As My Life at Speed’s resident Aussie contributor, I’ve tried to show as much of Australia’s broad and fantastic car culture to the site as possible over the time I’ve been working for the site. There’s been V8 Supercars, grassroots and professional drifting, classic car and bike racing, World Superbikes (hey, it was at Phillip Island – that counts), buggy racing, WTAC and even a look behind the racing scenes at Australia’s premier restorer, HVR. There’s one thing I’ve failed to do until now, though, and that’s bring you a look at some of Australia’s best street machines.
This is something I felt was best rectified by trekking up to see Australia’s largest modified car show, MotorEx, when it arrived in Melbourne recently for the first time in its history (it’s usually Sydney-based). With many of Australia’s best street machines on show in one place, what better way to show you guys what our local scene was like?
The day kicked off for me outside the three main indoor exhibition areas in the ‘Real Street Blvd’ section, where, as the name suggested, real street-driven cars lined up to show off their wares. It was an eclectic mix, with American and Aussie muscle, European chic and Japanese aggression all on display.
Starting out towards the top of the driveway, one pair that immediately caught my eye were this stickerbombed Civic on Works and the menacing lowered Scirocco facing it. FWD battle time?
This clean and simple ZN6 also grabbed my attention, again, thanks to simple but effective colour combination of white wheels and factory Velocity Orange paint. A lip and skirts and a Scion badge were all it took to round out the look.
I had to say I was a little surprised this aggressive and clearly well-used Evo X seemed to have made the journey all the way from Tasmania, but then, people travel from all over the country for MotorEx.
Proving once again that a simple drop on some Japanese rims is a great way to spice up a Euro, this A3 on blue Equips also lured me in.
Speaking of being lured in, I think this spectacular ’56 Chev would do just that to anyone, but it also looks like it would eat you alive if you ended up too close to its immaculate engine bay.
It wasn’t just the US machines pulling off the immaculate look, either. This mint ’71 Colt GTO coupe left me slack jawed with its ultra-clean lines and boxy aggression. These are so rare now, too. Waaaannnttt.
The complete opposite of simple and boxy, this famous Melbourne FD3S looked for all the world like a 90s throwback, thanks to its colour-coded wheels and airbrushed paint job. However, this is merely a ruse, as its current guise only came into existence relatively recently.
That includes the incredible Sub-Zero artwork, which actually replaced a Tekken-themed job on the previous incarnation. Clearly, the owner, who is well known here due to his role at audio outfitter Phatt Audio Concepts, loves his fighting games!
To round out the presentation, the owner left the man himself (well, a latex bust thereof) in the driver’s seat!
Heading inside, I figured I’d use the remaining half an hour of time I had before the crowds entered (sadly, media only got an hour before the show opened each to shoot and I only had one day) to look at the Meguiars Superstars hall, which contained the big guns of the Australian street machine scene. Straight away, this vision appeared before my eyes and left me floored.
The ‘Mission Impossible’ HQ Monaro has been one of this country’s most famous show cars for a while now, and for good reason. With its immaculate House of Kolor two-tone paint, ultra-clean lines and 560hp LS3, it’d be hard not be knocked over by this icon of Australian car manufacturing. Sadly, Mission Impossible was actually retired after the show finished, but that’s not to say it will now just sit idle. Possible plans include taking it to the US, which I’m sure my American friends would be happy about.
Just behind Mission Impossible lay another stunning example of Australiana in the ‘1BADFJ’ FJ Holden. For those who don’t know, the FJ Holden was only the second Australian-built Holden model made, and left an indelible mark on the cultural and automotive landscape, becoming the primary transport for many, many Australians over the years. Its significance was later reinforced when Holden unveiled the ‘Effijy’ concept, which paid homage to the FJ in its smooth, swooping lines. You’ll see it yourself in part two.
Off to the right of 1BADFJ lay an altogether more modern interpretation of Aussie muscle, in the form of a V2 HSV GTO. Appropriately named SICKLE, thanks to its horror film-inspired airbrushed matte paintjob, I’m sure the enormous Mooneyham supercharger pumping air through the LS1 below would mean a ride was suitably terrifying as well. Either that or great fun. Most likely the latter.
Continuing the slightly unhinged theme, on the other side of the hall lay what I reckon is probably one of Australia’s most outrageous Ford Falcons – the ‘PSYCHO’ XF. Hailing from Tasmania, this chopped, dropped and coupe-fied bird of prey had to make its way across Bass Straight to show off its crazy wares, but I for one was glad it did!
I mean, just look at it! Everything about this build is insane, from the floor-mounted swooping leather seats, to the paint job, to the overall level of modification. Remember, the XF Ford Falcon was a pretty crude and basic family sedan in its original guise. Never in a million years would you expect one to eventually look like this.
By the way, unless something has changed in the last few weeks, it’s for sale, too!
Just next to PSYCHO lay something perhaps slightly less insane but certainly just as likely to snap at you – the ‘KRANKI’ HQ Holden ute. Those familiar with HQ Holdens will know the ute versions never came with the luxury ‘Statesman’ model front end, but here it’s been grafted on to add a little bit of class.
Which of course is perfectly in keeping with the classy noise KRANKI’s rather serious V8 puts out. How serious? Well, those twin tanks in the tray are obviously a dead giveaway, but the fact they feed into an NA 540 cubic inch Chevy big block, complete with dry sump, should put any doubts to rest. This engine apparently puts out 860hp on pump fuel even without the NOS, and a frankly stupid 1200hp with the funny gas. Perhaps on NOS it’s less cranky? (I’ll be here all week. Try the veal).
Either way, the full custom interior is now just as classy as the rest of the car. Which is nice.
Finishing up my look at the Superstars hall, I decided to focus on two polar opposites. The first is the absolutely incredible ‘HRDWRK’ Datsun 1200 ute from New South Wales, which ended up taking out ‘Best of Breed Street Machine’ and more gold medals than you could count.
This tiny machine probably had one of the smallest power outputs in the hall, too, at an estimated 310hp from its bridgeport 13B, but made up for it with its immaculate presentation.
The other car? Well, that went the ‘bigger is better’ route. Big engine, big mods.
As you can see, this car started life as a humble Mitsubishi Magna, or Diamante in North America. It’s clearly nothing like the donor car now, though. North-south V8? Check. Suicide doors? Check. Completely custom chassis and suspension? Check.
Amazing custom interior? Also check.
Oh, and it’s now a coupe, too. Running on clear plastic show wheels. No wonder it’s called OVAKIL.
Taking things in a completely opposite direction, I decided to head next to the LiquiMoly Performance Garage, where I could see some slightly less ‘showy’ machines and re-calibrate my sense of reality. And you don’t get much more real than this year’s Bathurst 12-Hour-winning Ferrari 458, as driven by Craig Lowndes, Mika Salo, John Bowe and Peter Edwards. As it’s still used every so often, it even had track debris on its schnoz, too!
Just behind the 458, as if to spoil the Prancing Horse’s party, lay a 650S Spider, with its signature dihedral doors wide open to boost its impact. As if it needed that. Either way, it certainly drew the crowds, perhaps more so than the Ferrari.
Maybe everyone was interested to see the interior, which you couldn’t on the 458. These two girls certainly made use of the open cockpit, although judging by the reticence of the adults to sit down in those deep bucket seats, I’m not sure if the young ‘uns were just given special dispensation.
Away to the right of the two supercars lay a separate section occupied mainly by late model turbocharged six cylinder Falcons. I know performance Falcons have a fairly passionate following overseas, and I’ve always considered it a great shame we couldn’t export these to sate demand. Perhaps it would have saved Ford Australia? Then again, we exported Commodores and Monaros and look where that got Holden.
Either way, I was very happy to see these local enthusiasts getting the most out of the huge turbocharged donks inside. Significantly larger than a 2JZ, thanks to their four litre capacity, their size definitely works against them being used as an engine swap in other cars, but with plenty of very cheap (and perfectly capable, handling-wise) Falcon shells to slot these into, it’s hardly a major problem.
Moving around to the other side of the tent, for that’s what this area was, I was amused to find what has to be one of the faster Hyundai Excels on the planet, if only because it’s clearly not an Excel. It’s a Sports Sedan – effectively a tube-frame silhouette with a big V8 up front and RWD. How awesome would it have been if Hyundai actually did offer an FR Excel from the factory, though?
Further up from the ‘Hyundai’ lay a big Erebus Motorsport display, complete with the 2013 Bathurst 12-Hour-winning SLS GT3s. I’m sure you’ll agree these things look and sound awesome in the metal, and the distinctive black and green livery only accentuates it strong lines.
In true Aussie fashion, the final section of the LiquiMoly Performance Garage was dedicated mainly to burnout cars and dyno warriors. These included the ROGUE VE Holden Commodore, the supercharger of which you can see in the foreground, and the STRUGLIN VE Holden Commodore wagon from Western Australia that lay in the background.
Yup, clearly it’s struggling with too little horsepower.
After leaving the LiquiMoly Performance Garage, I moved onto the final section of the show; the main hall that contained the newest super high-end builds, as well a huge variety of more established machines from all genres. Stay tuned for that in part two!