VP Senator 5000i that gave me my user name. Lots of mods on that car for the time including a full house 355ci stroker. It had small features in Street Commodores twice.

    Since I still enjoy every drive of the old girl, I haven’t thought about replacing it. Originally I didn’t buy the Monaro to modify it. Just added a Bilstein shock/ Eibach spring combo to reduce the SUV like ride height. With this and tinted windows the car looked awesome to me.

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    The modification path started with a “street” Rip Shifter all the way back in 2005. After a run against my mates then new EVO 9 where I kept missing the second to third shift due to the rubbery stock unit, it had to go. The supplier with it in stock was a shop called Sam’s Performance. They mentioned they were having a dyno day soon, so I decided to run it. 169 rwkw stock… a big surprise and not great… The engine mods begun shortly after. I just wanted to match the performance of the HSV GTS 300 as if I could have purchased the normal Monaro shape with the HSV mechanicals, I would have.

    First up was the exhaust. I was going to get an exhaust from Hi-Tech Mufflers in Darlinghurst after hearing one on my mates M3 but after asking for experiences on the LS forums, I got a personal message from the owner of a well known shop in the inner west (who I will call Shop 1) saying they tested these with poor results. He said check out the DPE exhaust for LS1 cars.

    From this shop I ended up purchasing the following:
    • DPE Twin 2.5” cat back stainless system with opened stock cats and “shorty” 4>1 DPE stainless extractors. My regret here was that I did not get them ceramic coated.
    • Harrop 4 piston front and rear 343/315 mm brake kit. This kit turned out to be a bit rubbish, so was replaced with a new HSV GTO AP Racing 4 piston front and rear 343 mm brake kit.
    I then added the following:
    • GTS 3.9 diff gears from Lang’s Differentials in Hornsby. Quite a noticeable difference, even over the stock 3.45 gears.
    • Tein Coilovers from Wholesale Suspension in Penrith. Great adjustability but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the automatic dampening adjustment I desired as the motors didn’t fit without cutting the bonnet.
    • A few bits of stereo gear and an Optima Yellow top battery.
    Last edited by HSV Senator; 30-12-19, 03:52 PM.

    #2
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    A mate of mine mentioned to me that a new shop was opening up just past Liverpool where he was having 7.7 litre motor built for his CV8-R to race in super sprints, I decided to give them a try with a Mafless tune (I will call these guys shop 2). I also added an “alloy” HPF OTRCAI. The result was 228 rwkw on their Dyno. A huge improvement over stock for such small mods!

    I decided to have my first go at drag racing at a forum organised drag day (had only raced around circuits before with my previous cars). The result was 13.0 flat @ 110 with a 2.0 60ft. 100% street trim with of a tank petrol in the middle of a hot day. I would have liked to slip into the 12s but I launch pretty softly.

    It was again time for a little more power. After testing a few cams in other people’s cars, from big thumpers down to a 220/220 112 cam that was popular at the time, I decided on a “secret” custom grind baby cam (I was told it was a 216/220) from the same shop that did my earlier tune. The mod history with these guys (all measured on their dyno) went as follows:
    • Dus OTRCAI and ported TB + Baby Cam + 25% UDP + double row timing chain = 258 rwkw
    • 241 CNC Ported Higgins heads + Sureflow metal 100cpi cats = 296 rwkw
    I also ran the full combo up on the Castle Hill Exhaust Dyno where it ran 294 rwkw.

    All these mods resulted in a worn stock clutch. I imported an LS7 kit from the recently released Corvette and had it installed. Great feel and much stronger than the stocker. It’s still in the car today. No good if you like to race but nice on the street.
    I then attended another Forum drag day and on my second attempt at running at the drags, again in 100% street trim and warm conditions, the car ran a best of 12.6 @114 with a 2.0 60ft again. I was really happy with this time as very few people were bettering that in a manual in full street trim back in those days and I was hardly an experienced racer... I’m sure with more skill than I had (plus more revs off the line) a better time was in that combo.

    The car had great performance for back in those days. Decent fuel economy too, dipping into the low 9s on trips. Unfortunately, it also had some rubbish manors low down. It bucked and surged without dipping the clutch. That and a really noisy valve train from the Comp cam were my only complaints. Shop 2 told me I needed a wider LSA to get rid of the bucking. I was running the only baby cam option they had at that time (early cam days) so I looked around at other options from different performance shops but decided to just deal with it since I loved the way the cam performed.

    I swapped out the Tein coilovers for another Bilstein shocks/ Eibach springs suspension combo after the rear Teins flogged out (repaired under warranty and sold) and added a Power steering cooler that I grabbed in a group buy. While I still didn’t like the rubbish low down manors or noisy as hell valvetrain (so often considered swapping the cam), the car remained in this form for nearly a decade while I went through a few other cars. Just enjoying the Monaro for occasional Sunday drives.
    Last edited by HSV Senator; 30-12-19, 03:44 PM.

    Comment


      #3
      In early 2018 the engine started to make a grinding noise. I suspected lifters but I knew the top end would need to come apart either way. I decided it was time for a cam change. Lots of research into cams using the info that shop 2 had told me about what I should choose for better manors and my existing combo. Although, over the years I had picked at them about the combos specs but still all I knew was that the current cam was 216/220 112 with somewhere around .600 lift.

      Wanting a smooth and quiet valvetrain and the recommended wide LSA I imported a Cam Motion 218/226 .595/.587 116 cam along with PAC 1218 valve springs. As a bonus, this cam could also run well with Forced Induction if I decided to go down that path. I then attempted to book back into shop 2. I could not get these guys on the phone for months they were that busy! I couldn’t drive the car much in it’s current state so I decided to take it back to shop 1.

      They pulled the top end apart and the stock lifters had stuffed up as expected and chewed the lobes on the cam. Strangely there was no performance pushrods fitted either which probably contributed to the noise. The new shop installed measured Manley Pushrods, the new cam and redid the heads (which were on backwards for some reason) with the new valve springs, VCM trunnion upgrade, gaskets etc plus LS7 lifters. Then he gave the car a Mafless retune via a new computer I purchased from Holden since the original was locked.

      I won’t go into any details, but this went very badly on a few fronts with this very well known shop. Especially considering other than a disagreement over a scratched wheel I had a good experience with them previously. The result, performance wise, was not much better. The car made 280 rwkw on their dyno. The car was much slower everywhere, especially down low and chewed fuel like crazy. The shop owner even commented when I picked up the car that it didn’t go like before with the previous cam. It was very smooth but had no go until you hit over 3000 rpm and then died at 5800 rpm. It still surged at low rpm too…

      This was confusing to me as I believed the cam wasn’t that different to the one it replaced and was sold to me by Cam Motion as a good replacement for this cam that wouldn’t lose any performance. It should have been very easy to tune too, with -10 overlap. Scratching my head, I thought the car may have a mechanical issue. I got it checked by a different mechanic who knows these cars well, it got a clean bill of health. I then got him to fit colder plugs and new leads just in case since these were actually the originals! Hmmm…

      With nothing more to go on, I had a chat with shop 2 (by turning up on the doorstep!) and they confirmed that my original drivability issues were not to do with the cam but actually their tune! Just commenting that they had learnt a lot in the many years since they tuned my car. Refreshingly honest! They couldn’t really offer me anything other than wanting to retune the car. They thought the cam should work.

      I then decided to find out exactly what the old “custom” cam was. Sent it off to Cam Tech in Sydney and they gave me a report. It turns out that it wasn’t a 216/220. It was smaller. It was a 214/217 .600/.587 112+4. That has quite a different set of events to the 218/226 .595/.587 116+4. This would go a long way to explaining the different feel of the two cams. Probably not the power difference but whatever. Still, it shouldn’t feel as different as it does down low. So, I had another tuner check out the tune. Nothing obvious relating to performance but he showed me some aspects of the tune that other people may be ok with, but I am not.
      Last edited by HSV Senator; 30-12-19, 03:27 PM.

      Comment


        #4
        I think these are aging bloody well. Very desirable IMO, especially without the Pontiac bonnet...

        Comment


          #5
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          I am now working out what I want to do. I will retune at a minimum, but I have gone off the Forced Induction plan, I originally really wanted to go turbo but shop 1 and 2 warned me off it for my car/ needs. Both reckon top mount Supercharger but I just can’t get into the sound. Now I am thinking about changing the cam again instead. I don’t race the car so the Heads and cam is probably enough for the street. I purchased a VCM OTRCAI and 85mm MAF already. I think I will just get an off the shelf 212/218 .600/.600 112+2 from TSP.
          I have learnt heaps over the years I have had this car. Things I would not do again:
          • I would now not ever just allow a shop to fit a “secret” package. I don’t care what their reasoning is. If I am buying it, I want to know what it is. Even now I have no idea what the compression of the heads are which makes it hard to know how to mod it. Especially difficult if the shop themselves can’t remember exactly what was done to the car.
          • I don’t want a locked ECU, it not only locks you into that tuner, unless you go and buy another ECU like I did – not cheap from Holden and probably not even possible now.
          • I wouldn’t allow anyone to tell me what combo I must have. Too often the recommendations are wrong and based on what the shop can make more out of rather than what the customer is asking for. I had to educate myself on cams but it was worth it.
          • I now know that there are tuners out there that will just tune whatever you have, no BS, just tuning from scratch. Forums give you a warped perspective on this.
          So still some changes ahead for this car.
          Last edited by HSV Senator; 30-12-19, 03:30 PM.

          Comment


            #6
            Great read. Your experience mirrors many car enthusiasts I'm afraid. I can certainly recommend Dale on here from personal experience with my G6E turbo tune if you're still looking.

            Comment


              #7
              • I would now not ever just allow a shop to fit a “secret” package. I don’t care what their reasoning is. If I am buying it, I want to know what it is. Even now I have no idea what the compression of the heads are which makes it hard to know how to mod it. Especially difficult if the shop themselves can’t remember exactly what was done to the car.
              • I don’t want a locked ECU, it not only locks you into that tuner, unless you go and buy another ECU like I did – not cheap from Holden and probably not even possible now.
              • I wouldn’t allow anyone to tell me what combo I must have. Too often the recommendations are wrong and based on what the shop can make more out of rather than what the customer is asking for. I had to educate myself on cams but it was worth it.
              • I now know that there are tuners out there that will just tune whatever you have, no BS, just tuning from scratch. Forums give you a warped perspective on this.
              Do shops still pull this "Stage x with a secret sauce cam spec and locked ECU" bullshit even today? Wow...
              Originally posted by Motherfucker Jones
              If you can't appreciate that then you are more narrow minded than the most mulleted, flanno, thong wearing, thong slapping, 253 owning, southern cross tatted, fuck off
              we're full stickered, VB drinking bogan you'll ever meet

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by richzx View Post
                Great read. Your experience mirrors many car enthusiasts I'm afraid. I can certainly recommend Dale on here from personal experience with my G6E turbo tune if you're still looking.
                Thanks richzx, I wasn't sure if I was posting too much text but then I thought, why not. I won’t say it’s been a disappointing run with the car, it’s really been a fantastic car. Ignoring the issues created by mods, the car has been faultless and a joy to own. Its now become more of an emotional ownership, there’s many faster, better handling cars that I could replace it with but this car is special to me. However, as you indicate is often the case with modified cars, interactions with workshops is a different matter! Thanks for the recommendation too.
                Last edited by HSV Senator; 30-12-19, 04:08 PM.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by krisr View Post

                  Do shops still pull this "Stage x with a secret sauce cam spec and locked ECU" bullshit even today? Wow...
                  I am aware that Shop 1 and 2 from my posts above do still do this. I'm sure that they would give you the info if you were buying though, my experience is over nearly 16 years of ownership. The secret squirrel business was the way back in the day though!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Did any of the involved shops check the cam timing? Not just 'line the dots up', but properly using a degree wheel? (This would've taken a few hours labour...)

                    218/226 and 116LSA isn't exactly a wild stick for an LS1, and should be pretty much somewhere between 'great' and 'fucking awesome' with 3.9 gears and 6 speed I would've thought? (Unless the timing was fucked up at install, leading to a slow, lethargic pig down low and all the power coming on suddenly at higher RPM...)
                    Last edited by andy_wk; 30-12-19, 04:20 PM.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by andy_wk View Post
                      Did any of the involved shops check the cam timing? Not just 'line the dots up', but properly using a degree wheel? (This would've taken a few hours labour...)

                      218/226 and 116LSA isn't exactly a wild stick for an LS1, and should be pretty much somewhere between 'great' and 'fucking awesome' with 3.9 gears and 6 speed I would've thought? (Unless the timing was fucked up at install, leading to a slow, lethargic pig down low and all the power coming on suddenly at higher RPM...)
                      I asked this question and was told it was just installed dot to dot. Shop 1 was adamant it is just the cam itself, not the install. I have also considered playing around the cam timing to move the power band a little lower but I would imagine the top end would then be terrible. I then thought, stuff it, just replace the cam. The low end difference does make sense when you actually look at the valve events too. Possibly the "shorty" headers are holding back the bigger cam up top too.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I'd wager that if you got it dialled in properly (ie to the grinder's specs) you'd get gains everywhere (with the only exception being the peak power figure on the dyno, which might come down to a more realistic 250-260kw... )

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by andy_wk View Post
                          I'd wager that if you got it dialled in properly (ie to the grinder's specs) you'd get gains everywhere (with the only exception being the peak power figure on the dyno, which might come down to a more realistic 250-260kw... )

                          I don't think Dale from CHE would like you suggesting his Dyno was that far wrong! It was a very honest dyno and matched the other Dyno it ran on. The power it made basically matched the times/ mph it ran at the strip.

                          I thought similar about the new cam before I understood what was happening. If you actually plug the valve events into a calculator you can see the issue:


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                          The key is IVC of 35 vs 41 and EVO of 44 vs 53. That is what has dropped the low down so badly. My issue was that I didnt have the right info to make the comparison in the first place when I chose the replacement cam (thanks to the secret squirrel stuff). So as mentioned I was looking at playing with the advance but I think its better to just get a cam with the right events and not affect the top end so badly. To ger around this with the bigger cam I need to shorten the LSA which would change the overlap. I don't want to do that as it produces a set of manors that I don't want. So I would stick with a smaller duration.

                          EDIT: The other issue is that I dont know what the compression ratio of the Higgins heads was (again secrets) so its possible that shop 1 used different head gaskets and lowered the compression ratio.
                          Last edited by HSV Senator; 30-12-19, 05:53 PM.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Most of the cnc heads I see advertised usually cop 30 thou shave so might be able to work it out roughly if you know pushrod length & headgasket thickness.

                            Wondering if funny dip/hunting issue in tune was done by same shop that did my vy ss ute back in the day...it was a minor thing but could be replicated easily.

                            Yeah you have had a shit go with a few shops...similar to my experiences with fabricators & panelshops which is why nobody has seen my lc gtr for years.

                            Did it have stock pushrods put back in after first heads/cam change?
                            an easy fix is get a mate to drive in front of you at 60 then 80 then 100 and mark in on your speedo with some liquid paper.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by 1uz-zte View Post
                              I think these are aging bloody well. Very desirable IMO, especially without the Pontiac bonnet...
                              +1

                              Agree with all your dot points.
                              Appreciate the right level of detail so far. Looking forward to more.

                              Comment

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