Posts Tagged ‘simmons’

Feature Car: Paul Knowles’ Holden VK Commodore

19 Dec

I photographed Paul Knowles’ Holden VK Commodore years ago for Street Commodores when it was blue-over-silver and powered by a hot Holden V8. Several years later and the car has been fully rebuilt thanks to a horror smash.

Now resplendent in full white paint with contrasting black Simmons FR rims, the car looks totally on-trend. The old cream interior has been replaced with an all-black leather and suede affair to match the Simmons and the Warspeed 403ci L98-based stroker. Where most opt for a blower or turbos these days, Paul Knowles’ Holden VK Commodore is all motor, but looks the business with that tunnel ram poking through the bonnet, topped by a pair of 750cfm Holley carbs.

Out back, a braced, sheet-metal 9in houses 35-spline axles and 4.11:1 gears which should cope with any punishment Paul dishes out onto those poor FR20s and Pirelli P-Zero tyres. The car was featured in the November 2019 issue of Street Machine.


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.

Paul Knowles' Holden VK Commodore
Paul Knowles' Holden VK Commodore
Paul Knowles' Holden VK Commodore

Feature Car: Tomi Vatavuk’s 1974 Ford XB Falcon

20 Nov

If there’s a nicer XB Ford Falcon out there, I certainly haven’t photographed it! I got to photograph Tomi’s incredible ‘SOKOL’ Falcon sedan for the October issue of Street Machine. Perhaps the best thing about the XB – which includes a custom rear splitter/air dam, smoothed engine bay and plethora of custom billet and carbon fibre pieces – is that Tomi was able to do a lot of the build himself!

On top of being able to hang out with such a nice car, and a nice owner (who also happened to play guitar and like heavy music!), was being able to shoot the car in such a clean workshop. I personally have never seen such a clean work space. Especially given that besides handling custom work, it also serves as a regular servicing workshop. Look at that floor!


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.

Tomi Vatavuk's 1974 Ford XB Falcon
Tomi Vatavuk's 1974 Ford XB Falcon
Tomi Vatavuk's 1974 Ford XB Falcon

Feature Car: Nathan Patterson’s 1978 Toyota KE30 Corolla

16 May

My stock in trade seems to be of the Holden and Ford varieties. But sometimes I get to shoot far more unusual and interesting beasts. Nathan’s L98-powered 1978 KE30 Corolla is one of those. Bought from an old lady called Thelma, the little sedan now makes some 550rwhp and rips hellacious skids at the drop of a hat. It was featured in the May issue of Street Machine.


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.

Nathan Patterson's 1978 Toyota KE30 Corolla

Nathan Patterson's 1978 Toyota KE30 Corolla

Nathan Patterson's 1978 Toyota KE30 Corolla

BETTER THAN EVER: Steve Spirovski’s 799rwhp RB30 Holden VL Commodore

27 Mar

Steve Spirovski's Holden VL Calais Turbo


It’s been almost a decade since we last featured Steve Spirovski’s gorgeous VL turbo. After an unfortunate incident at Powercruise, it’s now back and…
Story and Pics by

We love it when we get to revisit past feature cars that have gone on to even greater things than when we first saw them – if for no other reason than to give newer readers a little glimpse into the glorious history of the Commodore scene while also featuring something fresh, new and awesome. So, when we heard that Steve Spirovski had rebuilt his VL turbo from the ground up, we got our arses down to the Canberra area as fast as we could.

Steve Spirovski's Holden VL Calais TurboOriginally featured in issue 125 of Street Commodores, his Calais clone was eye-wateringly yellow – a pretty trendy thing to do at the time, and also something people late 20s and early 30s are likely to do to a car. Fast forward to today and Steve is a 42-year-old husband and father. Bright yellow cars aren’t generally something people this age drive, let alone lust after (exotics are perhaps an exception!).

“I’ve owned this car for 25 years. It was my first car,” Steve says. Given this remarkable fact, it must have been a terrible shock when his good friend put the car into a wall at Powercruise. “We’re still really good friends,” he says. “Ben and his brother Toby Dobel repaired the car to what it is today. Ben welded up holes, fit a roll cage and fabricated a parachute bracket. He paid to fix the whole car.”

Fixing the car was no small task. We’re not talking about a small tap here. Both the front and rear ends were pretty much caved in and required a whole new front end and a new rear quarter. “It took 16 months to rebuild it,” Steve says. “It didn’t feel like such a bad experience once the car was back together and in primer. But otherwise it made me sick to look at it.”Steve Spirovski's Holden VL Calais Turbo

Steve didn’t simply fix the damage and repaint it, though. No, he took the opportunity to give the car a mechanical freshen, too. When we last saw the car, it was making around 700hp at the crank with a GT35/40 mixing PULP and a little methanol. During the latest rebuild, Steve swapped to a T51R turbo, E85 and an Autronic ECU (among other things). Adam Allen got the combo on the dyno where it made 799rwhp on 32psi. “Without Adam, this wouldn’t have been possible,” Steve says. “I put the car back together myself, with help from my mate Demitri Stamatis to get the engine and gearbox back in.”

Also overhauled was the interior, where the previously mentioned 6-point cage was expertly woven into the cabin, as close to the pillars as possible for an almost stealth look. Amongst all that is a classy charcoal leather trim using Scheel seats up front and Calais gear out back. Steve ditched the Autometer instrument cluster in favour of factory gauges (which still work with the 57L fuel cell via a custom sender unit) and the B&M shifter sits so clean you’d think it had been put there by Holden themselves.

Steve Spirovski's Holden VL Calais TurboOverall, while the crash was a shitty situation for all concerned (imagine how bad you’d feel rubbing the nose of your mate’s car into a wall); incredibly good things have come of it. Steve’s VL has never looked, or run better. It’s now in a style and colour that isn’t likely to date like the old yellow colour scheme and his pride and joy is all fresh and ready to fight another 25 years.

“I got this car when it was only a year old,” he concludes. “So, it was in really good condition when I got it. I love its clean appearance and it’s just a nice cruiser that I can take to the drags and have fun in.”



Owner: Steve Spirovski
Model: 1988 VL
Bodywork: Calais parts
Colour: PPG Silver slate over Asteroid silver
Block: RB30ET
Engine Mods: CP Pistons (8.5:1-comp’), ARP head and mains studs, REV rods, ported head, Manley valves, double valve springs, G Tech hydraulic cam’, High Energy oil pan, PWR alloy radiator, Nissan oil pump, factory rockers, Romac harmonic balancer, under-driven water pump pulley, 90mm Plazmaman throttle, SPAL thermo fan, JPC intake manifold and plenum, 4in tapered K&N air filter, HKS T51R turbo (32psi), M&W spark amp’, Autronic ECU, alloy catch can, Aeroflow radiator overflow tank, SX FPR, 2x Bosch 044 fuel pumps (E85), 2L surge tank, 57L fuel cell, 1600cc injectors, custom fuel sender, custom fuel rail, Bosch 909 lift pump
Power: 799rwhp (595rwkW)
Exhaust: 4in dump pipe, 4in single system, single truck muffler
Gearbox: Jatco 4-speed auto’, 4000rpm Dominello stall, ‘stage-3’ kit, custom billet valve body, two-piece tail shaft
Diff: Borg Warner, 3.45:1 final drive, full-spool, 31-spline axles
Brakes: VT twin-piston front calipers and 296mm rotors, VT booster and master cylinder
Suspension: XYZ front coil-overs, QA1 rear coil-overs, Pedders panhard, mini tubs, manual steering rack, MacDonald Brothers 4-link kit
Wheels/Tyres: 19in Simmons FR (8in front, 10in rear)
Interior: Momo Monte Carlo steering wheel, Scheel front seats, Calais rear bench, charcoal leather trim, black super plush carpets, velour roof lining, Stuart Warner ancillary gauges, 6-point roll cage w/taxi bar, B&M Pro Ratchet
Stereo: Factory head unit, Alpine V12 2-channel power amp’, Fusion front speakers, Alpine rear speakers
Build time: 16 months (latest build)
Cost: Undisclosed
Contacts: “Johnson Performance Centre (JPC), Allen Engineering, Fyshwick Exhaust Centre, BMS, Diff Doctor, MacDonald Brothers, Duffy Panel and Paint, Top End Interiors, Canberra Hydro Graphics, Ben and Toby Dobel, my wife and kids for being so patient”

LIFE ON THE LYMITA: Adrian Borg’s 557hp 355ci VC Commodore

26 Mar


After months of intense searching all over the country, Adrian found this low-km gem just 15 minutes from home. Now it has a whole new lease on life… destroying tyres
Story and pics by

It’s easy to become disillusioned when searching for a nice, clean early girl Commodore with which to base your ideal project build. One thing early Commodores are not known for is clean, rust-free bodies and most unrestored cars bear the scars of hard lives spent working as family taxis – not ‘only driven on Sundays’, always-garaged time capsules.

Adrian Borg's 557hp 355ci VC CommodoreHowever, as you’ll read here, there are some remarkable first-gen cars left out there waiting to be found. “I was looking for an early model Commodore for months,” says Adrian Borg, a 23-year-old mechanic from Sydney. “I went and looked at heaps of them, every time with high hopes, but nothing but disappointment when the cars didn’t live up to the seller’s description.”

Adrian was so intent on buying an early model that he even drove all the way to Melbourne – with a tow truck – only to have to turn back around with plenty of time and money wasted. “I went down there to see a VL Calais with a tow truck, ready to buy it and bring it home,” he says. “But the owner didn’t even show up! I went to Nambucca Heads the next weekend to look at a VK, but that wasn’t any good, either.”

It was on his way home from the Nambucca trip that Adrian was told about a mint VC that was only 15 minutes from home. Typical! “I went straight there,” he says. “It was about 9pm and it was in a showroom, on sale by consignment. It was exactly what I wanted – a one-owner car with log books and 43,000kms on the clock.”Adrian Borg's 557hp 355ci VC Commodore

Adrian went home and tried to sleep, despite his excitement. First thing the next day he rang the showroom and arranged a proper viewing. What he found was an honest rust-free car with little more than a couple of small dents and a tear in the driver’s seat to show for its 30 years.

“I bought the car and lowered it and put a set of venetian blinds inside,” he says. “I drove it for about five months like that and loved it. But with my P-plates coming to an end I decided it was time for the 202ci six to go and build a 308ci for it.”

As we hear so often here at Street Commodores, it wasn’t long before the simple idea of building a V8 for the car blew out of all proportion and it wasn’t long before the old VC was undergoing a full transformation. “A simple tidy-up of the engine bay ended up with the entire car being soda blasted,” Adrian says. “The mild 308ci V8 turned into a pretty wild 355ci and the whole thing turned into a full rebuild without a single nut or bolt being left untouched.”

Adrian Borg's 557hp 355ci VC CommodoreWell, that’s not entirely true. So clean was the original interior that with the exception of a repair to the driver’s seat and a repaint of the dash, the cabin of Adrian’s VC is as Holden built it. It’s crazy to think that a car built three decades ago could be in such a fantastic state. The only deviations he’s made since buying the car has been to add a B&M shifter and a few Autometer gauges to keep him informed when ripping big power skids.

Under the 4in reverse-cowl scoop lies a 557fwhp 355ci Holden stroker based around a VS block and ported cast heads. With a shiny Harrop single-plane, 850cfm Holley and aggressive solid cam’, Adrian says it makes enough grunt to rip hellacious power skids, even with his mates in the car. The power reaches the ground via a pair of 19×9.5in Simmons FR rims. Adrian tells us that he achieved this impressive feat by “massaging” the rear factory tubs and a narrowed Borg Warner rear end and that there’s no scrubbing.

“One of the best memories I have of the build was fitting the T350 in the shed at home,” he says. “All my mates were there to help. It was New Year’s day and no one was feeling very healthy after the party the night before. But I lowered the car down and started it for the first time. It took a while for it to hit me that the car was actually ready to drive. That first drive around the block was the best.”Adrian Borg's 557hp 355ci VC Commodore

Now that the car is finished and looking amazing, Adrian is pretty content with how it sits. However, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t considered a few more alterations. “I might add a small shot of nitrous,” he says. “If I ever build a new motor for it, I’d probably add a blower, but we’ll see what happens.”

For a car that was built primarily to allow him to cruise with his mates, Adrian’s VC has become a truly inspiring machine. Retaining its factory charm (as well as almost all its factory interior), the car boasts plenty of classic appeal thanks to the iconic Simmons rims, slammed stance and roaring Aussie V8. Seeing it rip huge skids just adds the icing on the cake.

Owner: Adrian Borg
Model: 1981 VC

Bodywork: Reverse-cowl scoop, SL/E rear bar
Colour: VE silver
Block: VS 5L
Engine Mods: Harrop stroker crank, SRP forged flat-top pistons (11:1-comp’), I-beam rods, ARP head and mains studs, Lowe Fabrication rocker covers and billet parts, ported cast heads, dash-12 breather lines, alloy catch cans w/K&N filters, billet thermostat housing, Comp Cams solid roller cam’, Crane Gold Series roller rockers, double-row timing chain, High Energy sump, high-volume oil pump, BA Falcon thermo fans, alloy radiator, 850cfm Holley Ultra HP carb’, Harrop single-plane intake manifold, MSD Pro Billet dizzy, Holley fuel pump, modified factory fuel tank, dash-8 fuel lines, Tuff Mounts
Power: 557hp (415kW), 11.3sec @ 121mph
Exhaust: Ceramic coated Tri-Y headers (1-7/8in primaries), twin 2.5in mild steel system w/X-pipe
Gearbox: T350, 5000rpm Dominator stall, manualised valve body
Diff: Narrowed Borg Warner, 3.9:1 final drive, full-spool, 31-spline billet axles
Brakes: VT twin-piston front, VL disc rear, VL booster, 1in-bore master cylinder
Suspension: King Springs, adjustable panhard, chromoly tube lower control arms, “massaged” inner rear guards
Wheels/Tyres: 19in Simmons FR (8in front, 9.5in rear)
Interior: Painted dash, Momo steering wheel, Autometer gauges, B&M shifter
Stereo: Original AM radio, factory dash speaker
Build period: 2 years
Cost: Undisclosed
Contacts: All Cylinder Heads, Carline Mufflers – Mount Druitt, Peter Connolly, Ricky’s Driveshafts, Gear Exchange, Lou’s Smash, Gary’s Motor Trimming

THE TRIBUTE: Shane Potts’ Holden VN Calais

26 Mar


No stranger to V8-powered VN Commodores, Shane Potts’ pristine twin-throttle Calais carries a deeper sense of sentimentality
Story and Pics by

Shane Potts is a self-confessed V8 Commodore nut – in particular he loves VNs. This white 1990 Calais is at least the third V8-powered VN he’s owned, with the family shed still containing his pride and joy red Calais (see breakout). These two co-exist with Shane’s partner’s SV99 and the shed has previously played host to a white VN SS, VK Berlina and two VB sedans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Feature Car: Michael Ceyhan’s Ford XD Fairmont

26 Mar

Michael Ceyhan’s immaculate Ford XD Fairmont appeared in the March issue of Street Machine. It runs a 434ci Dart Eagle-based stroker that’s run a 10.9sec ET, but Michael says he didn’t build the car to race. Front to back, top to bottom – including the detailed undercarriage – it’s a fitting testament to as beloved dad.


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.

Michael Ceyhan's Ford XD Fairmont

Michael Ceyhan's Ford XD Fairmont

Michael Ceyhan's Ford XD Fairmont

Cover Car: Anthony Ivanovic’s 1050hp Holden VL Calais

15 Nov

Anthony Ivanovic’s 1050hp blown 403ci LS-powered Holden VL Calais graced the front cover of Street Commodores a couple months back. Combining the classic aesthetic of the iconic VL turbo with a smooth engine bay full of polished alloy and late-model power, it is a car that never fails to impress – whether it’s the VL turbo fan or the LS lover.


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.

Anthony Ivanovic's Holden VL Calais

 Anthony Ivanovic's Holden VL Calais    

Feature Car: Paul Knowles’ Holden VK Commodore

29 Sep

I shot Paul Knowles’ gorgeous deep-dish VK Commodore down in Canberra back in 2016 for Street Commodores and it appeared in issue 266, which was on sale a couple of months ago. It’s a classic combo, with a stroker Holden V8, Simmons wheels and colour-over-silver Calais-style paintwork. You can’t go wrong with that!


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.

Paul Knowles' Holden VK Commodore

Paul Knowles' Holden VK Commodore     Paul Knowles' Holden VK Commodore

Feature Car: Anthony Fava’s HDT VK Group C Replica

26 Jul

My photo shoot on Anthony Fava’s wide-body HDT VK Group C replica was featured in issue 265 of Street Commodores, which graced newsstands a few months back. Sorry for the delay! 🙂 Enjoy some free wallpapers.


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.

Anthony Fava's HDT VK Group C Replica

Anthony Fava's HDT VK Group C Replica     Anthony Fava's HDT VK Group C Replica