A lot of stuff has happened around this joint in the past 40 years, and you’d be crazy to try to condense the highlights, wouldn’t you?
First published in the September 2021 issue of Street Machine
Lucky I’m nuts! Powered by cup after cup of International Roast (aka ‘bogan dust’), plenty of Pepsi Max and many packets of Smarties, I barricaded myself in the Street Machine archives to emerge with this tour de force. It’s a trip through the highlights, lowlights and mysteries generated through these pages since 1981.
And if you’re looking for a more formal history of the mag, check out the piece Geoff Seddon crafted for our 25th anniversary in 2006.
The Australian Confederation of Motor Clubs is the peak body representing car clubs of all genres. We teamed up with them in 2012-13 to stave off some onerous rules that would have had terrible consequences for our sport in NSW. By banding together with our classic car, 4×4 and street rod brethren, and with the support of then-NSW Minister for Roads, Duncan Gay, disaster was averted. While not everyone is into the car club thing, this was a powerful lesson in the importance of having numbers on your side – something to remember when our sport confronts future challenges.
Some folks complain about them, but without ads we wouldn’t have a magazine. But we reckon most of the ads in the mag over the years have actually been great content (aside from the Holden Camira spreads back in the day) and are a service to the reader. Plus, they make parts shops’ phones ring off the hook each month when the mag goes on sale, so it’s a win-win. Thanks a bunch to everyone who has advertised or used an advertiser’s product over the years. We wouldn’t have made 40 without ya.
The irrepressible Ahmet ‘The Mad Turk’ Sehirligil earned his nickname on the burnout pad behind the wheel of his BAD065 HD Holden ute, before founding Supernats in 1994. Besides his achievements as a driver and event promoter, Ahmet is a crazy-talented spray painter, cartoonist and airbrush artist.
The creator of the Motivator panel van, the J-Rod and now a killer, wild custom fibreglass FJ Holden.
The first-ever vehicle to grace the cover of a mag with the Street Machine name on it was John Strachan’s Alley Cat, which leapt out from the Aug/Sep 1981 issue of Van Wheels & Street Machine. The Jag V12-powered weapon was one of the wildest vans ever built and is still around today.
The man you can thank for coming up with the classic Street Machine logo. Andrew was the art director of Wheels at the time, but joined SM full-time when Phil Scott became editor. He gave the look of Street Machine a serious makeover and designed it through to the Jul/Aug ’86 issue.
The first and by far the tallest of our three resident Mopar fanatics, Mark Arblaster probably did more than anyone to reform the image of the Aussie Valiant and make it cooler than at any time since Alvin Purple was shagging his way across our silver screens.
Treks from the west coast to Summernats and other events are fairly common today, but Dave ‘Bam-Bam’ Martin blazed the trail with his infamous and ill-fated chopped HQ sedan.
Photographer Peter Bateman was a big part of Phil Scott’s plan to professionalise Street Machine in the 1980s, along with other gun shooters like Gartside and Warwick Kent. Pete returned to the mag in the early 2000s and shot many iconic covers and countless events.
All of the most coveted Aussie cars in our scene were forged in the fire of competition on Mount Panorama, from the XR Falcon GT to the VN Group A SS. That, and the memory of countless October piss-ups, makes The Mountain one of our most sacred sites.
Greg ‘Beach’ Ball brought a massive dose of fun to our sport, but despite the wild antics, he remains a serious car builder – and shit-stirrer – of the highest order.
While Street Machine is a car mag through and through, we’ve featured more than a few bikes over the years, given away a couple of them and published a handful of Street Machine Choppers editions with Boris Mihailovic at the helm.
Bob was the guy SM founding editor Geoff Paradise called on to be our first technical guru, and returned as our ‘Stage Write’ columnist for about three decades, educating the masses on the finer points of drag racing, engine building and more.
How many street machiners have Peter Brock’s name scrawled on their glovebox lid? About the same number who have named a child after the nine-time Bathurst winner. A great friend of the mag, Brocky lent his wisdom to our pages on more than a few occasions, including driving tips and a VC Brock rebuild (‘Lion Tamer’ – SM, Mar ’99).
The most superior form of motorsport on the planet, of which Australians are the undisputed masters.
The last true street drag meeting in Oz.
Like Prince, Madonna and Lemmy, Chic was so big in his chosen field of endeavour that he is universally known by his first name alone. Actually, his real first name is Anthony, but the fact remains that Chic – with the assistance of SM editor Phil Scott – brought the Street Machine Summernats into existence in 1988 and carried it on his broad shoulders right though until its sale in 2009. Chic remains active at the Summernats each year, and if you want a cracking read, grab a copy of his autobiography from chichenry.com.
No longer all that chubby, Damien ‘Chubby’ Lowe has done more than anyone to make the case that Commodores should be regarded as fair-dinkum street machines.
Winner of Top Street Overall at Summernats in his beloved VB, Chubby once drove the car clear across the country to Motorvation in WA – the ultimate statement that show cars should be go cars. The VB is currently undergoing a mind-bending rebuild, but it will remain a streeter, never to see a car trailer. What’s more, Damien taught a generation of guys how to make a next-level engine bay and personally mentored many through the highs and lows of car crafting.
Sam and Issy Blumentstein were pushing boundaries of performance before Street Machine was even a glimmer in Paro’s eye. After getting hooked on drag racing in the early 70s, the brothers built their Chev Offroad & Marine Engines business into a powerhouse that saw them set multiple records on the track and manufacture a line of products that includes camshafts, stroker cranks, aluminium cylinder heads and even complete blocks.
The heir apparent to Brock, an incredible racer in his own right, and Street Machine column-writing guy from 2005 to 2007.
Winner of the 1991 Street Machine of the Year award with TUFFXY, long-time SM tech editor, editor of Street Machine Fords and builder of VUFORU and the Comfort Cruiser, Craig has more cool cars in the shed than any other SM contributor.
Paul Cundy hails from the freezing northern NSW town of Armidale, where he has been building hugely impactful rides for decades. And a top bloke to have a beer with.
Our US correspondent for about 100 years, Canberra-born Dave was a beacon of enthusiasm, talent and professionalism. He kept us up to date with the latest goings-on Stateside and secured the very best Yankee streeters for features in the mag.
Dave was a co-founder and long-time director of Rare Spares. He was a massive supporter of the mag all the way through, and helped Geoff Paradise source the very best feature cars in the early days. Dave’s 1968 Pontiac GTO featured in the first issue of Van Wheels & Street Machine. Dave has lost track of the GTO over the years, so if you know where it is, sing out!
Simon Davidson came out of the world of high-end fashion photography but had an innate appreciation for custom cars and how to shoot them. Seddo let him loose on events like Easternats and Springnats, and the mag has never looked the same since.
Our take on Hot Rod Drag Week, dragged into being and directed by Scotty Taylor. The best week you can have on four wheels.
Drago Ostric smashed through the glass ceiling for four-pots at Street Machine Summernats 17, becoming the first guy to grab the Grand Champion sword with less than eight cylinders on board. Now heads the ’Nats judging team.
Now defunct, Jon Davison’s Easternats was the top event for Victorian street machiners for years. Originally held at Sandown Park, the 2010 event was to be held at Calder Park until Bob Jane cancelled the meeting a week out. In response, an estimated 4000-5000 aggrieved punters blocked the Princes Highway in Oakleigh and smashed up the local Bob Jane T-Marts store. It also ran at Winton Raceway in 2011 (pictured below, by Simon Davidson).
ELEVEN-SECOND STREET ANIMALS
In the early 80s, having your ride dubbed an ‘11-Second Street Animal’ was about as good as it got.
If you wanna build a highly modified street car – or produce a magazine about the same – it pays to employ the services of a talented engineer or two. We’ve worked with some of the best in the business, including John Varetimidis and Dr Tim Bartrop.
Pagey was Street Machine editor from Jul/Aug ’92 through to Oct/Nov ’94, and he returned as associate publisher in the noughties. Ewen was a ball-tearing storyteller; his work detailing the history of the Australian muscle car in his ‘Castrol Collection’ series remains a landmark.