WHILE at first glance it may appear to be an 80s survivor car with its fair share of war wounds and far-from-show-quality paint, Amien Zeitoun’s VK Commodore has recently joined the elite ranks of seven-second genuine Aussie street cars.
First published in the July 2021 issue of Street Machine
On its first pass following a full rebuild, it cranked out a healthy 8.2-second pass, destroying the converter in the process. Reloaded with a new PTC converter, it smashed out a 7.82@176mph on its next hit at Sydney Dragway!
Nothing about the car’s exterior suggests an incredible 1447rwhp from the turbocharged, 403ci LS under the bonnet, nor its potential to run mid-sevens on 275s with a bit more development.
Cars like this don’t get built by accident, but in Amien’s case, he reckons it’s all his mates’ fault!
“A bunch of my mates I grew up with have all made it a competition to see who has the baddest street car, and right now, they all have either bottom eight-second or high seven-second cars,” he says.
“About four years ago, all I wanted was something to go cruising in, do Powercruise events, rip it up on Saturday nights – all that kind of deal. I saw this thing for sale, and it already had a turbo LS, Powerglide and nine-inch. But it was a bit of a slapper – a pretty simple deal with a Chinese turbo that made 800-ish at the tyres and ran high nines over the quarter.
“I really struggled with the car for a long time after buying it. I moved from tuner to tuner and none of them could keep the heads on it, and it all eventually went pear-shaped when I destroyed one of the heads. I was over it and went to see Troy Worsley at Warspeed for a whole new engine.”
But it wasn’t just a new motor; Amien basically ditched the entire driveline, fuel system, and hot and cold sides. “When I think about it, there is nothing left of the car I bought but the body and trim,” he says. “I told Troy I didn’t really have a plan to run a specific number; I just wanted to make sure I was faster than my mates, the car could be driven anywhere at any time, and if it could dip into the mid-sevens on a 275, that would be pretty cool.”
The engine is an LS enthusiast’s wet dream – and all without going to an aftermarket block.
“Amien came to me with his motor, and it was a mess,” Troy says. “A lot of people don’t measure the combustion chamber on heads when selecting head gaskets – only the bore size. When you get up around 4.125, you have gaskets overhanging the chamber by 100thou, and this can lead to massive detonation issues. Among other things, it had blown the exhaust port out of the AFR head, as they are pretty thin there, so there was clearly a tuning issue.
“We reloaded with an LY6 factory block with a Callies DragonSlayer crank, Oliver boost rods and CP pistons. We had a receiver groove fitted to the block with a Ridgecrest copper gasket and a beryllium fire ring by Jeff Ramsay Engineering.”
Troy went with an off-the-shelf Kelford cam (240/246@50; 117 LSA; .660in lift) and decided on a hybrid head set-up – essentially a Higgins LS3 head but with only four head bolts instead of the six you would usually run with that head. The advantage of this arrangement is the ability to run 1.8:1 LS7-style rockers and geometry with an LS3 valve configuration, which means not only bigger valves but better valve angle.
The 10.5:1 deal is sealed with a set of ARP 2000 head studs and a Plazmaman billet inlet, but if Amien wants to charge hard into the bottom sevens, he will need a six-bolt block upgrade to keep the heads on.
BBS Fabrication reworked the hot side with a single 60mm Turbosmart wastegate and a massive GTX55R 94mm Garrett turbo, while Northmead Auto Centre handled the cold side.
The ECU was upgraded to a MoTeC M130, while the fuel system comprises a 50-litre rear cell, Bosch 044 single primer pump, Siemens 2400 injectors and an Aeromotive 15gpm mechanical pump matched to a Holley fuel pressure regulator.
The MoTeC controls all engine functions and datalogging, and the standard LS ignition coils have been upgraded to smart coils.
Backing up the mega-mill is a bulletproof Powerglide by Joe from A Class Transmissions, with a Reid case, 1.8:1 straight-cut gearset, 10-clutch drum and PTC bolt-together converter.
The rear end was also given an upgrade, including a fabricated nine-inch housing with a Strange centre in 3.0:1 ratio, AFCO double-adjustable shocks and Pro9 control arms, which have since been adjusted by Street Car Fabrications after the 7.82-second pass.
“It’s been a lot of fun getting the car sorted out,” says Tyson Munro, head tuner at Northmead Auto Centre. “The engine makes a load of power, and we stopped pushing it on the dyno, as it was clearly blowing through the converter at around 1447rwhp.
“We had a bit of fabrication work to do on the car to get it finished and decided to finish tuning at the track. It destroyed the converter first pass, so we had the bolt-together PTC built and went back to the track. We had it set up pretty safe and left on 7psi, then ramped in 26psi over 1.5 seconds, with 29psi the maximum.
“Now we have some good data, we are really going to crank on it,” Tyson continues. “I think it’s got a 7.40 in it at around 185mph on 35psi. We know it will go 1.1 in the 60, so 7.40 is very achievable on 35psi.”
With a number of private track days in Sydney on the agenda, it’s going to be interesting to see what the Northmead boys can get out of this thing.