Hot new metal at Summernats 34

Some of the coolest metal we saw cruising around EPIC

Photographers: Chris Thorogood, Ash Wilson, Povi Pullinen

Sure, at every Street Machine Summernats there’s a huge selection of incredibly-finished rides on show in the Elite Hall, and this year was no different.

But to many punters, the lifeblood of the event lies outside, between the cruise route, Skid Row, Tuff Street and countless other attractions.

Though our reduced crew (thanks, ‘rona!) made it a bit harder to survey all the ground-level action this year, we still went out in search of the hottest cars lapping EPIC. Enjoy!

Armidale’s Paul Cundy always rocks up with something cooler than penguin shit, and this year was no exception! His new ride is an EJ Holden ute, bought locally from a deceased estate, complete with super-rad, old-school canopy. A lowering job, a set of Tasman mags and some cool signwriting resulted in another instant classic.

Mick ‘Nev’ Hodgson’s ‘65 Commer was a crowd favourite. The beast is airbagged all ’round, with a triangulated four-link rear and AccuAir controls. A Mitsubishi L300 provided a much-needed driveline upgrade. “Inside is a working stripper pole, custom couch and bed for those romantic nights,” Nev said. “Paul Cundy did the paint and Jim’s Kustoms did the signwriting.”

Summernats was the maiden outing for Greg Bartlett’s pro street HQ dubbed NUTUP. A 6/71-blown 383ci small-block sits up front, matched to a ’Glide and sheet-metal 9in. Out back are gargantuan 33×19.5-15 meats. “We’ve had a good reaction from the crowd up here, so the car has served its purpose!” Greg said.

Louis Younis brought his ballistic LJ Torana to the ’Nats, enjoying the cruise route and coming away with the Engineering Excellence award in the Tuff Street judging.

Robert Spagnol kept the masses well entertained in his HR van, frying his tyres at every opportunity. Though his plans to supercharge the 6.0L LS didn’t eventuate in time, it didn’t dampen the fun. “We had an absolute ball on Saturday, going in the grass events and then turning Main Street into a burnout comp!” he laughed.

Milwaukee Street Machine of the Year winner Chad Ribbons had a massive Summernats. In the lead-up, he went without sleep to rebuild and repaint his now-famous HD ute, making it to our Thursday-night SMOTY VIP party just in time! After a well-deserved nap, Chad sorted a couple of small gremlins in time to take part in the Supercruise.

Michael Hudson’s HT Kingswood wagon was in the build for two years and was finished just a week out from ’Nats 34. He and his best mate built the whole lot in Michael’s garage. “It only left to get the tune done and the paint laid on,” he said. “It was my dream to bring it here to do the City Cruise, and that’s exactly what we did.”

“I’ve had the HK since I was 16, and we spent five years building it,” said 21-year-old Mark Bartyn. The car underwent a full resto, including a pair of mini-tubs with a 9in and carby-fed 350 Chev with AFR heads. Mark’s dad is a panel beater, so he sorted the HK’s lick of red that helped score it 2nd Top Sedan and 2nd Top Standard Paint in the Street awards.

Mark’s father Brad had his blown SBC-powered HR Holden at the ’Nats, too. He’s owned it for nearly 30 years, giving it a birthday around six months ago. “Mark and I stripped it back and gave it a fresh coat of paint, and we also fitted the new tan interior,” said Brad. “I also changed the wheels out for the Weld Magnums, because Mark and his mates kept giving me shit for being stuck in the 80s!”

“We’ve tried to build the ultimate Powercruiser,” said Damian Baker from BG Engines of this VE Commodore. Up front is a 389ci LS7, topped by an SSI 6/71 blower producing 20psi and capable of 1300hp. “It’s been finished for about three days!” said Damo. There’s an Al’s Race Glides TH400 and sheet-metal 9in behind the donk, while bodywork is courtesy of Image Conversions.”

Though many assume Damien Forbes’s XB coupe is a replica of a specific ‘70s racer, the period-style livery is actually his own design. “I always get asked, every time I get it out!” he laughed. An old-school 4v 351 Cleveland sits up front, paired to a Top Loader ‘box. “It was a factory six-cylinder Falcon 500, so that’s why we went to town on it and made this. It’s good fun and good to drive!”

Edward Sommer stuck with Holden power for his neat-as-a-pin LX Torana hatch. “It’s a standard-stroke 308 with a hydraulic cam; nothing too over-the-top” he said. “I’ve been driving it for about twelve months, but this is its first car show.” Next on Edward’s list is an LC, packing a blown 202.

Nino Arrigo has owned his Chrysler Scorpion for 34 years, recently slotting in a Cleveland-headed Windsor. The 820hp engine is backed by a Reid-cased ‘Glide and beefy 9in rear. “I got it going a few years ago for my daughter,” explained Nino. “In VCE she asked me about it, so I decided to throw some money at it and get it going for her.”

Brodie Ward put on an impressive display on Skid Row in his VL. A ProFlo-built L98 provides motivation, while Brodie did the panelwork, engine bay smoothing, transmission tunnel and shortened 9in himself. “It’s a full street car,” said Brodie. “I’ll be putting trim in it, but otherwise it’s all done.”

Lochie Carnegie built this wild W123 Mercedes for partner Jess Dencio. Originally a four-banger car, it now runs a built LS1 with 6/71 blower, Turbo 400, and a somehow-intact Mercedes diff.

“I poured all the money into the driveline and didn’t spend a cent on the car. It even uses the stock four-cylinder radiator with a thermo fan, and it hasn’t got hot!”