434-cube 1971 Holden HQ ute – PRO QEE

Craig Kilgallon was on the hunt for a late-model V8 Commodore and ended up with this tough old-school streeter


After six years of swinging spanners, Craig Kilgallon has ended up with a tough streeter that’ll lap the quarter quicker than most

This article on Craig’s HQ ute was originally published in the October 2017 issue of Street Machine

IF CRAIG Kilgallon did not believe in fate six years ago, he does now. Back then he was browsing around for something to replace his recently sold VS 5.0L ute and kept coming across this bright yellow HQ online.

“I was on the hunt for a late-model V8 Commodore, but the mundane cars on the market had to have too much spent on them to bring them up to what I’d be happy with,” he says. “So I broadened my search and started looking at old-school cars.”

While body mods were kept to a minimum, the car’s slick exterior benefits from the decision to delete the chrome outside (as well as inside) while also smoothing the bumpers to give a billet look before covering them in satin silver

Craig had seen the HQ in the metal previously, and was left suitably impressed. It was a gem of a hay-hauler, but its previous owner was looking to move it on.

“I think it was fate because I remember seeing the ute years before and saying to myself I was going to have something like that one day!” Craig says. “I reckon it was meant to be, and it’s like part of the family now.”

Laying the money down, Craig got the ute home, put it under the microscope for a detailed look and was stunned by what he saw. The body was a rare diamond, beaten to perfection by the previous owner.

As part of the body mods, the original quarter-panel-mounted fuel filler was deleted during the process of relocating the tank to the rear

“It was pretty close to show condition, being a complete, going car that had been shown in the past,” Craig says. “A builder by the name of Mark Billi pretty much did all the work in his own garage, and full credit to him for the great job he did.”

Craig enjoyed cruising the ute for a while, but having come from a family heavily into motorsport, some upgrades to the driveline were inevitable.

The tray has seen the addition of a battery box up front, while incorporating a motorcycle-style filler in the rear leading directly to a custom-made drop tank by Joel at ITP Custom. But Craig’s not precious about using it, and during major events like Motorvation the ute’s tray is usually filled with his South Side Eights & Kustoms brethren

He found a partially built World Motown small-block on Gumtree for a song. After snapping it up, it was dropped off to George Separovich at Blown Motorsports where it was pulled down and treated to a bit of a once over. The only items not to their liking were the conrods, as they’d been ‘creatively’ clearanced. These were replaced with a new set of six-inch Callies Compstar H-beams, which were duly attached to the 4340 Scat stroker crank and Ross pistons for a healthy 434ci capacity. A pair of AFR 235 heads take orders from a COMP Cams solid-roller that Craig describes as being “borderline streetable”.

Lifting the reverse-cowled lid reveals the very tough stroked World Motown small-block, but not much more. For a regularly street-driven ute, the ’bay is detailed to perfection

The decision to pull the trigger on a custom-built Pro Series carb from the US turned out to be a smart one.

“It was built in the States to specifically suit my engine,” Craig explains. “When we put it on the engine dyno and tuned it, George only had to change one jet and it was perfect.”

This combination is happy to rev to a lofty 7200rpm before the MSD Digital-6 hidden behind the glovebox pulls things back into line.

Craig deleted anything superfluous in here and also went to the trouble of replacing every rubber hose on the car with braided line

Keys Automatics built a Stage 3 Turbo 400, which was fronted with a 5000rpm Dominator torque converter for increased streetability. This was built on the tighter side to allow for the nitrous kit waiting to be fitted. A nine-inch diff was upgraded to handle the increase in horsepower and shortened 40mm either side by Phil Purser at Final Drive. Phil also fitted the 4.11 Truetrac with extended-length half-inch-diameter wheel studs and 31-spline axles.

Since launching hard off the startline is one of Craig’s great pleasures in life, the new Weld Magnum III RT rims were sent east to speedway legend Max Dumesny to be fitted with a pair of beadlocks. Running on Superlow leaf springs and Lovells lowered coils, this combo has so far cleared the Kwinana Motorplex quarter-mile at a stout 10.71@124mph, sans gas.

With the tough drivetrain sorted and running street-sweet, Craig then turned his attention to the ute’s panels.

“Wear and tear was starting to show on the rear quarters and also the stone chips on the front from driving it so much,” he says. “It was time to give it a clean-up.”

Reece Regan at Real Restorations smoothed back all the chips and sent the ute back with a renewed coat of Mitsubishi Dandelion Yellow. The interior was pretty much spot-on as it came, so Craig simply added the Cal Custom billet steering wheel along with a few extra gauges in the dash to monitor volts, trans temp and fuel pressure.

He was soon back cruising, racing and holding charity runs with fellow members of the West Australian-based South Side Eights & Kustoms club. And his belief in fate continues to go from strength to strength – every time he puts foot to throttle.


Paint: Dandelion Yellow

Capacity: 434ci
Engine: World Motown Chev
Heads: AFR 235
Induction: Edelbrock Victor II manifold, custom Pro Systems 1000cfm
Camshaft: COMP Cams solid-roller
Conrods: Callies Compstar H-beam
Pistons: Ross
Pushrods: Trend Performance
Rockers: T&D offset 1.5:1
Crank: Scat
Oil pump: Milodon
Water pump: CVR electric
Fuel system: Holley billet fuel pump, filter & regulator, ITP Customs alloy drop tank
Cooling: Aussie Desert Cooler radiator, AU thermo fans
Exhaust: Twin stainless 3in exhaust, Magnaflow mufflers
Ignition: MSD Digital-6

Gearbox: Turbo 400
Converter: 5000rpm Dominator
Diff: 9in, 4.11:1 gears, Truetrac, 31-spline axles

Seats: WB Statesman
Gauges: Auto Meter Phantom II
Steering wheel: Cal Custom

Front: Lovells coil springs, Monroe shocks
Rear: Superlow leaf springs, Monroe shocks
Brakes: BA Falcon discs and calipers (f), HQ drums (r)
Master cylinder: Stock

Rims: Weld Magnum III RT; 15×3.5 (f), 15×8 with beadlocks (r)
Rubber: Mickey Thompson ET Front (f), Mickey Thompson ET Street 325/50/15 (r)