355-cube Holden V8 – Mill of the Month

This 670hp Holden V8 combo built by Sam Fenech at Westend Performance is destined for Adam Bowling's LJ Torry


WE ALL know someone who has been crushed by scope-creep during a project. What starts off as a ring-and-bearing job ends up with a stroker crank, aftermarket heads and plenty more. Such is the story behind Adam Bowling’s stout plastic motor.

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

Built by Sam Fenech at Westend Performance, the Holden V8 was never meant to go this far. “Adam came in to us wanting a pretty basic 500hp, single four barrel-fed 355ci stroker for his LJ Torana,” explains Sam. “By the time we’d finished, it ended up as the combo we have here. If I was going to do it all over again from the start I’d probably push the compression up to 13:1. It is only 11-11.5:1 at the moment, so I’d consider it a little bit soft in that regard.”

Soft or not, you can’t argue that 670hp at 7200rpm and 500lb-ft on pump fuel isn’t going to make a featherweight LJ Torry fly like an absolute rocket. Adam’s build starts with a VT 304ci block, which came from Holden machined ready to clear a 355ci stroker crank and equipped with a modern roller cam.

“It has all the work needed to make Holden V8s live, like four-bolt main caps and a –12 external oil pick-up running into a modified JP-style oil pump,” says Sam, who added a COME nodular crankshaft, Callies conrods and CP pistons to provide a rock-solid bottom end. He also bored the bushed lifter bosses out from the stock 0.842in to 0.874in to accept Ford Windsor-style lifters, which act on a Crane mechanical roller cam.

A pair of Higgins CNC alloy heads were added to handle rpm that a factory plastic V8 could only dream of. “The new Higgins heads are killer,” Sam says. “We topped them off with a pair of Shaun’s Custom Alloy billet rocker covers. This isn’t a cheap combo, with parts like T&D rockers, but it needs to hang together.”

The crowning glory on top of the stroker iron lion is one of Shaun’s Custom Alloy’s billet-runner tunnel rams. The two four-barrels perched on top of the high-and-mighty intake might at first look like a pair of carbies, but they are actually Holley Terminator Stealth EFI throttlebodies hiding digital squirters.

The fuel-injected combo is controlled by a Holley HP ECU package, running a modified VT 5.0L-style distributor to use a hall-effect sensor as a cam sync, which relays engine position to the ECU.

The gases are ejected through 1¾in Pacemaker tri-Y headers, which Sam says are ample on a 355 combo. “I’ve done plenty of testing with four-into-one and tri-Y headers, and you have to remember it is only a 355-cube motor, so it doesn’t have the gas volume of a 434ci Chev or something like that,” he says.


CAPABLE of swallowing 950cfm each, the Terminator Stealth EFI throttlebodies run a 4150-style bolt pattern to replace most standard four-barrel Holley carburettors. The hidden injectors are rated at 80lb/hr at 43psi, so they can flow bulk horsepower, and the whole deal still looks like two traditional carbs.

Westend Performance
Campbelltown, NSW