ProjectGsix: 1985 Monte Carlo Secretly Packs C6 Corvette Performance

The 1985 Monte Carlo you see in front of you started life with little more than 130-horsepower and a base-born 4.3-liter V6. A total granny mobile, complete with zero curb appeal and lord knows how much dust under the dash. But where many would see frumpy lines and little performance potential, one man saw untapped potential, and thus “ProjectGsix” was born.
Michigan-based GM enthusiast, Gordon Rutkowski, has traveled down this path before, albeit, via various other platforms. Taking aging automobiles and turning them into attention-grabbing rocket ships is what he and his business, Nite Restorations, have specialized in for the past dozen years. From box vans to muscle cars, this guy has built it, with Rutkowski going as far as rebuilding a vintage Farmall tractor earlier on in his career.
But enough about farm equipment. When Gordon Rutkowski found his 1985 Monte Carlo on Facebook Marketplace, it was located way down in Sparta, Tennessee. This was a good thing, as it meant the vehicle was more than likely rust-free. Since one of Rutkowski’s buddies lived right down the road from Sparta, getting a trusted confidante to scope-out the car in person was a cinch. After confirming the vehicle was indeed worth picking up, it was stored until its new owner was able to come down and pick it up.
Back in Michigan, Rutkowski removed the virtually spotless original frame and sold it along with the floor pans he cut out, both of which likely went to northern-based builders looking for rust-free external components. Having just completed “ProjectRecycled,” a ’73 Duster sitting atop a C6 Corvette drivetrain, Gordon Rutkowski knew precisely where his latest project was headed, and holy crap was he excited.
The ProjectGsix build starts with a custom chassis rocking a 108-inch wheelbase and rollbars, all built to match the Monte Carlo body and interior. After that comes Nite Restorations’ all-new C5/C6 Chassis Bracket Kit, which was utilized not only to improve the way in which the Monte Carlo performs, but to showcase Rutkowski’s latest product.

As for the vehicle’s drivetrain, Rutkowski went with a 2008 C6 Corvette Z-51 engine with a six-speed manual gearbox, which he picked-up from Cleveland Power & Performance. This particular LS3 engine has received upgrades like a Texas Speed & Performance camshaft, PFC heads, a Melling oil pump and chain, and ARP hardware throughout, with power numbers reportedly resting around the 590-horsepower mark.
ProjectGsix relies upon a TR6060 Z-51 transmission, which currently utilizes full factory internals and an OEM clutch, which we hear might receive some upgrades prior to the vehicle hitting the streets. That said, the car does rock a transmission fluid cooler and the rear differential is a 3.42 posi setup.
As you can clearly see, ProjectGsix is still far from being labeled as “finished,” with one-off aero being the major focus at the moment, as an adjustable rear decklid spoiler and a front chin spoiler make their way on board. However, Rutkowski tells us that regardless as to what external mods are made, the goal is to keep the original, powder blue paint as unmolested as possible. And while wheels and tires remain undecided at the moment, the 18 x 11 Weld Racing RT S77 wheels supporting the vehicle look pretty damn good in our opinion.
Another interesting addition to ProjectGsix, is the use of one of Howell Engine Developments’ custom-built wiring harnesses, a one-off product designed exclusively for this custom chassis. Rutkowski even went as far as ordering a custom-tuned ECM from the brand in order to guarantee that the Monte Carlo’s modified LS3 would run properly.
When asked about the reasoning behind his decision to rely upon Howell Engine Developments for the control of all things electronic in ProjectGsix, Rutkowski is quick to praise the Michigan-based wiring specialist.

“We love using Howell EFI products because they base everything off of the factory system, which I find to work best for quality and durability,” Rutkowski says. “I have used their stuff since the 1990’s doing EFI system installs in older cars, and have had great success! Their knowledge and customer service is the best in the business.”
Asked what might be up next now that all of that one-off aero is beginning to come together, Rutkowski tells us that he is currently finishing up a custom JEGS steering column along with a Tilton pedal assembly. Once these next few stages get wrapped-up, the Monte Carlo will be taken apart once again in order for the chassis to be placed upon a rotisserie. There, ProjectGsix will receive all of its finishing welding touches, followed interior tin work, which will more than likely match those snazzy Kirkey drag racing seats. After that, it’s on to the fuel system, tucking the rest of the wiring, selecting the right wheel and tire combo, engine tuning, paint touch-up, etc., etc…
So while there is still much to be done to ProjectGsix, we remain confident that Gordon Rutkowski and Nite Restorations have the chops to turn their latest recycled project into a smashing success. We’ll keep our eyes open for future updates on Instagram, as @projectrecycled continues to take unwanted American steel, and turn it into gold.

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About the author

Micah Wright

Raised on LEGOs by grandfathers who insisted on fixing everything themselves, Micah has been a petrolhead in training since age four. His favorite past times include craft beer, strong cigars, fast cars, and culinary creativity in all of its forms.
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