Blown EFI V8-powered 1964 Holden EH

Justin Gardner only wanted a quick rebuild. His mates had other ideas

Photographers: Tony Rabbitte

THEY sure don’t make ’em like they used to. Sadly, it’s the age of disposable cars, and for someone to hang onto a vehicle for longer than a couple of years before moving on to the next soulless piece of plastic is no longer commonplace.

This article on Justin’s EH Holden was first published in the April 2011 issue of Street Machine

As a professional detailer, Justin took delivery of the shell with the paint straight off the gun and put the finishing touches on the duco himself. The body is as smooth as, with shaved fuel filler, badges and dogleg moulds

But Justin Gardner knows that the bond between man and machine only strengthens as the years wear on. His oldies bought him this EH for his 16th birthday and now he’s 30. Maths isn’t our hot topic but even we can see that’s almost half his mortal years.

“I was living in Jindabyne at the time, and we got wind of an EH for sale in Cooma,” he says.

White, with a 179, three-on-the-tree and red and black vinyl interior, the EH was deemed suitable and brought to Jindy, where it was promptly put on the receiving end of a pair of twin carbies and a set of extractors. An M21 four-speed ’box and a triple-carbed, nitrous-snorting 192ci six cylinder followed, and the EH was suddenly pretty rapid.

But the problem with power is that if some is good, then more must be better, right?

Six weeks out from Summernats 17, Justin and crew decided that a quick rebuild was in order, and a patchy purple paint job ensued. But Summernats only confirmed what Justin already knew — the car needed a V8.

“We were going to just put a five-litre in it but by then Dad and I had started a detailing business called Detail FX and had been working on some of the best street and elite cars in the country, like Aaron Fitzpatrick’s Datsun 1600Peter Fitzpatrick’s FCMick Fabar’s RAWR, and Howard Astill’s ’63 Fairlane.”

Apart from the front rails, every piece in the engine bay, including the firewall, inner guards and radiator support panel, was fabricated by Trevor Marshall. Justin elected to route the extractors through the guards, rather than fit block huggers: “With big 1 7/8in primaries, it would be a very tight bend to make them fit inside the guards and besides, I like the drag-type look”

You can’t spend that much time around those cars — and perhaps more importantly, the blokes who own them — without it changing your concept of what constitutes a tidy car.

‘Influence’ isn’t just a pretty face — it goes and stops plenty hard too. And with a triangulated four-link rear and custom front end, it’s also engineered for the twisty stuff

“Yep, Fitzy’s been a big influence on the build. He basically encouraged us to cut the shit out of it!” Justin says.

Not content to simply encourage, the grinder-wielding six-time Summernats Grand Champion was directly responsible for taking the EH past the point of no return.

To clear the blower, a custom radiator was fabricated and mounted further forward. It had to be big as the block is partly grout filled. All wiring, brackets and factory flaws are long gone, and panels were fabricated to cover up the front guard bolts

“We wanted to install an under-dash pedal box assembly but couldn’t get it to fit properly. Fitzy lent us a hand and 15 minutes later there wasn’t much left from the windscreen forward!”

These days the EH is a veritable showstopper, and tough to boot. Justin’s got a V8 but it’s a bit healthier than what he originally planned. The 355-cube Holden runs a COME billet crank, Carrillo rods and SRP forgies, and it’s topped with a set of Dyno Dave Bennett’s finest CNC-ported dash-9 alloy heads and a COME EFI manifold.

Such bulletproof components are bolted in place because, strapped to the passenger side of the engine, a Vortech V7 pump is trying to blow the house down.

“Jake [Edwards, of Jake’s Performance] estimates that it should be good for around 800hp. It has the best of everything. Performance Street & Marine bolted it together and they know how to build a tough motor. It’s been tuned to run on methanol at the moment but on the street we’ll run E85.”

But this car’s about so much more than pure performance credentials. A great deal of its outward appeal comes down to that killer stance. Once again, Mr Fitzpatrick is partly to blame.

“I was just going to mini-tub it but Pete said: ‘Stuff it — you might as well go full tubs.’”

With that done, all that remained was to stuff them with billet alloy wheels — 20×11 Intro Hammers in this case, wrapped in 305/25/20 hoops. There’s 205/40/18 rubber on the matching 18×7 fronts.

All-steel custom dash and console are super-neat; the carpet covering the flat floors is top quality stuff, sourced from Germany. Billet accessories include the B&M shifter, Billet Specialties tiller and handbrake

Under the arse there’s a triangulated four-link with Strange coil-overs cradling a 31-spline nine-inch, while the front has something way neater than the usual HR crossmember.

“Heath from Southern Cross Chassis built a custom stainless crossmember, custom A-arms and spindles for the car, and it also has big disc brakes with Wilwood six-piston calipers at both ends,” Justin says.

How about that sensational House Of Kolor Brandywine paint? It was laid down by skilled painter Trevor Davis but only after George at JD’s Panelbeating & Custom Restos spent 600 hours massaging the car into shape. The fuel filler, badges and dogleg moulds were shaved, while under the bonnet it’d be quicker to point out the sheet metal that wasn’t custom built.

The interior is equally sensational, with flat floors, customised and lavishly retrimmed VX SS seats, Auto Meter instruments and billet furnishings. But it’s the custom dash and centre console that are the real highlights.

“I was going to leave the dash as it was but with all the other mods, I thought I might as well do something with it. AJ is a gun sheet-metal worker, so we got him on the job. I wanted something that stayed with the old style, so the sheet-metal dash follows the shape of the old dash pad.”

The car has turned up at three shows so far, and it’s scored an impressive trophy haul. You’d think that’s what Justin set out to achieve but it’s not the case.

“Honestly, because of working on Pete and Aaron’s cars I never wanted to build an elite machine,” he says. “The car has ute liner material sprayed underneath, so if I want to do a skid it won’t stuff anything. Then Street Elite popped up and that’s what we aimed for, but we got a Superstars invite at Melbourne and made the Top 20 at Summernats, which we really weren’t expecting. I’ll show it for a year or so and then I’ll start taking it out. I’ll go and have a bit of fun in it — that’s the aim.”

Fitzy and a lot of Justin’s other friends and family members were strong influences in the build, so he thought it was only right that he should name the EH ‘Influence’.

“The car was built by family and friends, and now it’s done we can all enjoy it together.”


Colour: HOK Brandywine

Brand: Holden 355ci V8
Induction: COME inlet manifold, 90mm throttlebody
Blower: Vortech V7
Injection: ID2000
Heads: Dave Bennett CNC-ported dash-9 alloy
Camshaft: Billet roller
Conrods: Carrillo
Pistons: SRP forged
Crank: COME billet
Oil pump: JP high volume
Sump: High Energy
Fuel system: Twin SX pumps, plus lift pump
Cooling: PWR radiator
Exhaust: Custom headers, dual 3.5in system, Hooker mufflers
Ignition: ICE ignition, Jake’s Performance dizzy, MSD leads
ECU: Vipec

Gearbox: Hugo’s Powerglide, TCE 4500rpm converter
Diff: Nine-inch, 3.7:1 Strange centre, 31-spline Moser axles

Suspension: Southern Cross Chassis crossmember, Afco coil-overs (f) triangulated four-link, Strange coil-overs (r)
Brakes: DBA 360mm rotors, Wilwood six-piston calipers (f) DBA 340mm rotors, Wilwood six-piston calipers (r)

Rims: Intro Hammer, 18×7 (f) 20×11 (r)
Rubber: 205/40/18 (f) 305/25/20 (r)

Fang, Mum, Que, Chloe, Jabba, Gambo, Brownie, Bear, Pete & Aaron Fitzpatrick, Trevor ‘AJ’ Marshall, Trev, Dave, George, Bevan from Trevor Davis Auto Refinishers, Trims by Shaun, Hoges from Performance Street & Marine, Benny Phillip Radiators, House Of Kolor, Meguiar’s, Jake’s Performance, Wire Twist, Fitzpatrick Speed Works, Electroplating Technology, Southern Chassis Works, Rob & Ruth, Diff Doctor, Dunny, Neville, Brock, Woody, Graham Jennings, Kimbo and Aaron McMillan for all his help putting the car together.