Twice the muscle

Written by Kerrie Alexander

HOLDEN fans would have their jaw drop to the floor while walking up to Darryl Barns’ shed.

The sight of a stunning yellow 1976 GTS HJ Monaro and an immaculate bright blue ‘73 GTS HQ Monaro sitting side-by-side, took my breath away.

I’m secretly a fan of Holden muscle cars, and I couldn’t wait to find out more about these bad
boys, in particular the four-door HJ.

Darryl is a long-time Holden fan, much like his father, but never had the opportunity to own
muscle cars of this calibre.

As a pharmacist, husband, and father-of-four, he only ever owned sensible 4- or 6-cylinder family
orientated cars.

Now, his face lights up as he starts and revs up the 5.0 litre engine in the HQ that he bought about five years ago, which he completely rebuilt.

His focus then turns to the HJ.

The HJ was fairly rusty before the previous owner undertook a full rebuild, returning the car back to
the original Abasynth yellow paint work and trim as it was delivered from the factory.

It’s not often that buyers of classic have the privilege of knowing who owned the car from new
until now.

For Darryl, the story of the paintwork is where its history unravelled.

His go-to spray painter in Maryborough, who had done work on the blue HQ previously, worked at
Gilbert Motors in Mount Barker in South Australia in his younger years.

The story goes, Rick the painter worked at the dealership and this car was bought by the dealer
principal as his own personal car in 1976.

“Rick’s brother phoned him from South Australia and asked him if he would paint this 76 HJ Monaro
he had bought … he recognised the honeycomb rims etc and Rick asked him if it had all the paperwork, and he did,” Darryl said “It was the same car.”

Rick painted the car in an open booth in Mungar and when his brother later put it up for sale, Rick
was quick to tell Darryl, and the rest is history.

Its standout features are totally original including the honeycomb rims, four-speed manual gear box
and the vinyl seats that have been recovered, but in the original material used in the factory. The 253, 4.2 litre is also factory.

“I love that it’s all original. All too often these days young fellas buy them and flog them and just
replace the engine rather than getting the original parts and replacing them,” Darryl said.

“I bought it in excellent condition. I’ve only just given it a clean and tidy up.

“When they did it, they tried to keep it as close to factory. The only thing that I’ve done is tint the

It has been in the family for 12 months now and although the 253 engine it is not as quick as the
HQ’s, Darryl says it no “trailer queen”.

“Both my cars are drivers not hiders. It really drives well.” The HJ was in the spotlight recently at his son’s wedding, with the incredible yellow the bride’s colour of choice for the bridesmaid’s car.

As a member of Wide Bay Rodders car club, both the HJ and HQ are a regular sight in car runs and at the annual May in the Wide Bay car show.

Rick the painter is now sorry that he didn’t buy it for himself, Darryl said with a laugh. However, should Rick ever find him the right twodoor coupe … he may just have his time again.

As for the HQ, it will have its rightful spot in the garage for many years to come.