IF YOU like cruising, you could do worse than hang out with James Crawford – he loves it. At first glance you might think his HG looks a bit showy for the street, but twin bench seats and a boot-mounted Esky are testament to this tough streeter’s cruising pedigree.
James is a chippy from Mooroopna in northern Victoria, and this is his first project car. He’s understandably “pretty happy” with how it all came out; as is often the case with builds, things were never meant to get this serious.
“The original plan was to get an old cruiser and have a nice engine in it,” James says. “I always wanted an HG or an EH. We looked at a few Prems and then this Kingswood came along and it was absolutely knackered. So we had to do a full resto on it and we went a bit different to original. I’m glad we did now.”
James purchased the HG about six years ago at the ripe old age of 18, and spent the next four of those years bringing it back from the dead. Progress was slow, due to his modest apprentice-wage budget and the fact that a lot of the work was done by James, his dad Rod and brother Trent in their spare time. “My old man did a lot of the rust work around the windows and a little bit in the boot,” James says. “My brother is a panel beater by trade; he straightened it out and got the body ready for another mate who’s a painter.”
Shot over a silver base, the Laser Red paint is then covered with a tinted pearl-red clear to give it a stunning glow
That mate is Anthony Williams, and James has him to thank for the outstanding result. “I originally wanted candy apple, but in the dark it doesn’t look as good,” James says. “So we shot the red over a silver base and then we used a tinted pearl-red clear to give it that real glow. In the dark you still get the hint of a nice metallic red and then when you get it out in the sun it’s a lot brighter and fresher than the candy apple red.”
A lot of time went into the engine bay. If it couldn't be hidden, it was painted, polished or chromed
The beautification isn’t just skin-deep. Pop the bonnet and you might be blinded by all the smooth deep red, polished alloy and shiny chrome. “Less is more was the main plan,” James says, “just try and delete everything we can’t hide.” The results are stunning, yet still practical. The car runs a 12-volt electric heater under the dash for demisting. ”It works better than I thought it would,” James says. “It actually does heat the car up!”
James likes the look and practicality of the Buckskin-coloured vinyl twin benches
It’s more of the same on the inside, with the twin benches receiving an update with a buckskin-coloured vinyl. James liked the fact that it was cheaper than leather and is nice and easy to clean. The twin benches are a nod both to practicality and James’s appreciation of the aesthetic. “I thought it would be a better idea for cruising,” he says. “Obviously you can fit more people in and I like the look of the two benches. It keeps the symmetry of the front and back.”
James was motivated to tidy up the boot after a rather auspicious invitation. “Owen Webb gave me a call and said I could come to MotorEx,” he says. “So I thought I’d better pull my finger out and deck the boot out.” A later addition was the boot-mounted Esky. “We went to Bright Rod Run and thought: ‘We need to put some beers somewhere.’ So we put an Esky hole in. It was a good idea!”
The perfectly proportioned flap in the boot floor fits the average Esky - just the thing for hauling cool beverages while cruising
This build was a family affair, so, just for a laugh, James got a mate to create a custom logo for the steering wheel to celebrate the partnership. “I got a friend who’s a signwriter to make a little ‘Crawf’s Customs’ sticker for the steering wheel,” James says. “I measured it up for him and he came back with that. It’s nice and small so no one really notices but we know it’s there so it’s a bit of a laugh.”
James created the emblem on the steering wheel as a tribute to his family team that built the car
There’s plenty of go to match the show. The 350 Chevy small-block runs an Eagle crank and rods, JE forged flat-top pistons, iron 882 heads and an Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap manifold topped with a 650cfm Holley. An MSD Pro-Billet dizzy lights the fire, while a hydraulic flat-tappet cam and Manley heavy-duty pushrods make sure everything works in time. Mumbo feeds through an old two-speed Powerglide running a 2800rpm stall converter into a shortened 10-bolt Borg Warner diff. An Aussie Desert Cooler radiator keeps things cool, while a set of Pacemaker headers feed through the custom 2.5-inch exhaust.
A set of lowered King Springs gets the old Kingy sitting right, and she pulls up in time thanks to a set of PBR slotted discs and calipers. Big discs need big wheels, and James chose a set of Intro V-Rod billets – 18 inches up front and 19 out back.
Despite the fact that HG Holdens came out of the factory with small-block Chevys, James had some trouble when it came time for rego and had to get an engineer certification post-build. It seems that because the Chevy mouse motor wasn’t a factory option on a Kingswood, the VicRoads computer system said no. “That’s the stupid thing, the chassis is the exact same,” James says. “It was a pain at the time, but in hindsight it’s probably good because I’ve got the shortened diff, it’s been lowered and I’ve got the bigger wheels and he signed all that off as well. So if the cops pull me over it’s all good.”
And with that boot-mounted Esky, who could argue that it isn’t, indeed, all good?