Archive for May, 2018

RARE BIRD: ‘Jockoliner’ – Jocko Streamlined Dragster


30 May
Jocko Streamlined Dragster

RARE BIRD

One of only six or seven ever built, Norm Longfield’s ‘Jockoliner’ boasts more history and horsepower than your average vintage dragster
Story and pics by hoskingindustries.com.au

The 1950s and ’60s were the golden decades for hot rodding here and overseas. Having really taken off after the end of WWII when the servicemen returned home and begun tinkering with their old jalopies, by the end of the ’50s, it had become a sizeable phenomenon, supported by a burgeoning parts industry, magazines and shows. One enthusiastic rodder was Southern Californian Robert ‘Jocko’ Johnson.

Jocko Streamlined DragsterJocko (a nickname given him by an early employer by the name of George Barris) got involved with rods in his teens before learning to port cylinder heads and ultimately opening his own business, Jocko’s Porting Service. Possessing a very creative mind, he dabbled in various art forms and didn’t limit his experimentation with cars to custom head work. At just 19 he had his first mental images of what would later become the streamlined dragster.

While Jocko wasn’t the first to toy with the idea of an aerodynamically-improved drag car, for the most part no one was giving it too much thought – probably worried that any improvements would come at the cost of extra weight. Looking unlike anything else anywhere near a drag strip in the 1950s, Jocko’s streamliner wore a full aerodynamic body over the top of a more traditional dragster undercarriage, powered by a stroker Hemi capable of an 8.35sec ET at 178mph. Crazy stuff for the 1959 and the fifth quickest time completed in that year.

Only six or seven streamlined dragsters are known to have been built, almost entirely by Jocko himself, from two caravans filled with the necessary machinery and from whatever parts were available at the time from other vehicles typical of the period. As a result of the comparatively makeshift nature of the builds and Jocko’s admission that he was “not an aeronautical engineer”, the cars had their quirks – most of which aren’t obvious with a casual glance.

While the chrome moly chassis were never perfectly square or level and the bodywork never quite symmetrical, the biggest issue was front end lift. The design was gorgeous and quite sound in principle – but in reality, once the mph increased, so too did the problems up front. Measuring a little over 10in under the nose, the ground clearance meant plenty of air was still getting under the car. This was highlighted in the 1970s when Don Garlits bought a streamliner from Jocko and, citing instability at speed but against Jocko’s advice, altered the rear of the body to create more down force on the rear end. Doing little more than compound the problem, Garlits’ car – known as the Wynns Liner – was mothballed.Jocko Streamlined Dragster

Of these six or seven streamlined dragsters – or Jockoliners – only four are known to still exist, with the iconic yellow, aluminium-bodied, Allison V12-powered Moonliner being one of them. Another ended up here in Australia.

Back in the 1980s, Norm Longfield was alerted to the sale of an odd-looking race car in Michigan, USA by a friend. After seeing a stack of photos of it, he made a deal and had the car shipped to Australia, sight unseen. What he got wasn’t too bad, according to Longfield, but it was far from race ready.

Longfield modified the existing chassis to conform to ANDRA specs of the day and put in an all-new driveline to replace the missing parts. This included an alcohol-sucking Hemi that eventually propelled the car to seven-second ETs at the old Eastern Creek drag strip, hitting more than 170mph in the process.

Jocko Streamlined DragsterWith other toys to play with and an unfinished front-engined dragster project on the boil, Longfield’s Jockoliner sat idle for years. It wasn’t until he had an attractive offer to race on an airstrip that Longfield pulled the car out of hiding – he was to race a vintage WWII air plane.

While at first Longfield and the Jockoliner were actually beating the war plane, once he reached the 170mph mark, things began to get sketchy and in a split second the front lifted, sending Norm and the liner into four flips, hitting the ground hard and skidding to a stop over 200m down the strip on its roof. Thankfully Longfield was OK and quickly discharged from hospital, but the car was ruined: the fibreglass body had been ground into the road surface. Instead of fixing it, the streamliner remained in pieces until well into the 2000s.

When Longfield finally decided to return the liner to its former glory, he found the chassis in pretty good nick considering the spill – no doubt thanks to the additional reinforcing he welded in in the 1980s. The primary disaster was the bodywork and the repairs fell to Greg ‘Ziggy’ Sadler at Ziggy’s Hot Rods in Medowie, NSW – the same guy who’d freshened up the old body when it first arrived in Oz all those years ago. According to Ziggy, there wasn’t much left of the original body to be salvaged, thanks to the accident and the subsequent mothballing.

Using old photos as a primary guide, the team at Ziggy’s formed all the new bodywork, creating something that in many ways is probably far better than it ever was originally. The finish to the ‘glass and the paint over it are flawless from any angle, but the subtle asymmetrical nature remains if you look close enough.

Under that slippery bodywork is the driving force behind the liner. Where once Longfield had an alcohol-sucking alloy Hemi there’s now a nitro-breathing cast iron version, forced bulk air and fuel by a Littlefield blower and mechanical injection setup, with big, free-flowing alloy WRE heads. This is backed by a Lenco and by the shortest possible drive shaft known to man, a braced and impossibly narrow 9in out back between the super-rare and reverse-mounted bear claw magnesium wheels wearing vintage M&H Racemaster slicks.Jocko Streamlined Dragster

While the body is beautiful for obvious, almost-serpentine reasons, the inner workings underneath are beautiful for their own reasons – everything is neatly packaged in and around the chrome moly rails and cage in what is a stunning example of ‘backyard’ engineering (not to discount Jocko’s obvious engineering savvy). It’s easy to lament the passing of the days when such rampant experimentation made the drag scene so vibrant and exciting. Sadly today, you’d be unlikely to ever see a machine like this at a race track again – unless a sanctioning body like ANDRA came up with it first.

Indeed, for Longfield the Jockoliner’s racing days are long since over. However, he does intend to get it out occasionally for a ‘cacklefest’-type scenario with static displays of fire breathing entertainment. He’s also expressed an interest in shipping the car back to the USA for the annual NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield, where photos of the car sent officials into a frenzy. Here’s hoping this piece of rodding history lasts another 60-off years.

Owner: Norm Longfield
Model: ‘Jockoliner’
Bodywork: Fibreglass
Block: Cast iron Hemi
Engine Mods: Velasco crank, Manton rods, forged pistons, Manley valves, Crane valve springs, Crane solid cam’, KB gear drive, Crower pulleys, Waterman oil pump, Littlefield 8/71 blower, Endearle 4-port mechanical injection, Gilmer drive, braided lines and fittings, Mallory magneto, anodised fuel cell, hard fuel lines, Endearle fuel pump, Oberg fuel filter, alloy catch cans, WRE alloy hemi heads, ARP fasteners, solid engine plate
Power: N/A
Exhaust: Open 2.5in headers
Gearbox: 2-spd Lenco, Hays twin-plate clutch, explosion-proof bell housing
Diff: Braced and narrowed 9in, 4.11:1 gears
Brakes: Wilwood rear calipers, 11in solid drilled rear discs, braided lines, Wilwood master cylinder
Suspension: Chrome moly chassis, 6-point cage, Deist fire bomb system, anodised alloy panelling, wishbone front end, solid body mounts, rack and pinion
Wheels/Tyres: 15×3.5in Halibrand spindle-mount front wheels, 16in reversed magnesium bear claws on rear, M&H Racemaster front runners and rear slicks
Interior: Anodised alloy panelling, Autometer gauges, Deist harness, Autometer shift/warning lights, fire bomb switches, single custom race seat, custom switch panel, SAE butterfly steering wheel
Contacts: Ziggy’s Hot Rods, Rod Andrews Race Cars, Airbrush World, Rod Walls, Andy Gabriel, Brad Willard, Richard Bottica, Johnny Williams, Brenton Holmes

HEIRLOOM: Dave Kracht’s Lexus-Powered 1940 Ford Sloper


30 May

Dave Kracht's 1940 Ford Sloper

HEIRLOOM

Dave Kracht’s 1940 Sloper has been in the family since 1964 and it’s never looked better
Words and Pics: www.hoskingindustries.com.au

Dave Kracht's 1940 Ford Sloper“The car was originally bought and built by my dad in 1964,” starts Dave Kracht, the current ‘custodian’ of this immaculate and understated Aussie 1940 Ford Sloper Deluxe. “He was a member of the Romans Hot Rod Club.”

Incredibly, the Ford has never left the Kracht family in all those years. Thanks to a seven year rebuild completed in 2009 the car has a new lease on life that will see it cruising our nation’s roads for plenty more.

“The car was in many shows in the 1960s and won many awards,” Dave says. “In 1968 dad ‘finished’ it and it won Top Tudor at the Sydney State Titles show at Roselands.”

In around 1971 Kracht senior pulled the car apart to give it a new drive train, but Dave says he lost interest in the ’40 and it sat dormant until the late 1980s when Dave took over. “I had it in various guises over the years,” Dave explains. “The last iteration saw it painted black with flames and a sidevalve V8, Halibrand diff’ and white walls on steelies.”Dave Kracht's 1940 Ford Sloper

Fast forward to 2002 and Dave embarked upon the car’s most extensive and decidedly tasty rebuild. The project would take seven years and see just about every nut, bolt and component replaced or refinished.

“Most of the rebuild took place in Ralph Stapley’s workshop in Bathurst,” Dave says. “Ralph was a good friend of my dad’s and a fellow Romans member.”

Dave says the object of the build was to create a rod that was a good driver “that you could drive interstate with ease and comfort”. I think you’ll agree with Dave when he says that objective was completed.

“It took a lot more work and time that we expected,” Dave admits. “That included a lot of bodywork to get a good fit and finish.”

Dave Kracht's 1940 Ford SloperFellow Bathurst local Ray Tobin took care of the bulk of the body work, with the Lost Green finish applied by The Repair Wizard back in Dave’s home town of Katoomba in NSW’s Blue Mountains. The result is a clean, understated and timeless look complemented by the factory bright work and those sweet Coddington alloys.

Dave’s ’40 isn’t all paint and body though, with the engine and drive train proving just as interesting. When your objective is to create a vehicle capable of easy interstate travel, it’s hard to go past a late-model motor and Dave’s choice of a quad-cam’ Lexus V8 borders on genius.

Not only is the Lexus a refined, robust and downright bullet proof engine, it’s also easy on the juice, comes with air-con and cruise control and makes all the right sounds when coupled with a decent exhaust. The Ford boasts a set of custom 4-into-1 ceramic coated headers and a twin stainless system, making sure this rod sounds like a rod should.Dave Kracht's 1940 Ford Sloper

To keep things simple and reliable, Dave retained the services of the factory 4spd overdrive auto’ gear box, even integrating the original shifter assembly into his incredible interior. Being the proprietor of DNA Motor Trim in Katoomba, Dave was in an excellent position to equip the Ford with a cabin to die for and that’s just what he delivered.

Based around two pairs of AU Falcon bucket seats, Dave created a supremely classy cabin that’s drenched in black leather, with the seats featuring tasteful embossed inserts that are mirrored on the door trims as well. Dave also constructed the full length centre console that includes that factory Dave Kracht's 1940 Ford Slopershifter, the door trims and the entire rear section that includes air vents and hides all the wiring and other ugly stuff.

As nicely as the completed car turned out, it’s the friendships and contact with the scene that proved most rewarding for Dave. “The best part of the build by far was reconnecting with Ralph,” Dave says. “I formed a very strong friendship with him during the project and I have become friends with many people during and after the build.”

Perhaps the sweetest moment of all came during the 2009 Custom Auto Expo state title show when Dave decided to enter the Ford as a kind of ‘completion of the circle’ that his dad started way back in 1968. “It ended up winning the Top Tudor award,” says Dave, still smiling at the memory. “Same car, same show, same award 41 years after it first won. It was a very satisfying moment and I was honoured to win.”

Owner: Dave Kracht
Engine: 1994 Lexus 4L Quad-Cam V8, ceramic-coated 4-into-1 headers, stainless twin exhaust, K&N pod filter, alloy radiator, alloy radiator overflow tank, thermo fan
Power: Untested
Trans: Factory Lexus electronic 4spd auto
Diff: Jaguar IRS, 3.54:1 final drive, LSD
Suspension: Rear coil-overs, fully boxed chassis rails w/tube cross members
Wheels: Coddington Stingray rims (15x6in front, 17x8in rear)
Brakes: XF Falcon front rotors, VS Commodore front calipers, Nissan Skyline rear calipers, in-board rear rotors, booster and master cylinder under-dash
Interior: AU Falcon ute front and rear buckets, black leather trim w/embossed inserts, grey carpets and grey cloth roof lining, Autometer gauges, Lexus shifter, custom centre console, custom roof pod and door trims
Thanks to: DNA Motor Trim, The Repair Wizard – Katoomba, Timic Hot Rod Supplies, Ralph and Annette Stapley, Ray Tobin, my son Kevin and all my friends and family who helped out and continue to do so

Live Gallery and Review – Red Fang @ Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle – May 11, 2018


30 May

Red Fang, performing at the Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle, Australia on May 11, 2018.

Red Fang + Drunk Mums + Black Rheno @ Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle – Friday, May 11, 2018
Words and Pics: www.hoskingindustries.com.au

CLICK HERE to view the full gallery on my Flickr page.

Red Fang, performing at the Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle, Australia on May 11, 2018.Newcastle has always played host to international bands. It’s just that it has never been with the same kind of frequency of our neighbours south to Sydney. In fact, my very first proper concert experience was Pantera when they played the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on their Far Beyond Driven tour.

Still, it’s always exciting when a good international band gets booked into one of our remaining live venues. So when Red Fang announced a show at the Cambridge Hotel, you can bet this scribe had his hand up waving wildly like an excited kid at the front of the classroom with the answer to a geography question.

There is, however, always some level of trepidation when said international act is below the tier of, say, a band used to playing the big sheds and arenas. I’ve personally seen some amazing bands play to less than half full rooms and so it was that opening act Black Rheno performed to a handful of eager punters soon after the doors opened.Red Fang, performing at the Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle, Australia on May 11, 2018.

That’s a shame, too. Because the Sydney three piece (with the guitarist running a split rig that also acted as a bass, a-la White Stripes and Local H) rocked out hard with a manic set of high energy rock that was tight, but loose in all the right ways. Apparently the band has just started recording an album, so that’s definitely something to look forward to.

Next, the Drunk Mums looked like they’d stepped off a plane direct from the 1960s, complete with requisite ’60s axes and well-worn chord progressions. Despite the familiarity, the band brought a certain raucous sense of humour to the sound that helped make it unique. Loose, noisy and plenty of amusing between-song banter.

After a short intermission, no doubt thanks to their stripped down rigs not requiring too much setup, Portland, Oregon’s Red Fang took to the stage in front of a half-full, but very appreciative room of fans. They launched into a sweet rendition of Blood Like Cream and didn’t say too much for about three songs, when they’d clearly started to warm up a bit.

The mix tonight was nice and clear, with plenty of definition in the low end where singer/bassist Aaron Beam’s chord work could really shine. He really wields that thing like a baritone guitar and it works perfectly for Red Fang’s Sabbathian, stoner vibe.

Over what would be a 14-song set with no encore, the band wowed the enthusiastic crowd with tunes from all its previous releases, including latest disc, 2016’s Only Ghosts. They were super tight, despite the inherent fuzziness and ageless scunge that lies between all the grooves in their riffs. Oh, and how sweet their grooves and riffs are! They were certainly inspiration for all the middle-aged rockers in the audience and the DIYers out there.

Red Fang, performing at the Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle, Australia on May 11, 2018. Red Fang, performing at the Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle, Australia on May 11, 2018.

 

CLICK HERE to view the full gallery on my Flickr page.

BLAST OFF: Ditch Jones’ Show-Stopping Blown Holden HR Ute


24 May

Ditch Jones' HR Holden Ute

BLAST OFF

Ditch Jones just wanted to take his HR to the next level. What he did was propel it into the show-scene stratosphere
Story and Pics by hoskingindustries.com.au

Ditch Jones' HR Holden UtilityYou’re looking at the most famous HR in the country. There. We’ve said it. No point beating around the bush or acting like we’re showing you the latest car on the block.

However, Ditch Jones’s 1967 HR Holden ute carries with it a remarkable story that’s really only fully coming to fruition now. See, Ditch has been working hard to get the HR into a position where he can finally relax a little and put some kilometres on the odometer.

Yeah, we know, right!?

But let’s hit rewind for a second and get a little history under our belts. Ditch and his HR go back a long way: around 20 years, in fact. Back then the ute was a largely original, 179ci-powered driver that had only recently been refinished when Ditch bought it for the princely sum of $6500 – in mid-1980s money.Ditch Jones' HR Holden Utility

Even in those early days the ute was a trophy winner; wearing kidney-hole alloys and boasting Premier trim. Being a Canberra local until recently, he and the HR were even there for the birth of the Summernats.

Over time, Ditch put plenty of his own taste into the HR, changing the way it looked and drove and winning more trophies at the same time. But thanks to his willingness to drive the ute to each and every show he entered, the ute slowly became a little tired and Ditch found that it was getting harder to keep up with the other builders. The main issue for Ditch was the undercarriage – Dragway 5-spokes and hot pink accents still winning favour at the time.

This is where the story starts getting really complicated – complicated because it can simply be very difficult to write about such a large number of seemingly endless modifications that have resulted in vehicle that may in many ways still resemble an HR Holden, but is so far removed from one that it almost defies description.

Ditch reckons there are easily 100 different body mods in his ute alone, without counting the scores of modifications to be found inside and underneath the car. The wheelbase has been stretched 100mm to properly centre the front wheels in the guards, the front wheel arches were raised 35mm to offer better steering travel and the sills were extended by around 35mm – a mod’ that makes the car look lower and just a little chopped.

Ditch Jones' HR Holden UtilityStill on the body, the side glass and window frames have been deleted and both front and rear screens are flush fitting with the front glass coming down further than stock. The rain gutters were shaved, as were the doors that are now suicided. Up front, the bonnet was extended to the windscreen with the cowl removed and re-fabricated underneath with custom billet hinges. Custom billet hinges also hold up the doors that hang from strengthened B-pillars and the A-pillars were reshaped so that prominent swage line across the top of the guards ran right up and over the car.

There are dozens more body modifications to be listed (see captions), but the HR isn’t just a combination of its fancy panels. Gone is the HR’s original chassis. Ditch and Drago originally tried to build the ute while retaining some of the HR’s original architecture, but three months in, Drago bit the bullet and scrapped everything only to start again with a clean slate. Now, the HR runs a ¾-chassis with a tubular front end that Ditch says could take any power plant he ever chooses, but we get the idea that the yellow menace will forever be powered by a Holden six. Not that this ute runs any old inline six banger.

Based around a 3.3L 202ci six, the engine boasts the refinement it needs thanks to the boost generated by the Fisher 4/71 supercharger bolted to the side. Wanting the look of an injected setup, while retaining the 700cfm blower-prepped Holley, Ditch approached Garlits about adapting one of their injector hats to suit and the result is ‘sex’ cast in alloy form.

Drago and his team had to move the engine and gearbox back 100mm to accommodate Ditch’s desired 4in blower belt. While they were at it, they also lowered the combo into the bay by some 65mm that helped sit everything in horizontally, but also meant only the blower hat protruded from through the super smooth, boxed-in and extended bonnet. Not only that, but the sump then sat perfectly in-line with the flat floor pan.Ditch Jones' HR Holden Utility

Truly masters in the art of metal fabrication, SCV created the entire interior out of steel. In fact, Ditch says the only fibreglass to be found anywhere is the trick tail light housings that house equally neat LED assemblies.

Inside the cabin you’ll find a swoopy design that completely disguises the ute’s 44 years. Teal micro-suede covers the modified Cobra one-piece seats as well as the false floor panels, custom door trims and rear bulkhead as well as that intricate roof panel that until now has not been seen in a magazine. There’s no question that the ute set a new benchmark when it hit the show scene a few years back with consecutive Top 10 spots at Summernats 20 and 21. Just look at the design of that delectable floating centre console pod that houses the shifter, switches and Dakota Digital airbag controls.

Ditch Jones' HR Holden UtilityDitch was once quoted as saying that he planned to race and cruise the HR and while that hasn’t happened yet, he and Ziggy’s Hotrods have been working to bring that final element to fruition. Now a resident of NSW’s Hunter region, he and the ute have spent plenty of time at Ziggy’s workshop where a significant proportion of that insane undercarriage have been modified to better suit driving.

Gone are the coil-overs, making way for Air Ride airbags and the front end utilises a Rod City stainless setup. The HR still uses 330mm Hoppers Stoppers rotors front and back, but the show-spec’ items were replaced by functional ones. Perhaps the only real set back preventing Ditch from putting some serious kays on it now is the ridiculously tiny 20L fuel tank.

We didn’t realise it at first, but Ditch later admitted that our driving shots represented the first real driving he’s done in the HR since all the new suspension work was completed and looking at some of the shots we took, you could see the tension in Ditch’s face! With the maiden voyage over and done with – and the ute passing with flying colours – let’s hope those original plans to race and cruise the HR finally come true.

Owner: Ditch Jones
Model: 1967 HR Holden
Colour: PPG ‘Ditch’s Twisted Lemon’ and Diamond Silver
Bodywork: Custom steel grille, modified headlight buckets, shaved and narrowed bumpers, revised wheel arches, extended sills, shaved door handles, suicide doors, deleted window glass and frames, custom tail light assemblies, shaved and moulded tailgate area, shaved rain gutters, re-shaped roof swage lines, flush-mounted glass, stretched bonnet and deleted cowl, 1-piece front clip (all steel), Euro-style headlights
Engine Type: 3.3L Holden six
Engine Mods: Ben Gatt custom O-ringed 9-port head, ACL Race Series pistons (8.1:1-comp’), offset-ground crank, race-prepped rods w/ARP rod bolts, Crow solid roller cam’, 700cfm Supercharger Series Holley DP, Fisher 4/71 supercharger, custom Fisher manifold, Mick’s Metalcraft radiator, Scorcher billet dizzy, Pro Comp ignition, modified Kilkenny rocker cover, billet breather, 4in blower belt, Garlits blower hat
Power: Enough
Exhaust: Custom ceramic coated headers, ceramic coated mandrel-bent exhaust
Gearbox: Trimatic, 2800rpm Dominator stall
Diff: 9in, 28-spline axles, Strange 3.98:1 final drive, mini-spool
Brakes: 300mm Hoppers Stoppers rotors, 4-piston front calipers, 2-piston rear calipers, braided brake lines
Wheels and tyres: Showwheels Matrix billet rims (17x7in front, 19x1in rear)
Suspension: Rod City stainless steel front end, Air Ride front and rear airbags, ¾ chassis and ladder bar rear end, adjustable panhard, custom steering column, Commodore rack, box and tube chassis
Interior: Custom all-steel dash and interior, custom floating centre console, B&M Pro Ratchet, Dakota Digital airbag controller, Showwheels Matrix steering wheel, Autometer gauges, 6-point roll cage, teal micro-suede trim, modified Cobra race seats
Other Mods: Wheelbase stretched 100mm, billet door hinges, billet bonnet hinges, engine moved back 100mm and dropped 65mm, LED lighting in engine bay and under body
Stereo: N/A
Build Period: 4 years
Cost: Undisclosed
Thanks: Sefton Concept Vehicles, Ziggy’s Hotrods, G-Trim, PPG, Showwheels, Shannons, Meguiar’s, MirrorFinish, Geof’s Garage, Gen-Tech Performance, Hoppers Stoppers, Covercraft, The Chop Shop, Probag, Bluewire Motorsport, “A big thank you to Lea, Luko, Kev and all my friends who have helped me along the way”

TRACK ATTACK: Steven Lacey’s 480hp, 365ci Holden LX SS Hatch


24 May

Steven Lacey's Holden LX Torana

TRACK ATTACK

Steven Lacey’s genuine LX SS is living the on-track life it was always meant to
Story and Pics by Ben Hosking

Steven Lacey's Holden LX ToranaIt’s no secret that the Torana, in its many various guises, has been a formidable competitor on the nation’s race tracks over the previous four decades. Light weight and nimble, the LC and LJ coupes tore up the Bathurst circuit in their day and the legend and fanaticism that surrounds the A9X LX hatch is rarely matched by any other make or model.

Perhaps it was this mythology, legend and racing heritage that attracted a young Steven Lacey to the LX hatch back in 1993 when he first laid eyes on the example you see before you today. “I bought the car in the summer of 1993 from a guy that lived on the north beaches of Sydney,” remembers 42-year-old Property Asset Manager Steve. “My first impression was that I had to have it.”

Already boasting a red 308ci V8, Top Loader and 9in, the car had been dropped to its knees with an angle grinder, but Steven could see the potential. “The seller wouldn’t let anyone drive it. He took us for what could only be described as a ‘hell ride’,” says Steve. “We were either stopped or flat out, with the arse of the car hitting every bump in the road.”Steven Lacey's Holden LX Torana

Steve had to convince his mechanic father that this was the car was for him. His dad thought the car was a death trap, but he haggled on the price and the next day Steve was back to pick up his new car. “It was here that I discovered that the car was unregistered due to unpaid speeding fines,” smiles Steve. “I don’t remember exactly how much I paid to get the car re-registered, needless to say the guy got much less in his pocket that he wanted.”

Naturally, for a car that’s been with the same owner for 17 years, the development process has ducked and weaved in numerous directions as time has passed. Outlasting at least two engines, including the original 308ci and a later 330ci stroker the LX now runs a 365ci combination based on a VT roller block.

LW Parry Engineering bolted together the sturdy stroker using a Scat crank and 5.7in H-beam rods – a set of dish-top JE pistons completing the rotating assembly with a static compression of 10.75:1. The cast heads were ported to flow 530hp and filled with Isky springs, Crow retainers and Yella Terra 1.65:1 shaft-mount rockers with the valvetrain controlled by a Comp hydraulic roller cam’.

Steven Lacey's Holden LX ToranaBoth the bottom and top ends of the engine are held together firmly with ARP studs, while the bottom gains ever greater strength with a stud girdle. After all, longevity and reliability are two things that can help win races and Steven wins plenty.

Still in the theme of strength and reliability, Steven turned to Mal Wood Automotive for a Tremec TKO600 5-speed manual ‘box. Built like the proverbial brick out house, they’re just the thing for hard driving. It uses an ACE organic single-plate clutch and sends torque down a balanced 3in tail shaft to the old 9in that now runs 28-spline axles, 3.5:1 gears and a True Trac centre.

Unbelievably, Steven is still running a braking system that many would call prehistoric. The front end uses relatively small 276mm HQ rotors and calipers while the rear end is even worse, with the original drum brakes still groaning under the pressure. Despite this, the car hasn’t only been competitive in its class; it’s actually been taking home plenty of silverware.Steven Lacey's Holden LX Torana

“We are looking to improve the brakes, suspension and possibly go to a full-floating rear end in the future,” assures Steven.

Speaking of suspension, the car runs a relatively rudimentary setup, with Selby springs front and rear, along with Koni adjustable shocks and a 24mm front swaybar. It’s been set up with 4.5˚ negative front camber and 5˚ positive castor which wouldn’t be much help on the street, but helps the car stick to the track like shit on a blanket.

Like much of the car, it’s a fairly subtle manipulation of parts that create the environment Steve needs to work his on-track magic. Much of the original SS trim remains, with a Bond 6-point alloy roll cage and Cobra Monaco race seat being the two main deviations from classic 1970s-era appeal. Even the Speco 3in tacho looks pretty retro.

Steven Lacey's Holden LX ToranaSteve runs two sets of wheels on the Torana, with one set of 16in BBS rims for the street and a set of custom two-piece wheels for the track measuring 17x8in up front and a whopping 17×9.5in out back; making full use of those A9X flares. They’re 305/40 Yokohama AO50 tyres wrapping around those rear hoops.

It hasn’t been all plain sailing for the LX though, with a huge stack almost putting the car permanently out to pasture in early 2010. “Whilst running at ECR, the Torrie broke an axle in turn five,” remembers Steve. “The driver’s side rear wheel went under the car, pushed the fuel tank through the floor, splitting it and then catapulted the car about eight feet into the air.”

The damage was extensive, bending the chassis at both ends. However, with the help of companies like Macri Motors, LW Parry Engineering, Panorama Smash and Neale Wheels, Steve says his sojourn to the legendary Mt Panorama a mere four weeks later would never have been a reality.

“I had the opportunity to run the full circuit at Bathurst,” beams Steve with the memory. “It was an amazing experience to do in the Torana. We were clocked at 216km/h up Mountain Straight, 160km/h across the top of the mountain and 247km/h down Conrod. It’s an awesome piece of road.”

Let’s hope this little white LX continues to pound the pavement for many years to come.

Owner: Steven Lacey
Colour: Heron white, Brilliant black
Bodywork: A9X
Engine Type: VT Commodore 5L
Engine Mods: Mains girdle, Scat 355ci stroker crank (small rod journals making 365ci), 5.7in Scat H-beam rods, JE pistons (10.75:1-comp’), JE rings, ARP mains studs, ACL bearings, ported cast heads (flow 530hp), Isky valve springs, Crow retainers, custom catch can, Comp Cams hydraulic roller cam’ (0.600in lift, 248˚ duration, 108˚ LSA), JET Engineering pushrods, Yella Terra 1.65:1 shaft-mount rockers, Rollmaster timing chain, JP high-volume oil pump, custom sump, custom thermo fan, Aussie Dessert Cooler 4-row/triple pass radiator, 750cfm Holley 4150 HP Ultra carb’, 1in spacer, Torque Power single-plane intake manifold, K&N filter, MSD Pro Billet distributor, Crane Hi-6 ignition, Crane LX92 coil, Mallory 140-series pump, Holley FPR, upgraded fuel lines
Power: 480fwhp (380kW), 12.4sec @ 116mph
Exhaust: Castle tri-Y headers (1.75in primaries), twin 3in mild steel exhaust, single Hurricane muffler
Gearbox: Tremec TK600 5-speed, ACE organic single-plate clutch
Diff: 9in, 28-spline axles, 3.5:1 final drive, True Trac centre, balanced 3in tail shaft, heavy duty unis, tail shaft loop
Brakes: Slotted 276mm HQ front rotors, PBR calipers, drum rear, Bendix Street Race Track (SRT) pads
Suspension: Selby springs, Koni adjustable shocks, 24mm front swaybar (4.5˚ negative front camber, 5˚ positive castor)
Wheels/Tyres: Custom two-piece 17in rims (8in front, 9.5in rear), Yokohama AO50 tyres (225/45 front, 255/40 rear)
Interior: Cobra Monaco S driver’s side race seat, Speco tacho, Autometer gauges, 6-point alloy roll cage, 4-point Williams harness
Stereo: N/A
Build Period: Ongoing
Cost: Undisclosed
Thanks: LW Parry Engineering, Macri Motor Repairs, Liverpool Exhaust, Mal Wood Automotive, Gear Exchange Services, Wilson Fibreglass, Panorama Smash Repairs, Bond Rollbars, Neale Wheels, Miller Chassis, Gordon Leven Motorsport Tyres, Hercules Competition Engines, Croydon Racing Developments, Brabond Brakes

MR. FANTASTIC: Brian Apap’s 355CI ‘MRSLR’ Holden Torana


22 May

Brian Apap's MRSLR LX Holden Torana

MR. FANTASTIC

Brian Apap’s incredible MRSLR LX Torana is well known on the scene – for good reason
Story and Pics by hoskingindustries.com.au

Brian Apap's MRSLR LX Holden ToranaPersonalised number plates can be funny things. While many owners no doubt order their custom plates as a means to giving their vehicles a sense of personality or notoriety, some cars almost seem like they were destined to wear their plates from the beginning. Brian Apap’s LX Torana sedan is a good example. While the car may wear the plates MRSLR, its larger than life appearance – it’s immense attention to detail and blinding Barbados green paint – makes it seem like the plates merely earned THEIR spot on the car; not the other way around.

“I bought the Torana around 10 years ago,” says Brian, a 39-year-old primary producer from Sydney’s North West. “In the first year of owning it the car was stolen. Luckily it was found.”

Lucky for us perhaps, because we now get to witness the grandeur that Brian was able to create with the LX over a five year period ending in late 2005. Immediately after the build was completed, the car scored itself a spot in the Top 60 at Summernats – a feat is achieved again twice more in the following consecutive years.Brian Apap's MRSLR LX Holden Torana

Incredibly, that retina-searing green paintwork is far from new. “The paint on the car is around 20 years old,” Brian confirms. “I haven’t changed it in my time of ownership, except for the engine bay that got repainted during the build up.”

What an engine bay it is! With a flat firewall and smoothed inner guards and rails, the LX boasts a bay most car lovers would give a right nad for and it houses something just as sweet in the shape of that 355ci stroker. “The car had a 253ci and 4spd manual in it when I bought it,” Brian explains. “All the driveline has been replaced.”

Based on a 308ci Holden V8, the motor was stroked with the help of Lunati rods and CP pistons that create a high 11.5:1 static compression against the ported VN heads. It runs a ton of lift thanks to a Crow roller cam’ and the engine makes use of the breathing capacity via an 850cfm Barry Grant and highly-polished single-plane intake with a 1in spacer in between. Power is untested, but Brian believes it to be between 400 and 450fwhp.

Brian Apap's MRSLR LX Holden ToranaBacking up the aggressive combo is a T350 that runs a manualised valve body and nutso steep 5300rpm stall. This sends the grunt to a narrowed 9in that replaced the old Banjo and houses 3.7:1 gears and an LSD centre. Then it’s a quick trip along the axles to the brilliant 15in Billet Specialties rims that measure an impressive 10in wide under the bum.

As you can see by gazing over the photos, the car is much more than an engine and driveline. Indeed, step inside the cockpit of the sedan and you’re greeted with the sweet, intoxicating scent of leather as your eyes pan left to right, top to bottom. About the only things not covered in leather is the floor that boasts white Mercedes carpet and the roof lining which is matching beige velour. Then you’ve got the myriad billet pieces; many of which are custom one-offs like the pedals and switch panel under the dash. Pop the boot lid and you’re greeted by a space that’s been trimmed and detailed to match the cabin.Brian Apap's MRSLR LX Holden Torana

It’s this level of detail that has helped Brian’s Torana take out a number of top awards since its completion including Best Interior at the 2007 Toranafest, Best LX Sedan at the 2008 All Holden Day and Best in Show at the 2010 Toranafest – no small feat against the impressive vehicles that frequent that event each year. But with so many accolades and recognition, is there anywhere else left to go?

“I’m in the process of building another Torana,” Brian says. “I’m hoping it’ll be better than MRSLR, but I don’t want to give too much away just yet.”

You heard it here first folks and having seen the painted body shell up close for ourselves, we can tell you that it’s going to grab plenty of eyeballs and cause plenty of dragging chins once it’s unveiled. Stay tuned!

Owner: Brian Apap
Colour: Barbados green w/blackouts
Bodywork: SLR kit, colour-matched bumpers
Engine Type: Holden 308ci
Engine Mods: 355ci stroker kit, 4-bolt mains conversion, Lunati rods, Childs and Albert rings, CP pistons (11.5:1-comp’), ARP head and mains studs, ported cast VN heads (flow 560hp), Ferrea valves, titanium retainers, K&N catch cans, alloy radiator, billet throttle linkage, alloy air cleaner housing, braided oil and fuel lines, polished single-plane intake, Crow Cams roller cam’ (0.680in lift, 252˚ duration, 106˚ LSA), Manley pushrods, Yella Terra 1.65:1 roller rockers, painted block and heads, billet caps, High Energy sump, oil cooler, 850cfm Barry Grant Demon carb’, 1in alloy spacer, MSD ignition, Holley Blue fuel pump, 120L drop tank
Power: 400fwhp/299kW (claimed)
Exhaust: Ceramic coated tri-Y headers, twin 3in stainless exhaust, stainless mufflers
Gearbox: T350, 5200rpm Dominator stall, manualised valve body
Diff: 9in, 3.7:1 final drive, LSD
Brakes: VT front calipers, HQ rotors, rear drums
Suspension: Pedders front shocks and springs, Pedders rear springs, Pedders rear airbags, narrowed steering arms, polished steering column
Wheels/Tyres: 15in Billet Specialties rims (7in front, 10in rear)
Other mods: Battery relocated, trimmed boot, smoothed bay
Interior: Billet Specialties steering wheel, VT Clubsport front seats, polished B&M Pro Ratchet, billet foot pedals, custom beige leather trim, custom door trims, white Mercedes carpets, velour roof lining, Autometer tacho, custom switch box, trimmed sill cover panels, custom instrument fascia
Stereo: Pioneer head unit, Pioneer front and rear speakers
Build Period: 5 years
Cost: $70,000
Thanks: Jake Bain, Joe Bartolo, Carline Mufflers, Richmond Automatics, Kreative Enterprises, Pedders – Blacktown, My wife Noelene and our four kids

NATURE’S FURY: David McGinniss’ 428ci 1969 Mercury Cyclone


22 May

David McGinniss' 1969 Mercury Cyclone

NATURE’S FURY

Meet one of Ford’s rarer motorsport-influenced models, the NASCAR-homologation Mercury Cyclone
Words and Pics by www.hoskingindustries.com.au

David McGinniss' 1969 Mercury CycloneBy the mid-1960s the popularity of stock car racing was booming, leading to what many would call the sport’s golden age late in the decade with cars like the Ford Galaxies, Richard Petty’s Plymouth, Ford Torinos and Mercury Cyclones, much like the example featured here that belongs to David McGinniss. Indeed, NASCAR was largely dominated by Ford in the mid to late 1960s – a time when the race cars still had to be close derivatives of road-going models (homologated) like our dearly missed Touring Car series here in Australia up until the early 1990s.

Back then, racing was fierce, exciting and supremely dangerous. Vehicles one or lost not just on driver ability, but also on the inherent qualities of the vehicles themselves. OE manufacturers were still living by the ethos of ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ and as a result, designed and built their cars to go fast.

Introduced in 1968, this iteration of the Mercury Cyclone came in various trim styles, including no fewer than 10 different engine combinations in the two years of production, when steel and oil were both still cheap. However, David’s example is a rare beast. This is a legit Cyclone CJ: one of only 3261 built, which is a piddling little number considering the volumes in which Ford used to build cars.David McGinniss' 1969 Mercury Cyclone

‘CJ’ stands for Cobra Jet, referring to the great lump of iron wedged between the sturdy chassis rails of the Cyclone. Measuring 428 cubic inches, it’s no small engine and came with an advertised output of 335bhp back in the year of its release. Besides the 429ci Boss that the NASCAR versions of the Cyclone were running in competition, there was nothing bigger or more powerful in the Ford line up than this bruiser.

Earlier in the model’s history, a few different variations on the body style existed, like convertibles and non-fastback coupes that were all known as Cyclones. Interestingly, by 1969 this was no longer the case, with non-fastback shapes known as Montegos and Comets, with the fastbacks – the same as David’s here – called Cyclones.

David originally purchased the Cyclone way back in November 1989 in original condition. Indeed, as it sits today most of the vehicle is true to factory specification including the interior, wheels, brakes, diff’ and C6 auto’. It’s still a matching-numbers 428ci, however David did rebuild the engine around 15 years ago, keeping pretty close to the original parts list save for a Mondello steel crank, better bearings and rings as well as the 735cfm Holley on top.

“It’s been an amazing car,” David says. “15 years on and it still drives fantastically.”

David McGinniss' 1969 Mercury CycloneNot afraid to make proper use of such a rare Ford, David piloted the Cyclone through the twists and turns of the Targa Tasmania on a number of occasions in the mid to late 1990s. The car performed well in its class, earning a second place in its class in 1996 and 1998. Considering the car’s weight, the weight over the nose and the archaic brakes and the fact he could steer it through the course is even more impressive. Take that Eric Bana!

While David says that owning the car has been a wonderful experience, he does admit it hasn’t always been a total walk in the park. “Finding spare parts for it has probably been one of the hardest parts of the rebuild and keeping it going,” David says. “That, and trying to convince people it isn’t a Torino!”

Sadly the glory days of truly exciting homologation motorsport have passed (not discounting the excellent racing the smaller and privateer classes do), so it’s nice to know there are still beautiful mechanical reminders of those times around to remind us. With dedicated and capable owners like David McGinniss there to keep these cubically endowed beasts on the road, we’ll hopefully have them around to enjoy for many more years to come.

Who knows, maybe we’ll be lucky enough to see an end to the current NASCAR and V8 Supercar boredom and return to some touring car excitement again on day. Imagine what the manufacturers could come up with then!

Owner: David McGinniss
Vehicle: 1969 Mercury Cyclone
Paint: Dulux Barlot red
Styling: Factory
Engine: 428ci Cobra Jet
Engine Mods: Mondello steel crank, stock rods and pistons (10.5:1-comp’), Pro Seal file-back rings, Clevite bearings, 735cfm Holley carb’, alloy catch can
Power: 410fwhp (305kW), 440lb.ft, 13.49sec ET
Exhaust: Custom 4-into-1 headers (2in primaries), twin 2.5in mild steel exhaust, twin mufflers
Gearbox: C6 auto
Diff: 3.55:1 final drive, LSD
Suspension: Bilstein front and rear shocks, 19mm front sway bar, variable-ratio steering rack
Brakes: Factory
Wheels/Tyres: Factory
Interior: Factory
Tunes: Factory
Build Time: 5 years
Bucks: $38,000
Who’s Responsible: Coasteer Automotive, Brenton Chere for the paint

Feature Car: Graham Battersby’s Turbo 1835cc 1967 Volkswagen Beetle


21 May

I photographed Graham Battersby’s Turbo 1835cc 1967 Volkswagen Beetle for VW Magazine Australia and it appeared in the May-July 2018 issue, which is still on shelves nationwide now. Such a cool beastie.

As always, we’ve got a series of FREE desktop wallpaper images for you to enjoy. Simply CLICK HERE or on the thumbnails below to visit our Flickr page where all the goodies lay in wait for your visit.

Graham Battersby's Turbo 1835cc 1967 Volkswagen Beetle

Graham Battersby's Turbo 1835cc 1967 Volkswagen Beetle

Graham Battersby's Turbo 1835cc 1967 Volkswagen Beetle

A TRUE CLASSIC: The Sacilotto Family’s 1964 EH Holden Ute


17 May

Sacilotto Family's 1964 EH Holden Ute

A TRUE CLASSIC

As if the EH Holden weren’t classic enough on its own, the Sacilotto family went and built this!
Story and Pics by hoskingindustries.com.au

Sacilotto Family's 1964 EH Holden UteThere’s little room for dispute that the EH Holden range is one of Australia’s true classic vehicles. Holden built over 250,000 of the buggers over a couple of years and the model displayed numerous refinements over the similar-looking EJ, including the introduction of the ‘red’ motor.

We’ve featured plenty of EH utes in this magazine over the years and with just cause: people keep choosing them as the basis for their custom ute project and their malleability and adaptability to different styles, different uses and different engine combinations make them a damn fine choice. Perhaps it was some of these reasons that the collective Sacilotto family chose a 1964 EH ute as the focus of an intensive rebuild process that took a tired old hay hauler and turned it into a Summernats Top 10 champion.

Purchased way back in 1997, the ute you see gracing these pages certainly didn’t start out looking this way, but with the incredible craftsmanship of some of the premier builders on the east coast toiling away on it, magic eventually happened. So let’s take a look at what makes CLASIC such an honest to goodness classic.Sacilotto Family's 1964 EH Holden Ute

Before you even open a door of lift a panel you’re immediately struck by the colour. “Choosing the colour was probably the hardest part of the entire build,” says Luke Sacilotto. “Everything after that went really well.”

The colour gracing the panels, engine bay and interior is a custom metallic mauve that was applied to the super smooth panels by the Desisto brothers – well renowned for their own incredible EH Holdens over the years. Working under the Malibu Paint and Panel name, the Desistos completely restored the sheet metal to beyond new condition and also seam welded the engine bay. Straying a little from the factory specification, the spare wheel door was smoothed over and replaced by a recessed number plate housing. They also added some modern-looking motorcycle side mirrors and replaced the small quarter windows with full-size window glass.

Sacilotto Family's 1964 EH Holden UteIf that weren’t enough, Drago Ostric formed a superb custom dash top out of steel that now houses a plethora of Autometer gauges set into a billet fascia. While we’re inside, check out the custom oyster leather trim; put together by the guys at All Trim. It includes cut down and re-trimmed Rodeo buckets, tan carpets and those incredible custom door trims. A Billet Specialties tiller connects to the Commodores steering rack via a custom billet steering column and you’ll find more from the Billet Specialties catalogue to help you wind the windows up and down.

Good looks are all well and good, but the ute was going to have to move under its own power, too. An L67 – or supercharged V6 for the rest of us – was chosen for the task, backed by the factory 4L60E automatic. Both remain stock, but the engine came in for some extensive detailing. This ute was destined for the show scene, so there was no way a factory look was going to cut it.

With a bunch of parts colour matched to the same metallic mauve, a number of custom one-off billet parts were fabricated to tie in with the interior and those gorgeous 18in Intro billets riding under the modified guards. Hiding behind those billet rims is a complete set of VT brakes, including the twin-piston fronts and the rear discs are connected to a VP Commodore diff’ housing running an LSD centre.Sacilotto Family's 1964 EH Holden Ute

When it first hit the show scene at Summernats 21, the ute pulled a prestigious Top 10 spot and found itself under the intent gaze of tens of thousands of admiring punters in the judging pavilion. Since then the Sacilottos have driven the ute to innumerable local shows where it continues to pick up trophies by the dozen.

“We really want to drive it more now,” says Luke. “It’s time to start enjoying it more.”

Indeed, the ute got plenty of driving under its belt during our photoshoot and we’ve since seen the ute at even more Sydney shows, always cruised to the event and back home. If only more elite-level cars and utes did the same thing.

Owner: The Sacilotto Family
Model: 1964 EH Holden
Colour: Custom mauve metallic
Bodykit: Hard tonneau, deleted spare wheel door, recessed rear number plate, deleted quarter windows, seam welded engine bay, motorcycle side mirrors, custom grille
Engine Type: L67 Statesman V6
Engine Mods: 4in custom billet filter housing, painted engine cover, painted coil pack, alloy radiator, billet caps, sheet metal rocker covers, alloy radiator overflow, Yella Terra blower snout, VL Commodore fuel pump, custom fan shroud, thermo fan
Power: Untested
Exhaust: Ceramic coated custom headers, twin 2.5in mild steel exhaust into single 3in, factory cat
Gearbox: Factory 4L60E auto’, B&M Quicksilver shifter
Diff: Narrowed VP Commodore V8 diff’, LSD
Brakes: Twin-piston VT Commodore front brakes, VT rear discs, Datsun 200B booster, Commodore master cylinder
Wheels and tyres: 18in Intro V-Rod rims (7in front, 8in rear)
Suspension: HR front end conversion, HQ stubs, Pedders springs, Monroe shocks, reset rear leaf springs, Commodore steering rack, custom shortened steering column
Interior: Billet Specialties steering wheel, Holden Rodeo seats, oyster leather re-trim, custom formed dash, billet instrument fascia, Autometer classic gauges, tan carpets, custom door skins, panelled rear bulkhead
Other Mods: Modified rear tubs, battery relocated
Stereo: Pioneer head unit, Pioneer kick panel-mounted front speakers
Build Period: 11 years
Cost: Undisclosed
Thanks: Malibu Paint and Panel, All Trim, All Springs

THE HEIRLOOM: Andrew Panda’s 1967 Ford Mustang


17 May

Andrew Panda's 1967 Ford Mustang

THE HEIRLOOM

What does a father do when he has four sons? Why, build each of them an incredible four-wheeled inheritance, naturally!
Words and Pics by hoskingindustries.com.au

Andrew Panda's 1967 Ford MustangIf you look past the potential problems associated with having four sons – like supremely busy weekend mornings taking them to sporting events, violent four-way sibling scuffles, squabbles over inheritance and the very real threat of no one ever putting the toilet seat down – there is at least one potential upside for the four-son-owning car enthusiast: being able to share your hobby with them. 43-year-old Sydneysider Andrew Panda even figured out a way to avoid the potential perils of post-mortem will wars. He’s decided to build each of them a car.

What you’re seeing printed on these pages is muscle car number two, with number one being a neatly restored ’64 and a half Mustang convertible that Andrew completed several years ago. He’s enjoyed plenty of miles in the convertible and wasn’t even thinking about building another car until good friend of his made a fateful late night ‘phone call from California.

“It all started over a couple of beers with my mate that runs his own shop, Big Al’s Mustangs & Musclecars,” Andrew says. “I told him of my interest in buying a 1967 Fastback. Unbeknownst to me, Al had travelled to the USA on a holiday and was keeping an eye out for me.”Andrew Panda's 1967 Ford Mustang

It just so happened that while driving through the California desert Al came across a ’67 under someone’s carport. “The owner said the car had belonged to his father who has passed away,” Andrew says. “It had been sitting there for the last seven years, which was evident by the amount of sand on the car.”

While the owner declined any offers at the time for sentimental reasons, a few months later, Andrew received a call saying the owner was ready to sell. Negotiations were made and the car was shipped home.

Once the car arrived on Aussie shores, even close inspection revealed that the Mustang carried no more than a single two inch rust hole in the floor pan from where the air-con had been dripping for decades past. An excellent start to the project.

Andrew Panda's 1967 Ford MustangBut what next for the fastback? With a relatively traditional restoration already under his belt, Andrew decided something wilder was in order this time around and inspiration was found in the work of the Ring Brothers. Indeed, around $20,000 in parts were ordered from the company during the course of the build, even if they had a hard time believing the would-be customer to begin with.

“They wouldn’t take my money to start with,” Andrew says, still amused by the memory today. “It wasn’t long after the economy went south, so I can understand their hesitation at making and shipping so much stuff on the strength of someone offering a credit card number. I had to get the bank involved to show I was serious.”

Taking inspiration and plagiarising are two very different things and Andrew’s Mustang is covered in bespoke features that you’ll find nowhere else. The bodywork was completed by renowned Australian body man Justin Hills of Hills & Co. in Taree, NSW – a shop famous for turning out impeccable kustoms.Andrew Panda's 1967 Ford Mustang

“Hills & Co. had the car for around 12 months,” Andrew says. “They were excellent to deal with and their work on the Mustang is amazing.”

Custom touches include the unique centre rib in the side vents that has been so well executed that plenty of people have to ask if it was original. Then there’s the shaved drop rails and handles, modified bumpers and custom side skirts fabricated from steel. Both the bonnet and boot are carbon fibre and feature flawless finished surfaced on top and bottom.

Once all the many body mods were complete, the car was lathered in a custom metallic green Glasurit finish that pays a little homage to Bullit, while remaining totally custom as well as being understated and classy. By avoiding current paint trends, Andrew’s modern/classic vibe should still look fresh years down the road.

“The hardest part of the build was probably the bodywork and getting the concept off the paper and into the fabricating,” Andrew says. “Choosing the colour with family members was tricky too, as everyone had definite views on what colour it should be.”

Andrew Panda's 1967 Ford MustangOne area that didn’t come under so much discussion was the powertrain, where Andrew set his mind on a stroked Windsor. Built by Aaron Wiles, the 408ci small-block runs a tough forged bottom end, topped by ported alloy heads and a beefy 950cfm Holley Ultra HP carb’. With a solid cam’ spinning down the middle, Andrew estimates the combo is making around 600hp, which is plenty enough to spin those 285/40/18 hoops under the butt.

“One of the things that still crosses my mind now it’s finished is whether I should have tubbed the car,” Andrew says. “Should I have sacrificed the rear seat for wider wheels?”

Even without a tub job, Andrew has been able to fit a set of 18x9in forged KWC rims on the rear with a ton of backspacing, giving the look of a car with more room under there. In fact, the car boasts a purposefully low stance all round thanks to the RRS Macpherson strut setup at the front and the RRS 3-link Watts assembly under the rear. Hiding behind the KWC wheels is a matching RRS disc brake setup with twin-piston calipers and 13in rotors on front and 12.5in rotors out back.

Hills &Co’s phenomenal metalwork continues in the cabin, where it was decided to rip out the factory dash in favour of a shallower-profile, hand-formed steel unit. From this came the desire to fabricate a custom centre console, complete with space for the Pioneer DVD touch screen. A pair of Recaro buckets sit up front, with grey leather covering them, the rear bench and the custom door trims – all competed by Trik Trim on the NSW mid-north coast. While Autometer gauges fill what’s left of the original fascia, Andrew picked an aftermarket steering wheel that he felt was reminiscent of one from the new-generation Mustangs.

Not content with a quick car that looked pretty, Andrew went all the way and installed a full stereo system into the 47-year-old coupe. Starting with the Pioneer source unit, Focal splits provide sonic nirvana front and rear, with the front speakers neatly and almost invisibly housed behind custom kick panels. A Focal 11in subwoofer provides the low end from a custom enclosure behind the rear seat, ported into the cabin through the parcel tray. Like the rest of the car, the stereo install is pretty understated and designed for class, not the latest trends.Andrew Panda's 1967 Ford Mustang

“Sharing the car and enjoyment with my four boys is all I have planned for it now,” Andrew says. “I love taking it out for a cruise and the occasional car show. Just before the photo shoot I was pulled over by the cops with my son in the car. I wondered what I’d done wrong, but it turned out they just wanted to have a look!”

So what of the other two cars for the other two sons? Andrew says his wife is keen on a Corvette next time around. Car number four is still far too far away. If this Mustang is anything to go by, you can bet the ‘Vette will be one killer shark.

Owner: Andrew Panda
Vehicle: 1967 Mustang Fastback
Paint: Custom Glasurit green metallic
Styling: Shaved drip rails, shaved door handles, modified quarter vents, fabricated steel side skirts, custom front and rear skirts, carbon fibre bonnet and boot lid, modified plenum chamber, billet trim details
Engine: 408ci Windsor stroker
Engine Mods: Scat crank, Scat H-beam rods, forged Probe pistons (11:1-comp’), head and mains studs, ported alloy heads, mains girdle, Camtech solid cam’ (0.570in lift, 109° LSA), Camtech pushrods, Yella Terra rockers, Rollmaster timing chain, Melling oil pump, Aussie Desert Cooler radiator, Billet Specialties pulleys, 950cfm Holley Ultra HP carb’, MSD pro Billet distributor, MSD coil, Holley electric fuel pump and regulator, Ring Bros billet bonnet hinges
Power: Untested
Exhaust: Custom ceramic coated 4-into-1 headers, twin 3in system
Gearbox: Ford AOD, 3500rpm stall
Diff: 9in, 3.89:1 final drive, Truetrac
Suspension: (f) RRS McPherson strut-type, RRS struts, (r) RRS 3-link Watts, RRS shocks and springs
Brakes: (f) 330mm rotors (13in), RRS Phase 3 calipers, 315mm rotors (12.5in), RRS Phase 2 calipers
Wheels/Tyres: 18in Showwheels KWC 013 forged (8in front, 9in rear)
Interior: Recaro front seats, dark grey leather trim, custom metal dash pad, Autometer gauges, dark grey carpets and roof lining, modified instrument fascia, billet pedals, custom centre console, Vintage Air system, B&M Quicksilver shifter, electric windows, custom door trims
Tunes: Pioneer stereo head unit, Focal power amps, Focal speakers and sub, custom subwoofer enclosure (ported through parcel tray), custom kick panels
Build Time: 2 years
Bucks: Undisclosed
Who’s Responsible: Hills & Co. Customs, RRS, Trik Trim, Ring Bros, Aaron Wiles (engine builder)