Lift the bonnet on Jason Fuller’s stunning period-sensitive Holden FB to reveal a sweat, injected bent eight
This article on Jason’s Holden FB was originally published in the August 2013 issue of Street Machine
WHEN retrotech builds started to become popular (20-odd years ago now!) the trend was to let people know about all the high-tech effort you had gone to. That meant modern rims, dashboard conversions and late-model shifters giving everyone a good idea of what might lie under the bonnet.
These days, the trend has swung towards what the Yanks call ‘newstalgia’, with most factory styling cues left in place and mods taking more of a hot rod bent. That means keeping the technology out of sight — just as Jason Fuller has done with his FB Holden.
Jason started with a Holden HG wagon build modelled on a Ryan Carter Expression Session illo (Surfer Wagon, Jun ’07). He found a pranged VN HSV T30 as a donor car, nabbed the 180kW 5.0-litre driveline and sold off the rest for what he paid for the wreck. Good work.
But after a great start, he found that the wagon was riddled with rust, so the idea was abandoned and he went looking for a replacement. What he found was an unfinished project FB.
“It was already painted the same colours I was going to paint the HG and had a V6 Conversions front end set up for a V8 swap, as well as a bunch of parts.”
Work began straight away; the chrome was sent off to be reconditioned and the diff shipped away to be shortened and rebuilt. Not being a fan of the headers-through-the-guards look that’s typical of many early Holden V8 conversions, Jason and some mates fabbed a set of log-style headers for the job. He also sourced a set of Classic Instruments gauges to suit a ’57 Chev, combining speedo, tacho, fuel level, water temp, oil pressure and volt gauges into three instruments, all of which happen to slot straight into a stock FB cluster.
Good progress was being made until Jason quit his job to start up his own business and found himself a little time-poor.
“A good mate of mine — Garth Hannaford — had started up Rusty’s Rod & Custom, so I asked if he would take over the build,” Jason explains.
Garth got stuck in, spraying the underside of the car in flat black, and the diff, springs and XF ute fuel tank in gloss black. He also modified the tank for a Bosch in-tank fuel pump and the sender for the Classic Instruments gauge. The boot then copped a modified spare wheel well to suit the 16in spare, as well as a false floor, subwoofer mount and a battery box.
Garth yanked the non-collapsible column from the car and replaced it with a new chrome Ididit tilt-adjustable and collapsible column, fitted with a Billet Specialties Classic tiller.
The brief for the engine bay was to clean it up and make it look like the engine was so devoid of wiring that it shouldn’t run. “We also discussed doing something different with the intake manifold as I wanted it to look more old-school than modern,” Jason says.
A number of ideas, including quad Webers and a single four-barrel were tossed about, but keeping the EFI was deemed preferable, and the trumpet look was also favoured. Eventually an Injection Perfection eight-throttlebody manifold was settled on, for another perfect fusion of old-school looks and new-school performance.
“When we showed Garth the log-style headers we made, he said: ‘Get rid of them — we can do better than that!’” Jason laughs. “He fabricated a set of custom extractors to tuck down on each side of the motor, which is no mean feat, having to contend with the steering shaft on the driver’s side — they really are a work of art.”
Garth is also responsible for the 2¼-inch exhaust system.
Then the motor was lifted from the car and every hole was welded and smoothed. VN Commodore bonnet hinges were heavily modified, with cantilever brackets tucked inside the guards and gas struts to hold the bonnet up, while the wiper motor, brake booster and master cylinder were all banished from view. The engine was painted and fitted with the beaut new manifold before it was again mounted in the car, backed by a Turbo 350 auto that came with the FB deal.
Daniel at Unique Marine & Auto Upholstery decked the car out in period-correct tuck and roll vinyl trim. Less period-correct (but invisible) is the layer of Dynamat underneath it all, but it makes the cabin a much more pleasant environment to travel in.
When it came to the all-important decision of rolling stock, several avenues were fully explored and the car wore a number of different sets of wheels, including stock HQ steelies and B45 Simmons, before Jason finally settled on a set of American Racing Salt Flat Specials fitted with whitewalls. It’s a real masterstroke which gives the FB a definitive 60s hot rod look.
After months of hard slog, the car was completed in the nick of time for one of the most competitive car shows on earth — his niece’s high school formal.
“We put the plates on one hour before I was due to pick her up,” he grins. “I jumped in the car and drove for 45 minutes to her house. Garth was following with a truck full of tools in case anything went wrong but the car performed faultlessly and I got her to the formal on time, with massive smiles on both our faces.”