Elite Hall highlights at Summernats 34

A selection of gorgeous Top 60 cars from Street Machine Summernats 34

Photographers: Chris Thorogood, Simon Davidson

At every Street Machine Summernats, an expert judging panel gets together to pick the Top 60 Elite cars in attendance.

We’ve already brought you every car from this year’s Great Uncover (many of which earned a Top 60 spot), but here’s more of our favourite rides that filled out the Meguiar’s Pavilion at Summernats 34.

Stefan Tomevski’s VL Calais draws you in with the Nardo Grey paint, but it’s the interior that really sets it apart. A full centre console stretches all the way to the parcel shelf, while the HSV Coulson seats sit atop a single-piece fibreglass floor.

Under the bonnet is a 522rwhp RB30 turbo mill, backed by a beefed-up Jatco ’box and BorgWarner diff.

Geoff Seiter’s XY Falcon packs a Pavtek-built 434-cuber, topped with CHI heads and a Holley 950 for 700hp. It’s backed by a C4 and 9in third member, with mini-tubs and a four-link out back.

There’s also coil-overs on each corner, RRS power steering, and Territory brakes with a hidden booster. “My wife bought it as a shell four years ago, and that’s all it was,” says Geoff. “We’ll trailer it to a few shows and then drive it. There’s a few shows close to us in Shepparton, so if we can get there within a tank of fuel, that’s great!”

Paul Thomas started building his ’67 Mustang in the 90s, doing most of the metalwork himself. There’s a 403ci Dart NASCAR lump under the bonnet, pushed back around 6in and pumping out 646hp through a Powerglide auto. Tubular suspension, a four-linked rear and coil-overs live underneath.

The wheelbase was slightly extended to ensure the front wheels sit perfectly within the guards. Modern conveniences include power steering, a/c, central locking, power windows and an electric handbrake. “It’s a dream to drive,” Paul says.

Blake Evans’s canary yellow LX SS took home 2nd Top Tudor. A 358ci Winston Cup-era SB2.2 NASCAR donk sits in the ultra-smooth engine bay, which should be good for 750hp. It’s backed by a Turbo 400 with a 6000rpm converter, while the rear is untubbed and runs a 255 tyre.

Blake and dad Paul built the car over five years to eventually race, but it will see street duties for now.

Judith Menso was meant to debut HERLX (SM, Sep ’21) at the ’Nats last year, but with the event postponed, she pulled the covers off the car at the inaugural Rockynats instead – much closer to her home in Ayr in FNQ.

Nevertheless, Judith and husband Rodney were still itching to bring the car to Canberra, and the pair were rewarded with a spot in the Elite Top 10 and even a shot at Grand Champ.

Back in 2020, Shepparton’s Jasmine Green was a hands-on mini-trucker who had done some amazing work on her slammed Toyota HiLux, including metal fab, paint and electricals. Things stepped up a notch when she won the Laurie Starling Scholarship, which propelled her into a full-time gig with Maskell’s Customs & Classics.

Jazzy has since learned to trim, as well as repainting her ’Lux in the lead-up to ’Nats 34, where she placed in the Elite Top 20!

Steve Santos brought two cars to the ’Nats this year, including this sublime turbocharged slant-six/push-button-auto Valiant AP5.

Steve built the car over a rabid fourth-month slog as a surprise gift for his father’s 70th birthday, whose first car was also a red AP5 with a slant and push-button auto. What a guy!

Steve’s other new build was this gorgeous EJ wagon. Built over 15 months from a shell Steve describes as a rust bucket, it uses the LS and six-speed auto from a VE Calais, fitted using CRS conversion parts and IFS.

In typical Santos style, the car boasts amazing detail everywhere.

Gavin Knight’s ’64 Impala wagon has been 21 years in the making, but you can’t argue with the result. The Impala is actually a factory RHD car, originally rolling off of the line at GM’s Canadian factory. A 350ci small-block, ‘Glide and standard diff provide the shove, while the low stance is helped by airbags in the rear to squat on the 20×9.5 Rev Classic wheels. The exterior is finished off in a combo of Seascape Aqua Mica and silver metallic paint on the beautiful long roof.

John Luci’s LX hatchback is arguably the perfect way to bring power from the 21st century into an iconic shape, while still keeping Holden’s original vision for the car. An LSX 454 is proudly squeezed between the chassis rails, with Holden-spec Papaya Orange and black with a black SS interior.

Big ticket items include a Turbo 400, shortened 9in to accommodate the chunky Weld Racing 15×10 wheels and a 130-litre drop tank.

Matt Olver’s 1934 Ford three-window is another one of the Deluxe Rod Shop’s creations in the elite hall this year. The body is a Deuce Customs unit, sitting on top of a 383ci blown Chev donk, with a polished Strange diff and So-Cal Speed Shop gear at both ends. Inside is a full Italian leather interior with, while the exterior is set off in PPG black and with a set of American Rebel wheels.

This former HOT 4s cover car was discovered by owner Kristie McKenzie and hubby Craig mothballed in a shed “in pretty crap shape.” Over the last four years, they’ve replaced the driveline, retouched the harlequin paint, and fitted up three-piece, 24k gold-dipped wheels as per original spec. The Clunes couple brought the S14 to Showcars Melbourne and the Adelaide Auto Expo, but Summernats 34 marks its first appearance as a driving prospect.

“Everybody has gone mental about it on social media, just because of how iconic the car is!” enthuses Kristie. “Lots of people who are into muscle cars now started with Auto Salon stuff, so they love it too,” adds Craig.