Rusty FX Holden ute goes blown at Summernats 36!

Mark Taylor has turned his granddad's FX ute into a tyre-frying fun machine

Photographers: Tim McCormack, Shaun Tanner

We first encountered Mark Taylor’s paddock-survivor, LS1-powered FX ute at Street Machine Summernats 35, and this year it returned with a blower-shaped hunk of fun sitting proudly through the bonnet! “It’s got the big huffer stuck on there now, but there are a few other new things,” Mark explains.

“The fuel cell was just a cheapie square thing so we’ve done a custom keg in there, and the fuel system is upgraded to feed the thing because it absolutely loves the juice. We grabbed an extra carb and slapped her on, and she pretty much worked from the get-go so I can’t complain there!” 

The upgraded combo has seen a fair bit of action since the last ‘Nats, including missions to Mark’s local Kandos, Bathurst Autofest, and the Mud Run — but even that couldn’t prepare Mark for the downpour that hit Canberra early in the piece. 

“The first day was a bit how-you-going,” Mark laughs. “I got it off the trailer and bogged it, which took forever to get out! We got to skid it on Friday, which is something I’d dreamed about for 20 years. To sit at the start line, knock the tyres off, then go to the pits and put another set on; it sounds silly to most people but that’s what I’d always wanted to do!” 

While the FX will now wreck a pair of tyres better than ever before, it’s come at the expense of cruising manners. “It absolutely loves the skids, just not the idling part,” Mark admits. “I’ve been cooking the gearbox every time this weekend. I get a lap out of it then have to park because it’s slipping.

“It goes straight to 150 degrees, and sitting in there is like a sauna. There’s no deadening or insulation whatsoever, just two little fans that don’t do much but push the hot air around! Most people that get in are happy to get out of it, I’ll put it that way.” 

January 8, 2023:

Mark Taylor’s FX Holden ute is ripper rural NSW resurrection story. But rather than being a random farm find that he’s knocked on a door to bludge or buy, this old Holden has been in the Taylor family for decades.

“We reckon it was sold new in Temora,” reckons Oberon local Mark. The biggest hint is the stencilled signwriting near the front door – a 1950s legal requirement for rego was to have a ute’s carrying capacity listed – mentions a family name of ‘Kruise’ and the town ‘Temora’ which is cereal crop and stock country. “She would’ve been a humdinger back in the day!”

The ute’s second owner was Mark’s grandparents. “It was used as a ute doing ute stuff,” says Mark with a laugh, “and one day my grandfather was out rounding up sheep and the thing caught fire. He used the shirt off his back to put out the fire, then hoofed it back to the homestead to get another car, and then went back to the paddock to put those sheep where they needed to be.”

And the FX ute stayed right where the damn thing had caught fire for another few decades, enduring rain, drought and floods until Mark decided to do something with the old family heirloom in the early 2000s.

“It took us a weekend to dig it out,” says Mark. “It had been flooded a few times so it was stuck in hard.”

With the ute at home, Mark had a choice: restore it to something close to original, or “Go a bit silly,” as he said. “You can see what way we went!”

These days the Holden ute sits on a fabricated chassis and has an alloy, carby 5.7-litre LS1 V8, TH400 and narrowed nine inch in it. That’s so the ute can fulfill Mark’s ambition of having a stack of fun in his car at events such as Summernats, Kandos and Chopped.

“At first I had a Holden five-litre in it,” says Mark. “But I thought it might be a bit heavy in the nose. So I used an LS instead.”

Bought second hand as a ‘ready to run’ powerplant, the LS V8 revealed a horrible secret when the heads were removed for a precautionary look.

“It had a nut smashed into the top of one piston” laughs Mark. “It was lucky we opened it as there was lots of silastic too.”

Now that it’s finished, the car is a great all-round cruiser and skidder and a stack of fun.

“This puts smile on my face!” grins Mark, who often works seven days a week. He’s a member of Junkers CC, a group of like-minded maniacs that are scattered around northern Vic and into central western NSW who get to as many events as possible to chill out and have fun.

“There’s about 15 of these cars; all similar styles and look,” explains Mark. “Although we don’t all get to all the events, we get as many of us together as possible, as often as we can.”