Posts Tagged ‘motoring’

SMOOTH CRIMINAL: Chad Darke’s Smooth 336ci EH Holden Ute


18 Jun

Chad Darke's EH Holden Ute

SMOOTH CRIMINAL

A long list of subtle refinements makes Chad Darke’s inky blue EH stroker one slippery character
Story and Pics by Ben Hosking

Chad Darke's EH Holden UteBesides the 48-215 and FJ, there’s no more an iconic Holden model than the EH. Even today, almost 50 years since the introduction of the EH range, they remain as popular as the 260,000 they manufactured between 1963 and early 1965.

It’s no wonder then that Holden lover Chad Darke scoured the country for the right basis for his next automotive project back in 2005. “I rang my mate to see if he’d come with me to check out a car,” the 37-year-old electrician from Sydney relates. “I didn’t mention it was in Tasmania! We flew down there the next morning and started haggling.”

Once Chad had settled on a price, it was time to get the ute home and instead of throwing it onto a transporter and taking the easy route home, Chad and friend jumped in and headed north. “I asked the seller about fuel economy,” Chad says. “He said it was good for 10km/L and it was supposed to have a 100L tank, so I filled it up in Victoria and we set off for home. Somewhere between Yass and Goulburn the car started to splutter… out of fuel in the middle of nowhere!”

“Here I am waving my Jerry can around furiously trying to hitch a ride when a guy that resembled Ivan Milat picks me up. He took me to the nearest town and after a tense trip I got some fuel and found my way back to the car safe and sound.”Chad Darke's EH Holden Ute

With that fateful trip home behind him, Chad could breathe a sigh of relief and get stuck into the build up. Over the course of the next five years, the old EH would be transformed into a sleek, modern interpretation of the classic Holden, but not without the odd headache.

“Dealing with panel beaters and relying on other people’s conversion kits that didn’t fit were probably some of the hardest parts of the build,” Chad explains. “I ended up finding a good panel guy though.”

He’s not lying either – the finish on Chad’s EH is pristine and includes some choice body mods that really smooth the old girl out. For starters, the door handles and locks were shaved off. Given that Australian rules require a mechanical method of opening front doors, Chad replaced the handles with short metal rods poking up out of the top of each door. However, whereas most similar conversions work by being pushed down or lifted up, the mechanism on Chad’s doors works by gently pulling the rods toward you. We gave them a go and they worked effortlessly.

Chad Darke's EH Holden UteAnother huge visual improvement came via the deletion of the front quarter windows. With full one-piece glass inserted into the doors, it looks far more modern and further simplifies the exterior aesthetic. With an aviation-style fuel filler replacing the factory door, the modern iteration of the EH is almost complete – perhaps finished off most notably by the venerable Simmons FR18s.

Having a nice-looking ute is one thing, but without the proper mechanical motivation it’s little more than BBQ rice: all show and no go. Surely the old six-banger was never going to cut the mustard and Chad swapped it out for a Holden 5L.

Based around a Kingswood pre-EFI block, Alan Bruni built up a nice offset-ground 336ci stroker motor that is updated with a pair of VN EFI cast heads. It’s a relatively mild affair with an HSV hydraulic cam’, unported heads and a 650cfm Holley on top. While power is untested, the combo has pushed the ute to a 13.8sec ET in full street trim; and as they say, a 14sec street car is nothing to sneeze at.Chad Darke's EH Holden Ute

Chad shifts gears through a T5 5-speed and there are more Commodore parts to be found out back, with a VN Borg Warner running 3.45:1 gears and an LSD centre. Check each corner and you’ll find VT-spec’ discs on the nose and VN discs in the rear.

The sweet combination of old and new continues inside where the cabin has been decked out with timeless black leather and suede. Premier buckets provide an iota of more lateral support than a bench, but it’s the Autometer dash, Sony stereo and Momo wheel that helps bring the old girl into the present day.

With a ute as cool and contemporary as this in the shed, many would be happy to rest on their laurels and take a break, but Chad has more plans under way. “I’ll probably end up putting a bigger stroker kit into it,” Chad starts. “It’ll also cop a bigger stainless fuel tank,”

Bring it on!

Owner: Chad Darke
Model: 1963 EH Holden
Colour: PPG Midnight blue
Bodykit: Aviation-style fuel filler, deleted door handles and locks, deleted quarter windows
Engine Type: Holden V8
Engine Mods: Offset-ground 336ci stroker conversion, 5.7in small-journal Chevrolet rods, ACL Larry Perkins pistons and rings (10:1-comp’), ACL bearings, VN cast heads, polished rocker covers, HSV hydraulic cam’, Yella Terra roller rockers, double-row timing chain, high-volume oil pump, High Energy sump, Davies Craig thermo fan, 80A alternator, PWR alloy radiator, 650cfm Holley DP carb’, ceramic coated Torque Power intake manifold, adjustable FPR, K&N air filter, Bosch HEI distributor, Bosch EA Falcon coil, wiring hidden, Carter fuel pump, braided lines, custom bonnet hinges
Power: Untested, 13.8sec @ 98mph
Exhaust: Custom stainless headers, twin 2.5in into single system, single stainless muffler
Gearbox: T5, heavy-duty 10in single-plate clutch
Diff: Narrowed VN Commodore Borg Warner, 3.45:1 final drive, LSD, Cortina tail shaft
Brakes: 300mm VT-spec’ rotors and calipers, 278mm rear discs, VN calipers, front braided brake lines, VN master cylinder, VN V8 booster
Wheels and tyres: 18in Simmons FR rims (7in front, 8in rear)
Suspension: HR front end, King front springs, Pedders shocks, reset rear leaf springs, custom sway bars, LH Torana rack and pinion conversion, modified EH column
Interior: Momo steering wheel, EH Premier buckets, black leather retrim, custom Autometer instrument cluster, custom door skins, black carpets, black suede roof lining
Other Mods: Battery relocated
Stereo: Sony head unit and speakers
Build Period: 5 years
Cost: $44,000
Thanks: Pioneer Plating, M&S Johnson, “Tony Wellington for the timber tray; Jeffrey Smith for the machine work; Terry Edwards for engine balancing; Ray and Warren for the great panel and paint and my wife for putting up with us.”

BRUTISH BRIT: Stefan Niceski’s Salt-Flat-Inspired 1954 Triumph Thunderbird


18 Jun

Stef Niceski's 1954 Triumph Thunderbird

BRUTISH BRIT

Stefan Niceski spent two year’s worth of Saturdays and a million beers building this ultra cool Salt flat-inspired Trumpy
Words and Pics by hoskingindustries.com.au

Stef Niceski's 1954 Triumph ThunderbirdOld British bikes have really made a resurgence in popularity over the last few years. With the popularity of Harley-derived bobbers and choppers showing no signs of abating – and the cost of parts and base bikes staying high as a result – it’s no wonder people are looking for alternatives when constructing cool rides.

When you see some of the awesome bikes we’ve been lucky enough to capture on camera in the last few issues, it’s no surprise people are going for the humble Brit machines. One such advocate is 35-year-old Sydneysider Stefan Niceski.

You may remember the Trumpy we featured last issue belonging to Stuart Torkington. The two guys are mates and we were lucky enough to shoot both on the same day in the wonderful environs of 1349 Venice: a cool function/event space in Waterloo. At the time of our shoot, Stef’s bike hadn’t even been started.

Formed from a 1954 Triumph Thunderbird frame, you can imagine that its beginnings were less than auspicious, as Stef explains. “I found the frame in an old man’s green house,” Stef says. “It was surrounded by growth, including some tomatoes.”

Incredibly, Stef found the engine in another shed and with both primary components in place; he devised his plan of attack. “I thought I d fuse the two into some type of ‘Triumph Frankenstein vintage drag/salt flat sled’,” he says.Stef Niceski's 1954 Triumph Thunderbird

We reckon he’s nailed that design objective in superb fashion, but it didn’t happen overnight or by using all the factory components. “The build took me two years of Saturdays and quite a few beers,” Stef says. “I reckon she looks alright.”

Taking the original frame as the basis for the build, Stefan fabricated a custom rigid rear half, extending the length of the bike and helping it to ride lower in the process. To this he added XR250 front forks and exaggerated the low stance by bolting the handlebars on down low.

Up top, a Harley Sportster tank provides enough capacity for extended cruising while retaining the bike’s minimalist aesthetic. When it came to finding an oil tank, Stef got clever and modified a nitrous oxide tank before chroming it. About the only other appendages you’ll find bolted to the brilliant metallic blue frame is the custom seat and diminutive rear guard/shroud that Stef was responsible for as well.

Stef Niceski's 1954 Triumph ThunderbirdPower comes from that barn-find Bonneville 750 we alluded to earlier. At first, the engine was mistaken for a 1975-vintage unit, which is how the bike came to wear ’75’ on the tank (it’s reversed on the side of the bike we shot it from). “It was meant to represent the ’70s engine and ’50s frame, but it turned out the engine was actually from 1982,” Stef says. “It looked cool, so I left it anyway.”

That ’82-vintage engine runs a few choice upgrades in the interests of making more power – not that it needs a whole lot of grunt thanks to its light weight. Twin AMAL carbs mix the air and fuel, using little more than twin ram tubes for an intake. A Joe Hunt ignition sets fire to the mix and a pair of 1.75in straight pipes make a huge racket, wrapped in gleaming new exhaust wrap for that purposeful race bike appearance.

With full rego due to be applied to the bike shortly after our shoot, one of its first big voyages was the 2012 Taren Point Rat Day, where crowds flocked to it and mate Stuart’s ‘Skinny’ golden beast. Successfully mixing up the vintage vibe, Stef’s ’75’ is a crowd pleaser and we’re not surprised.

Owner: Stef Niceski
Bike: 1954 Triumph Thunderbird
Builder: Owner
Bodywork: Custom hard tail, custom mounts, 1985 XR250 front end, Bates head light, clip on bars, Baxter grips, custom Triumph pegs, custom seat and rear shroud, Harley Davidson Sportster tank, modified nitrous bottle oil tank, modified turn signal tail light
Engine: 1982 T140 Bonneville 750, Joe Hunt ignition, AMAL MK11 carbs, straight stack intakes, 1.5in chain drive, custom 1.75in straight pipes
Gearbox: 5-speed, stock clutch
Wheels: Front – 21in XR250 front rim, Avon tyre – Rear – 16in Harley Davidson rim, Avon tyre
Brakes: Disc front, drum rear
Thank you: Sovereign Classics, Sydney Custom Spray Painting

HOME-GROWN HERO: Adrian Coulter’s 380rwhp 6/71-blown LJ Holden Torana


18 Jun

Adrian Coulter's LJ Torana

HOME-GROWN HERO

Adrian Coulter’s 6/71-blown LJ Holden Torana is a true home-built masterpiece that almost cost him everything
Story and Pics by Ben Hosking

The stories behind some performance cars almost write themselves and those vehicles are usually home-built. You just can’t create the same texture, depth and interest with a cheque-book build that’s simply spent months in and out of workshops. Sure, put two cars next to one another and they might look the same; but you can be sure the journey the home-built car took to get to the finish line will be a whole lot more interesting than the workshop car.

Adrian Coulter's LJ Holden Torana33-year-old Novocastrian Adrian Coulter has spent the last nine years building this incredible Viper Blue LJ coupe (this is actually its second build) and except for that glowing blue suit, he’s completed everything himself in the shed at home. “The car won awards for Best Paint and Best Interior at the 1998 and 2000 Toranafest events,” says Adrian, a qualified panel beater AND mechanic. “After that I took the car home and stripped it back down to a bare shell. It took nine years to get from there to here.”

It’s hard to believe that a Torana this straight and highly detailed could have once started out as such a wreck – just as it did in 1995 when Adrian first bought it. “It was in primer when I bought it,” says Adrian. “I was told it just needed rubbing back and painting, but when I got it home and went to open the passenger door, it fell off!”

Things went from bad to worse once Adrian started rubbing the panels down, finding all manner of damage. Eventually, the casualty list included two sill panels, the rear beaver panel, two floor pans, the front valance and plenty of other poorly repaired dents and damage. “It took 15 months just in bodywork,” explains Adrian. “It was a never ending story, but worth the effort in the end.”

Fast forward to the second build and Adrian pulled out all the stops, creating an LJ with more attention to detail than most big dollar builds can muster. From tip to stern there isn’t a square millimetre of this car that hasn’t been massaged or tricked out in some way.

Up front, the engine started life as a 1990 304ci injected 5L, no doubt powering a VN Commodore or some description. Adrian rebuilt it himself using the factory crank with A9L rods and simple ACL Race Series pistons, rings and bearings. The rotating assembly does enjoy some additional support in the form of ARP mains studs and a girdle which is a good thing considering he’s forcing eight pounds of boost down its throat.

Unbelievably, Adrian was the first guy to ever lay eyes on that shiny GMC 6/71 supercharger. “Starting the motor with the blower on it was definitely one of my favourite moments in the build,” says Adrian, smiling with the thought. “I was the first person to open the crate with the 1959 blower in it. It still had the metal packing straps around the box and everything.”

It was a doubly exciting moment considering it was Adrian’s first blown engine – one that also features ported cast heads and a sturdy valvetrain using plenty of Crow parts. While the car hasn’t been on a dyno, Adrian reckons the twin-carbed beast is making around 380hp at the treads with plenty of fuel left in the mix to make sure nothing breaks – except tyres.Adrian Coulter's LJ Holden Torana

This is all backed by a worked T400 using a B&M 2800rpm stall and stage-2 kit before twisting torque through a 3in thick-wall tail shaft and on to a 9in that Adrian narrowed and braced; filling it with VL turbo 28-spline axles, 3.5:1 gearings and a mini spool. He also tubbed the rear end to the chassis rails, relocating the shock mounts and boxing the control arms.

In fact, the suspension at both ends is pretty custom, including a Hadfield Chassis kit, strengthened upper and lower front control arms and a full set of Nolathane bushings. With an LJ V8 steering conversion, King springs and Monroe shocks, the car handles like a dream and very unlike a car of its vintage. “Setting the diff’ angles and geometry was probably one of the hardest parts of the build,” says Adrian. “Well that and saving the money to build the car without losing my wife.”

In all, the car took three bank loans, all Adrian’s spare cash and almost his marriage to complete – but he didn’t give up and neither did his missus. “I have to thank my wife for her patience and support,” says Adrian. “She’s been amazing.”

Adrian has no other plans for the LJ other than to drive and get some enjoyment out of his hard work. Indeed, in order to fly under the radar as much as possible and not end up defected off the road; Adrian is contemplating a life without the blower – something he planned for when building the engine. If you look closely you’ll see a custom plate between the carbs and the blower which allows Adrian to remove the pump and simply refit the carbs to the blower manifold for quick and easy swaps. Although he has considered selling it all.

“I’d consider selling it for the right price,” says Adrian. “I don’t really want to, but it’s time to start thinking about the family.”

What a legend.

Owner: Adrian Coulter
Colour: Dodge Viper blue
Bodywork: GTR flutes, rear wheel arches stretched, rolled guards
Engine Type: 1990 304ci V8
Engine Mods: Modified oil galleries, ARP head and mains studs, stud girdle, A9L rods, ACL Race Series pistons (8.5:1-comp’), ACL rings and bearings, ported cast heads (flow around 550hp), stainless valves, K-Line valve guides, Chev’ LT1 valve springs, Crow retainers, alloy catch can, Crow hydraulic cam’ (112˚ LSA), Crow lifters and pushrods, Yella Terra 1.65:1 roller rockers, double-row timing chain, JP high-pressure low-volume oil pump, High Energy sump, alloy oil cooler, 2x 10in thermo fans, 4-core Statesman radiator, 65A alternator, billet engine pulleys, 2x 600cfm vac-sec Holley carbs, GMC 6/71 supercharger (8psi), K&N air filters, Mallory distributor, Bosch coil, Holley fuel pump and adjustable regulator, 60L RCI fuel cell, custom alternator bracket, custom carb’ mounting plate
Power: Approx. 380rwhp (283rwkW)
Exhaust: Heat wrapped custom tri-Y headers (1-3/4in primaries), twin 2.5in mild steel system
Gearbox: T400, custom oil coolers, B&M 2800rpm stall, stage-2 shift kit
Diff: Smoothed and detailed 9in, VL turbo axles, 3.5:1 final drive, mini-spool, 3in thick-wall tail shaft
Brakes: HQ front discs, HQ rear drums, Falcon master cylinder, VH44 booster (mounted under dash), new custom brake lines
Suspension: Strengthened upper and lower front control arms, new ball joints, King front springs, Monroe shocks, boxed and shortened rear control arms, custom rear shock mounts, custom diff’ bracing, LJ V8 steering conversion, Nolathane bushings, Rod Hadfield chassis kit, Commodore trans’ tunnel, custom rear top shock mounts
Wheels/Tyres: 15in Weld Draglite rims (6in front, 10in rear)
Other mods: Mini tubs to rails, battery relocated, custom boot enclosure
Interior: Custom black velour trim, Monza front buckets, Monza harnesses, 12in silver Momo tiller, custom roof lining, black carpets, B&M Quicksilver shifter, aircraft switches, restored factory gauges, rebuilt column, HR blinker arm, stamped alloy glove box insert, modified hand brake, ancillary gauges, 4-point alloy cage
Stereo: JVC CD player, Kicker power amps, Sony 6x9in speakers, MTX rear 6in splits, 2x 12in Sony subs
Build Period: (2nd build) 9 years
Cost: $55,000
Thanks: Bow’s Mufflers – Broadmeadow, “My wife for her patience and support throughout the build; my parents for all their help. Also my mates Ben, Big Dan and Dave for all their help. Without them the car would still be in the shed unfinished and gathering dust.”

DIY HERO: Don Mills’ Epic 355ci HD Holden Premier Home Build


12 Jun

Don Mills' 1965 HD Holden Premier

DIY HERO

Don Mills proves it’s possible to build an incredible, trophy-winning HD at home in the shed
Story and Pics by hoskingindustries.com.au

Don Mills' 1965 HD Holden PremierThere’s no denying it: labour costs on an extensive vehicle project can easily amount to more than half the total expense. Yet despite this staggering fact, many of us are either unwilling or unable to get in there and perform more of the spanner twirling ourselves. This might be through a lack of spare time, a lack of space or a perceived lack of skill.

Then, there are guys like 57-year-old Don Mills from western Sydney. A retired computer technician, he didn’t spend his working life working on cars, yet he’s spent the last few decades turning trash into treasure in his garage, mostly learning as he went along.

A devout Holden fanatic, Don has owned a long line of cars wearing the Lion badge. “I currently own an HD wagon, HR ute, HR van and this HD Premier,” Don says. “But since 1973 I’ve had an EH wagon, FB sedan, FE ute, EH sedan, HR van, LC XU1, FC sedan, HR sedan, LJ GT-R, HR Premier, LC GT-R, HT Monaro, VK Calais, another LJ two-door, FB ute, another VK Calais and a VR Senator.”

Don forgot to mention that his current daily is an HSV V2 LE Coupe.

So, it goes without saying that after almost four decades of Holden ownership, he knows his way around the quirks and eccentricities of just about every model Holden built. It could be fair to say that this pristine and classy HD Premier is the culmination of everything he’s learned thus far – and what a result.

Originally purchased way back in 1980, there isn’t much left of that original car today. “The body shell is actually a replacement,” Don says. “The original shell had some rear end damage that was just too hard to fix. It’s actually been rebuilt five times over the years.”Don Mills' 1965 HD Holden Premier

As you’ll read numerous times during this article, Don completed the bodywork himself in his double car garage at home – this included the prep’ work and the paintwork. While he says he’s not entirely happy with the final result, the Sea Mist Jade metallic looked great during our photo shoot and complemented the two-tone tan and chocolate interior inside.

“The paint and panel was probably the hardest part of the build for me,” Don says. “Mainly because I don’t think I’m very good at it. It’s painstaking hard labour and I’m lazy and impatient!”

Despite Don’s own misgivings, you’ll find more of his paint work inside the cabin, including the dash that Don filled and smoothed before adding a slew of carbon-faced Autometer gauges and Vintage Air vents and control unit. Let your eyes wander downward and you’ll see the neat custom centre console Don fabricated himself. It houses a sunken switch panel and the shifter that’s connected to the T56 6spd ‘box below.

Everywhere else you’ll find tan and chocolate coloured vinyl trim that was one of the few things not completed by Don. Hy-Tone in Riverstone put together a nice package that covers a set of VK front buckets and the original Premier rear bench as well as some custom door trims, the roof lining and dash pad. Pop the boot lid and you’ll see the theme extends out back, too.

Don Mills' 1965 HD Holden PremierThere’s no stereo in Don’s HD and that’s because he’d prefer to listen to the tunes emanating from the twin 2.5in exhaust connected to the 355ci stroker Holden up front. Yep, you guessed it: Don did all this himself too, save for the initial machining process.

Based on an HX 308ci Holden 2-bolt block, Don built himself a tough combination that uses a lot of Pro Comp parts for the rotating assembly and a pair of their alloy heads that Don tells us are straight out of the box. The top end is just as tasty, boasting a venerable VL Group A SS twin throttle intake that’s been ceramic coated for greater thermal efficiency and sheer good looks.

“It fired up as soon as it had fuel pressure,” Don says. “Going for that first drive down my street with no body panels on the car was pretty memorable. It had no interior, so I had to sit on a milk crate.”

Even though power and ETs are yet to be put to the test, Don has been enjoying getting the car out to local shows, like the NSW All Holden Day, which is where we first laid eyes on a number of his Holdens all lined up in a row. Don is understandably proud of his achievements, but from what he tells us, we’re pretty sure next time we see the car it’ll be wearing a fresh coat of paint.

What a DIY hero.

Owner: Don Mills
Colour: Sea Mist Jade metallic
Bodywork: Deleted door and boot locks
Engine Type: HX 308ci
Engine Mods: Pro Comp 3.48in stroker crank (355ci), Pro Comp 5.7in rods, Pro Comp pistons (10:1-comp’), King bearings, Pro Comp alloy heads, Camtech hydraulic cam’ (0.511in lift, 230˚ duration, 110˚ LSA), Camtech pushrods, Yella Terra Platinum-series 1.65:1 rockers, Rollmaster timing chain, high-volume oil pump, Aussie Desert Cooler alloy radiator, twin 14in thermo fans, 100A alternator, billet alternator bracket, VL Group A SS twin throttle intake setup, 30lb/hr injectors, VN fuel rails, VS Commodore distributor, Haltech E6GMX ECU, Bosch 044 pump, alloy surge tank, VS FPR, RPC alloy fuel cell, alloy intake piping, K&N breathers
Power: Untested
Exhaust: Home built tri-Y headers (1-3/4in primaries), twin 2.5in mild steel system, stainless mufflers
Gearbox: T56 6-speed manual, 11in single-plate clutch
Diff: 9in, 3.5:1 final drive, Detroit Locker, 31-spline Moser axles, Strange alloy centre
Brakes: P76 front rotors, Commodore rear discs, HZ front calipers, firewall-mounted 8in twin-diaphragm booster, 1in-bore master cylinder
Suspension: HD cross member, stainless tubular A-arms, Pedders shocks, Pedders front springs, reset rear leaf springs, 25mm front sway bar, 19mm rear sway bar, UC Torana rack, R31 Skyline steering column
Wheels/Tyres: 15x8in Performance Superlite rims
Other mods: LJ Torana bonnet hinges, relocated battery
Interior: Billet Specialties steering wheel, VK Commodore front seats, tan and chocolate vinyl retrim, tan vinyl roof lining, filled and smoothed dash fascia, custom centre console, Vintage Air A/C setup, carbon-look instrument fascia, Autometer gauges, alloy pedals, tan carpets, custom door trims
Stereo: N/A
Build Period: 2 years
Cost: Undisclosed
Thanks: Windsor Engines, Metropolitan Driveshafts, Competition Warehouse, Hy-Tone – Riverstone, “My neighbours Ian and Adrian for their help and encouragement”

SO COOL: Leon Julien’s DIY Kustom FC Holden Wagon


12 Jun

Leon Julien's 1959 FC Holden Wagon

SO COOL

There are FC Holdens and then there is Leon Julien’s FC wagon. Built under a 3x6m marquee, this blown six retro rocket is a total winner
Words & Pics by: www.hoskingindustries.com.au

Leon Julien's 1959 FC Holden WagonWe’ve featured the gamut of custom cars in our time: from high dollar workshop builds with no interesting back story attached, right through to some of the most bare-bones, DIY, budget builds with stories of heroic feats of self-taught snapper twirling the world has ever known and everything in between. Then there’s 37-year-old Leon Julien and his FC wagon known as FCCOOL.

“I’ve had an interest in FC Holdens since I was about six years old,” Leon says. “My uncle had a van that he ended up rebuilding. But it wasn’t until year seven in high school that I travelled over night from Sydney to Grafton in that van that I made it a life goal to build my own FC and do the same trip.”

By rights, we should not be drooling over Leon’s retro-chic FC, but instead looking on lovingly at an FE sedan. “I only bought the FC wagon as a parts car for the FE I was building,” Leon says. “But when I got it, I realised it still had nine months rego on it, so I drove it for those nine months and became attached to it.”

This was way back in 1995, when grunge was still going about its business of killing hair metal and the country was emerging from the ‘recession we had to have’. With the decision made to swap trajectories and rebuild the wagon, the dash and the engine block from the FE sedan were swapped over to the FC, but it can’t have been much to look at at the time.Leon Julien's 1959 FC Holden Wagon

“It had house paint covering any repairs when I got it,” Leon says. “There were undressed welds, dents whacked out with a hammer and mould on the roof and bonnet, but it had a good running grey motor and three-on-the-tree.”

This is where the story starts becoming truly remarkable. Without the aid of even the most rudimentary single-car garage to work in, Leon resorted to performing the bulk of the work on the car under the meagre shelter of a 6x3m marquee!

Over time, Leon restored the existing metal work and significantly altered it along the way. Look closely, past the more obvious custom grille (featuring door knobs as depicted in a ‘how-to’ article from 1963) and slanted 1953 Edsel head light mods, to the shaved handles and side chrome, frenched tail lights and aerial holes, front indicators, EK tail gate, radiused door openings and bonnet treatment. Leon’s FC is a smorgasbord of tasty metal mods that’ll have you gawking for hours – all performed in the front yard!

“One of my favourite moments during the build would have been the morning after I put the final coats of paint on,” Leon says. “I was pulling all-nighters in the driveway, watching the sun rise as I put parts back on the car while neighbours peered through their blinds, thinking I was nuts.”

Leon Julien's 1959 FC Holden WagonLeon’s retro-rific rig isn’t all about the bodywork, though – as impressive it is that he could pull off such a good job in the front yard. The FC also boasts a tough little Holden six.

Built around the 179ci that Leon originally had in his FE, Westend Performance built him up a nice 208ci stroker using 3.3L rotating parts, held together with ARP studs and fasteners. The cast head was ported and treated to a meaty solid valvetrain, helping the breathing even further. If that weren’t enough, Leon went about fabricating a trick blower setup using a Commodore-spec’ Eaton M90 supercharger that he’s got rigged up to run 8psi.

This combo is backed by a Trimatic and an old Banjo rear end that’s holding up to the punishment so far. “I’ve been running this engine block since 1994 and have given it a good workout in that time,” he says. “I don’t really understand why people always say these things are weak.”

“I built this car for the odd trip down the drag strip, carting the family on long distance trips to car shows and cruising around town,” he says. “It goes like the clappers, drives quite smoothly, doesn’t use a lot of fuel and has pretty good throttle response. I love that it also seems to get more attention than a lot of other high-dollar builds.”

With a slew of trophies under its belt already and with the Julien clan attending plenty of shows up and down the east coast, the FC is sure to continue winning fans the more it’s seen. However, it’s unlikely to look the same each time you see it, with Leon continually working to improve the package.

All hail the DIY king!

VEHICLE: 1959 FC Holden
OWNER: Leon Julien
BODY: White/blue two tone (high opacity white, tinted with green/blue tinter under white pearl), custom grille, frenched tail lights, all seams welded, EK tail gate, door corners radiused, guards welded to body, shaved handles, side trim shaved, twin frenched aerial holes, hood corners radiused, frenched indicators, canted 1958 Edsel headlights
ENGINE: 1964 179ci Holden six (stroked to 208ci), block decked and O-ringed, Holden black 3.3L crank, 3.3L rods, ACL Race Series pistons, ARP mains stud kit, ACL bearings, ported cast head, copper head gasket, Camtech solid cam’, Yella Terra 1.5:1 rockers, Manley pushrods, straight-cut gear drive, JP high-volume oil pump, EH sump, 2x 14in thermo fans, HQ V8 radiator, 85A alternator, Ross balancer, custom blower pulley, modified HS8 SU carb’, Eaton M90 supercharger (8psi), regraphed Bosch VK Commodore electronic distributor, Crane Cams LX92 coil, Crane Hi6 TRC-2 w/map sensor, custom wiring harness, Mallory Comp 140 fuel pump, Mallory billet FPR, 6-2-1 headers, 2.75in mild steel exhaust, H&M muffler
TRANS: Trimatic, 2800rpm stall, modified valve body
DIFF: Banjo, 2.78:1 final drive, LX Torana tail shaft
INTERIOR: Repainted EH Holden steering wheel, custom plush pile carpets, white vinyl roof lining, chromed instrument cluster fascia and glove box, NOS 1960’s Stewart Warner gauges, JVC head unit, Rockford Fosgate power amp’, Cerwin Vega front speakers, Diamond Audio rear speakers, Sony 6x9in behind factory dash grille, Dynamat Extreme sound deadener
SUSPENSION: HR Holden front, Pedders front springs, Gabriel shocks, reset rear leaf springs, adjustable Gabriel rear shocks, on-board compressor and control solenoids for rear, HR Holden steering arms, EH Holden steering column, 50x50mm box from sub frame to leaf spring hangers
BRAKES: HR Holden front discs, HR rear drums, Bendix pads and shoes, VH40 booster, braided lines
WHEELS: Stock 13in steel rims
THANKS TO: West End Performance, Active Transmissions, Motorsport Connections, Better Brakes – Blacktown, American Autos, FC/FC Holden forum, GMH Torana forum, OzRodders forum

PURE PLATINUM: Scott Briggs’ 350ci 1932 Ford Coupe


06 Jun

Scott Briggs' 1932 Ford Coupe

PURE PLATINUM

Trik Trim’s Scott Briggs built this awesome and totally classic 1932 coupe in his spare time. With a potent SBC and tonnes of style, we reckon it’s a winner
Words & Pics by: www.hoskingindustries.com.au

Scott Briggs' 1932 Ford CoupeIt’s easy to feel like ‘you’ve seen one ’32, you’ve seen ’em all’, but then sometimes you stumble across one that seems to offer something just a little different. Mid-north Coast resident Scott Briggs might have built his ’32 3-window using an almost perfectly classic combination of parts, yet thanks to his use of colour, intense attention to detail and skills with the needle and thread this silver high boy stands out from the crowd.

A trimmer by trade, it goes without saying that Scott’s 3-window boasts a well executed interior. But this Ford is much more than that. No matter where you look, you’ll find attention to detail that would leave a number of dedicated show rods in the dust, yet this car has been built with cruising in mind.

“Since my last build took five years to complete due to my wife having two beautiful daughters, I thought this build would go much faster,” Scott says. “As it turned out, it still took four years.”

“Once I’d finished the ’34 roadster I built last time, I thought ‘no more for a while’, but as usual, within a few months I was champing at the bit to start something new. I think it’s the challenge involved when you’re a fussy bastard like me and insist on doing most things yourself.”Scott Briggs' 1932 Ford Coupe

Sourcing a body and chassis from Elvis at Rod Bods, Scott had the basic ingredients for his new ride. In the interests of reliability and ease, a 350ci SBC crate engine was chosen to power the rod, with an equally classic T350 backing this up. Just to ensure the recipe was as classic as possible, a 9in lives at the end of the power package, using highway-friendly 3.25:1 gears.

“The car was always going to be black,” Scott says. “But at the eleventh hour I changed my mind and went for a silver colour from the Honda catalogue. I’m now thankful I did, because it’s just that little bit different.”

Sprays by his neighbours over at Colour Worx, the paint is still straight off the gun as you see it here in the pictures. Not that you’d know it, with the glowing silver laid down smoother than the proverbial baby’s bum. It covers everything up top and under the car, too.

Scott Briggs' 1932 Ford Coupe“I had a hectic few months leading up to October last year to get it finished for rego,” Scott says. “We made it, but it was three months of running my business by day and using all available weekends and nights after work on the car. After that effort I was glad to see the rego sticker applied.”

With the rego successfully obtained, Scott decided to take a breather and parked the car in the shed for a few months, finishing things off properly when he had the time. While it looks complete to the casual observer, the ever-picky Scott says it’s never finished, with the boot being the biggest of the little things left to complete.

You can get a good idea for how that will look by having a good hard squizz in the cabin. It’s in here that Scott’s expertise really came into play.

Dressed in a striking red leather sourced from Ford Performance Vehicles, the contract between the exterior silver and the interior red is more than appealing to both one’s sense of sight and smell. Thankfully, despite this being the personal vehicle of a trimmer, the car doesn’t feature some gaudy, overblown visual extravaganza inside. Instead, it’s a tasteful trim following classic lines that suit the rest of the car. But don’t let that make you think it’s some simple, throwaway piece. There are plenty of details in there for you to find. For example, flip the Glide bench over and find the 6x9in speakers hiding back there. Better, see how the lines created in the door skins flow around the cabin into the other panels. Nice.Scott Briggs' 1932 Ford Coupe

“One of my first drives in the car with my brother (once we’d spent an hour getting the speedo calibrated) was a cruise to the beach,” Scott says. “We pulled up in the car park to find a large puddle of trans’ fluid pooling under the car. Thinking the worst, we got under there to find that the trans’ sump plug had actually gotten hooked on a speed hump, spinning it loose. A call to my wife and three litres of fluid later and we were all good to go.”

If Scott’s ’32 isn’t one of the most tasteful rolling business cards around, we don’t know what is. If the crowds circling the car at the recent Autumnfest event in Taree are anything to go by, it’s bound to get Trik Trim some new business!

VEHICLE: 1932 Ford Coupe
OWNER: Scott Briggs
BODY: Honda silver, frenched aerial hole
ENGINE: 350ci crate SBC, cast heads, 600cfm Holley, Edelbrock intake manifold, MSD distributor and coil, finned rocker covers and breathers, alloy engine pulleys, chromed alternator, solid engine mounts, thermo fan,  spark leads, 4-into-1 block huggers, twin 2in stainless exhaust
TRANS: T350, shift kit, shortened Fairlane tail shaft
DIFF: 9in, 3.23:1 final drive, LSD
INTERIOR: Ford FPV red leather trim, cut-pile carpets, red roof lining, Dolphin gauges, Grant steering wheel, retractable seat belts, Glide front bench, JVC head unit, Earthquake power amp, JVC front speakers, Pioneer 6x9in rear speakers
SUSPENSION: Dropped I-beam front, rear coil-overs, stainless 4-link, raised rear rails
BRAKES: XF Falcon front rotors, VS Commodore front calipers, Ford V8 rear drums, stainless braided lines
WHEELS: 15in Cragar alloy rims (6in front, 7in rear)
THANKS TO: Trik Trim, Rod Bods, Colour Worx, Phoenix Restos, my wife Sarah and daughters Kodi and Abbey for their understanding during the build

Feature Bike: Daniel Aquilina’s 2015 Harley Davidson Street Glide CVO


06 Jun

I photographed Daniel Aquilina’s 2015 Harley Davidson Street Glide CVO for issue 158 of Heavy Duty magazine. The airbagged bagger-style Harley runs a 110ci Screamin’ Eagle twin and boasts a raft of custom touches that set this CVO apart from the norm’, including raked rear bags and guard, huge 26in front Mad Wheels rim, heaps of RSD accessories and even a Diamond Audio subwoofer in the back!

BUY A SHIRT, PRINT AND MORE!

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.

Daniel Aquilina's 2015 Harley Davidson Street Glide CVO

Daniel Aquilina's 2015 Harley Davidson Street Glide CVO

Daniel Aquilina's 2015 Harley Davidson Street Glide CVO

 

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

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”