Posts Tagged ‘maitland’

FUTURE PROOF: Andrew Drain’s 418ci LS3-Powered VH Commodore

18 Apr

Andrew Drain's Holden VH Commodore


Andrew Drain dragged his VH sedan kicking and screaming into the 21st century. The results are incredible
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Andrew Drain's Holden VH CommodoreThere’s retrotech and then there’s Andrew Drain’s 1982 VH sedan, known as MRVH. No, not ‘mervuhh’. Mister Vee Aitch, to you, thank you very much. Bought five years ago, this lucky VH was purchased to replace the horrid, twisted hulk Andrew was already trying to salvage.

Coming from a large family, Andrew inherited a damaged V8 VH from one of his older brothers who wrecked the car in an accident. But the deeper he dug into the shell in his attempt to rescue it from the metal recylcer, the worse things got. Finally, he had to admit defeat and find a new shell.

“I inherit a lot from my older brothers,” the 26-year-old plant mechanic explains. “A lot of the body parts and the body kit have been handed down from two of my older brothers.”

The new donor car was already running an injected 5L and boasted a number of ‘improvements’, including a disastrous VS Statesman dash conversion that was largely held in with fencing wire. If he hadn’t been planning it anyway, a full tear down was the only way to put things right.Andrew Drain's Holden VH Commodore

During our photo shoot, Andrew explained that he is one half of identical twins – his brother an engineer and largely book smart. Andrew on the other hand tries to tell us he’s “just a mechanic”. Take a decent look at the work he’s completed on this VH and you soon realise that he’s as humble as he is talented with the tools.

Dressed in a thick coat of HSV’s Cherry Black, the VH wears a SS Group A body kit, consisting bonnet scoop, front and rear aprons and side skirts. He’s also added SL/E bumper extensions, tail lights and chrome trims. It’s a classy and timeless look that doesn’t follow the latest trends and will mean that Andrew won’t feel the need to repaint the car again in 12 months.

Pop the bonnet and you’ll start to see where the last four years have gone. Between the smooth engine bay and the hidden wiring, the LS3 nestled within gleams like a diamond. Things didn’t start off so easily though. “I bought a crate motor for the car, but before I’d even driven 300kms, the thing lunched itself,” Andrew says. Even more worryingly, the shop that sold him the GM crate motor wouldn’t live up to their warranty – something that’s still going through arbitration.

Andrew Drain's Holden VH CommodoreNo to be deterred, Andrew tore the motor down himself and rebuilt it. Putting a positive note on a bad situation, the LS3 now boasts 418 cubes thanks to a COME crank and rods, Diamond pistons and Higgins ported heads. Power is untested as Andrew runs the combo in, but it’s got all the goodies, including a 0.595in-lift cam’, FAST manifold and modified VCM OTR cold-air intake. Backed by a tough T56 Magnum ‘box and Borg Warner rear end with 3.9:1 gears, the little VH should positively scream once the final tune is locked in.

While the late-model power train and driveline (completed by Harrop True Trac, billet axles and alloy diff’ cover) are clever enough, it’s inside where Andrew’s thought processes have really come into their own – aided by Todd at Eastside Kustom Trim. While tinkering with ideas, Andrew happened to casually hold a VY dash pad inside the stripped out VH, only to find at it was an almost perfect fit. Enthusiastic about the potential, he turned to Eastside to do the heavy lifting, going so far as to include the VY centre console as well. It’s so seamless that you’d forget you weren’t actually sitting in a VY. Completing the transformation are custom door trims with moulds to produce a neat transition into the ends of the dash, as well as custom speaker pods, Coulsen front seats and a very lumpy rear bench, modified to suit.

Eastside covered everything in black leather, including the dash. The roof lining is matching suede and the silver accents highlight the clever integration of Autometer gauges into the instrument fascia as well as an eBay binnacle and the original HVAC control holes.Andrew Drain's Holden VH Commodore

From here the little details continue to widen your grin. Andrew got the factory electric window switches working, as well as a central locking and keyless entry system. When the car is immobilised, two of the central LEDs in the instrument fascia blink. When the car is running, those same LEDs operate as indicator lights. The hole for the original trip computer now houses a digital tacho and to the right of that, the little speaker grille now hides the microphone for the integrated Bluetooth system.

Andrew has also converted all the VH’s lighting to LED, save for the headlight globes, of course. All the interior lighting, the tail lights and the parkers are now LEDs, tying in well with the car’s future-proof theme.

Andrew Drain's Holden VH CommodoreIf that weren’t enough, there’s a tidy stereo system in here too. It starts with the double-DIN Alpine DVD player in the dash. This feeds signals to two hidden power amps, in turn powering two pairs of 6in Fusion coaxials and a 10in Fusion sub, the latter of which is housed in a custom parcel tray along with one pair of the coaxials. Pop the boot lid and you’ll find there’s still a ton of space for some overnight bags or the shopping, but underneath the false floor you’ll find Andrew has worked out a way to include a space-saver spare, jumper leads and a couple extra tools, just in case.

It’s a good thing there’s some extra room in there, because Andrew has every intention of driving the wheels off of the VH. “It was always going to be a street car,” he says. “I love how smooth it drives. How smooth the power comes on.”

He’s not quite done yet, though. Once the full tune is completed, Andrew says he wants to replace the 19×8.5in VE SS Redline rims with a set of 20in billets to match his steering wheel and the hoses for the heater and A/C will go back in, too (the controls for which are already mounted behind the Hurst shifter in preparation). What more could anyone possibly want? Welcome to the future.

Owner: Andrew Drain
Model: 1982 VH
Bodywork: SL/E bumper extensions, SL/E tail lights, LED head light and tail light illumination, smoothed door handles, SS Group A body kit, VL mirrors, SL/E chrome trims
Colour: Cherry black
Block: LS3
Engine Mods: COME crank and rods (418ci), Diamond pistons and rings, ARP head and mains studs, King bearings, Higgins’ ported heads, Lunati double valve springs and retainers, Bullet hydraulic roller cam’ (0.595in lift), Lunati tie-bar lifters, Edelbrock water pump, modified sump, B&M oil cooler, custom Adrad radiator, Billet Specialties serpentine pulley kit, FAST 102 intake manifold, modified VCM OTR CAI, hidden wiring, custom fuse boxes and ECU mounts, modified wiring harness, 2x 600hp Walbro pumps, FAST fuel rails, Elite Engineering catch can, SX FPR, 4L surge tank, Brown David 100L drop tank, braided fuel lines, smoothed bay
Power: Untested
Exhaust: Ceramic coated CAE headers, 3in twin-into-single system, Magnaflow mufflers
Gearbox: T56 Magnum 6-speed, Ace 11in billet flywheel, single-plate clutch
Diff: Narrowed Borg Warner, 3.9:1 final drive, custom one-piece tail shaft, Harrop True Trac, billet axles, alloy diff’ cover
Brakes: 330mm front and rear rotors, PBR twin-piston front calipers, Bendix pads, upgraded booster, braided brake lines
Suspension: K-Sport adjustable coil-overs front and rear, Whiteline strut brace, Whiteline adjustable panhard, adjustable K-Mac front sway bar, custom power steering reservoir and fluid lines
Wheels/Tyres: VE SS Redline 19×8.5in wheels
Interior: VY dash conversion (leather covered), VY centre console, Billet Specialties steering wheel, Coulsen front seats, custom rear bench w/Coulsen headrests, black leather trim, custom door trims, custom suede roof lining, Autometer gauges, central locking, keyless entry, electric windows, boot and fuel door poppers, new seat belts, HSV pedals, black carpets, Hurst shifter, custom sill covers, custom dash fascia, custom rear parcel tray
Stereo: Alpine in-dash DVD source unit, Vibe mono block amp’, Vibe 4-channel power amp’, Fusion 6in coaxials front and rear, 10in Fusion sub’, custom sub enclosure, headrest-mounted screens, custom boot install
Cost: “Over $80,000”
Build period: 4 years
Contacts: Eastside Kustom Trim, Seaside Smash Repairs, Pryce Engines, A1 Exhausts – Thornton, Mal Wood, Gibson Driveshaft Services, Diff Trans, Bowers Suspension, Streamline Automotive, “My girlfriend Kate; Dave Hoffman; my family and friends, Evan, Phillip, Henno, Dave, Chris, Hooley and Mick”

Feature Car: Andrew Drain’s Holden VH Commodore

18 Aug

Newcastle, NSW is a city busting with sweet modified cars and that’s where we found Andrew Drain’s incredible retrotech Holden VH Commodore, which is featured in issue 227 of Street Commodores magazine – on newsstands now.

Powered by a 418ci LS3 small-block, the VH also features an insane black leather interior by Eastside Kustoms, including a seamless, late-model VY dash conversion. Be sure to pick up the latest issue of Street Commodores to read all about it in our feature story.

As always, we’ve got a series of seven 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.


Andrew Drain's Holden VH Commodore

Andrew Drain's Holden VH Commodore     Andrew Drain's Holden VH Commodore

What the Hell is a 27twelve?!

11 Mar

I was thinking about my post the other night; the one about the Newcastle music scene and how I got involved with music journalism back in the ’90s. And I realised that somehow I had completely left out the part relating to 27twelve.

Now, for most reading this, you’d be completely forgiven for wondering just what the hell a 27twelve is. Well, it was the name of my monthly metal ‘zine.

After writing for Mark Hughes at concretepress for a while, I was hankering for some greater creative outlet. The writing bug had bitten and I realised that I had a voice. I wanted that voice to spread further; to reach more people and discuss things that mattered to me.

I have to be honest and admit that I really had no prior knowledge of the then-burgeoning ‘zine scene. As it turned out, Newcastle and the surrounding areas were home to many examples of ‘zines on all kinds of topics. But what inspired me to create a little A5-sized publication was a late-night documentary on Hugh Hefner and the Playboy empire. Hugh started his publishing career with much the same concept: a magazine in a small, cheaply printed format.

That very same night I sat up in front of mum’s slow-as-a-wet-blanket PC and started work on the first issue of what would become 27twelve. Don’t bother asking where the name came from or what it meant. I didn’t know then and I don’t know now, suffice it to say that being in bands back then, I was always trying to think up names for bands and song titles. 27twelve was just one of many on the list and not wanting to create a publication with a name that would give people a preconception of what would be inside, I went for something that no-one could mistakenly judge.

In all the mag ran like clockwork for over two and a half years and boasted many of my favourite local and international acts on the cover. Even today I look back and am surprised at how much support the nation’s record companies gave me in terms of access to their acts for interviews and mountainous piles of CDs for review.

It was distributed throughout Newcastle, Maitland and the Manning Valley regions in many of the same places you’d find street presses like the Drum Media and 3D World. I relied on my unemployment benefit payments from the government to pay for the printing of each issue which was completed by simply photocopying each double-sided A4 page 1000 times. After printing was done, I had the support of friends and family to help me fold the pages and staple them in the middle, creating a 28-page A5 magazine.

Often some of those same friends and family members would feature within the pages, writing opinion columns and providing advice on subjects within their chosen field. For instance, my grand mother wrote a regular political column and my best mate wrote a regular piece on computer technology and game reviews. Those were fun times.

When 27twelve turned one, I even threw it a birthday party. I booked five of my favourite local bands to play at the Cambridge Hotel on Hunter Street in Newcastle West, designed up pole posters and invites for contributors, advertisers, local musos and the like. We ended up with a good couple hundred people at the event and I remember through my drunken haze later in the evening, the then-promoter of the pub putting his arm around my shoulders and thanking me for a good night.

So what killed 27twelve? Primarily it was me being sick of being unemployed, never having any money and feeling like the city was closing in around me. The scene there was big, but small at the same time. So, I moved to Sydney to find work.

Ben Hosking, Editor of 27twelve

For a time, the mag continued. I interviewed bands after hours (sometimes even AT work) and basically used all my remaining hours designing and writing – but it all got too hard. I ended the print version of the mag not long after it turned two and a half when my flatmate convinced me that the place to be was on-line. Thus began my introduction to web design, back in 1999. It didn’t last, though, and I closed it for good.

It was an awesome ride that together with my work at concretepress, allowed me to interview most of my favourite bands and see them live for nix, as well as collect the motherlode of review CDs that were regularly swapped at Rice’s second hand bookstore for non-fiction paperbacks and other CDs.

So, here I am now, endeavouring to re-enter the music journalism field in addition to my primary work writing for automotive publications. My love of music never left – I simply had so much on my plate working for Express Publications that there was little time or inclinatin to continue. However, over time I pulled the guitars back out of storage and started reading Metal Hammer, Kerrang and Guitar World again. When I left Express earlier this year, my desire to write about music was firmly reignited.

Thanks for listening.