414ci small-block Chev-powered HQ Monaro TUFHQ – video

When the going got tough, Craig Dixon’s TUFHQ got tougher

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

CRAIG Dixon bought his HQ Monaro, dubbed TUFHQ, 12 years ago, and quickly fashioned it into a drag car and Powercruiser that ran a best of 11.0@126mph thanks to a tough 383 Chev. “But I couldn’t really just get in and drive it,” he explains. “I wanted to be able to enjoy it with the family, be more of a cruiser.”

3910-holden -hq -TUFFHQ-onroadSo Craig set about transforming TUFHQ into the immaculately turned-out street machine you see here.

Starting at the front, a flat firewall was added, the wiper motor and brake master cylinder were relocated inside the cabin, and the heater box was shaved, before the firewall and the rest of the engine bay was smoothed off. Out the back, there are mini-tubs and a 40mm wheelarch stretch to swallow the 22x11in rollers.

3910-holden -hq -TUFFHQ-bonnetRather than dialling back the grunt for the cruiser version of TUFHQ, Craig went in the complete opposite direction, scoring a very stout 414-cube small-block from a mate. Its parts list reads like a go-fast honour roll: Arias pistons, Scat crank, Manley rods, Holley carb, MSD ignition, Chevrolet Performance intake and Edelbrock Victor Jr alloy heads.

3910-holden -hq -TUFFHQ-engine -bayWhile the engine was apart, Warspeed Industries took to the heads and Bowtie inlet manifold with the die grinder to unleash 630hp at the flywheel.

3910-holden -hq -TUFFHQ-bootBacking the new ‘street mill’ is one of Al’s Race Glides’ brutally strong, 1000hp fully-manualised reverse-pattern TH400s, and a 35-spline Strange nine-inch by Smithfield Diff & Gearbox.

3816-holden -hq -TUFFHQ-taillightsWith driveline sorted and fab work completed, TUFHQ headed to Custom Bodyworks, with John Raso welding up the inner guards to make them one-piece, before spending many hours fettling the famous HQ lines into shape. Danny Makdessi then laid on the custom mix of House Of Kolor Organic Green (with green Metajuls) over a Planet Green base. Those GTS-inspired stripes are also Organic Green but over a lighter green base, giving them a subtle, understated presence.

holden-hq-tuffhq-interior-rearInside Rides designed and created the interior, which features one-off everything – even the Recaro front buckets were stripped down to their frames and re-shaped with high-density foam. The dash, door trims, hoodlining and full-length centre console were all fabricated from scratch.

3910-holden -hq -TUFFHQ-interior -frontIn the end, all the hard work was worthwhile, with TUFHQ picking up several awards on debut at MotorEx Melbourne 2016. “The original plan was to build a Top 60 car and have it in the hall at Summernats,” Craig says. “But I’m overwhelmed at how well it’s turned out.”

3816-holden -hq -TUFHQ-mainCheck out the video, where Craig talks us through the build.