DJ Carl Cox’s monster HG Premier

World-renowned British DJ Carl Cox has his sights set on Drag Challenge with a HG Premier that makes 1600hp at the hubs

Photographers: Cristian Brunelli

WHILE Carl Cox’s day job (or should we say night job) as a house and techno DJ, producer and remixer takes him all over the world, he’s also a diehard gearhead and drag racer. Which explains why he’s built a stonking HG Premier to take on Street Machine Drag Challenge!

First published in the December 2021 issue of Street Machine

The British-born DJ, who has been playing with cars since he was a teenager, eventually decided to establish a base in Australia after touring the country. “I really enjoyed coming to Australia, fell in love with the place. The weather’s great compared to England – Melbourne in particular,” says Carl. “So around 2003-2004, I decided to buy a holiday home near the Mornington Peninsula.”

We’ve detailed his local collection of street and drag cars before, including his six-second 1969 Mk1 Ford Capri. But we’re here to focus on his 1971 HG Premier, which is packing a 1600rwhp, single-turbo small-block Chev and is tilted towards a crack at a Drag Challenge event in 2022.

We spoke to Carl’s long-time friend and crew chief Rod Taylor, who oversees Carl’s car collection and builds in Melbourne. He was the one who made it all come together for the HG, spinning spanners on it and helping specify all the nitty-gritty details that Carl simply doesn’t have time for. “He told me he wanted to do Drag Challenge, and we decided the HG was the best car we had to build into something that could do the job,” says Rod.

Carl has owned the car for some time now, having bought it from former Unique Cars editor Greg Leech. “Greg lived across the road from one of Carl’s mates in Melbourne, and Carl ended up buying the car from him,” says Rod. The car looked virtually identical to how it does now, with the green paint, racing stripes and even the Superlite wheels. “That’s exactly the vision Carl has for the car, so he’ll never change the way it looks,” Rod says.

What has changed is the monster underneath the skin. “When he got the car, it had a 186 with triple Webers and all that, but as soon as he got shown up by some P-platers in a VS Commodore, that quickly got changed,” Rod laughs.

Rod is a friend of engine master Frank Marchese from Dandy Engines, and Frank originally built an angry aspirated small-block Chev for the Prem. “It was a good thing; it ran 10.5 and had really good street manners,” Rod says. “But for Drag Challenge we decided to take it up a notch.”

Rod and Frank opted to stick with an old-school Chev for the car’s new combo but this time build it to cop the shove from a monster Precision 98mm turbo. “The small-block felt truer to the car, so Frank suggested we re-use the old heads from the aspirated engine and build a fresh short block,” Rod explains.

The AFR 227 heads are bolted to a 400ci Dart Chevy, slung with a Callies Magnum crank, Oliver rods and Diamond pistons specified by Dandy. Interestingly, Frank opted to go with a custom-grind flat-tappet stick instead of a roller-style cam, which Rod says is primarily for ease of maintenance: “That way we won’t be pulling apart the valvetrain stuff all the time, and as Frank proved, it certainly didn’t stop us making power!”

He’s not kidding. On the hub dyno, the combo punched out 928rwhp on 98 PULP, but that figure jumped to a whopping 1599hp thanks to some VP Racing QM25 race fuel at around 32psi. “We decided to leave it there because the tyre will only take so much, but there’s still more in it,” Rod says.

The tyres in question are innocent little 235 radials, as Carl and Rod have decided to duke out Drag Challenge in the Tuff Mounts 235 Blown class. “The car still has standard tubs, so while we do have a 255 for it as well, for Drag Challenge we figured we’d jump into the 235 class,” says Rod. “It’ll be a mission to get it to hook on the 235s, but we’ll certainly give it a crack!”

Backing up the monster Chevy is a Reid-case Turbo 400 that’s transbraked on first and second gear, and a Profab nine-inch rear end with 35-spline axles and 3.5:1 gears. “We put the new rear end and rollcage in the car as part of the build with this new engine, but Carl specified he wanted to keep the outside as it was,” Rod says. “So the engine had to stay under-bonnet, and from the outside you wouldn’t suspect it’s anything more than a mild small-block car with it driving on the road – it’s really manageable for what it is.”

While it may have good street manners, the number Carl and Rod are aiming for on the strip is somewhat less sedate. At the time of writing, the car is yet to hit the track with the new combo, but once the boys get the traction side sorted, the HG is predicted to have some blistering pace. “If we could get high sevens – something like a 7.80 – out of it, we’d be stoked, but for Drag Challenge our main goal is just to finish,” laughs Rod. “Carl’s been talking about doing it for a while. We’re definitely keen on a three-day event next year, and then we’ll look at the five-day one after that.”


Class: Tuff Mounts 235 Blown
Engine: 400ci Dart Chev
Inlet: Edelbrock Victor EFI
Heads: AFR 227
Camshaft: Custom flat-tappet
Pistons: Diamond
Rods: Oliver
Crank: Callies Magnum
Oil: External pump
ECU: FuelTech FT600
Turbo: Precision 98mm
Transmission: TH400
Converter: Mark Micke
Diff: 9in, 3.5:1 gears, 35-spline

Lou, Frank and the whole Dandy Engines team; Joe, Catherine and Jonathon at Profab Motorsport Fabrications; Nathaniel at FuelTech; Fred at Protrans; Joe Krivickas at Precision Turbo; Dave Caruana for the wiring; Dave Hall at Hally’s Customs; Marcus at Speed Pro; Jason Ghiller at Tunnel Vision; Cam at Westernport Trimming