Posts Tagged ‘strobist’

Feature Car: Adam Cleary’s 427ci 1957 Buick Special


11 Jul

Some cars take a while to be truly ready for a photo shoot. For Adam Cleary’s incredible, air-bagged and big-block powered 1957 Buick Special, that period was a little over two years from the first time I called him to the morning we did the photo shoot. When you do a build this extensive, sometimes there are just some niggling issues that take time to resolve. I like to think the wait was worth it. It was featured in the June 2018 issue of Street Machine.

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

Adam Cleary's 427ci 1957 Buick Special

Adam Cleary's 427ci 1957 Buick Special

Adam Cleary's 427ci 1957 Buick Special

Adam Cleary's 427ci 1957 Buick Special

Feature Car: Jason McGrath’s 355ci Top 20 Elite Holden LC Torana


10 Jul

My photo shoot on Jason McGrath’s 355ci, Summernats Top 20 Elite, Holden LC Torana was featured in the June 201 issue of Street Machine magazine, which was on sale last month. It’s an immaculate little coupe, with detail for days.

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

Jason McGrath's 355ci Elite Top 20 Holden LC Torana

Jason McGrath's 355ci Elite Top 20 Holden LC Torana

Jason McGrath's 355ci Elite Top 20 Holden LC Torana

Jason McGrath's 355ci Elite Top 20 Holden LC Torana

Feature Car: Beauchamp Family 1960 FB Holden ‘WILDFB’


02 Jul

The Beauchamp family’s incredible 1960 FB Holden phantom coupe appeared in the June 2018 issue of Street Machine. It’s not every day I get to shoot something that is so comprehensively modified as this. From the chop top and two-door conversion, to the one-piece flip front and twin-turbo Lexus V8 – it’s one crazy beast. And the execution is flawless.

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

Beauchamp Family 1960 FB Holden

Beauchamp Family 1960 FB Holden

Beauchamp Family 1960 FB Holden

RAT CAT: Paul Lonergran’s incredible DIY 327ci Phantom ’28 Dodge


28 Jun

Paul Lonergran's Insane 1928 Dodge Rat Rod

RAT CAT

Paul Lonergran’s incredible 327ci phantom ’28 Dodge is a snake-belly-low rat rod that sets the bench mark for all others to follow – and does it cheap
Words & Pics by: www.hoskingindustries.com.au

Paul Lonergran's Insane 1928 Dodge Rat RodWe’ve run some bloody cool rat rods in our time here at Heavy Duty Hot Rods. Rat rods, when built to their true ethos of remaining cheap, encouraging parts scrounging and making rodding fun and hassle free, can really test a builder’s skills of sourcing and repurposing old bits and pieces into something new and exciting.

Sure, there have been some instances over the last decade of guys building big dollar ‘rats’ with the look of a rat rod, but offering mod-cons. We’ve even seen a fibreglass mid-’30s rod repainted to look like it was rusty. But the best rat rods will always be the ones that have risen from the pile of rusty parts that have been wasting away at the back of the shed.

For 39-year-old Paul Lonegran of PTL Fabrications on the Central Coast of NSW, building a rat rod hadn’t seriously entered his mind until someone planted the seed. “Well, actually a guy called ‘Black Plug’ inspired me to build this,” Paul says. “He asked me at a club meeting if I had anything to do with hot rods. As I’d been around rods all my life and have owned more than 20 cars over the years, I decided to build this to shut him up.”

Having previously owned and built a number of cars including a 1961 Studebaker, ’36 Terraplane and a couple of ’37 Ford coupes, Paul was no stranger to vintage tin. And as you may have guessed from that list, he’s no stranger to old cars that are just a little bit different.Paul Lonergran's Insane 1928 Dodge Rat Rod

This here low-slung rusty bucket definitely falls into the different category. Paul tells us the body – hand fabricated by Paul – is meant to represent a 1929 Dodge. From a few metres back you’d be forgiven for thinking it might actually be some original chopped, channelled and sectioned vintage tin. But get closer and you’ll see the square tube frame underneath onto which Paul bent up the steel body panels before coating them in red oxide primer and scallops.

Behind all the surface rust and corrosion is a plethora of parts from Paul’s apparently extensive collection of goodies that he says he’s had gathering dust for around 18 years. Indeed, when quizzed on the final price of the build project, he smiles and tells us it came to a grand total of $42.

Paul Lonergran's Insane 1928 Dodge Rat RodPaul’s rat is powered by a 327ci small-block that Paul rebuilt himself using the stock crank, Carillo rods and Arias pistons. With a static compression ratio of 11.8:1 when squeezing the AVGAS against the ported cast heads, it’s no slouch, providing 480fwhp to this light weight go-kart.

This is backed by a T350 and HQ Holden Salisbury rear end with steep 4.44:1 gears. We’d be surprised if the rat was ever able to get traction on those old Goodyear stock car slicks with a combo like this.

Look inside and you’ll find the epitome of Spartan cockpits. Considering it’s always open to the weather and the interior of a rat rod, it’s probably for the best. But just look at it: custom buckets fabricated from a 60L drum, rusty custom instrument fascia with vintage gauges and decaying Anglia steering wheel and column.

“Installing that Anglia column and wheel was probably one of the highlights for me,” Paul says. “I used to sit in one and steer it when I was four years old with my grandfather.”

With an insane completed cost of under $50 and a build time of just two weeks, Paul certainly stuck it to old ‘Black Plug’. And with a trophy for Best Rat Rod at the 2010 Taren Point Rat Day as further vindication, who can argue that this is one of the coolest rats you’re likely to find?

VEHICLE: 1928 Dodge (phantom)
OWNER: Paul Lonegran
BODY: Hand-built cab, red oxide primer, pin striping, scallops
ENGINE: 327ci SBC, stock crank, Carillo rods, Arias pistons (11.8:1 compression), Thompson rings, ARP mains studs, ported cast heads, stainless valves, Isky springs, Corvette rocker covers, Offy breathers, Isky solid cam’, solid lifters, chrome moly pushrods, Crow 1.6:1 rockers, Melling oil pump, custom sump, custom pulleys, 1946 International radiator, 850cfm Holley, Holley intake manifold, Bosch coil, modified Chev’ dizzy, Holley fuel pump, Reg Rocket ‘Hillbilly’ headers
PERFORMANCE: 480fwhp
TRANS: T350, 4200rpm stall, manualised
DIFF: HQ Holden Salisbury, 4.44:1 final drive, 1-piece tail shaft, LSD
INTERIOR: 1949 Ford Anglia steering wheel and steering column, custom seats made from 60L drums, custom instrument fascia, vintage gauges
SUSPENSION: “Suicide steer, Ford style”, front transverse leaf spring, Monroe shocks, rear leaf spring
BRAKES: Deleted front brakes, HQ rear drums
WHEELS: 13x5in Holden front steel wheels, custom 15x9in rear steel wheels, Goodyear Stock Car Special rear tyres
THANKS TO: Shacko

CLOCKWORK ORANGE: Simon Grima’s Phantom FE Holden Ute


28 Jun

Simon Grima's FE Holden

CLOCKWORK ORANGE

Simon Grima created this incredible one-off ute from a $500 sedan shell and 20 years worth of spare parts
Story and Pics by hoskingindustries.com.au

Simon Grima's FE HoldenSimon Grima’s 1956 Holden FE phantom ute is proof that you don’t need to spend the earth to take home trophies. This Vermillion Fire two-door has won over 25 awards since he finished the build back in 2006; including five People’s Choice awards. He also took out the top gong at the very first ute muster he attended in 2010.

Yet for all the plaudits and praise, Simon has only spent around $25,000 bringing what was once a $500 wreck back from the brink.

“The vehicle was purchased off a customer that wanted it out of his shed,” starts the 39-year-old mechanic and proprietor of Bonnyrigg Tyres & Mechanical in Sydney’s southwest. “It was just a sedan shell with enough parts to build two cars, including a HR front end. I paid $500 for the lot.”

The enormous pile of parts joined Simon’s existing enormous pile of parts for a few years until the creative bug hit. “One day I decided the shell would make a great learning project to practice MIG welding,” explains Simon.  “So, I started to build a ute out of the sedan shell, knowing it would give me a challenge with no intention of building a real car out of it.”Simon Grima's FE Holden

Using only a tape measure and a ‘good eye’, Simon went about cutting and shutting bits and pieces of the panel work. After a few weeks Simon thought the project was really starting to take shape, but his welding hadn’t improved. “I spoke to a real welder at one point who told me that because I was welding outside, my MIG shield gas was being blown away causing messy welds,” Simon remembers. “So I built a shed and the welding started to get better.”

It was at around the same time that Simon’s mates started suggesting that his go-nowhere welding project could in fact make a pretty good work truck. “Before I made the decision to get too deeply into making the FE a real car, I approached an engineer,” says Simon. “He said it wasn’t a problem if I stuck to his instructions – which were contained within a 30-page report and a bill for $2000!”

Simon Grima's FE HoldenWith a new goal in his sights, Simon set to work more seriously on the FE and work progressed steadily. “When my mates used to come over my wife would tell them that I was in the shed with my second wife. That’s how much time I used to spend on it,” exclaims Simon. “Whenever anyone would ask me when it would be finished, I’d tell them Christmas. They’d always ask which Christmas! To everyone else it was a nightmare project and I wanted to do everything myself.”

Indeed, Simon did prove himself a very capable and handy guy to have in the shed over the course of the FE’s build. Not only did he perform much of the body fabrication (helped by paint and panel guy Jason Dean), but he also built pretty much everything else as well. This included the chassis mods and fitting the injected 5L.Simon Grima's FE Holden

Originally from an HSV SV89, Simon sourced the engine from eBay with 180,000kms on the clock. It sits within the tight little engine bay thanks to Simon’s handiwork fabricating engine mounts, steering rack mounts, cross member modifications and building a custom sump from three other pans. “I used a dummy 308ci block during the construction process,” says Simon. “I used a VH Commodore rack that’s rear mounted. It needed very little modification to work properly.”

The 304ci injected motor copped minor performance mods in the form of a Crane 286 cam’, ported throttle and Chip Torque MEMCAL and it’s backed up by a VP T700 auto’ that’s been fettled with a stage-2 kit and B&M 2500rpm stall. Being a custom install, the tail shaft came in for some modification and it feeds torque into a 100mm narrowed VN diff’ that still uses its 3.08:1 gearing.

Simon’s FE sits nice and low, achieved through the use of the HR front end that came with the original mountain of parts. Up front you’ll find the setup completed by King springs and Monroe shocks while out back the leaf sprung rear has been modified by reversing them and removing a leaf. Simon made up custom coil-overs by using modified Nissan Pulsar struts and front HQ shocks. He also strengthened the chassis to cope with the weight and power of the V8, at the same time rigging up some larger tubs that now house 17x8in VX SS alloys.

Simon Grima's FE HoldenIngenuity and resourcefulness are themes that run through this entire build and you’ll find more of it inside where Simon has used a plethora of factory parts and some creative vision to build a sweet interior. VQ Statesman leather buckets provide the seating while he steers with a HZ Monaro tiller. Fresh grey carpets and velour roof linings complete the look, together with a neat custom centre console trimmed in matching grey leather and featuring a few VX Commodore parts like the shifter surround.

“On its maiden voyage to the 2006 All Holden Day the ute was suffering a major fuel problem,” Simon remembers. “Upon further investigation we found that a wasp had decided to make my fuel tank home while it was in storage. So, after putting fuel in the tank and making mud of its nest and eggs, the filter clogged and staved the car for fuel. The car survived and I even won a trophy!”

Simon is right to be proud of his FE. It has been a huge undertaking that he’s completed with primarily second hand parts and stuff he’s had lying around from decades of collecting bits – not to mention all the work he completed with his own two hands. “The only things that were redone were the chrome work, door trims and roof lining,” confirms Simon. “I tried to recycle everything. I suppose that makes it environmentally friendly – recycling old parts.”

Owner: Simon Grima
Model: 1956 Holden FE
Colour: Ford Vermillion Fire
Bodywork: Phantom ute style
Engine Type: SV89 304ci 5L
Engine Mods: Crane H286 hydraulic cam’, Crow timing chain, custom modified sump, Chip Torque MEMCAL, VT engine covers, JP oil pump, twin thermo fans, ported and polished throttle, pod filter, ported and polished intake, alloy radiator, Bosch external fuel pump, modified Triumph PI fuel tank (behind seats)
Power: 200fwkW (268hp) claimed
Exhaust: VR Commodore cast exhaust manifolds, twin 2in mild steel system, twin cats, 2x high-flow mufflers
Gearbox: T700, B&M 2500rpm stall, stage-2 kit, modified tail shaft
Diff: Modified VN Commodore, 3.08:1 final drive
Brakes: HZ front calipers, VN rear calipers
Suspension: HR front end w/King springs and Monroe shocks, Modified rear leaf springs, custom rear coil-overs, VH Commodore steering rack, chassis strengthening
Wheels/Tyres: 17x8in VX SS rims
Interior: HZ Monaro steering wheel, VQ Statesman seats, custom centre console, Smiths gauges, grey carpets
Other Mods: Relocated battery, 100mm widened wheel tubs
Stereo: Sony head unit, DVD screen
Build Period: 7 years
Cost: $25,000
Thanks: Bonnyrigg Tyres and Mechanical, Jason Dean (paint and panel), Turbo Exhaust Systems, ACA Transmission Services, Hi-Torque Trucks, Bosnjak Engineering

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