Nitrous big-block HQ Kingswood gears up for Drag Challenge

Matt Murphy's HQ Kingswood rocks an old-school, nitrous-fed big-block Chev and is on a quest for eights


While a turbocharged LS may be the GM engine of choice at Street Machine Drag Challenge, Matt Murphy’s HQ Kingswood defiantly kicks it old-school, rocking a big-block Chev, carby and a good ol’ shot of giggle gas.

First published in the September 2023 issue of Street Machine

Thirty-year-old Matt has owned the orange dynamo since he was 15, and they’ve been taking on Drag Challenge together since 2019. “I got it as my first car and drove it around on my Ls, until we did a big-block swap over four years on apprentice wages,” Matt says. “I’d been around cars like this growing up and fell in love with my neighbour’s HQ Statesman as a kid, so I wanted to build my own 80s-style street machine out of an HQ as my first car.”

Matt says that much of the kit they fitted in that first build is still there now, minus the 396ci big-block that powered it. “We built it from the rear end forward, so it has always been tubbed with the nine-inch, gearbox, ’cage and everything else,” he says. The 396 made way for a 454, which was then rebuilt as a 502 and campaigned in the car for close to 10 years.

The HQ spent the first portion of its rebuilt life chucking skids at events like EasterNats and PCM, until Matt’s dad convinced him to trade turning tyres for turning in timeslips. “Dad said, ‘Look, you’ve built a nice car here; why don’t we stop wrecking it doing burnouts and go racing instead?’ So that’s what we did, and I’ve been racing it ever since,” says Matt.

The HQ has done countless events all over Victoria, including both the 2019 and 2022-’23 five-day Drag Challenge events, and it nabbed a class win at this year’s Holden Nationals.

With a PB of 9.11@147mph, Matt was hoping to break into the eights with the 502, but that win at Holden Nats spelt the end for the motor. “It had a backfire that I didn’t think much of at the time, but I figured we should probably pull the heads off and do a check-over after the event. Boom – we found two cracked pistons,” he laughs.

Matt admits that he was already pushing the limits of the cast GM big-block with the 300-shot of gas, so the two dead holes gave him the excuse he needed to up the ante. “We’re building a new 572ci Dart big-block for it with all the good stuff, and the aim is to get deep into the eights with a lot more gas,” he says.

With just 10 weeks until Drag Challenge 2023 at the time of writing, Matt and his mates from Hallam Performance will be thrashing to get the motor built, inserted, plugged in and tuned. “The engine is getting machined right now, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to this Drag Challenge; I just refuse to miss it!” Matt says.

Given the short turnaround, he’s predicting that he’ll run it all-motor at the October event and then toy with the nitrous later. “My mate Harley from Hallam Performance won’t be with me this year, and he’s in charge of sorting the nitrous tune, so I don’t want to risk a new motor without him,” Matt says. Even so, a predicted 700rwhp Dart BBC should be more than enough to shake the tree in the GJ Drivelines Outlaw Aspirated class. “I’ve finished on the podium of Outlaw Blown too many bloody times, so hopefully we can do one better in the aspo class,” says Matt.

We can’t wait to see Matt and the HQ back in the lanes on 9-14 October, and he’s just as keen as we are. “It’s the best event ever,” he declares. “I don’t take any work leave all year except for Drag Challenge, so we’ll be thrashing as hard as we can to get there!”


Class: GJ Drivelines Outlaw Aspirated

Engine:502ci Chevy big-block
Induction:High-rise, open plenum
Carby:APD 1050
Nitrous:300hp shot
Heads:Pro Topline
Camshaft:Comp Cams
Cooling:Race Radiators
Exhaust:Twin 3.5in
Transmission:Pro-Matic Transmissions Powerglide
Converter:Shotgun Performance 4500rpm
Diff:9in, 35-spline, 3.7:1 gears
Rims:Center Line; 15×5.5 (f), 15×8.5 (r)
Rubber:Mickey Thompson; front-runner (f), 275 radial (r)

My dad; my wife; Colin Murphy; Graeme Murphy at G&R Towing; Top Notch Race Cars; Trevor Young at T&J Young Trimming; Paul Turner; Kavanagh Auto Parts; Matt Kennedy at D&H Kennedy Powder Coating; Andrew and Harley Chessells at Hallam Performance; Andrew Wakartschuk at Supa Trik Engineering; John Bartolo at Pro-Matic Transmissions; Jason Gerdes at Shotgun Performance.