Matt Carey’s Drag Challenge-ready HQ Premier

Matt Carey's next Drag Challenge quest will be a family affair thanks to his dad Russ and his Grandpa Fred's HQ Premier

Photographers: Jordan Leist

MATT Carey has done the past two Drag Challenges in his hand-controlled BLWNQUAD Holden VZ SS ute, finishing in the Top 10 in the DYO class both times. After the 2019 event, where the WA resident won the Longest Distance Travelled trophy, he hinted he might be in a chrome-bumper entry next time ’round, but he never mentioned that it’d be his grandpa’s HQ.

First published in the October 2021 issue of Street Machine

Matt’s pa, Fred, bought the Prem brand new in 1973 and used it as his daily, as well as a parts carrier and tow car for his business, Carey Panels, in Seaford, Victoria.

“Once Pa retired, the HQ was often spotted at the Frankston RSL,” Matt recalls. “It was there most days from 1973 to 2016. I’d meet Pa and his mates at the RSL on a Friday night for a few jars. He did this for over 60 years!”

When Fred passed in 2016 at 92 years of age, the Champagne Metallic Quey was passed down to Matt’s dad, Russ. The rigours of daily work had taken their toll on the car, so Russ began the task of bringing the heirloom back to its former glory.

“Dad began repairing the sills and other areas that needed attention, with the intention of keeping it standard, including the 253 and Trimatic,” Matt explains. But Matt’s first Drag Challenge experience in 2018 changed that.

“We decided that FREDSHQ would be built into an event car – still good for Sunday pub tours, yet useable for a Super Street class car and, more importantly, Drag Challenge. Now the whole family can be part of DC and not be limited by my two-seater ute.”

Much of the visual factory offerings have been maintained as a nod to the Prem’s past, with the ante upped in the driveline department. “We decided to stick with what we know and have spares for, so the HQ runs the same driveline as my ute, but just naturally aspirated for DOT approval,” Matt says.

Street Quick Performance (SQP) supplied a respectable PULP-fed L98, which has a mild cam and aftermarket valvetrain yet maintains the stock bottom end. Behind that, a stout 4L80E is coupled with a Dominator 3000rpm-stall converter down to a trusty nine-inch with Truetrac, meaty 35-spline axles and 3.9s for perky launches. SQP has tuned the whole shebang to around 370rwhp.

Black Magic Race Cars was entrusted to add the obligatory updated driveline mountings, coil-overs at all four corners, adjustable tubular control arms and an anti-roll bar before sliding in power rack-and-pinion steering.

Russ then set about fitting up hand controls to get Matt behind the wheel. “Once the controls were fitted, I drove the car for the first time since 2001,” Matt says with a grin. “I hadn’t driven a chrome-bumper car since becoming a quadriplegic from my bike accident in 2007 – it was exciting times!”

With the engineered Prem granted the DOT tick of approval, Matt and Russ set their sights on testing. “Dad’s getting some miles under his belt to iron out any teething issues,” Matt says. “But we’re yet to run down the quarter, as currently there are no radial tyres available in our size.”

Matt and Russ are hoping for high- to mid-11s and have a vested interest in keeping the Prem slower than 11 seconds to avoid rollcage fitment, which would pose too much of a challenge for Matt to navigate.

Matt would have been going to the 2021 Drag Challenge event (before it was cancelled), with no data and minimal runs, so he planned to mirror everything he does when racing the ute. “Although I am silently hungry to be at the pointy end of the field,” he laughs. “But we plan to have a lot of fun; it’s a massive task to get across from WA, so we want to make our time worth it.”

Russ & Matt Carey
1973 Holden HQ Premier

Class: Vibrant Performance Dial Your Own


Engine: L98
Trans: 4L80E
Converter: Dominator 3000rpm
Diff: 9in, Truetrac, 35-spline axles, 3.9:1 gears

Best DC 2019 Pass: 11.20@124mph (in VZ SS ute)