Steve Grima’s turbo LS2-powered 1988 Holden VN Commodore

Drag Challenge regular Steve Grima is bringing a different turbo LS Commodore to the event this year: this eight-second VN snot rocket


WHILE we’re used to seeing Sydney’s Steve Grima behind the wheel of his 02KRUZ turbo LS VK Calais, the Drag Challenge Dial Your Own veteran will be bringing a VN along to this year’s event. Packing an LS2 6.0-litre inflated by a BorgWarner S480 snail, the fluoro four-door has so far made 740rwhp on 18psi, drinking United pump E85, and has run 8.63@156mph.

First published in the June 2021 issue of Street Machine

“It’s a BT1 ex-cop car, actually,” says Steve. “I believe it was built about 15 years ago and was an aspo 355 street car. It then did some duty as an aspo LS skid car, then went drag racing, so the owner mini-tubbed and turbocharged it. I kept my eye on it for sale for ages, and it sold. I regretted not buying it.” Fortunately, Steve learned that a mate had bought the car, so he hit him up and the mate agreed to sell it to him.

“People wanted me to tub the VK, but it’s a genuine Calais, and with what they’re worth these days I didn’t want to,” Steve says. “The VK is a perfect street car that really flies under the radar, but it’s heavy at 1640kg, so I’d be throwing so much money at it and ruining its street manners by pushing it further.”

While he was certainly looking to go quicker than the nines his VK clocks with scary consistency, Steve also chose a VN for more personal reasons.

“My cousin had a VN Group A back in the day, and we were close, but he was killed in a car accident,” he sighs. “I always said that one day I’d build a VN Group A in tribute to him, so my intention behind this car was to turn it into a Group A replica. It had already been mini-tubbed and had all the gear, so the stars had aligned for me – except it’s bloody bright green!”

As the car had a competition background, Steve has his work cut out for him to get it ready for the massive road legs that the five-day Drag Challenge is renowned for.

“I bought it with a full rollcage that goes where the back seat used to be, but the rear half of the ’cage will get changed so I can fit a back seat again,” Steve explains. “I need to fit a full exhaust, remove the sheet-metal dash and put in a complete dashboard, fit windscreen wipers and the mechanisms, and I want power windows in the front doors. When you’re strapped in the car in a fire suit and it’s roasting in the sun, winding the windows up and down sucks!”

In addition to this, Steve is planning to throw upgraded rods and pistons into the LS2, having already added a Brian Tooley Racing intake manifold and a Plazmaman Pro Series air-to-air intercooler. “Maybe we’ll CNC the heads before Drag Challenge, and just see how far we can push this package,” he says.

“The LS2 is basically stock, but it has had a set of main and head studs, a cam and springs – plus a turbo, which helps,” Steve laughs. “It’s got stock cathedral-port heads at the moment.

“The car also has a manualised ’Glide in it, with a sheet-metal nine-inch diff with 31-spline axles, 3.2 gears and whatever converter was in there when I bought it. It’s light as heck – around 1200kg.”

While the VN was purchased wearing 28×10.5 slicks, these will be swapped out for 275 radials to run in the Haltech Radial Blown class. The big radials fit thanks to a custom four-link under the back attached to the beefy nine-inch.

We can’t wait to see the green beast fly come October!


Class: Haltech Radial Blown

Engine: LS2 6.0L
Turbo: BorgWarner S480
Transmission: Powerglide
Converter: Mystery
Diff: 9in, 3.2:1 gears
Power: 740rwhp

Previous PB: 8.63@156mph
Best DC Pass: N/A