Ever since he made his rallying debut in the 1990s as an entrant in the ARN Junior Rally Challenge, South Australia’s Jack Monkhouse has been one of the most popular drivers in the sport.
Primarily, it’s been his exciting, sideways driving style that has attracted the most attention – and 4960 Facebook friends have since joined the ‘follow Jack’s escapades’ party.
Monkhouse started his rallying career in a Datsun 180B, then moved on to a Mitsubishi Galant VR4, a Lancer Evo 7 and a couple of Nissan Silvias, competing in the Australian Rally Championship.
When his Silvia was totally destroyed after a horrifying accident in his home ARC round in 2014, his thoughts eventually returned back to his Datsun 180B that, ironically, was still sitting in his shed.
This wasn his original 180B, although he did drive a Datsun 1200 Coupe for his first two years rallying, but the 180B had plenty of history in Monkhouse’s hands.
“I bought the car from Paul Bray in 2000, after he bought the car in the late 80s off an elderly one-owner,” Monkhouse says. “It had won the NSW P3 class a couple of times.
“It was my second ever rally car. I was a first-year toolmaker apprentice so got a loan to buy the car and ran it in the state championship for two years, and nearly won the 2001 championship outright – had it not been for a fan belt failure two stages from the finish.
“I drove it to my 21st birthday and treasured the damn thing! It had a few years off while I did the ARC in a VR4 Galant, then an Evo7.
“It got a half decent makeover in 2007 and I did about three rallies per year in it, before building the Silvia in 2011.
“The Datto again got a couple of years rest again while I chased the ARC in the S15 (Silvia), before bringing it back out of the shed and winning the biggest classic rally in the country, the Alpine, in 2015. The weekend after, I drove it in my wedding!”
The Alpine Rally success highlighted Sydney-based Monkhouse’s talent as he beat an extremely strong field in the three-day event, but he knew that if he was to defend his title two years later, the car needed a ground-up rebuild.
“It was time for a huge makeover as the car was very basic. It had a terrible old roll cage, standard wiring with glass fuses, single piston brake calipers, and other things that needed updating,” he explains.
“I was actually going to throw out the shell and build a new one from scratch, but my panel beater, Brad, convinced me to keep it and that we could fix the old girl!
“So, I stripped it to a bare shell, sent it to the acid dippers, took it to Adelaide to have the worn-out floor pan replaced, took it back to Sydney to have Bond Roll Bars put in the new cage, then back to Adelaide for paint, assembly and wiring.
A strong performance at Rally Australia would have netted Monkhouse third in the ARC field. Photo: Peter Whitten
“It was then back to Sydney for the final touches and dyno tuning. We are still fine tuning the whole package, but with time I hope to make it a seriously bullet proof Datto capable of winning the Alpine again.”
While Monkhouse wasn’t able to successfully defend his Alpine Rally crown in 2017, the car recently completed Kennards Hire Rally Australia, where he once again got the crowds cheering with his flamboyant style.
Incredibly, had Monkhouse been entered in the ARC component of the rally, he would have finished third outright!
RallySport Magazine took a close look at the car to discover what makes it so special.
Jack and Angela Monkhouse with the rally-winning Datsun 180B SSS. Photo: Dave King
It’s easy to forget that the Datsun 180B SSS is now 45 years old! This is a 1973 model which, as explained above, has been acid dipped back to bare metal.
Brad Ray has done all the paint and panel work with a brilliant coat that features Mitsubishi Evo 7 blue on the outside, and Mitsubishi metallic silver inside.
The Bond Roll Bars cage features extensive tower-to-tower Tig welded bars, Bond Roll Bars seat mounts and sill panel stand mounts, fiberglass flares, bonnet, boot and bumpers, Lexan windows, and doors filled with FIA side impact foam.
Stainless steel sill panel protectors help protect the car, as does fibreglass underbody protection, and GregTech Carbon Kevlar flare protectors.
The carbon roof vent is from Autosport in Adelaide, while all signwriting has been done by Street Impact Design.
The 180B's roll cage is a far cry from the original cage when Monkhouse purchased the car.
Like in any rally car, it’s what’s under the bonnet that makes it a winner …. or not.
The Monkhouse 180B SSS features a Waterhouse Performance Datsun L-series/KA stroker engine. It’s a 4-cylinder with a twin cam head, Kelford cams, forged pistons, and twin Jenvy Heritage 48DCOE throttle bodies with drive-by-wire throttle.
An EMTRON KV8 ECU gives the engines its smarts, while an Xtreme single plate clutch, Koyorad radiator, twin EL Falcon thermo fans ($50 from the wreckers), Fast Eddy extractors, Waterhouse Performance winged sump, Solid Engineering inlet manifold and catch can, and Speedflow braided hose and fittings throughout ensure that reliability is as good as can be expected in a high-revving rally engine.
The car sports a Datsun L-series/KA stroker engine that produces good power.
Power is sent from the engine to the road via a PPG S14 5-speed dog box that has been adapted to fit the 180B by Benjineering (Jack’s brother’s business).
An R200 4.8:1 differential with Cusco centre drives the ample horsepower to the rear wheels, and Waterhouse Performance driveshafts with CV joints help keep those wheels spinning.
One of the greatest developments in rally cars over recent years has been in the area of suspension. A Datsun 180B competing in the 1976 Southern Cross Rally may have been fun to drive, but modern day technology ensures that the same car in 2018 is literally worlds (and decades) apart.
Former Australian Rally Champion, Murray Coote, has supplied his MCA Gold series suspension that comes with remote canisters.
“Need I say any more?” asks Monkhouse.
The suspension offers complete high and low speed bump and rebound adjustment, with King springs all round.
The car also sports adjustable lower front arms from Waterhouse Performance, and castor rods and strengthened and adjustable rear swing arms from SW Motorsport. BRAKES
Of course, it’s all very well to go like the clappers and have a car that handles like it’s on rails, but you also need to be able to stop in a hurry.
At the front, the 180B has Nissan R33 4-spot calipers, with Xtreme Brake pads, and DBA slotted and vented rotors.
Interestingly, the calipers are the only parts that were able to be saved off the aforementioned burnt S15. Mazda FD 4-spot calipers with Xtreme Brake pads and DBA slotted and vented rotors are fitted to the rear of the car.
There’s also a Tilton hanging pedal box, the original hydraulic handbrake from 2000, and ADR approved braided lines throughout.
WHEELS / TYRES
Any Datsun worth its salt needs a set of Enkei wheels, and this one fits the bill perfectly.
Enkei Compe 15x7’s (with zero offset) are fitted all round, wrapped in Pirelli GM front tyres, and Ks on the rear.
Everything mentioned above could be viewed as standard fitment in a 2018-spec Datsun, and there may be other similar spec cars around.
So, it’s in the detail where an owner can really set themselves apart – something that Monkhouse has more than achieved.
You really need to see the attention to detail to appreciate it properly, but hopefully our photos do it justice.
In short, the interior features:
VELO Apex Carbon Kevlar seats, VELO 6-point WRC belts, Stilo WRC intercom, VELO suede dished steering wheel, and a MOTEC C125 dash that logs everything from brake/water/fuel/oil pressures, oil/water temps, engine parameters and g-forces.
Then there’s a MOTEC keypad, MOTEC PDM 30, first aid kit, custom RallySafe mount in dashboard, seatbelt cutter/glass breaker, heated windscreen, an amazing WRC-spec wiring harness throughout the car by Alex at ACE Motorsport, and a removable footrest to adapt different sized co-drivers.
GregTech handmade solid brake and fuel lines run throughout cabin, there’s carbon door, rear quarter, parcel shelf and firewall trims, a GregTech custom dash, Waterhouse Performance electric steering column, Isuzu Dmax combo switch and wiper motor, FIA cage padding throughout, and a Driving Sports Management Fireball Solution finishes the job.
Moving to the rear of the car, a 60-litre Bond Roll Bars alloy fuel tank (with inbuilt swirl pot) is attached to an EFI fuel pump, filter and regulator, while a custom spare wheel mount, rattle gun, and an ‘eBay special’ Mercedes sill panel jack are at the ready in case of a puncture mid-stage.
It all adds up to a very tidy package, and one most rival competitors are envious of .
This modern-day Datsun 180B SSS really is a work of art and is a credit to all involved in its re-build.
No rally car is ever a one-man show, and Jack’s list of those to acknowledge is a long one worthy of mentioning.
We’ll hand over to him for the final thanks …
• My amazing wife Ange. I have no idea how you understand my love/passion for this car and let me spend so much time and money on it, but thanks so much!
• Brad the panel beater/painter extraordinaire! Thanks for putting in so many huge days/weeks and bringing the old girl back from the dead. A true showpiece of what you’re amazing skills are capable of.
• Doctor Bill and Greggo for all the amazing handmade one-offs and 100s of hours gone into piercing the puzzle together from scratch. You guys really made this project what it is today.
• Peter and Kazu from Bond Roll Bars. True industry leaders when it comes to roll cages and rally car fabrication.
• Jamie, Rae, Logan and the whole family from Waterhouse Performance. Wow, where do I start? You guys have put an unthinkable amount of hours into this car, even when I’m away working interstate, so I’m forever in debt to you all for that.
• Scott from EMTRON ECU/Insight motorsports for all the after hours tuning and help setting up the car to its full potential.
• Alex from ACE motorsports for the world class wiring harness that normally takes a month, but he worked day and night to knock it off in half that time.
• Murray and Linda from MCA Suspension for the best shocks on the market.
• Brenton, Sophie and Chris from Xtreme Clutch/Brake for all the support setting the car up and continuing to maintain it with the best components.
• Mick from Rallyschool.com.au has provided sheds, storage, tools, tow cars, trailers and basically anything required to make the project happen, even though you think we should have thrown it out and started again with a fresh one!
• Phil Amour and Todd Gleeson for all the set-up help with the fancy electronic gizmos that I have no idea about.
• My younger brother Ben from Benjineering for all the one-off fabricated parts at the last minute.
• Simon and Tom from Pfitzner Performance Gearbox for all the help with the Dog Box.
• Luke from Natrad in Adelaide for amazing deals on radiators.
• Gary from Speedflow for all the support with the 100s of fittings.
• Scott from Monster Lubricants for every fluid in the car.
• Andrew, Adrian, Andy and Simon from Autosport and Velo Seats for the continued support and helping out with so many aspects of this build.
• Cam and Brett from Solid Engineering for all the pre-paint fab work.
• Marcus from High Octane Performance coatings for doing brake calipers, rocker cover and extractors.
• Kane from Eye Candy Auto Accessories for flares and boot spoiler.
• Fast Eddy for amazing exhaust work.
• Steve and Dean from Street Impact Design for all the signage.
• Bruce Garland, who is the wizard of Lexan windows.
• Dave from Gaugeworks for all the sensors.
• Anthony from Grand Auto Wreckers for all those super rare Datsun parts.
• Dave R for all the carbon sheet work.
• Dale ‘Mustchat’ (Moscatt) for all the crazy hours building the car leading up the Alpine.
• And all my good mates who have dropped in to the workshop to lend a hand, or even bring a beer while we were flat out building her. Thanks.
Photos: Peter Whitten / Jack Monkhouse
Monkhouse chats with ARC legend Neal Bates before Rally Australia.
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