Posts Tagged ‘holden’

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

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

ALL ROUNDER: Willem Fercher’s LS7-Powered Holden LJ Torana


10 May

Willem Fercher's LJ Holden Torana

ALL ROUNDER

Street, strip and circuit: Willem Fercher’s incredible LS7-powered LJ Torana can do just about anything you want
Story and Pics by hoskingindustries.com.au

Willem Fercher's LJ Holden ToranaEvery now and then we come across a car that makes our pulses race and our palms a little sweaty. While out and about covering the 2011 All Holden Day in Clarendon, NSW, we came across a vehicle that did just that. Welcome to Willem Fercher’s awesome LJ Torana coupe: a car that seems capable of doing just about anything you could want it to and doing it well. Cruising, straight-line racing or hitting the corners, this purple LJ can do it all. It’s even at home looking pretty at local car shows.

Willem, proprietor of Winmalee Car Care, built the car to be adaptable and to excel in no matter what discipline he was to choose down the track. As you’ll read later on, he took several clever steps to ensure that anything would be possible, allowing different combinations of driveline components to suit the task at hand.

Purchased in 2009, Willem informed us during the photo shoot that the car had actually had a previous life as a speedway car. Considering the die-straight ‘purrple’ bodywork the car boasts today, we almost fell over at the statement. However, given the car’s long life as a racer, its life today with Willem seems perfectly fitting.Willem Fercher's LJ Holden Torana

Underneath the machine Willem equipped the coupe with plenty to smile about, including a CRS chassis strengthening kit, tubular upper control arms and a complete VX Commodore trans’ tunnel. “I did that to make it easy to swap from a manual to an auto’,” Willem says. “I run a T56 for circuit racing and a Craig’s Automatics-built 4L65E for drag racing. It also uses the VX cross member in its original bolt holes.”

At the time of our shoot the car was set up for drag racing and had the auto’ fitted, including a steep 5200rpm stall. This backs up what is perhaps the centrepiece of the entire car: the LS7. The normally 427ci alloy monster was stroked out to 445ci thanks to a Callies crank and rods, with Wiseco pistons compressing a diet of E85 up against a set of ported alloy heads to the tune of 14:1 static comp’.

Willem Fercher's LJ Holden ToranaIf horsepower is created by burning air and fuel, then it’s no surprise Willem’s LJ makes 600rwhp and runs an “easy” 9.96sec ET. Mounted atop a ported Carey single-plane intake is a staggering 2000cfm Edelbrock throttle. Coupled with a meaty Comp Cams hydraulic roller boasting 0.700in lift, this engine can breathe some big air. Waste gases exit via a set of custom fabricated headers with 2in primaries, which is about all it runs when drag racing. For circuit work and life on the street, Willem bolts on a pair of extensions with a pair of mufflers to quiet things down.

“The car is street registered, it runs 9s and in circuit format it has been as high as a Top 4 spot out of 80 cars at the Bathurst hill climb,” Willem says, proudly. “We’ve also had it around Wakefield where it’s run a best of 1min 10sec.”

No matter where you look on this Torana, you’ll find gobsmacking attention to detail that is far beyond what you’d normally expect to see in a car built to race. From the artful stainless fuel lines under the car to the symmetrical fuel lines and centrally mounted regulator in the engine bay, everything has been carefully thought out and expertly executed.Willem Fercher's LJ Holden Torana

It’s the same inside the car, where things like the carbon door trims and delete plates have been neatly fettled into place. The extensive cage has been colour coded and contrasts nicely against the largely black cockpit. Sparco Sprint buckets are the only chairs in here, with the rear bench deleted to make way for the cage and to save weight. It’s not all about forgoing comfort for speed however, with the cabin and boot space extensively covered in sound deadener to keep in-car noise as low as possible. Hell, the front half even boasts nice, fresh black carpets.

Willem is no stranger to late-model power plants. He previously owned a daily-driver VZ Commodore with a 427ci stroked LS3 that ran 10.8sec and the LJ’s recently completed stable mate is a circuit-racer VK HDT mock-up that also runs a stout LS7. “With the LJ currently set up for drag racing, I want to get it back to the track,” Willem says. “I’d like to explore 9.5-9.6sec ETs. It did the 9.96sec easily. We just needed more setup time.”

Owner: Willem Fercher
Colour: ‘Purrple’
Bodywork: GT-R spoiler
Engine Type: 445ci LS7
Engine Mods: Callies 4.1in crank, Callies rods, Wiseco pistons (14:1-comp’), Clevite bearings, ported alloy heads, PAC springs and retainers, ASE breather tank, Comp Cams hydraulic roller cam’ (0.700in lift, 270˚ duration), chromoly pushrods, Yella Terra 1.8:1 roller rockers, ARP head and mains studs, JP timing chain, Moroso oil pan, Meziere electric water pump, PWR alloy radiator, SLP oil pump, 2000cfm Edelbrock throttle body, K&N filter, ported Carey single-plane intake, stock relocated coils, GM rocker covers, VZ LS1 ECU, twin Bosch 044 pumps, Turbosmart FPR, 3L surge tank, 60L fuel cell, custom stainless fuel lines, Speedflow fittings
Power: 600rwhp (447rwkW), 9.96sec @ 133mph
Exhaust: Custom headers (2in primaries), twin 3in mild steel exhaust, ‘race’ merge collectors, muffler extensions fit for street and circuit
Gearbox: 4L65E, 5200rpm Circle D stall
Diff: 9in, 31-spline axles, Strange 3.5:1 final drive, Strange full-spool
Brakes: 326mm front rotors, 300mm rear rotors, 6-piston VTTR calipers, Carbon ceramic pads, Tilton pedal box
Suspension: King front springs, Koni front shocks, tubular upper front control arms, rear coil-overs, Selby rear sway bar, modified steering, Castlemaine chassis kit
Wheels/Tyres: 18in Oz 3-piece rims (8in front, 10in rear), A048 Yokohama tyres
Other mods: Mini tubs, battery relocated to rear, VX Commodore trans’ tunnel and gearbox cross member
Interior: Momo steering wheel, 100mm boss, Sparco Sprint buckets, deleted rear bench, carbon fibre door trims and under dash panels, RCI harnesses, B&M Pro Ratchet, full cage, chequer plate floor panels, sound deadener throughout, black carpets
Stereo: Carbon fibre blocking plate
Build Period: 12 months
Cost: Undisclosed
Thanks: Winmalee Car Care, Craig’s Automatics, Diff Technics, Wholesale Suspension, Fibremaster, Bond Rollbars, Duspeed, Oz Wheels, ASE, Compton Excavation, Blaxland Auto Electrics

VINTAGE MODERN: Davin Cochrane’s LS1-Powered Holden LH Torana


10 May

Davin Cochrane's LS1-Powered LH Holden Torana

VINTAGE MODERN

Davin Cochrane saved this LH sedan from oblivion and gave it a new, high-tech lease on life.
Story and Pics by hoskingindustries.com.au

Davin Cochrane's LS1-Powered LH Holden Torana“A friend had seen a Torana near his house sitting under a tree out near Baradine,” starts 43-year-old Davin Cochrane. “It had been sitting there quietly for quite some time. I made contact with the owner and got hold of a car trailer to go pick it up.”

Davin paid the princely sum of $2000 for the LH back in April 2008, hauling the hulk several hours back to his home base south of Newcastle in NSW. No doubt there was more than one session of serious cleaning before the true condition of the car was revealed.

“A number of family members looked at the car and thought it was a piece of junk, but I could see the potential,” Davin says. “Considering what we wanted the outcome of the restoration to be, we decided ‘no regrets’ was the way to go.”

Before a spanner got turned in the name of restoration, Davin hatched his plan on what he thought the LH should become in its new phase of life. “At the time we started the project, there was only a couple of Toranas running GenIIIs that we were aware of,” he says. “It also had to be a manual. So an LS1 with a 6-speed sounded like the go.”Davin Cochrane's LS1-Powered LH Holden Torana

LS1 conversions were pretty thin on the ground in 2008 and as a result, finding parts wasn’t all that simple. Davin started out with some CRS mount and cross member parts, while working with an electrician in QLD fabricating a custom wiring harness to suit the applications. However, there were more pressing matters on Davin’s radar than jamming a new drivetrain into the Torana – like the rusted body.

“We stripped the car and had it blasted first,” Davin says. “There were lots of rust holes and the roof had been caved in, as though the local kids had been using it to land on when jumping out of the tree it used to sit under.”

“The panel guy looked the car over and recommended we start with another body. Not to be put off, I persuaded them to continue with the original car, even if it ended up costing a bit more.”

Davin Cochrane's LS1-Powered LH Holden ToranaDespite the hard slog the paint and panel guys faced, it wasn’t too long before Davin had the car back in his possession and he could now turn his attention solely toward the fun stuff like the engine conversion and running gear. Davin looked around and found a guy who had a 255kW VX-spec’ LS1 he had planned to put into a hatch. With only 67,000kms on the clock, Davin swooped in on the engine.

“We deleted the power steering and had to fit a sump with the pickup at the back due to the cross member,” Davin says. “We found a T56 from a wrecked Maloo with only 35,000kms on the clock, which is where we met our next problem.”

That problem was a transmission that was significantly larger than the Torana’s trans’ tunnel would accommodate. While he tried to work around the problem, Davin had no option but to face up to it and grab the angle grinder. When the gap ended up too large to simply weld shut, a friend of his came to the rescue, allowing Davin to cut out the tunnel from a Commodore he was wrecking.Davin Cochrane's LS1-Powered LH Holden Torana

Over the course of the build, Davin faced a number of other conversion issues – as you might well imagine would be the case when trying to join 21st century technology to archaic 1970s Holden hardware. Auto and Marine Instruments in Victoria converted the original factory gauges to electronic units to overcome the speedo output from the T56; subsequently giving Davin the ability to recalibrate the speedo easily himself down the track.

With the bits and pieces sorted and the car getting close to driveable, Davin sourced a set of wide Simmons FR18s that hide the Hoppers Stoppers brakes. The FRs really fill out the SLR-style flares and the gunmetal centres work well against the blinding Sting Red paintwork.

“I initially thought the classic Marlboro racing colours would be cool, however others in the family didn’t think cigarette advertising was a good idea,” Davin says. “Steve and his team at South Lakes Smash did a really good job on the car with the hours they spent saving the body.”

Simmons and SLR styling. LH Torana and GenIII power. This mixing up of eras and merging of styles can also be found inside the car where Davin combines the immaculate original class of the Torana vinyl with a modern steering wheel, race buckets and Autometer gauges.

All told, Davin should be proud of the results he’s achieved with the LH. It’s gone from a rusted, caved in wreck under a tree to a being a potent, current and ultimately tasty retrotech machine that is sure to continue hunting unsuspecting ricers on our nation’s roads for decades to come. While the greenies might argue the point, we reckon that’s an excellent case of conservationism!

Owner: Davin Cochrane
Colour: Sting Red w/blackouts
Bodywork: SLR-5000
Engine Type: VX 5.7L LS1
Engine Mods: Custom harness, PWR alloy radiator, Aeromotive FPR and gauge, Edelbrock alloy inline fuel filter, braided fuel lines, PWR alloy radiator overflow tank, thermo fan, custom sump, deleted power steering
Power: Untested
Exhaust: Custom ceramic coated headers, twin mild steel system
Gearbox: Maloo T56
Diff: 9in, 2.75:1 final drive, LSD, custom tail shaft
Brakes: 330mm Hoppers Stoppers front disc and twin-piston caliper kit, 300mm rear Hoppers Stoppers disc kit, 7in double-diaphragm booster
Suspension: PCD swap to HQ pattern
Wheels/Tyres: Simmons FR18 rims
Other mods: Everything rechromed, halogen headlights, VDO electronic dash conversion
Interior: Autometer ‘Bowtie’ ancillary gauges, SAAS steering wheel, front race seats, fresh roof lining and door trims
Stereo: Pioneer CD player and rear coaxial speakers
Build Period: 3 years
Cost: Undisclosed
Thanks: Killa Kustom Kables, Auto and Marine Instruments, Gibson’s Driveshaft Services, Hoppers Stoppers, Hamilton Chrome, Grant Roberts Automotive, Cools Autotrim, South Lakes Smash Repairs

EUREKA! Darren Hawkins’ 619rwhp 1JZ-Powered Holden LH Torana


07 May

Darren Hawkins' LH Holden Torana

EUREKA!

Darren Hawkins stumbled upon a gold mine when he found this showroom LH Torana
Story and Pics by hoskingindustries.com.au

Darren Hawkins' LH Holden ToranaOK, so Holden built just over 70,000 LH Toranas between 1974 and 1975. It’s probably fair to assume that a decent proportion were driven into the ground as regular passenger cars over their lifetimes, only to end up on the scrap heap. Another percentage were probably involved in accidents or stolen and destroyed while the remainder probably now find themselves restored and locked away in museums or cruising the EPIC grounds in Canberra each January, modified to the hilt and running big power plants.

How then does one go about finding such a rare gem as Darren Hawkins’ 1975 LH? Surely it’s a combination of being in the right place at the right time and a good dose of persistence in one’s search for the ultimate project base. For 44-year-old Novocastrian Darren, the discovery came by way of a guy selling what for car fanatics would amount to a family heirloom.

“The bloke I was dealing with told me the car had belonged to his grandfather who had owned it since new,” Darren says. “I ended up swapping him my Hilux mini truck and cash. The car was dead stock except for the Simmons.”Darren Hawkins' LH Holden Torana

Take a lingering look over the car: that orange paint is factory – yes, factory – as is the all-black vinyl behind the four doors. This thing is M-I-N-T.

But with a history of owning V8 Toranas – including a nitrous-fed 308ci LC and a 355ci stroked LX hatch – you would have been excused for guessing that Darren’s first port of call would have been to fit something similar between the rails of the LH. You’d have been wrong, though.

Perhaps even surprising Darren himself, what ended up in the Torana’s engine bay was a Toyota 1JZ. Now, before the ‘Jap’ haters start terrorising the forums or sending us hate mail, take a moment to consider how potent these straight-six engines can be. Darren’s makes a whopping 619rwhp with just a mild rebuild, 25psi and a decent fuel system. In fact, he’s spent a mere $8000 getting to this point, including a Microtech ECU and hand controller!

Darren Hawkins' LH Holden Torana“Getting the thing to fit was probably the hardest part of the build,” Darren says. “A mate of mine is a boilermaker and I had him fabricate a new sump to clear the cross member as well as a pair of engine mounts.”

The combo is backed up by a matching Supra 5-speed ‘box running a dual-plate clutch and onto a 9in with 3.9:1 gearing. A Hoppers Stoppers twin-piston front end brake conversion helps pull up the ponies, hidden partially by a glorious set of gunmetal Simmons FR17s. Will these rims EVER seem dated?

“When we dynoed the car and it made the 619hp figure, the trip home was pretty out there,” Darren says, without even breaking a grin. But even though he’s more than a little enamoured with the chest-compressing qualities of a high-powered turbo setup, he’s still dreaming of a V8.

“I would like to put a blown and injected small-block into it,” he says. “If I do, I’ll tub the rear and fit bigger rubber as well.”

Call us if you do, mate!

Owner: Darren Hawkins
Colour: Orange
Bodywork: Bonnet scoop
Engine Type: Toyota 1JZ 2.5L
Engine Mods: ARP 2000-series rod bolts, Arias coated pistons (9.2:1-comp’), Arias rings, King bearings, Crower valve springs and retainers, custom plenum, Garrett GT35R turbo (25psi), Microtech LTX12 ECU, Holley Blue lift pump, 2x Bosch 044 pumps, Aeromotive FPR, 2L surge tank, 55L fuel cell (E85), half-inch fuel lines, alloy radiator, alloy front-mount intercooler, alloy ‘cooler piping, stainless intake pipe, K&N filter, adjustable timing gears, external ‘gate, Turbosmart BOV, twin thermo fans
Power: 619rwhp (461rwkW)
Exhaust: Custom 4in stainless exhaust, 4in dump pipe, Magnaflow mufflers and cat
Gearbox: R154 Supra manual, dual-plate clutch, Holden tonner tail shaft
Diff: 9in, 3.9:1 final drive, LSD
Brakes: 3300mm twin-piston Hoppers Stoppers front conversion, drum rear
Suspension: Pedders shocks and springs
Wheels/Tyres: Simmons FR17 rims (7in front, 8in rear)
Other mods: Relocated battery
Interior: GTS steering wheel, Turbosmart eBoost2, Autometer gauges, Microtech controller, turbo timer
Stereo: N/A
Build Period: 2 years so far
Cost: $15,000
Thanks: Kel Sweeney Engines, Coating King, Newcastle Mufflers, JZ Race Prep, Ansen’s Tyre & Auto, “My mate Andrew for all his help”

Feature Car: Adam Wheeler’s Holden VL Calais


01 May

In a world where the norm’ is to ditch whatever is already in the engine bay in favour of an LS-based power plant, Adam Wheeler’s twin-throttle, Holden V8-powered VL Holden Calais is a breath of old-school air. Beautifully finished from tip to tail, the 340rwhp sedan was featured in the April issue of Street Machine.

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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.

Adam Wheeler's Holden VL Calais

Adam Wheeler's Holden VL Calais

Adam Wheeler's Holden VL Calais

DEMON DAILY: Diane Abed’s 590rwhp Supercharged VE SS-V Commodore Wagon


30 Apr

Diane Abed's Holden VE Commodore

DEMON DAILY

Once known as ‘the electric car’, Diane Abed’s VE SSV wagon won’t be mistaken for some quiet, smug mobile ever again
Story and by hoskingindustries.com.au

Diane Abed's Holden VE CommodoreDiane Abed is a died-in-the-wool Commodore fan. She’s previously owned a VK Berlina, V8 VR Exec and her last daily was a VY SS wagon – which is still taking up residence in the family shed now. “I bought the VY SS specifically to cart around my two Huskies,” Diane says. “I decided it was time to upgrade and when I came across this VE wagon, I fell in love.”

The 2011-model VE was as stock as a rock when Diane found it, and it “was a pleasure to drive”, she says. Only problem was that the car was too quiet. “I would always have a laugh as I could never tell when the car was on, so I nicknamed it ‘the electric car’!”

This disturbing problem saw Diane driving the wagon down to the guys at Streamline Automotive, in search of a louder exhaust. Only, she drove away with far, far more. “I went there to discuss changing the exhaust system,” she says. “By the time I walked out, the entire car was getting a makeover!”Diane Abed's Holden VE Commodore

That makeover not only consisted of the fitment of a Harrop HTV2300 blower kit and fuel system upgrade, but coil-overs and bigger brakes, too. Up front, there’s the blower, which is helping the SSV make a prodigious 590rwhp for daily duties, aided by a ZL1 fuel pump and Harrop OTR CAI. This is backed by the factory 6-speed manual that now enjoys an Extreme single-plate clutch, feeding power to the factory LSD-equipped rear end.

One of the first things we noticed about Diane’s daily was the slammed, purposeful stance over those 20in SSW rims. This is accomplished with Harrop by KW Street Comfort coil-overs at all four corners, sweetly swallowing up those 20x10in rear rims and sticky 275-wide Nitto Invo hoops. If that weren’t enough, a full complement of Harrop Ultimate-series brakes fill up the spaces behind each rim and do an excellent job of stopping the big, black, blown beast.

Diane Abed's Holden VE CommodoreAs impressive as this all is for a daily that regularly sees two very hairy Huskies cruising in the back luggage compartment, it’s not all the VE has going for it. “I wanted to change its appearance a bit and decided to go with airbrushing,” Diane says. “I’ve never been girly, so pink fairies weren’t really my thing, so I went with skulls.

“My previous wagon had ‘DIE’ plates on it (my nickname), but most people took that to mean death, so I decided I may as well roll with it!”

Alison Art was called upon to lather numerous surfaces in the engine bay and interior with airbrush art, depicting ghoulish skulls and ominous lightning themes. Diane was so enamoured with the results that she’s now planning to commission Alison Art to cover the entire car in a similar theme sometime in 2015. “Once you start, you can’t stop,” she says.Diane Abed's Holden VE Commodore

“I had a smile that lasted a week once I finally got my car back from Streamline,” Diane says. “At first I didn’t realise it was my car making the noise, as I never expected it to sound so good.”

If there was one thing Diane says she would have changed if she had her time over again, it would have been to build a stroker motor for it at the same time as getting the blower fitted. So strong is this thought that she’s actually planning to go that route in 2015 – with the aim of making over 700hp, still remaining a dedicated daily driver! “I love the power,” she says. “That and the reactions the car gets when I start it. Jaws drop.”

Owner: Diane Abed
Model: 2011 VE SS-V
Bodywork: Factory, Walkinshaw bonnet scoop, HDT carbon fibre grille
Colour: Phantom
Block: L77 6L V8
Engine Mods: Streamline hydraulic roller cam’, tie bar lifters, Harrop OTR CAI, Harrop HTV2300 supercharger kit, Harrop ZL1 fuel pump
Power: 590rwhp (440rwkW)
Exhaust: Ceramic coated Hurricane headers (1-7/8in primaries), twin 3in mild steel exhaust, Hurricane mufflers and cats
Gearbox: 6-speed manual, Extreme single-plate clutch
Diff: Factory, 3.45:1 final drive, LSD
Brakes: Harrop Ultimate brake kit (381mm front, 356mm rear), Harrop braided stainless lines
Suspension: Harrop by KW Street Comfort coil-overs (front and rear)
Wheels/Tyres: 20in SSW MSPEC rims (8.5in front, 10in rear), Nitto Invo tyres (275 rear)
Interior: Factory SS leather, custom airbrushing
Stereo: Factory IQ system
Build period: 1 year
Cost: $78,000 (inc. car)
Contacts: Streamline Automotive, Craig Abell Smash Repairs, Alison Arts, “Scott Brydson for his helpful words, mum, I love you and I hope you’re proud – RIP”

FITTING TRIBUTE: Kim Smith’s Supercharged V6 VY Holden Commodore


30 Apr

Kim Smith's Holden VY Commodore

FITTING TRIBUTE

A smiling, welcoming fixture on the East Coast show scene for years, Kim Smith encountered tragedy in 2011 with the loss of her son, Matt. After nearly walking away from the scene, Kim’s VY ute, ‘Wildfire’, has returned better than ever as an automotive tribute
Story and Pics by hoskingindustries.com.au

Kim Smith's Holden VY CommodoreIf you live on the East Coast and have been to a few shows in your time, chances are you’ve seen this Red Hot 2003 VY ute in the flesh. If you’ve been really lucky, you’ve seen its owner, Kim Smith. People like Kim are what the Commodore scene is all about. We’ve known the Hunter Valley resident since she and her ute started popping up at car shows around a decade ago – instantly memorable for her perpetual smile, genuine, positive attitude and warm hugs.

Over the years her VY continued to develop and improve – a fact reinforced by multitude of trophies she took home with her from every event she drove the ute to. Indeed, four Top 60 trophies at Summernats are among her most prized. This isn’t even ‘Wildfire’s first feature shoot for Street Commodores.

That seemingly endless optimism was rocked in late 2011 when her son, Matt, was killed in a car accident a mere two kilometres from home on a foggy stretch of road – a collision with a truck. “Matt was lost in the fog, following the white line to see, blinded by the one street light there he didn’t see the lights of the oncoming truck until it was too late,” Kim says. “His accident was ruled age, inexperience and severe prevailing weather conditions”.Kim Smith's Holden VY Commodore

“I came so close to walking away – more than most people realise. On the day he was killed I threw out trophies and anything that reminded me of my life with cars. Thankfully [my husband] Ken retrieved them. But how could I be a Mum who lost a son to the roads AND be an avid car enthusiast?”

After some time to grieve and reflect, it was the very same car scene that helped convince Kim to continue on with the ute. “I cannot – ever – thank them enough for the love, support and encouragement that they have provided to me and that they continue to show to me,” she says. “I can honestly say that I feel like I have a family of thousands that stand with our family on the really tough days.”

Those tough days might visit a little less often now, three years on, however Kim has been able to focus some of her energy into creating a fitting tribute to Matt, through the ute. “When I decided to keep going I struggled to find a way to build that loss and also a sense of celebration for Matt’s life into the ute,” Kim says. “I wanted to stay with the theme (fire) and was very lucky to meet a young lady called Mel Carroll at a car show. I wanted flame that swept from the front of the ute to the back and for that flame to sweep through an image of Matt playing his beloved guitar. She absolutely nailed it. The flames do just that, with no panel left untouched, sweeping though Matt and up into a heart of flame on the hard lid.”

Kim Smith's Holden VY CommodoreWildfire is full of fond memories for Kim. The ute represented her first new car purchase and it was love at first drive – “smitten”, she says. “Owning it unlocked the heritage of modification and car preparation that my father gifted to me. He was a mechanic that modified just about anything he touched (speedboats/lawnmowers/cars/bikes…) and was a proud race competitor in Speedway. I didn’t know it at the time or really appreciate it, but my Dad gave me that genetic connection to do what I have done. I miss him so much because he would have loved to see Wildfire gather four Summernats trophies.”

There are also tons of happy memories for Kim involving Matt, who she says was like a “mini me”, always helping out with show prep and going to the events. These days, Kim volunteers her time at a local road safety initiative called Drive 4 Survival, telling hers and Matt’s story. “Drive 4 Survival gives country kids four nights of road safety education and a first aid course, all for a subsidised cost of $20,” she says. “Matt and I participated in April 2011 – we lost him that August. I share Matt’s loss with them, and show them pictures of what remained of his beloved VT wagon. I also remind them that it’s ok to enjoy cars and modify them, but there is always an appropriate time and place.”Kim Smith's Holden VY Commodore

Luckily for all of us, Kim didn’t turn her back on Wildfire permanently and we still get to see her and the VY at shows on a regular basis. Her smile may not always be as wide and carefree as it once was, but her passion for the ute will never diminish – reinforced by its newfound connection to Matt.

Next time you see her at a show, repay the love she’s given the scene and give her a hug. Tell her Hosking Industries sent you.

Owner: Kim Smith
Model: 2003 VY ute
Bodywork: EL GT Falcon bonnet scoop, hard tonneau, modified VU rear skirt, rear in-fill panel, LED under-car lighting, painted undercarriage, SS front bar
Colour: Red Hot w/murals, Dupont clear coat
Block: Ecotec
Engine Mods: Raptor stage-2 Pro-Street supercharger (11psi), custom PWR intercooler, ceramic coated intake manifold, reversed plenum, 36lb/hr injectors, IPR sheet metal rocker covers, suede-covered radiator shroud and custom under-bonnet cover for shows
Power: 172.2rwkW (231rwhp) before intercooler
Exhaust: Ceramic coated Pacemaker headers, hi-flow cat’, 2.5in Redback exhaust
Gearbox: Extreme clutch
Diff: LSD
Brakes: 330mm slotted front rotors, 315mm slotted rear rotors, detailed calipers
Suspension: Kings Springs Super Super Low (Front), Super Low (Rear)
Wheels/Tyres: 20in HSV Pentagon (copies), 225/35/ZR20 tyres
Interior: Custom painted plastics, red suede and leather inserts, custom sill covers, suede shifter boot, flame-embossed pillar covers and roof lining, red LED lighting, digital gauges in console, full custom tray install, underside of tonneau trimmed
Stereo: (Cabin) Pioneer AVH-P3250 double-DIN source unit, Pioneer 220w speakers in doors w/tweeters in dash, Clarion SRV303 subwoofer behind driver’s seat, Rockford Fosgate P400 power amp’, power point for charging batteries behind passenger seat. (Tray) 2x pair Rockford Fosgate T1652-S splits, 2x P3-series 12in D412 subs, 2x P300-1 sub amps, RF Punch EQ, 2x batteries under install
Build period: Ongoing
Cost: Undisclosed
Contacts: Ken, Mark and Matt. Without them, none of this matters. My Dad Bob; my friends, Nesse, Danny, Mitch, Lee, Dave, Adrian and Sarah, Bec. Tim Staier at Raptor Superchargers, Stitched Up Custom Trim, Mel Carroll Airbrushing, Kel Whittaker Smash Repairs and Streamline Automotive for looking after my R8 Maloo, especially Mark, Pat and Kane… My many, many car scene friends