I LIVE with fear every day but sometimes she lets me race.” I read those words on a T-shirt but they could have been penned for Fred Watson’s insanely tough GTO coupe.
This article was first published in the June 2011 issue of Street Machine
From tyres to turret, FEAR exudes pure evil from every inch of its being. It’s rare to see a piece of modern muscle adorned with old-school performance gear like the Littlefield 8/71 blower that Fred topped with a magnesium barn door injector hat but with the sinister House Of Kolor Galaxy Grey paint, fat 20×10 Intro billets and menacing stance, it’d be hard to improve on the impact of this car.
That’s no accident; in the five years he’s owned the car, Fred’s had three cracks at rebuilding it, in the process refining its appearance and performance. When it first took WA’s bustling burnout scene by storm, FEAR sported shiny black duco and a polished engine bay. From there it went to two-tone black and orange paint; the grey colour came with an overhauled interior and engine bay and lashings of black, carbon fibre and magnesium details. Devastatingly intimidating, the beast looks like it’s come from hell to destroy tyres.
“I bought it as a bare white shell straight from Holden,” Fred says. “With this build I steered away from the polished engine bay and went for the all-black stealth race look. It’s easier to clean; all it needed before the photoshoot was a quick wipe down and it was ready to go. I liked it all polished, but the matt black look is tougher and way more practical.”
Rear bags are 285/35/20s but for skids Fred runs 18s. He starts every burnout with brand newies and normally buys a dozen pairs at a time!
The initial build was meant to take two years but, Fred explains, having it sitting in the shed with Motorvation fast approaching got the better of him.
“I decided to take six months off work and we smashed it out; that’s all it took from a bare shell to a running car. Since then, every time we rebuild it, we improve it based on what we’ve learned along the way. It’s all reinforced underneath with steel bars to stop it getting damaged, and the diff and gearbox are bulletproof.”
It’s no surprise that George Separovich from Thunder Performance — the man behind another brutally tough Monaro skid car in WA — built FEAR’s 378ci Chev.
“I’ve known George for a very long time and he isn’t just a good engine builder — he’s also a gun tuner,” Fred says.
Starting with a DART Little M block, George fitted the best internals to ensure long-term durability under Fred’s heavy right foot, adding a Callies crank, Oliver I-beam rods, CP forged pistons and a custom Crow roller stick. AFR 227 alloy heads run Ferrea valves and K-Motion springs, while the whole show is lubed by a Moroso dry sump set-up. The crowning glory is the aforementioned blower and injector hat, fed a diet of methanol by a 110 Enderle mechanical pump.
The monster mill’s backed up by a heavily reworked Powerglide and a 3800rpm stally from Freo Torque Converters, and the grunt heads south to a sheet-metal nine-inch.
When Fred says the diff’s bulletproof, he isn’t kidding; it runs mammoth 41-spline axles! But it’s the final gearing that holds one of the secrets behind FEAR’s stonking skids.
“The car runs a 3.10:1 diff, so at 7500rpm it’s doing close to 300km/h rear tyre speed — I can do 70 or 80km/h car speed into the pad and still pump out big smoke.”
Littlefield 8/71 pump is a noisy bugger but Fred reckons it’s mostly because he’s elected to silence the exhaust, making the blower more audible
If you haven’t seen Fred tip the thing in at a serious pace and rip killer high-speed whips with plumes of thick white smoke belching out from under the rear guards, it’s well worth a visit to YouTube.
The diff’s cradled in a ladder-bar rear that was expertly pieced together by Black Magic Race Cars, who also created the sheet-metal mini-tubs and comprehensive rollcage. Tein coil-overs front and rear handle the ride, and while the front brakes are 365mm Wilwoods with six-piston calipers, the rears are in the bin. This is a burnout car after all!
Inside the cockpit, the competition theme is immediately obvious. There’s carbon fibre everywhere, from the faces of the Auto Meter instruments to the switch panel and B&M Magnum Grip shifter. Sparco Evo seats and Simpson harnesses prevent Fred from flying around the cabin while he’s powering around the pad, and the rollcage is pure race car.
There are two custom tanks in the engine bay — one’s a surge tank fed from a larger fuel tank in the rear, the other’s the dry sump reservoir
So what’s it like from behind the wheel?
“For what it is, it’s fairly easy to drive, though it only has front brakes so you need to be careful stopping from speed. The ’cage makes it rock solid but I need to improve the steering. It has a VK manual rack and it’s starting to flog out a bit. It does like to catch on fire, though. I’m not a big fan of fires up front but I don’t mind when they’re out the back — and the crowd loves it!”
Fred plans on doing Powercruise 32 in Perth before heading to Adelaide for Gazzanats. After that he’ll leave the car out east, ready to go head-to-head with the biggest guns in the sport.
Sparse interior is as black as the ace of spades and packed with top-shelf race hardware as far as the eye can see
“I want to compete against Gary Myers at Summernats because he’s winning everything right now and he’s the best. He’s done more for the sport than anyone and I want to take him on and beat him there, that’d be the ultimate.”
Then he’ll take aim at Powercruise boss Michael ‘Gup’ Gilbert and his ball-tearing turbo big-block HQ, Elvis.
“I want to take Gup on in the Powerskids in Sydney. I’ve done just over 450 metres in Perth and ran out of road, so I want to show the turbo boys that blown cars are just as good!”
In the meantime, he’ll be busy in Perth with NUTTER, an equally mental Holden ute he recently purchased from Separovich.
Clearly Fred lives and breathes burnouts but even he admits that it’s starting to get prohibitively expensive.
“I don’t know what’s next for the sport but if you don’t have $100,000 to play with, you’re not up there with the big boys. I guess there’s the naturally aspirated class but even that’s getting a little out of control.”
Which makes you wonder how Fred could take such a beautiful car and thrash it to within an inch of its life time and time again.
“You have to drive it hard, I reckon. With the hours, effort and money, not to mention the time away from the family involved in the car, you’ve gotta beat the shit out of it no matter how good it looks! That’s why I beat up on it — just to make it all worthwhile!”
FOR all the big-dollar cars and all the competitions offering big prize money, Fred reckons that the WA burnout scene is stacked with the friendliest blokes you’re likely to come across.
“There are a dozen or so top burnout cars over here and we’re all good mates. The competition isn’t what you’d think it’d be; everyone helps each other out and no one really cares who wins at the end of the day. Just the other day we had Justin’s [WONAGO VG ute] buck’s party and most of the crew turned up and did burnouts. We all help each other and there are no secrets. It’s a sport where you build your car, compete against your mates and get on the piss together afterwards.”
2005 HSV GTO
Colour: HOK Galaxy Grey
Brand: Dart Little M 378ci
Induction: Littlefield 8/71 blower, magnesium barn door hat, TBS competition manifold
Heads: AFR 227, Ferrea valves
Camshaft: Crow roller, custom grind
Conrods: Oliver I-beam
Oil pump: Moroso
Sump: Moroso dry sump
Fuel system: Enderle 110 pump
Cooling: Browns alloy radiator, twin thermos
Exhaust: 17/8in headers, twin 3½in exhaust system
Ignition: MSD Pro Mag 12LT
Converter: Freo Torque Converters 3800rpm
Diff: Sheet-metal 9in, 3.10:1 gears, 41-spline axles
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Springs: Tein coilovers (f&r)
Shocks: Tein coilovers (f&r)
Brakes: 365mm with Wilwood six-piston calipers (f), none (r)
Steering: VK rack
Seats: Sparco Evo
Seatbelts: Simpson race harnesses
Mods: Six-point rollcage
Trim: Black velour
Instruments: Auto Meter
Shifter: B&M carbon fibre Pro Ratchet
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Intro Twisted Vista II 20×8 (f), 20×10 (r)
Rubber: Achilles 245/30/20 (f) 285/35/20 (r)
My fiancée Sam and my twins Seth and Keely for giving me time to build the car and supporting me; Jody and Adam for being there from day one; Brandon, Clint and Carps; George Separovich and Jody Dunford at Thunder Performance; Ruben at Instyle Customs Panel & Paint; Blacky at Black Magic Race Cars; Jamahl from Current Trendz; Fabz from Por Vida Tattoos; Dad for all the help and support