Danny Cachia's Holden HJ Statesman is a 700hp big block-powered lounge room
This article on Danny's HJ Statesman was originally published in the January 2013 issue of Street Machine magazine
DESPITE occasional shreds of evidence to the contrary, some blokes are staunch believers in the age-old adage that bigger is better. Danny Cachia has owned around half a dozen road-going Statesmans in his time and is a sucker for their distinctive drawn-out lines, particularly when they’re dumped into the weeds.
He nabbed this one out of the Trading Post as a mild streeter some 16 years ago but amazingly, despite the fact that at various times it’s been fitted with a 308, a tough small-block Chev and then a 454ci big-block, it has only hit the tarmac in the past 12 months.
“It’s been pulled apart and put back together several times but eventually I decided that a big car needs a big-block. I’ve had the engine in a couple of other cars and it really suits the Statesman because it’s got a stack of torque,” he says. “It makes over 700hp but the car is still a really nice thing to drive. In fact, with the big lazy 454, power steering, comfy seats and fast glass, it’s almost a bit boring!”
The underside is serious for what is essentially a street car. It sits on a three-quarter chassis with a four-link, coil-overs and a braced 31-spline 9in, with big tubs to clear the 12in Center Line Qualifiers and 325/50/15 Mickey T radials.
“Street & Strip did the rear end for me many years ago, though I’ve modified it since,” Danny explains. “They kept the four-link extremely short because I wanted to retain the back seat, but it still hooks up really well. There’s enough room underneath it for 15in-wide tyres but they look a little bit too full-on for the street, and the 12s offer plenty of traction.”
The base of the rear bench still had to be modified to clear the tubs but it allowed Danny to retain the factory flavour in the cockpit and as the Stato boasted a well-appointed interior from the factory, he saw no need to reinvent the wheel. All the trim was reconditioned in factory beige leather, and the comfy Caprice armchairs perfectly suit the car’s intended purpose as a cruiser.
A pair of Auto Meter carbon-fibre gauges are perched out on the cowl and a matching tacho is mounted to the column behind the GTS tiller, while a B&M Quicksilver shifter has been integrated into the factory console. More modern switchgear neatly replaces the factory audio unit, and a half-’cage overhead supplies a touch of race car attitude.
“When I bought the car, a couple of electric windows didn’t work, so I’ve had all the motors rebuilt and now it all works a treat. The only things that don’t work are the stereo and the heater — because they’ve been removed.”
The interior might be the epitome of 1970s luxury but when Danny stabs the throttle there’s no mistaking the thunderous rasp and instantaneous forward thrust that can only be the work of a big-block.
“Tony from Speed Works did the motor. He’s built several for me over the years and I’ve never had a drama with any of them; he does a great job.”
The 717hp 454 runs a fully forged rotating assembly and alloy Pro Topline heads, which were ported by Speed Works and equipped with Manley valves. A solid roller cam boasting 0.715in lift keeps the engine on song all the way to 7500rpm, while the 12:1 compression ratio means Danny can still fill the custom alloy fuel cell straight from the pump.
A 1090cfm King Demon carb dumps considerable volumes of air/fuel mixture into the engine via an Edelbrock Super Victor manifold, while a set of custom headers with 2¼in primaries fish the spent gases back out and pipe them to the rear through a twin three-inch system.
When it came time to ensure that the engine looked every bit as tough as it performs, Danny prepared quite a shopping list and spared little in the way of expense. The March Performance catalogue got a workout, supplying a black powdercoated billet engine pulley and bracket set, 130amp billet alternator and billet power steering pump case. There’s also a Meziere billet electric water pump, ceramic-coated inlet manifold and headers, and black GMPP rocker covers to round things out.
“I’m quite happy with how the engine bay came up,” Danny says. “It’s neat but understated; I don’t like too much bling.”
With the exception of the bonnet, which now runs a 6in reverse cowl scoop in order to clear the K&N Xstream air filter, the paint pre-dates Danny’s 16-year ownership and is doing quite well for its age, especially considering that the car now gets used regularly.
“It’s not an everyday car but I do use it as often as I can, doing cruises and shows. I haven’t raced it yet as it’s a bit lazy out of the hole and really wants a bigger converter but I hope to get it to the track in a couple of weeks.”
Despite the monumental 16-year build and the fact that he quite enjoys driving the car, Danny’s decided it might be time to move on.
“The kids are spewing because they love the Statesman but I’ve got a 464ci LS-series motor in the works at the moment which is just begging to be put in an LX hatch or an HK Monaro, and I need the cash for that project.”