Retrotech 1958 Holden station sedan

Chris Kane's classic Holden has all the works and jerks, not to mention an injected 383ci stroker

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

THEY reckon everything old is new again, and Chris Kane’s FC station sedan is certainly a case in point. It may have been manufactured in 1958 but Chris has essentially remanufactured it, and in the process crammed it so full of present-day niceties that’s it’s on par with most modern metal in the creature comfort stakes.

This article on Chris’s FC Holden was first published in the April 2013 issue of Street Machine

The 16×5 and 18×71/2½ Colorado Custom Sugar City wheels are the perfect fit for the retrotech image. Even though the rear end of the wagon is mini-tubbed, the 235/55-18 hoops are still a tight fit, but the stance is spot on

But the design brief wasn’t all air con and automatic headlights — the car had to go, stop and steer like it was built last year too. It needed monster grunt whilst maintaining clockwork reliability, plenty of attitude while also being easy to live with on a day-to-day basis. Visually, a contemporary bent was deemed necessary, but not at the expense of the old-world Holden charm that is so endearing in the model.

“From the outset I wanted to build a true retrotech that still had an old school look but was loaded with high-tech gear,” Chris said. “From the EFI engine to the auto lighting it’s a pleasure to drive, just like a Commodore. It had to not only be nice to drive but also simple to drive. I have a couple of other cars with the same kind of features, and it makes them easier to live with than your average ‘shitbox with a shine’.”

Chris bought the car because he had an engine, gearbox and diff kicking around the shed that were originally destined for another project. Because all that gear was brand new and complete with all the fruit, Chris decided not to sell it all off, instead opting to build another car around it.

“The wagon was a dream base for the project — a one-owner car that had been stored on a farm for 10 years,” he said. “It was totally complete, so I didn’t have to chase any parts, and it had a great body.”

A quick glance at the list of modifications under the car leaves little doubt as to how serious Chris was about getting the wagon to sit on the road like a new one. It runs along on a V6 Conversions independent front end with VZ Commodore stub axles, hubs and disc brakes — the stuff of engineers’ fevered dreams back in the 50s. Steering duties are handled by a VP power rack, whilst AVO coil-overs keep the front wheels on the deck.

At the back it’s similarly businesslike, with an extended chassis and a four-link wearing Strange coil-overs and a 3.9:1 nine-inch with Moser axles and VS Commodore disc brakes.

The EFI engine can also trace its roots back to a Commodore, though its state of tune is a long way from the mass-produced 165kW, 304ci mill.

These days it’s a 383-cuber and a nice torquey one at that. It serves the FC well, considering that it only carries about two-thirds of the donor car’s mass. “It’s a weapon out on the open road and a really good cruiser too,” Chris confirms.

Stunningly presented and colour-coded engine bay houses a stout 383ci stroker. After fine-tuning the suspension over winter, Chris plans to prove its mettle out on the race track

The engine is based around a COME rotating assembly, a set of Nathan Higgins-fettled heads with oversized valves and a Crane hydraulic stick.

The EFI system manages to maintain the desired old-school vibe under the bonnet.

It’s essentially an Edelbrock 1600cfm throttlebody atop a Harrop manifold, and while it’s controlled by the stock VT sensors and ECU — albeit with upgraded injectors — it presents visually like a traditional carburettor set-up.

The all-important cargo area has ample space for luggage despite a pair of Hertz subwoofers, both of which are driven by an Audison amp

“It’s extremely reliable; it’s just a matter of jumping in and turning the key. It behaves very well in traffic and runs cooler in the city than it does on the open road. It hasn’t given me any hassles,” Chris said.

When it came to dealing with the aesthetics, well Chris is a panel beater and part-owner of Winfield Automotive Services. His business partner, Chris Miller, owns the blown LS2-powered Cobra we featured in January (’14).

The head unit in the fold-down armrest is a masterstroke, and it’s the command station for much of the car’s techno-gadgetry. There are stacks of billet jewellery and a tasteful leather re-trim too

Naturally, Chris did a great deal of the bodywork himself, carrying out a host of mods such as the single-piece bumpers with shaved overriders, shaved handles and fuel door, ’56 T-Bird bonnet scoop and filled cowl vent, but says that he owes a lot to all the boys in the shop who took a real interest in the project and helped out immensely.

“The paint shop spent a lot of time getting the colour combination right. It was originally going to be green and cream but I’m very happy with where we ended up — three-layer Pearl Magnolia and Cherry Black. It was a really good communication piece at work and all the boys got involved.”

Aside from being beautifully trimmed by Sunshine Trimming, the cabin features myriad electronic tricks and mod cons, including Vintage Air a/c, which meant shifting the firewall forward 2in in order to accommodate the hardware. There’s also central locking, remote door poppers, satellite navigation, reversing cameras, and a beaut stereo with DVD capabilities and phone connectivity.

The standard bench seat was retained but now features the centre fold-down armrest from a VS Statesman rear bench. Aside from providing cruising comfort, that also houses the Kenwood source unit that controls the entertainment system. It’s a beaut idea, keeping the dash uncluttered and the tech bits hidden from view when desired.

Chris often cruises the car locally and even occasionally drives it to work, and though the show scene isn’t really his bag, it’s proven extremely popular wherever he parks it.

“I have other cars — including a blown and injected ’36 five-window coupe that was seven years in the build — that are a lot more full-on and just as neat that don’t generate anywhere near as much interest as the FC!”


Colour: Custom three-layer Pearl Magnolia/Cherry Black

Brand: Holden V8, 383ci
Induction: Harrop inlet manifold, Edelbrock 1600cfm throttlebody, Holden supercharged V6 injectors, VT Commodore loom and ECU
Heads: Modified by Nathan Higgins, oversized valves
Camshaft: Crane hydraulic
Conrods: COME Racing
Pistons: CP forged
Crank: COME Racing stroker
Oil pump: Modified Holden
Fuel system: Bosch
Cooling: Aussie Desert Cooler radiator
Exhaust: Custom Hi Tech headers, custom twin 2½in system

Gearbox: Turbo 400
Converter: 3800rpm TCE
Diff: Nine-inch, 3.9:1 gears, Moser biller axles

Springs & shocks: AVO coil-overs (f), Strange coil-overs (r)
Brakes: VZ Commodore discs & calipers (f), VS discs & calipers (r)
Master cylinder: VZ one-tonner
Steering: VP power rack & pinion

Rims: Colorado Custom Sugar City wheels 16×5 (f), 18×7½ (r)
Rubber: Excelsior 165/80-16 (f), Mayrun 235/55-18 (r)

No Limits for designing and installing a fantastic system; MKAL Automotive for electrical design and initial set-up; Dave Dinatale for electrical problem solving; the staff at the shop; GV Automotive for pulleys, brackets and general problem solving; Norm, Aussie Desert Cooler; Ray and Barb at TCR