THE TRIBUTE: Shane Potts’ Holden VN Calais

26 Mar


No stranger to V8-powered VN Commodores, Shane Potts’ pristine twin-throttle Calais carries a deeper sense of sentimentality
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Shane Potts is a self-confessed V8 Commodore nut – in particular he loves VNs. This white 1990 Calais is at least the third V8-powered VN he’s owned, with the family shed still containing his pride and joy red Calais (see breakout). These two co-exist with Shane’s partner’s SV99 and the shed has previously played host to a white VN SS, VK Berlina and two VB sedans.

But this Calais in particular holds a special place for Shane. He was rebuilding the car as his father was battling terminal illness. “I was trying to get it finished before he passed away, so he could see it finished,” Shane says. “He’d often come down to the garage and just and sit and watch me working on it.

“We did get to give him a fitting ‘V8 send-off’ at his funeral, though. Five of the family’s V8s (including Shane’s brother’s VK Berlina, his wife’s SV99, his sister-in-law’s VY SS, his best friend’s blown VN Calais and this white Calais) escorting the funeral procession.”

Sadly, Shane didn’t quite get the Calais finished in time, but that connection makes this a special build for him. And we reckon it’s a special car. Using primarily GMH parts, the VN is like some kind of special edition that Holden could have released back in the day, complete with hi-po’ V8, six-speed, big brakes (for the time) and all the luxury the company had to throw at you.

Amazingly the four year rebuild started with a wreck of a car that Shane bought practically sight-unseen. “After searching for a white VN Calais on, I found this one in Melbourne – some 1200kms away,” he says. “I booked a flight on the Friday night, my wife dropped me off at the airport on Saturday afternoon and landed in Melbourne at 8pm.

“I looked at the car in the dark, exchanged keys for money then drove the car the 1200kms back home. I was at home by 9am the next morning. A big weekend!”

Shane says the VN was “very rough” when he got it. “But I didn’t care – it was a VN!” he says.

Today, ‘rough’ is certainly not a word you could use for this Calais. Perhaps words like pristine, immaculate and better-than-new would better suit. With its smooth, fresh two-pack white-over-silver Calais paint scheme, sunroof and SV3800 grille, the old girl looks clean from any angle and riding on those FR19s in matching silver, the car looks as classic and iconic as you could get. If it weren’t for the hole in the bonnet, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the story ended there.

Pop that bonnet though and you’re greeted with a super clean 355ci Holden stroker making 376rwhp through a T56 and Borg Warner rear end with 3.73:1 gears. Shane has done much of the work himself, being a mechanic by trade. This included wiring up the Haltech ECU and partially hiding the wiring for a cleaner look.

Inside, the Calais trim was given a thorough going over, with fresh carpets installed and a different rear bench sourced from another car. It all looks just about factory fresh, save for the manual stick with a VX gear knob showing six gears – a RIP Shifter hiding beneath. The cabin boasts other GMH parts, like the VY SS pedals and VP GTS steering wheel. A Pioneer head unit feeds two pairs of Sony speakers mounted into the factory locations and a shift light hides up against the A-pillar on the dash. It’s almost like some kind of wonderful HSV-Improved model from 1990.

Clearly of the mindset that a car is never finished, Shane has more plans for the white Calais. During our photo shoot he mentioned that a mate had his eyes on buying the long motor, with Shane eyeing off one of Torque Power’s Little Paw combos. Combined with a blower and this Calais will be a truly different beast – however he reckons this won’t be for a while yet.

Owner: Shane Potts
Model: 1990 VN Calais
Bodywork: Sunroof, SV3800 grille, hole in bonnet
Colour: 2-pack white over Asteroid silver
Block: VN 5L
Engine Mods: Mains girdle, Harrop 3.48in crank (355ci), ACL Race Series 10cc dish pistons (10:1-comp’), A9L rods w/ARP bolts, ACL rings, ARP head and mains studs, Camtech valve springs and retainers, Camtech hydraulic roller cam (0.579in lift, 230° duration, 110° LSA), Crane pushrods, Yella Terra 1.65:1-ratio Platinum roller rockers, Rollmaster timing chain, modified JP oil pump, VX thermo fans, PWR alloy radiator, 80A alternator, VN Group A SS twin-throttle intake setup, supercharged V6 injectors, modified Group A SS air box, Crane Hi-6 spark amp’, Crane LS92 coil, Haltec E6-GMX ECU, V6 in-tank pump, Bosch 044 external pump, 65L tank
Power: 376rwhp (280rwkW)
Exhaust: Pacemaker tri-Y headers (1-3/4in primaries), twin 2.5in stainless exhaust into single 4in, stainless mufflers, 2x standard cats
Gearbox: T56, RIP Shifter, single-plate clutch
Diff: BW, 3.73:1 final drive, LSD, heavy duty unis
Brakes: VN Group A SS front rotors and calipers, stock rear discs, TRW pads, braided front brake lines
Suspension: King springs, Monroe front struts, Pedders rear shocks, Pedders 27mm front swaybar, Whiteline adjustable panhard
Wheels/Tyres: 19in Simmons FR rims (8in front, 9.5in rear), Nankang NS2 tyres
Interior: VP GTS steering wheel, VN Calais velour trim, new grey carpets, shift light, VY SS pedals, VX HSV gear knob
Stereo: Pioneer head unit, Sony speakers in front and back
Build time: 4 years
Cost: $30,000
Contacts: Diff Technics, Altopac, G-Force, “My wife Kristy, my mum and dad and brother Ricky, mates Matt Feeney, Dave Page, Mark Lambert. Car is dedicated to my dad, Greg”


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