There are those who reckon that when Peter Brock fettled Holden’s humble Commodore into a bona fide Bathurst-winning classic in the shape of the HDT VL SS Group A, he got it spot-on. 

Then there are blokes like Shane Ross, who believe there isn’t a car on this planet that can’t be made better by inserting a blown, injected big-block.

This article on Shane Ross' 1987 HDT VL Group A SS was originally published in the March 2017 issue of Street Machine

1987 HDT VL Group A SS ExteriorThe purists hate it, but we think it’s beaut. Here’s what a genuine 1800hp HDT VL Group A looks like

If you’re the type of enthusiast who rocks an HDT hatpin and recites trim codes in your sleep, it’s likely that Shane’s Brocky has already sent you into an almighty tizz. But spare us the abusive emails, because Shane has heard it all before, and he cares not for your opinion on his car.

“Yeah, we cop it hard from the purists!” he says. “They all say: ‘How could you do that to a genuine car? You’ll destroy its value!’ The short answer is I did it because I can, and I don’t plan on selling it, so resale value isn’t important.”

1987 HDT VL SS Group A Engine BayThe firewall required modifications so the blown big-block could be slotted in. Massive custom headers with 2.5in primaries whisk away 1800hp worth of spent gasses

Shane isn’t running around hacking up classic Commodores willy-nilly, though. “I can appreciate original cars, too. I have a VL Walkinshaw that’s all original, with a genuine 1000km on the clock. It hasn’t been registered since the 90s. I’ve also got another Walky that’s tubbed with a 1000hp turbo LS motor!”

In fairness to Shane, MRGRPA had already been messed with by the time he bought it. It kicked around the scene for many years with a tough 355ci Holden motor, custom trim and big-diameter Simmons wheels. That’s what it was like 10-or-so years ago when Shane bought the car.

1987 HDT VL Group A SS BootThe fuel cell is huge, and for good reason. MRGRPA drank a monumental 96 litres of methanol in one lap of the 2.96km Gold Coast 600 circuit. That equates to over 3000 litres per 100km!

“I wanted to change it up and make it my own, so we put an 8/71-blown LS motor in it,” he explains. “We had some dramas with it, so eventually I decided to pull it off the road and build the craziest Brocky around.”

If ‘crazy’ was the design brief, then Shane and his team have excelled. The car rolls on 22-inch Simmons FRs all ’round, with the rear tyres measuring in at a massive 295/25/22. It makes for a considerable grip on the earth, but that counts for nothing when Shane stomps on the gas, the butterflies on the Enderle Big & Ugly injector hat swing open, and the 540-cube big-block begins to sing the song of its people.

1987 HDT VL SS Group A InteriorTrim FX was responsible for the custom black leather and suede retrim, which picks up the exterior colour in the stitchingand embroidery.

Assembled by Russell Jones Race Engines, the motor runs a Crower 4340+B crank, Carrillo Pro H rods and JE pistons. The camshaft is a custom grind, while a Barnes four-stage oil pump keeps the whole show nicely lubed. Heads are CNC-ported AFR 345s, topped with an Indy blower manifold, Littlefield 14/71 pump and the aforementioned Enderle hat, running EFI metered by a MoTeC M800.

How much power does it make? An utter shit-ton – 1836hp on 27psi at the crank, to be precise. “The dyno operator said it would make 2000hp all day with a pulley change, but what’s the point?” Shane says.

1987 HDT VL SS Group A GloveboxThe glovebox lid features the genuine HDT build number along with the signatures of Craig Lowndes, Jamie Whincup and Shane Van Gisbergen.

The bulletproof drivetrain includes a Protrans-built Pro Outlaw Powerglide and 35-spline nine-inch diff, linked by a single-piece chrome-moly tailshaft.

Styling-wise – aside from the obvious – it’s still all very much as Peter Perfect prescribed, with factory HDT body kit and livery. One subtle change, however, is the move away from the factory Permanent Red paint in favour of Durif Red, which was standard on the later HSV VN Group A SS. Sydney Prestige Autobody is responsible for applying the duco, and Shane prefers it on account of it being slightly darker than the factory hue.

1987 HDT VL SS Group A BrakesEven behind 22in Simmons wheels, the XYZ brakes look enormous. HDT-emblazoned calipers are a nice touch

The interior still retains a factory flavour thanks to the Scheel buckets, standard cluster and HDT steering wheel, but it’s been treated to a black leather and suede retrim by Trim FX, and significantly modernised in the process. Other additions include a B&M Pro Bandit shifter, Auto Meter tacho and leather panelling on the floors.

For Shane, a big highlight of owning the car was the opportunity to belt the tyres off it on the streets of Surfers Paradise at the 2016 Gold Coast 600. “It was such an awesome experience,” he says. “I enjoyed it so much that I’m building a VF GTS for the event next year so I don’t have to beat up on the VL so much. It’ll look like a brand-new car, just with a big blower through the bonnet.”

1987 HDT VL Group A SS Exterior
These days Shane is busy with the running of his MONSTR Clothing business and doesn’t get many opportunities to drive the VL, but despite having another project on the go, it isn’t going anywhere.

“Put it this way: I’ve owned some big-horsepower cars in my time, and this is by far the scariest car I’ve driven in my life; it’s another world,” he says. “My 1000hp Walky is a piece of shit compared to this thing. The adrenaline is still pumping long after you get out of it. It always puts a smile on your face, that’s for sure!”

Durif Red

1987 HDT VL SS Group A Engine
Brand: 500ci Chev big-block
Induction: Indy blower manifold, Enderle injector hat
ECU: MoTeC M800
Blower: Littlefield 14/71
Heads: AFR 345, CNC-ported
Carrillo Pro H
Crower 4340
Oil pump:
Barnes four-stage
Fuel system:
Enderle 990-1 pump
Custom PWR radiator
Custom 2.5in headers, twin 4in exhaust
MoTeC CDI, MSD distributor

1987 HDT VL SS Group A Interior
Protrans Pro Outlaw Powerglide
Converter: Coan Racing 4000rpm billet
Diff: 9in, 35-spline axles, 3.5:1 gears

1987 HDT VL Group A SS rear
Springs & shocks:
Coil-overs (f & r)
XYZ discs and calipers (f & r)
Master cylinder:

1987 HDT VL SS Group A Brakes
Simmons FR; 22x8.5 (f), 22x10.5 (r)
Falken 235/25/22 (f), Sumitomo 295/25/22 (r)

Hi-Torque Performance for managing the build; Dallas from Hi-Torque for ongoing maintenance and help whenever it’s needed; Chris from Trim FX; Sydney Prestige Autobody; Russell Jones Race Engines; Marshy, Stoney and Ryan from MONSTR Clothing; little Pommy dude from C Gleam Auto Detailing; my wife Alexandra for letting me fill up the garage and for all her support; Northside Wheels & Tyres for keeping up tyres to the car; CUTSIK for always being a pest and keen for a bender; Jamie Whincup’s car wash for magically turning the car from a shitbox into this in five minutes; Kent and Matt Mingay for getting us on the track for the GC 600 to do pre-race entertainment.

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