When we left off in part one, I’d shown you two out of the three display areas at MotorEx, Australia’s largest modified car show. Now it’s time to show you highlights of the main arena, where some of Australia’s newest and baddest builds hid under sheets, ready to be unveiled, alongside many other automotive jewels.
However, I’m afraid the big reveals will come later, as for the majority of the day, they hid under their sheer coverings, drawing curious stares from the crowds wandering past. What lay beneath? Only a select few knew. It didn’t matter, though, as there was plenty of eye candy waiting for punters all around the main hall.
One of the first cars to draw my eye was the GDIUP Mustang, if only because it’s relatively rare here to see these cars turned into sub-filled audio builds, rather than the more traditional show ponies (if you’ll pardon the pun) or pure performance machines.
Rest assured, though, that its twin-turbo 455 Windsor definitely covers off the performance side, and easily moves around the extra weight of all the amps and speakers inside.
And as I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s a nice inside!
Moving on, it was time to get back to Australian machines, starting off with a couple of tasty Toranas. This blue LX made its method of propulsion very clear …
… as did this evil looking SS variant.
Meanwhile, next to these boxy examples of 70s Holden muscle lay some of possibly Australia’s most famous (and certainly most revered) muscle cars in the form of some XY Ford Falcon GTs. This particular one, XXXWHY, is easily one of the most famous here in Australia, thanks to its immaculate build quality and simple, but highly effective mods. These include the 351 Cleveland you can see, complete with forged pistons, 4MA crank, Edelbrock manifold and MSD ignition. This is all backed up by a modified C-10 Stage 2 Shift, Dominator stall converter and nine-inch.
The rest is mainly for show, but do you really need much else? When everything looks like the kind of Falcon a rich obsessive would build from the factory, and given the XY GT’s iconic status in the muscle car world, I’d say no.
Of course, with current prices and the near sacred nature of the XY GT in Australian eyes (original examples start at around $65,000 and only head up from there), if you’re going to modify one heavily, it’s probably best to start with a standard base. Which is exactly what this owner has done. Supercharged Hemi in your Ford, sir?
Moving back to Holden-land, I came across two lovely examples of some slightly younger models. The first was the famous two-tone VH Commodore of Jason Camilleri, which was actually a finalist for Street Commodore of the Year in 2013. You can read about the full build here, but to give you an idea of the level of love poured into this, just know every nut and bolt was zinc-coated before the bits went into the completely stripped and restored shell.
Inside the engine bay lies a built 5-litre V8 with SCAT crankshaft and rods, custom CP pistons, ported heads, Torque Power dual-plane manifolds and too many other mods to quote here. It may only put out 521hp, but then, it is technically still a family car…
Next to INJV8 lay the eventual winner of Street Commodore of the Year 2013, and a wonderful example of international cooperation – Leigh Kenney’s VL Commodore. Actually, this one’s a Calais, which was still a Commodore but with a fancier name – fancy that is unless you’ve ever been to Calais, but I digress. Born at a time when Holden’s old ‘Black’ six wasn’t going to be usable any more due to the compulsory introduction of unleaded fuel, the VL ended up using Nissan’s RB30DE, which also later came in turbo guise. Obviously this was always going to lead to seriously tuned versions, and Kenney’s example puts out a slightly crazy 787rwhp, thanks to E85 and a massive turbo.
While these examples of hardcore Australian tuning culture were lovely and impressive, I have to be unpatriotic here and say two of my favourite builds of the show were actually American. Namely this Y-engined 56 Ford …
… which had a beautifully finished tray …
… and this unbelievably stunning 1960 Chevy Biscayne Delivery, owned by Bodyshop Paint Supplies here in Victoria. Running an LS1 with twin GT3788R turbos, custom intake, ported heads and many other goodies, hooked up to a Tremec six-speed, this is one way to make sure your customers never wait for orders, and that those orders arrive in style!
Of course, sitting in here, so does the driver! Unsurprisingly, this beauty picked up the Street Machine Pinnacle award, as well as a gold medal for its engine bay and and silvers for its bodywork and engineering.
Just along from the Biscayne lay another fantastic piece of Americana, this gorgeous mild custom Ford Victoria, which featured easily the plushest engine bay I’ve ever seen.
Returning to some more Australian metal, I picked out this lovely HR Holden Premier, running a highly tuned version of its original straight six.
As with so many of these builds, the interior was on a par with, if not better than the exterior. Just stunning.
A slightly more modern Australian street machine came in the form of the TOXIC-Q HQ Holden. Much more show car than the HR, TOXIC-Q displayed its 468 BBC in the customary shaved and ultra-clean bay and showed just a little bit more aggression than stock thanks to a subtle 2.5-inch chop.
As you’d expect in a car of this calibre, the interior was pretty much entirely custom and looked fantastic.
Sticking with the Holden theme, down towards the back of the hall lay some of Holden’s most famous concept cars. For those not familiar, this trio included the Coupe 60 (foreground), the Hurricane (mid) and the internationally renowned Efijy (rear), which I alluded to in part one.
Together, these form a triumvirate of some of the most famous concepts in Holden’s history. The Coupe 60, for example, was a design study to tease a possible replacement for the V2 Monaro (Pontiac GTO in the US). Running on a shortened Zeta platform, the VE Commodore based Coupe 60 ran a pillar-less body, massive 21-inch centrelock wheels and a very nice series of body modifications over stock. The designer, Tony Stolfo, once commented that the whole thing, even the B-pillar-less body, was production feasible, but sadly, it stayed a concept. To this day, many still feel Holden should have built it.
The Hurricane, however, was an entirely different kettle of fish. Holden’s very first concept car, built in 1969 and restored between 2006 and 2011, this really did set the bar very high indeed. Essentially a research vehicle for future technologies, the Hurricane featured mid-mounted, high-compression 4.2 litre V8, an early iteration of GPS called Pathfinder, which relied on reading magnetic signals built into any future roads, digital instruments, climate control air-con and even a rear-view camera, which ran to a tiny CCTV screen in the centre console. Of course, its most eye-catching feature was its one-piece canopy, which swung up and forward to allow ingress and egress. For what was a small GM offshoot at the time, the Hurricane was a revelation, and showed what Australia could do.
A much more recent, and more famous, example of Australian engineering capabilities lay at the end of the line. Holden’s Efijy debuted in 2005 at the Australian Motor Show (a now defunct institution, sadly), and stunned the motoring world with its gorgeous curves and retro look. Much of the inspiration, as I said in part one, came from the original Holden FJ – the second only Holden model to be produced here. This modern take, however, runs on a Corvette chassis, with a 644hp supercharged V8 under the bonnet.
Looking at those lines, it’s no wonder the Efijy won United States Concept Car of the Year for 2007. It also formed a fantastic cap to a trio of Holden concept cars that had never been seen together before in public.
Jumping from the sublime to the ridiculous, it was clear MotorEx covered all aspects of modified car culture just by looking at this ‘interesting’ vehicle. What, a 1997 Transit van isn’t interesting? Just wait until you move further back, because this Transit is the automotive equivalent of the mullet haircut.
Yes, there’s a party in the back.
A party that includes pole dancing apparatus. And women’s underwear scattered around the cabin. Let’s just leave it at that, eh?
Also on the ridiculous side of things, but thankfully slightly less controversial, lay this incredible salmon pink Charger. This time the ridiculousness came from its rear tyre width. Any guesses as to the power output that might necessitate such rubber?
Of course, if you want wide wheels, there were many other examples on offer, including these particularly shiny examples from Nutek on the Zoom Garage stand. Not knowing a huge amount about this brand before the show, I was surprised to find out they were co-founded by the man behind HRE – Gene Howald – and include many of the patents that he put to such good use at HRE before he sold it. This ‘Billion Gold’ finish (one of many available) may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they certainly do stand out. And being forged, they should last, too.
Before we get to the big boys of the show – the covered cars I mentioned earlier, I just wanted to look at a few other cool machines and curios. Firstly, this brilliant salt lake racer rat rod, which lay just inside the entrance to the main hall. It’s pretty rare we see cars like this here, as while we have dry lake beds, not many people are into top speed attempts. Shame.
Sticking with unusual US metal, this Ranchero also caught my eye, if only because I’d never seen one here in Australia. With its fat rear tyres, gleaming finish and proportions that just scream ‘America!’, I have to say it was great to see a ute from another part of the world.
Perhaps less convincing was this tube-frame Nissan Navara, sitting on bags with an LS up front.
I know imitation is supposedly the sincerest form of flattery, but I’m not so sure about this ‘homage’ to the Engineered To Slide HiLux. Your thoughts?
Finally, for something truly unique, how about this carbon-tub chassis with an LS in the back and HSV running gear? Easily the standout in terms of suspension design, I’m not even sure what it is or who makes it, as it sat there unlabelled and had no one around it to talk to. If any My Life @Speed readers know, please say so in the comments.
Come the afternoon, everyone gathered around the front of the main hall to see the FreeStyle Rides Inauguration – where those covers would come off revealing the hottest new builds of the year. First up, Damien Horner’s ‘FINEVY’ Commodore ute.
This was actually the second Inauguration for this car, having been completely updated from its 2012 rebuild. Now boasting suicide doors instead of Lambo-style scissor items, new paint, new wheels (22 x 12 at the rear) and a host of detail changes, it certainly seemed to capture the crowd’s attention.
As did the incredible C-DEUCE 32 Roadster. For good reason, too: This build’s been 15 years in the making. Based on a six-inch stretched Rod City chassis and running a custom-made 6-litre Jaguar V12 with four-valve heads and an old-school block, there’s pretty much nothing off the shelf about any of this car. The fibreglass body is from Deuce Customs, while everything from the injection manifolds to the bell housing to the wheels was machined by owner (and tool and die maker) Peter Miller. It’s an incredible labour of love.
Less custom, but no less attractive, Graham Lineker’s 32 Tudor – MissBHaven – boasts a 2.5-inch chop, four-inch drop and a 427 Windsor in its Rod City chassis. Going for a very 60s look, Graham intends for this to be a streeter, and even more incredibly, this is his first ever hot rod build. Not a bad first attempt!
One of the more unusual, but definitely more popular unveils, this almost completely custom Kombi belonged to Aussie hip hop legends Bliss N Eso. Built around a full roll cage due to its large motorised roof opening, and with stunning billet wheels and decks that rise up out of the roof, this is easily the coolest way to set up an impromptu gig.
Back into more sporting machines, Graham Laity’s ’69 Camaro RS looks very shiny, but after a few shows, Graham intends to drive this Pro Touring build hard as often as he can. Which should be no problem, thanks to its LS7, custom front wishbones, TCI three-link rear and 19-inch wheels wrapped in sticky Nittos.
I’ll finish up with what I (and the judges) considered to be among the most impressive of the Inauguration builds. First up, a pair of beauties from Rides By KAM in Queensland. One of Australia’s top workshops, KAM has already tasted success overseas, thanks to owner Robert Zahabi’s yellow Camaro, which got into the Top 15 at SEMA one year. What did they have this year? Well, this slam-dunk of an XC Falcon Hardtop, for starters.
Owned by Brock Mahoney, having been passed down from father to son, the story goes Brock spent almost a full year planning the build, and even put together a PowerPoint presentation to show Rides By KAM exactly what he wanted. Over the next two years, things slowly came together, until Brock had what you see before you. Powered by a 351 Windsor with a Dyers 8/71 blower, and wrapped in huge amounts of custom metal work with a mix of Shimrin 2 Gold Flake over a HOK Re-Entry Red base, you can hopefully see why it easily drew some of the biggest crowds over the afternoon. So good was this build, in fact, that renowned XC lover, Eric Bana, dropped by on Sunday to have a chat with the owner. What a guy.
However, Rides By KAM weren’t done yet. The big reveal came in the form of their twin-supercharged 1970 Nova, which frankly, is one the most evil looking machines I’ve ever seen. With an almost entirely custom fabricated body, 22-inch rear wheels hung off bagged suspension, HOK Jet Black paint and smoothed and shaved everything, this was one of the true stand out builds of the year.
As I mentioned, the heart of the beast is a 572 big block with two custom-made symmetrical F2 Prochargers, arranged to match the PWR radiator, which has symmetrically positioned twin fillers and overflows. In its current form, it hasn’t even been dyno’d yet, but apparently in NA form, it still put out about 800hp, so 1200hp now is a safe bet.
To bring all that power to a halt, Rides By KAM went to the trouble of commissioning Brembo to make custom 400mm rotors and six-pot callipers – a highly unusual choice of brand for a muscle car, but one that certainly stands out.
Until you see the build pics, you can’t really appreciate the amount of work that went into this car, so I’d suggest you head over to the Rides By KAM’s Facebook page and scroll down to see everything the shop did. I guarantee you will be amazed.
Lastly, we come to the winner of the most medals among the Inauguration builds – John Saad’s 1972 RX-3. John already has form when it comes to top-end Mazda builds, winning medals for his previous machine, RXXX3, but this one takes things to a new level, with full custom panel work, lowered body, fabricated A-arms up front and triangulated four-link rear, complete with Doorslammer-style Mark Williams modular diff.
Inside those giant wheels lay 16-inch rotors and Wilwood six-pots all around.
Which are perhaps not strictly speaking necessary, given the relatively low output from the super-shiny 13B (only 450hp), but I’ve never heard of a driver who didn’t want more brakes, so…
Just wait until you check the interior, too. Isn’t it amazing? You can see why this is now regarded by some as one of the top RX-3 builds in the world.
That wraps up my coverage of MotorEx for 2014. I hope you enjoyed seeing some of Australia’s best custom rides and got an insight into what we do down here. If you’d like to see more of this kind of stuff, leave a comment.
(P1 Race Photography – AKA Chris Nicholls)