Tim Polsen’s trophy-winning 1971 Holden HQ Premier

26-year-old Tim Polsen has built an award-winning HQ Premier that would make any street machining veteran foam at the mouth

Photographers: Ben Hosking

TRADING household items for chrome-bumpered Aussie metal sounds like the kind of dealings that would’ve gone on in the 90s, but that’s exactly how young gun Tim Polsen got his hands on his HQ Premier.

This article was first published in the July 2020 issue of Street Machine

“Dad got it for me as a Christmas present in 2011, trading a chainsaw for the whole car,” he says. While it sounds like a ripper deal, as with any Lion of this age, it wasn’t all gravy and rainbows. “It was painted with what looked like three layers of house paint, and it had rust in three of the doors, the rear quarters and the firewall, so it needed some work,” says Tim with considerable understatement.

The PPG Aegean Blue pops beautifully in the sunlight, and thankfully Tim has managed to keep the rear quarters in one piece despite his burnout exploits

The initial stage of Tim’s journey with his first car saw him turn it into a sweet P-plate cruiser, with a 202, GTS interior and a new lick of paint. “The first rebuild was decent for a P-plater, but not up to scratch for what I wanted, and everyone assumed it was my dad’s car!” he laughs.

This triggered phase two of the build, culminating in the beastly HQ Prem you see before you now. “I had a good mate of mine, Terry Keys, giving me inspiration and advice during the build, and he knows how to build a Summernats-level car on a budget,” says Tim.

Every inch of the car was given a thorough makeover to transform it from a cool cruiser into a major trophy hauler. Job one was finding a new mill, and after a brief stint with a 350ci V8 ended with a blown head gasket during a failed burnout attempt, Tim decided to seek some serious stonk.

“I went with the 400ci BluePrint Engines small-block Chev – something with decent grunt that sounds good,” he says. The new donk contains a forged crank, I-beam rods, forged flat-top pistons and a hydraulic-roller cam sealed in with BluePrint 64cc aluminium heads. This is all capped off with a Redline tunnel ram sporting a pair of dual 550cfm carbies proudly poking their way out of the Prem’s bonnet, with MSD ignition to light the fire. The package is good for a comfortable 400rwhp on PULP and a mountain of torque for Tim to punish tyres with.

Tim opted to steer clear of the modern tradition of bolting on Simmons FR1s like everyone else. Instead, he chose billet Intro Pentias, measuring 18×8 up front and 18×9.5 under the rear

Behind the beefy Chev sits a TH350 transmission from Al’s Race Glides, sporting a TCI 3500rpm converter. Out back is a 35-spline rear end sourced from an F100. Tim’s learned the hard way that good drivetrain parts are worth the bills, having had a few mishaps since slamming the 400ci BluePrint mill in the front of the Prem. “Last year at Bathurst Autofest I broke the old TH350 that was in it during the drags, losing all gears,” he says. “I got the new ’box from Al’s Race Glides and then the rear axle snapped at 80km/h on the first drive, kicking me sideways over three lanes of traffic. I narrowly missed a light pole!”

The engine bay was shaved and any unnecessary clutter removed, so there’s nothing to distract from the 400 cubes of BluePrint bent-eight goodness – a far cry from the humble 202 the car

Prior to these driveline misdemeanours, both the interior and exterior were renovated, with the cabin in particular undergoing some big changes. “We used the interior from a VE ClubSport, adapting it to fit the HQ, with all the work done by Trims By Shaun,” Tim says. As well as the new seats, Tim deleted the factory air vents in the dash pad for a cleaner look, and also made a custom panel for the new Auto Meter Cobalt gauges. The exterior underwent surgery at Abel’s Smash Repairs, with the boys replacing some rusty sheet metal before laying down the beautiful PPG Aegean Blue colour. “It looks just how I wanted it to, so much nicer than when we first got it!” says Tim.

Despite the show-winning looks (see the list of trophies below), Tim isn’t afraid to get the Prem out and put all those cubes to good use. “I wanted to build a tough street car, and even though it’s won those awards, I get more enjoyment out of driving it than anything else.” The HQ gets treated as the ultimate all-rounder: cruising into town, static car shows, and even ripping up the burnout pad. “The rear quarters caught fire in the burnouts at Bathurst Autofest this year, but luckily it didn’t damage the paintwork, so it’s all good!” Tim laughs.

“I haven’t had the chance to race it down a proper drag strip yet, but I’m planning on doing that one day,” he continues. “I’m hoping for at least high 11s out of it, but I think I prefer doing the burnouts anyway.”

For now, Tim just plans on enjoying the Prem after all the blood, sweat and tears he’s poured into the build over the years. Being the owner of a Quey this nice is a big achievement in itself, but it’s especially impressive at Tim’s ripe old age of 26.

Inside, Tim used a set of VE ClubSport seats as a starting point, deleting the headrests on the front and adapting them to fit the factory HQ mounting points. The rear seat was both extended and cut as needed to fit the HQ mould

He doesn’t have plans to stop either, with another project brewing in the background. “I bought an HQ coupe a few months back, so I’ll start building that soon and plan on unveiling it at Summernats in a few years hopefully. I may even build it into more of a drag car and do Drag Challenge with it as well.”

We’d love to see that!


WHILE it wasn’t Tim’s main intention when he was building it, the Prem has amassed a cabinet’s worth of awards in recent years. The honour list is as follows:
2014 SPRINGNATS – 2nd Top Sedan Street Class
2015 SPRINGNATS – Top Sedan Street Class
2016 SPRINGNATS – 2nd Top Sedan Show Car; Top 10
2018 SPRINGNATS – Runner-up Superskids, 2nd Top Sedan Street Car
2019 SPRINGNATS – Top Sedan Street Car
2020 SUMMERNATS 33 – 1st Honk Ya Horn


Paint: PPG Aegean Blue

Brand: BluePrint Engines 400ci Chevy
Induction: Redline tunnel ram
Carbies: Dual 550cfm
Heads: BluePrint 64cc aluminium
Camshaft: Hydraulic-roller
Conrods: I-beam
Pistons: Forged flat-top
Crank: Forged
Oil pump: Melling
Fuel system: Holley Blue fuel pump
Cooling: Aussie Desert Cooler radiator
Exhaust: 3in mandrel-bent
Ignition: MSD

Gearbox: Manualised TH350
Converter: TCI, 3500rpm stall
Diff: Ford F100, 35-spline, 3.55:1 gears

Springs: Lovells
Shocks: Pedders
Brakes: HQ discs (f), WB discs (r)
Master cylinder: 8in dual diaphragm

Rims: Intro Pentia; 18×8(f), 18×9.5 (r)
Rubber: Pirelli; 235/40 R18 (f), 265/35 R18 (r)

Jason and Gunther from Abel’s Smash Repairs for paint and panel; Trims By Shaun for the interior; Michael and Alanah at Diamond Detail for keeping the car looking pristine; Terry Keys; Mick at M&A Engineering for the upgraded diff; Zac Fitz; Simon Waugh; Graham Longhurst; Warren Bleakley; Dave White for the electrics; Billy Tasker; John Alves; my father Michael