A real tire-burner, Frank's...
A real tire-burner, Frank's 3,300-pound Monte has run a best of 10.52 at 134. While that's part of the ex-race car's portfolio, making cruise nights and car shows are now more important destinations.
It's cars like this that get our blood pumping like an oil derrick. For several reasons, Frank Troila's macadam shredder might be remembered as being different from the usual Camaros, Novas, and Chevelles. In comparison to the holy icons, it's a relatively obscure G-body that runs fat Mickey slicks all the time and inhales 110-octane unleaded for its 12.5:1 compression ratio. But it's a street car, not a drag racer, see?
Troila did the exact opposite of what most would. He took a semi-finished race car and made it streetable, but he left a legacy of a lot of sanguinary cues in the process. Like 686 horsepower on nuts from a hot jazz big-block. But that motor isn't a 540 or a 632. Frank based it on an original LS6 cylinder block punched 60 over to make a petite 468 ci, a nominal nod to these gas-crunch days. You might also remember that this raider pulls 4.56 gears and there is no overdrive. Frank doesn't care. He's not going far from home. It's his cruiser. How could you forget the din of those four Flowmasters thundering beneath?
Frank's been fooling with this stuff since he was teenager at Proviso West High in Hillside, Illinois. In those days, you had a Rat motor in something or Hemi this or that, and were considered a sissy if you ran a small-block or anything else. "I didn't have a driver's license. I ran on a ticket for about three years," he cracked. "I was so bad, I used to get two or three of 'em at a time."
Of course, there were the hot rodders' favored watering holes, the magnets that drew all the good, fast cars-right along with the cops. "We'd cruise over to Skip's or Top's Big Boy in Melrose Park, which for us were the big meeting places. We didn't race there, but we'd make the rounds, place our wagers, and then away we went to some place deserted, or we'd head out to the interstate. You know, we had some pretty fast cars then, but I'm amazed at how technology has grown. Cars they make today put out more power and don't pollute like ones we had. Plus, they handle like race cars. Ours were pretty bad at stuff like that." Amen, Frank.
He did some of the work himself and got a lot of help from Don Tober Engineering. Tober machined him a bunch of one-off bits and got busy helping the car get together. The first stop was Alston Race Cars in Antioch, Illinois, for that all-important bedrock offered by a 14-point rollcage, the best-known antidote for bad handling characteristics. You make the chassis as rigid as possible and tie the front of the car to the rear so it doesn't want to bend or flex and disturb suspension geometry. Your runs will be straight, true, and freewheeling.
Like some of us codgers, Frank's a fugitive from the 1960s, and you can clearly see and feel that influence in his quasi-road toy. Where most would opt for a four-link suspension, Frank did it old school with ladder bars and a real nasty exhaust note. In his figurative past as a native of Chicago and environs, there was nothing more lethal or more intimidating than a street car with slicks on it. That single prop meant it was either a very fast car, or one that pretended to be. In any case, it wasn't to be challenged, because you usually got your ass handed to you. His Monte is like that, too. The slicks are integral to the package, part of its menace, part of its psyche-out factor.
After talking with him about it, we have no doubt that he'd still take almost anything on in a heartbeat. We asked him if he still likes to crowd the throttle like he did back when. "It all depends. Usually I don't, but if somebody gets obnoxious, then it's as good as done. I don't take it to the track anymore. I'm done with that. I just cruise it now. We do our tuning by my shop, which is pretty deserted on the weekends." As history will bear, the boys from Chicago (Chuck Samuel, Nick Scavo, Spiro Pappas, and many more before them) have always been known for their aggressive tactics on public thoroughfares. Hell, they've been known to haul as far as Memphis for a big, fat street race. This doesn't mean that Frank's all about racing at the blip of a throttle, but that's the vibe going here.
While the tech sheet encourages you to think that he transformed a bracket racer into a full-on grocery getter, that isn't quite the case. While he did make the requisite changes to present a street-legal piece, it's more about him being in a comfortable, orderly setting. He's certainly not going to take this car anywhere when there's the least bit of moisture pending, and he wanted something that didn't look like a fugitive from George Ray's Wildcat Dragstrip down in Arkansas. He wanted crisp lines and pin-neat appointments, something that throws you clean off until you spot the red-flag-raising race rubber and that four-inch cowl hood. They are things that don't immediately compute. They are things aimed at raining a cold sweat down on the other guy. After that fashion, Frank wanted a Pete Jackson geardrive for his motor, "because they make it sound like it's got a supercharger. I even got the 'noisy' one."
One person's disaster became another's routine, it seems. Frank's been fussing with this bad boy for about six years now. "I did a lot of clean-up work during that time," he recalled. "West Hill Body over in Hillside [Illinois] brought the paint to show-car quality with '99 Corvette Garnet Red that they tinted with green and white pearl. I pulled the gas tank from underneath the car and put a 20-gallon fuel cell in the trunk and hooked it a Holley HP pump and a Mallory fuel filter. From there it goes to a three-port regulator. I had the Riggs Brothers in Villa Park [Illinois] carpet the whole thing. I also got the windshield wipers back in order [a moot point; something he'll never use but needs for propriety] and added the Auto Meter gauges."
The popular notion is that Rat motors tend to run hot, and that they will in a confined space. Frank had at least one other, so check out his solution to the problem. The engine compartment is no longer shuttered by the inner fenderwells, which were tossed a long time ago. The engine carries no parasitic appliances, no power-assisted anything, only the all-important alternator. Hot air escapes from the cowl hood to defrost the windshield. Coolant circulates via a CSR billet electric water pump and through the big Be Cool radiator that's been fitted with Perma-Cool dual electric fans.
Frank admits to a couple of other distant but much less violent cars: "I had a '68 Camaro with a 427 under the hood, and a '70 Z28, but that was years ago, and they were pussycats compared to the Monte Carlo." He owns a printing business and has a wife named Mary. They have no kids. The car is his prodigy and is something that Mary happily obliges. Call it post midlife syndrome for the 58-year-old Troila. He calls it better than any other vice, wet or dry.
The body is primo but unchanged,...
The body is primo but unchanged, save for its four-inch cowl hood. Big race tires all around and just the right wheel offset afford a near perfect stance.
The basically stock-appearing...
The basically stock-appearing inner sanctum was refurnished and stocked with a mix of Auto Meter C2 and Sport Comp instruments. A Corsa GT steering wheel is covered in leather and is a fine match for the leather/cloth application (by Riggs Brothers) on the fixed-position Simpson racing seats and five-point harnesses. The shifter is TCI ratchet. Alston Race Cars installed the (nearly invisible) 14-point cage.
The normally aspirated 468...
The normally aspirated 468 looks old school but is a nasty player despite its subterfuge. Jimmy Lopez built it from a vintage LS6 cylinder case. It pumps out a nuts-only 686 hp at 6,700 rpm, and 622 lb-ft of torque at 5,100 rpm on 110 octane.