FROM the 17-inch Rallye-look billet wheels and thumping 355 stroker Holden V8 under the bonnet, to the factory-style interior and ice-cold two-tone paint, Ludger Gerritsen’s 1959 FC station sedan (they didn’t call ’em wagons back then) has something everyone can appreciate. It cruises with a tough thump, but could also fit in at any early Holden show.
This article was first published in the March 2014 issue of Street Machine
It wasn’t always so rosy for the ’59 long-roof, though. “I bought the car in May 2007 from a young guy in Cronulla,” Ludger says. “I’ve always loved old Holdens, especially wagons, and I thought it would be a great daily driver.”
Fast-forward to 2009 and the Central Coast photographer was hunting around for someone who could give the 50-year-old machine a bit of a birthday. “I met a guy who had an HR done by a bloke in Penrith, so I went down and checked out his garage. It all looked good, so I told him I wanted the engine bay tidied up and that didn’t seem to be a problem.”
As is normally the way, though, an ‘engine bay tidy-up’ soon blew out to a full-on restoration of the body, which is where the trouble started.
“He tore it down, but after a few months the communication was getting difficult,” Ludger says. “I was leaving messages and getting no response. Then he finally called me and told me he was closing down the business. I asked about my car and he told me he was over it and if I had a problem he would just roll all my shit out on the street.”
While some would’ve been bummed out, having flushed a year and a bunch of money down the toilet, Ludger took the FC up to Newcastle to keep the build rolling. “The car found its way up to Dean Gough from Kranky Kustoms. He had quite the job ahead of him, getting a whole FC wagon in boxes.”
The cargo area rocks sweet period-style dark blue vinyl from Stitched Up Custom Trim, which has trimmed a few Chop Shop projects. Ludger isn’t afraid of using the wagon as Holden intended, with a packed Esky living in there during Summernats
The shell was sent to abrasive-blasting specialists Restoprep Imperial Blasting in the Newcastle suburb of Beresfield, before the extensive repair work began. It took Gough two years, but eventually he had the wagon looking fresher than ever. But Ludger wasn’t out of the woods yet.
“Just as the car was being finished off, Kranky Kustoms closed down,” he sighs. Yep, as if having to deal with one shop going under during the build wasn’t bad enough, it happened again. “I couldn’t believe it – we had just pulled the grey motor out and were in the process of fitting the V8. I was very happy with the work that was done at Kranky, but unfortunately I had to move on.”
The wagon sat for a few months before Ludger contacted Laurie Starling from The Chop Shop, whose workshop was only a few kilometres away.
“After meeting with Laurie, I knew this was the right place to send the car. They all made me feel welcome straight away and they took the FC to a whole new level. They took my ideas combined with theirs and created exactly what I wanted.”
That awesome steering wheel is actually an eBay purchase. Originally it was a 1950s Chev wheel, which was cut down and repainted, but it suits the look of the FC wagon perfectly
The Chop Shop boys made a new transmission tunnel to fit a Turbo 350 auto, mounted the iron lion V8 up front and made it drive sweetly.
The injected 304 was rebuilt into a stout 355 stroker, packed with COME Racing crank, VN heads, CamTech cam and lifters, forged pistons, I-beam Scat rods, Crane pushrods and valve springs, and a JP oil pump. This tough combo is topped with a Harrop intake manifold, a Holley 750 single-plane carb, those sweet custom rocker covers and finned air-filter housing.
Because early Holden engine bays are anything but spacious, Aaron and Murray at The Chop Shop had to build a custom sump and a full custom exhaust system, starting with long-branch extractors flowing down into a twin 2½-inch system and X-pipe, finished off with Magnaflow mufflers.
Fitting an HR front end put the car streets ahead of the old FC king-pin set-up, and it benefited further from a Commodore rack-and-pinion steering system (allowing more room for the V8), which was connected to the Ididit column.
Braking is handled by a Wilwood master cylinder acting on a VL disc set-up in front, and a VS Commodore disc set-up out back.
Stitched Up Custom Trim in Tuggerah handled the trim, which at first glance looks like it is stock. Similarly, the 17×7 and 17×8 American Racing billet wheels perfectly suit the ‘period-plus’ style that takes what could be a stock machine and adds a slightly modern, individual tweak.
The custom console features Auto Meter oil and water gauges, along with a tacho – something Holden never thought to provide originally. The B&M ratchet shifter is the only modern touch
Ludger is quick to credit The Chop Shop for this and he’s having a ball now that he’s able to finally drive the car – including a trouble-free round trip to Summernats.
“These guys have created something for me that is more than the car I’ve always wanted; it’s become a connection,” Ludger says. “Laurie, Aaron, Murray and Ryan at The Chop Shop really do make dreams come true.”
1959 HOLDEN FC STATION SEDAN
Colour: Spies Hecker custom blue and white
Engine: Holden 304
Crank: COME Racing
Carburettor: Holley 750 single-plane
Cooling: Aussie Desert Cooler, twin 12-inch thermo fans
Exhaust: Custom extractors, custom twin 2½-inch, twin Magnaflow mufflers
Transmission: Turbo 350
Diff: Salisbury 10-bolt, Tru-Track, 3.45:1 gears
Front: HR crossmember
Brakes: VL discs (f), VS discs (r), Wilwood master cylinder
Rear: Leaf springs
Steering: Commodore rack-and-pinion, Ididit column
Wheels: American Racing billets, 17×7 (f), 17×8 (r)
Tyres: Nexen 205/40 (f), 225/50 (r)
Laurie, Aaron, Murray and Ryan from The Chop Shop, Stitched Up Custom Trim, Kranky Customs