Archive for March, 2018

NEW OLD SCHOOL: Steve Labroad’s 700rwhp Turbo LSx VY Commodore

31 Mar

Steve Labroad's Holden VY Tonner


Steve LaBroad’s VY Tonner mixes new-millennium hardware with old-school attitude for a tyre-frying result
Story and pics by

Sadly, the late model Commodore one-tonners never did find themselves modified en masse like the 1970s models did. It’s a damn shame, because when you do see them customised, you realise how damn good they look. Boasting a leaf-sprung rear end, they also make the perfect late-model basis for a performance project… say, for instance, a Powerskid car.

Steve Labroad's Holden VY TonnerNot that that was why Novacastrian Steve LaBroad bought this 2004 VY six years ago. “I bought the car off the original owner,” Steve says, a concreter by trade. “He was worried about those little bits of rubber that stick off new tyres when I took it for a test drive. Little did he know I was going to use it as a work vehicle.”

Steve says he kept the tonner pretty stock for a while, just hauling stuff around to work sites. Although he did put a set of 4-into-1s and side pipes on for some fun. “I soon added a big cam’ and Higgins heads to it,” he says. “With a full Comp Cams valvetrain it made 400hp and surprised plenty of people, with the tray filled with boards and tools!”
With the power bug continuing to bite, before long, Steve had a Harrop blower bolted into the valley and the ultimate version of the first build saw the ute making 480rwhp. However, this prodigious power also meant that it was becoming kind of useless as a work hack and it wasn’t long before the tonner found itself garaged in favour of something more utilitarian.

“I built a purpose-made 408ci LSX stroker with another set of ported heads and a T1000 turbo kit that I bought off a bloke in Sydney. So the VY came off the road and it was all transplanted in. Once tuned, it made 696rwhp.”

Steve Labroad's Holden VY TonnerThese days the ute is only built for one thing: Powerskids… and practising Powerskids. That means Steve had to seriously beef up the rear end, too. While there’s some serious metal in the back of the tonners to begin with (Steve says the rear section weighs around 500kg on its own), the diff’ and tail shaft required some work to cope with the punishment dished out by the T51-equipped LSX.

The original diff housing was ditched in favour of a Competition Warehouse sheet metal 9in with a Strange centre and 35-spline axles. With a full-spool and a heavy duty chromoly two-piece tail shaft, it’s unlikely it’s a rear end component that will fail first.

“The first skid driving home with the new turbo set up was definitely one of the highlights of the build for me,” Steve says. “While not as enjoyable, the ute’s first Powerplay was pretty memorable. On the second lap, the thing caught fire after melting a power steering line that was too close!”

While the factory red paint remains, it’s in good condition and the bonnet copped some speed holes one night after a few JD and Cokes to “let some heat out”. The tray on the other hand came to fruition via a well thought out plan and some excellent fabrication work from Dean Beattie.Steve Labroad's Holden VY Tonner

“A tray makes or breaks a tonner,” Steve opines. “Dean had a great plan from the start and had it finished in time for the 2014 Sydney Powercruise.”

Almost a couple of feet were removed from the rear end of the tray length, when compared to a typical tray and with no sides on it, it helps Steve reach his old-meets-new aesthetic goal with the VY – as do the Weld wheels. Despite there being a full five inches difference between the front 20in RTS rims and the 15x10in rear Alumastars, the tonner looks perfect, tough and somehow old-school.

“You know what? I don’t think I’d build this car again if I had the chance to do it over,” Steve says. “This thing hated every part of being modified unlike any car I’ve ever had. From the suspension to the little things like the fuel tank setup – everything was more difficult than it should have been.”

Despite this, the tonner represents the longest relationship he’s had with a car so far and he’s now at the point where he wants to sell up and move on to something new. “I like the build and then get bored after.” If you think you might like to see yourself behind the wheel of a machine like this, give us a bell and we’ll put you in touch.

Owner: Steve LaBroad
Model: 2004 VY Tonner
Bodywork: Factory, custom tray, vents in bonnet
Colour: Red, carbon vinyl on roof
Block: LSX
Engine Mods: (408ci), ported cast heads, stud girdle, Comp Cams pushrods, ARP head and mains studs, Garrett T51 turbo (18psi), modified ASE turbo kit, Turbosmart BOV, Tial wastegate, screamer pipe, alloy power steering reservoir, alloy catch can, alloy strut tops, billet fuel rails, 80mm BBK throttle, custom fuel lines, 3.5L surge tank, 2x Bosch 044 pumps, 500hp Carter lift pump
Power: 700rwhp (522rwkW) @ 18psi
Exhaust: 4in turbo-back mild steel exhaust, straight through muffler
Gearbox: T56, DCS twin-plate clutch
Diff: Competition Warehouse sheet metal 9in, Strange centre, 3.5:1 final drive, full-spool, 35-spline Strange axles, 1350-series 3in two-piece tail shaft, high-impact unis, billet yoke
Brakes: Harrop 4-piston front brakes, Wilwood 4-piston rear brakes, Green Stuff front pads, Wilwood rear pads
Suspension: Pedders front shocks and springs, Pedders rear shocks, reset rear leaf springs
Wheels/Tyres: 20x8in Weld RTS front rims, 15x10in Weld Alumastar rear rims, M/T Sportsman rear tyres
Interior: HSV dash, carbon fascia, tweed cloth pillars and roof lining, black leather seats, tweed seat bases, eBoost 2
Stereo: Pioneer head unit and speakers
Build period: Ongoing
Cost: Undisclosed
Contacts: ADZ Towing, Pryce Engines, Dean Beattie, Gibson Driveshafts, Stitched Up Custom Trim, Tanilba Tyre Service, “Jack Daniels… lol”

Feature Car: Grahame and Colin Barker’s 1951 Holden FX Ute

31 Mar

Grahame and Colin Barker’s 1951 Holden FX Ute cleaned up at Summernats in 2018, scoring Top Judged Elite and the car was featured in the March issue of Street Machine, including the fold-out poster. OPowered by an L67 supercharged V6, the car has been in the Barker family for over 20 years and was recently completed by Michael Ellard at Image Conversions.


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.

Grahame and Colin Barker's 1951 Holden FX Ute

Grahame and Colin Barker's 1951 Holden FX Ute

Grahame and Colin Barker's 1951 Holden FX Ute

THE FINISHER: Josh Watson’s 438rwhp RB30 Holden VL Commodore

27 Mar

Joshua Watson's Holden VL Commodore


Previously featured in issue 184, Josh Watson’s VL BT1 is back and looking better than ever
Story and pics by

Perhaps besides the VH SL/E, no other Commodore style has become as iconic as the ‘colour-over-silver’ VL. Whether it takes the form of the Calais or BT1, you’re more likely to see a VL dressed in a factory-style outfit than in any other guise. Obviously, the Holden design department got it right back in the early 1980s when they would have been sketching out the then-upcoming model.

Joshua Watson's Holden VL CommodoreFor Joshua Watson, things are no different. He loves the look of his 1986 VL BT1 (and yes, he assures us it’s an ex-cop sedan). Better still, it was made the same year he was born.

For those with keen eyes, this isn’t the first time Josh’s VL has appeared in the pages of Street Commodores. Appearing back in issue 184, the ex-cop VL looked similar to how it does today, but it was far from finished, as far as Josh was concerned. “I wanted to finish the trim,” he says. “The dash was all trimmed and I bought the necessary Autometer gauges. I also ditched the manual for a built auto’ as I was never really happy with how the car drive as a manual.”

Josh also had Maatouks Racing install one of their cam’ and spring packages and Josh went on to run a string of quick ETs on the factory bottom end, culminating in an 11.3sec on 98RON. Not satisfied, he then upgraded his fuel system and re-tuned the combo on E85, running a 10.7sec @ 130mph before being booted for not having a cage.Joshua Watson's Holden VL Commodore

“The car went on the backburner after that with the birth of my son,” Josh says. “I eventually got motivated and got the car up to specs with a roll cage, harness and had an alloy belly pan fitted. The car was tech-ready and ready to race after almost two years.”

On its first pass, Josh says the factory bottom end cried enough, spinning a few bearings. “I had already planned to pull the engine out for a freshen up before Summernats,” he says. “I spent the next week stripping the car down and before I knew it, all that was left was the seats and door trims.”

With the car in its undies, some major works were undertaken, with the original turbo BW diff’ housing narrowed and the engine given to Maatouks for a new forged combo. While this was going on, Josh and his mates got to work smoothing the engine bay. “All the holes were welded up by my good mate Daniel and my missus high-filled it at home.”

Joshua Watson's Holden VL CommodoreFrom here the car went to Pedal 2 Metal for a new rear end and then to Beejays Paint and Panel to a fresh coat of paint in the bay. Luckily for Josh, Maatouks were done with his engine shortly after he got the shell back in the garage and he and his mates got to work reassembling everything in time for Summernats. “If anything, it all happened ahead of schedule,” Josh says. “All this happened between July and December. It made it to the Nats and was selected to go in the street cruise.”

Josh is understandably proud of his VL and the work he and his mates have done on it. “Working long hours to afford it and then coming home to work on it at night was hard at times,” he says. “I enjoyed fitting everything up at the end and seeing it come together how I pictured it. It made all the late nights worth it. The most enjoyable thing is that everything possible was done at home by myself, mates and the missus.”

“I’m hanging to drive it on big boost and E85 again. I’ll probably need some new tyres!”

Future plans for the car revolve around getting it to more of a street car persona once Josh has had his fill of drag racing. “I’ll get some larger diameter rims for it, like billets or Weld RT-S,” he says. “Then I’ll remove the cage and enjoy it. I look forward to cruising it with my family as my son grows up.”Street Commodores - Issue 242

Owner: Josh Watson
Model: 1986 VL SL BT1
Bodywork: Calais side skirts
Colour: Absinth yellow, MX grey bars
Block: RB30ET
Engine Mods: Maatouks Racing forged bottom end (specs undisclosed), Maatouks Racing ported head and Maatouks-spec’ cam’, Maatouks Racing modified factory intake, XF Falcon throttle, Garrett GT35/40 1.06 ceramic coated rear housing, K&N pod filter, Holley Dominator 12-1800 fuel pump (E85), 1600cc Bosch Indy Blue injectors, Aeromotive A1000 FPR, 80L fuel cell, 3L catch can, boot-mounted radiator overflow, Earls radiator hoses, alloy radiator, 600x300mm alloy intercooler, fabricated alloy belly pan, Microtech ECU
Power: 438rwhp (326rwkW) @ 21psi, 10.7sec @ 130mph
Exhaust: Stainless turbo manifold, 3in ceramic coated dump pipe, 3in mild steel system, straight-through muffler
Gearbox: Jatco, RCI trans blanket, 3800rpm TCE stall, manualised valve body, transbrake, B&M shifter
Diff: Narrowed BW VL turbo, 3.45:1 final drive, Romac full-spool, single-piece tail shaft, 31-spline axles, half-inch ARP wheel studs, modified tubes/coil-over brackets and tube arm mounts
Brakes: PBR twin-piston front calipers, factory rear disc, Bendix pads, braided brake lines
Suspension: Coil-overs front and rear, chromoly adjustable tubular arms, chassis brace
Wheels/Tyres: Powder coated 15in Weld Pro Star rims (4in front, 8in rear), ET Streets rear tyres
Interior: Tan leather trim, trimmed dash and console, B&M shifter, front race buckets, Autometer instrument cluster, Autometer ancillary gauges, Victor race wheel, RCI racing harnesses, ANDRA-spec’ bolt-in half cage, Microtech hand controller
Stereo: Sony head unit, Sony speakers
Build period: Ongoing
Cost: Undisclosed
Contacts: Maatouks Racing, Pro Street Metal Craft, Pedal 2 Metal Fabrications, Beejays Paint and Panel, Brightline, Earls Fittings, my mates Daniel, Gus, Josh, Shaun and Pete for the time and effort over the years; “My beautiful fiancé Sammi and son Benjamin all your help, understanding and patience throughout the process”

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

FROM MINT TO MAGIC: Chris Irvin’s Holden 550hp 355ci VK

26 Mar


No amount of stern words from the car’s original owner were going to stop Chris Irvin from building his dream car
Story and Pics by

While we’re sure some people are just born old, it seems as though most of us forget what it was like to be young (and power hungry) as we begin to age. Music becomes too loud, speed becomes scary and you realise you don’t recognise any of the actors in the latest films.

Chris Irvin's Holden 550hp 355ci VK Clearly the previous owner of this pristine VK sedan was feeling some serious age when it came time to hand over the keys to new owner, 26-year-old Chris Irvin. “I found it as an original six-cylinder, 2nd owner car with log books and original paperwork,” he says. “I paid a deposit and returned to pick it up when the owner asked what I had planned for the car.”

It’s at about this time that the conversation took an amusing turn. “I told him I was going to take it home, strip it and cut the ass end out of it,” Chris continues. “He told me that if I’d told him that before he wouldn’t have sold it to me. In his own words, he said ‘You young people always wreck cars like this’.”

Surely looking at the car today, it would be a hard task for the old guy to argue that Chris has done anything but a superb job of creating something that, in his words, is “like factory, but better”. Sitting resplendent in an expertly applied DIY 2-pack white with the obligatory HDT grille and a few other subtle refinements, the VK is better than brand new and not in any danger of looking dated in six months time due to picking the latest trendy colours or interior design. We reckon the old guy should be pretty happy with the work done – work almost entirely completed by Chris and his family at home.

I didn’t have a hoist in the shed at the time that I wanted to clean up the undercarriage,” Chris says – a mechanic by trade. “So, my brother Mick and I jacked the car up as high as we could get it, got under it with two wire wheels and stripped it. There was dust everywhere.Chris Irvin's Holden 550hp 355ci VK

“We made a quick plastic sheet paint booth in the shed and Mick spent two days painting it. A week later the new hoist went in!”

Being a mechanic clearly has its advantages when building a car. So does having a father-in-law that restores and builds cars in his spare time and boasts a killer, fully equipped shed of his own (where we photographed the VK). Chris and Joe bolted together the stout 355ci VN stroker together. Plenty of work went into the project, including de-burring the block, cross-drilling the crank for better oil flow, balancing the rotating assembly and porting the cast heads to flow an impressive 580hp.

Once everything was bolted together, Chris coated everything in a fetching black, which looks menacing as well as looking super clean in the smoothed and freshly painted engine bay. This blacked-out theme continues on the outside where the window trims and tail lights are also black. With Plastidip in hand, Chris even turned his attention to the rims of those 19in Showwheels KWC 001 rims – the effect is understated and totally tough.

Chris Irvin's Holden 550hp 355ci VK At 10in wide, you can bet the rear end of this VK is anything but stock and true to his word, Chris did indeed “cut the ass end” out of the car, widening the factory tubs to the rails and replacing the old Salisbury with a narrowed Borg Warner running 3.9:1 gears and a full-spool. Just to be on the safe side, there are also 31-spline billet axles.

The black and white theme ends at the door and stepping inside Chris’ VK is akin to walking into a modern art museum. The factory cloth and vinyl trim is in incredible condition, with the roof lining and carpets replaced, but so much remaining from the Elizabeth assembly plant in 1984. Only a few deviations can be found, including the Autometer cluster, period correct HDT tiller and neatly integrated B&M shifter. The rear bench had to be modified a little to accommodate the larger tubs, too.

“The VK’s first big drive was meant to be a cruise to Wollongong,” Chris says. “But when I pulled out onto Picton Road, the car backfired, blew a flame out of the carb’ and shut off.Chris Irvin's Holden 550hp 355ci VK

“We worked out it was a dead coil, so the missus’ old man drove out with another one, wired it up and we turned around to head for home – only I got pulled into an RBT unit and defected. I was going to propose to Danni that day if I’d made it to the ‘Gong. Shit day, but it seems funnier now.”

Chris is ultimately happy with how the car has turned out and says there isn’t much he’d want to do differently if he had his time again – except maybe a blower (“That would look pretty good”, he says).

Well, we wouldn’t argue!

Owner: Chris Irvin
Model: 1984 VK
Bodywork: HDT grille, smoothed body seams, smoothed sills and fuel filler door, deleted exhaust cut out
Colour: White
Block: VN 5L
Engine Mods: De-burred block, Scat 355ci stroker crank, SRP forged pistons (11.8:1 comp’), ARP head and mains studs, Hastings rings, King bearings, ported cast heads (flowed to 580hp), double valve springs, Crane retainers, dash-10 breather lines, alloy catch cans, Camtech solid roller cam’ (0.640in lift, 108° LSA), Camtech pushrods, Yella Terra 1.65:1 roller rockers, Rollmaster timing chain, blueprinted JP oil pump, High Energy sump, CSR electric water pump, SPAL 16in thermo fan, PWR radiator, 120A alternator, billet Gilmer belt drive, 750cfm Holley UltraHP carb’, match-ported Harrop single-plane intake manifold, MSD Pro Billet dizzy, MSD HVC coil, MSD 6AL spark amp’, Holley Blue fuel pump, Holley FPR, Aeroflow fuel filters, 57L fuel cell, braided fuel lines, K&N air filter
Power: Approx 550hp (410kW)
Exhaust: Liverpool Exhaust tri-Y headers, twin 3in mild steel system, Hurricane mufflers
Gearbox: T350, 4500rpm Dominator stall, TCI manual valve body
Diff: Narrowed Borg Warner, 3.9:1 final drive, full-spool, 31-spline billet axles, Hardy Spicer unis, 2-piece tail shaft
Brakes: VT twin-piston front brakes, VN rear discs, Bendix pads, braided brake lines, hard lines replaced by stainless
Suspension: XYZ front coil-overs, VN V8 front sway bar, XYZ adjustable rear shocks, custom rear springs, narrowed panhard bar, boxed rear control arms, smoothed and painted undercarriage, VL manual steering rack, VN cross member, factory rear tubs widened to rails
Wheels/Tyres: 19in Showwheels KWC001 rims (8in front, 10in rear), 275 Achilles rear tyres
Interior: Momo HDT steering wheel, factory trim (rear bench modded for tubs), Autometer gauges, Rare Spares seat belts
Stereo: Clarion head unit, Rockford Fosgate rear 6x9in speakers
Build period: 10 months
Cost: Undisclosed
Contacts: MX Auto Electrical, Liverpool Exhaust, Ricky’s Driveshafts, KCDR Drivetrains, Sydney Suspension, “Mum, dad, Mick, my fiancée Danni, Joe, Justin Borg, Nick Schembri, Luke, Dennis, Matt Refalo, Dave Vasallo”

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

Feature Car: Brian Green’s 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

21 Mar

Brian Green’s big block-powered 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air sedan was featured in the February issue of Street Magazine. It was a long build process that ultimately created one of the cleanest, sexiest ’57s I’ve ever seen and definitely up there with the Tri-5s I’ve been lucky enough to photograph.


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.

Brian Green 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

Brian Green 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

Brian Green 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

Feature Car: Peter Kulakovski’s Holden VK Commodore

16 Mar

Blue Meanie tributes and variations are thick on the ground these days. They’re like the new HQ – everyone is building them. But Peter Kulakovski’s blown 408ci LQ9-based, tubbed VK is a cut above the rest and it was featured in the February 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.

Peter Kulakovski's Holden VK Commodore

Peter Kulakovski's Holden VK Commodore

Peter Kulakovski's Holden VK Commodore