This small-block Chev-powered ’65 Holden sedan is half HR, half HD and one-hundred per cent awesome
This article was originally published in the November 2008 issue of Street Machine magazine
WE WERE all a hell of a lot different 16 years ago. Some were toddlers, others were sporting tragic haircuts and let’s not even think about the clothes. There are some things, however, that haven’t changed one little bit. Such as Nick Naudis’s HD. Yes, it’s an HD; it just happens to be running a few signature parts from its successor, the HR, along with pieces from other H-series Holdens.
Being in the modified car scene, you rarely ask the most obvious question. But when a beauty like this appears, all of a sudden you just have to ask why. There are so many cool mods, you want to pick the brain of the builder. And as luck would have it, the builder is the owner, which makes it so much easier. Talented owner-builders, such as Nick, are a respected lot but rarely receive the praise they deserve. This doesn’t bother them as much as you might expect because they get a pat on the back every time they look at or drive their fantastic creations.
Nick built the HD back in ’92 and as we said, it’s changed very little since. “I have a genuine love of Holdens and decided at the time to create a blend of a few models. I purchased the car as small project and it just kept going,” Nick says. “I wanted to produce an HD the way I believed GM-H should have released it; with the sound and power of a small-block Chevy.” So Nick set about turning his dream into a reality. Not one to do things by halves, he also sourced NOS (new old stock) parts. “Nearly every panel was purchased brand new, ex-GMH stock — all but the roof and bonnet, though I sourced a really good secondhand bonnet. I still have the part number tags at home!”
With all the panels scouted and purchased, Nick began the modifications. Out with the HD front, in with an HR nosecone and front guards. The grille, however, isn’t HR but a modified HD unit. GTS flutes were added to the guards, creating a tough, modified theme to complement the 350 Chev lurking within. To round off the body mods, Nick shaved the rear door handles and grafted on smoother HQ-style front door handles — no more fridge-door openers for this HD! Finally the body was lovingly filed smooth to remove all the factory pressings and create the strong lines you see today.
You don’t go to that level on the body without finishing it off well, so Nick set about laying down some quality colour on the recreated HD. His good mate Peppy helped him perfect the paint. Nick wanted everything to flow perfectly, to allow the finish to be stunning straight off the gun. “Only the very best primers, putties, sealers and top coats have been used,” he says. A stunning metallic Quiksilver custom mix was created, which was followed with the customary drenching of clear. “Since painting, it’s never had a buff used on it. This is how the car rolled out of the spray booth and it has no signs of rust anywhere.”
Up front, the engine bay also got special treatment. A vivid custom red was selected to match the interior hue and achieve a definite wow-factor. Setting it all off is the red anodised plate on the firewall. Those with keen eyes will notice the lights mounted either side of the front inner guards — more useful than a torch!
The interior is a highight, with an HK GTS dash grafted in to look as if it had always been there. Deep red flows through and complements the silky silver exterior. The seats are HK Prem, retrimmed in a red leather that’s damn close to the factory vinyl red. In the centre, the Hurst Quarter Stick and console-mounted tacho look like factory performance options; all in all, Nick’s produced a stunning interior.
So how about that neat 350 powering it all? Once again it was quality first. “Everything’s been done with two things in mind — longevity and reliability. All the mechanical parts have been rebuilt using only brand new components. It wasn’t built as a drag car but rather with a happy medium of performance and comfort. I would have no hesitation in driving this car anywhere in Australia at any time of year.”
The 350 was shipped off to NJT Engines (a couple of blokes who build race engines as a hobby) for a bit of boot-camp treatment. A 650 Holley sits on top of the mildly worked heads and is accompanied by a Crane cam, while the bottom end received four-bolt mains. A Bosch coil, dizzy and leads take care of the firing, while the original radiator was flicked, replaced with an H-series Holden V8 unit. The 350 sits on the chassis via a set of HK engine mounts, and fitting needed surprisingly little modification. Backing up the small-block is a T350 featuring a stage two shift kit and 2500 stally. Add this to the nine-inch stacked with LSD and 3.55s, and you’ve got one awesome cruiser.
Slotting a V8 where it was never intended creates a raft of problems. A Torana was relieved of its rack and pinion to help with steering, while an HK donated front discs and calipers. Sorting out the body-roll that stock HDs are infamous for are 2in-dropped Selby springs up front, with custom seven-leaf heavy duty leaves at the rears. The build was completed with satin Center Lines rims all ’round — the obligatory skinnies up front and three inches of extra rim width at the back.
Nick wanted to build a car that the factory should have produced. With a machine that’s as good to drive and better finished than anything that ever came off a mass-production line, he’s easily achieved his dream — and then some!