Lost and found! Crazy-clean 355 HG Holden ute

A decade after selling his HG Holden ute, Scott McPherson got a rare second chance with it. The result is a killer plastic-powered streeter

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

It takes a determined person to chase the project car snowball down the hill. You go in thinking you’re just repairing rust in the battery tray, which leads to a multi-year saga as the project is reconfigured into something far more thorough than you ever anticipated. Scott McPherson must have a particularly hyperactive determination gland; he went through the process twice on his immaculate HG ute!

First published in the April 2021 issue of Street Machine

The ute came into Scott’s possession as a roller, painted white and rolling on Center Lines. “I stripped it and repainted it myself in the shed at home,” Scott says. “I had the car for about three years, but I sold it to build something else. I used to build and sell cars; I wasn’t one to hold on to a car for too long back in the day.”

But that HG wasn’t finished with Scott, it seems. Ten years after selling the ute, the garage door technician ran into its new owner at a speedway meet. “I asked if he still had it and if he’d consider selling it,” he explains. “He answered it was in his shed with no motor or ’box and a dent in the driver’s door, so I organised a time to go have a look at it. A mate and I went, and as soon as I saw it sitting on the hoist, I knew I had to get it back.”

Once the ute was back in Scott’s shed, he intended to just throw together a fresh donk and ’box for the commercial and call it ‘job done’. But almost immediately, he didn’t just find himself chasing a snowball – he was practically buried in a project avalanche.

“I found some rust bubbles in the paint, the door needed to be repaired and the chrome was rusting, so before I knew it, I had the ute stripped down to a bare shell, and it turned into a full build for the second time,” he laughs. “When I got the car back from the sand blaster, I did some rust repairs and body mods.”

While the tray features squared-off wheel tubs, they are just aesthetic covers hiding the mini-tubs underneath. Scott had smoothed the engine bay in the HG’s first build, but he went further in the rebuild, replacing the firewall for a smoother finish and hiding the wiper motor under the dash.

“Then I started to lose interest in it, so I stopped working on it, and that’s when my brother Stewart said he’d do the bodywork for me,” Scott says. “So Stewart came down and took it to his garage up in Shepparton.”

Once the ute was straighter than the centre line on the Nullarbor, Andrew at Tatura Panels handled the paintjob. While the ute had previously been white, then green, Scott decided to shake things up for this build and went with straight Baslac orange tinter for a finish brighter than the midday sun.

“I was supposed to go pick it up once it was painted and bring it home to finish it, but that didn’t happen,” says Scott. “The next thing you know, my brother had it retrimmed, did the wiring and fuel system, and built the motor and transmission!”

Stewart screwed together a tough plastic, taking the 308 out to 355, with a Holley HP 750 DP four-barrel and Harrop single-plane manifold shovelling air and fuel into VN EFI heads that were CNC-ported by Pro-Port. Custom SRP slugs, Scat H-beam rods and a modified Scat crank hold the bottom end together, with a High Energy sump and modified oil system keeping it alive and a Comp flat-tappet cam adding chop.

Custom extractors by Gonzo, ICE ignition and an alloy radiator round out the engine bay for a classic look, while a 4500rpm Dominator converter spins up the manualised, transbraked Powerglide sitting under the floor. Stewart fitted a custom tailshaft by Peter Smith at A1 Automotive to connect to the built nine-inch out back.

“It was only meant to be a cruiser and a streeter,” sighs Scott. “My brother is right into it, whereas I kind of grew out of it; he still builds engines for himself and all his mates. I went to Shepparton as often as I could to give him a hand putting it back together, but from when Stewart got it, it was only three months ’til it came back. I have to keep this one or my brother would kill me! It looks so good, and this all came from a little shed in Shepparton, from brothers who are self-taught. It’s something very special to me and I cannot thank my brother enough.”

It’s always handy to have some help in chasing down that snowball!


Paint: Baslac Orange

Brand: Holden 355ci
Induction: Harrop single-plane
Carburettor: Holley HP 750 DP
Heads: VN EFI
Camshaft: Comp flat-tappet
Conrods: Scat H-beam
Pistons: Custom SRP
Crank: Scat
Oil system: Standard; High Energy sump
Fuel system: Edelbrock fuel pump
Cooling: Aluminium radiator
Exhaust: Custom-made
Ignition: ICE

Gearbox: Powerglide, transbraked, manualised
Converter: Dominator 4500rpm
Diff: 9in, 31-spline billet axles

Front: Standard springs, Pedders shocks
Rear: Lowered leaf springs, Pedders shocks
Brakes: HQ disc brakes (f), HQ drum brakes (r)
Master cylinder: Original

Rims: VPW Street Pro; 15×4 (f), 15×8.5 (r)
Rubber: Sonar 165/80R15 (f), BFGoodrich 275/60R15 (r)

My brother Stewart for pretty much building the whole car on his own apart from paint and trim; all my mates who were involved in the first and second build; my 11-year-old nephew Aiden for helping sand the engine bay and helping his dad build the engine