This 1983 VH Holden Commodore packs a 963hp all-Aussie Holden V8 punch!


IF YOU want something done right, sometimes you just have to do it yourself. Often it’s how it has to be when you’re building cars. If you’ve got the skills to get in there and have a crack, then no doubt you should.

 The owner of this tough early Commodore, Chris Barter, ended up doing exactly that. “After some disappointing shops working on the car, I decided to use my own skills to repair, redo, and finish the build myself,” Chris says. “I’m a bit of a black sheep in my family when it comes to performance cars, and being a fitter/machinist by trade it comes pretty natural to me to fabricate and sort out mechanical issues. I called on my best mate Adam Duffey to help out on the fabrication and welding duties.”

 So how did this epic journey of multiple builds begin? “It was purchased in 2005 as a clean swap at a caryard. The first build featured a 260rwhp 308ci Holden, Turbo 350 and BorgWarner diff. Then with the second build there weren’t a lot of changes, but I fitted a 9-inch and a Weiand 144 blower. It was dyno’d at 340rwhp.

“This final build was to be just a Powercruise type car, but along the way I lost interest in those events and decided to build the pro street race car you see here now,” said Chris.

 TUFFAZ makes a dyno-proven 963hp at the flywheel. That’s easy these days with an LS or Chevy engine, but Chris chose the path less-travelled. He instead opted for a mega-tough Holden V8, because he likes to go against the grain! How did he make that much power with a Holden engine, and how does it stay together? It’s all in the preparation. It was built by well-known engine builder Sam Fenech from Westend Performance.

Sam started with a bare 304 block from a VT Commodore that had been sonic tested for any weaknesses, and then fully prepped and blueprinted it with the aim of making 1000hp. The grout-filled block features four-bolt mains with M&W main caps and ARP studs. The oiling system has been revised, and the lifter bores bronze-bushed. The usual preparation was also completed such as line-honing and boring. A COME Racing billet crankshaft was fitted (assisted by a custom billet crank support), along with Scat H-beam rods and JE forged pistons.

 The Yella Terra Dash 3 heads have been ported and polished and are anchored by half-inch ARP studs and O-ringed copper head gaskets. Up top is the crown jewel of the mechanical mayhem with a Blower Shop 6/71 running at around 10psi on a custom-made Bain Racing billet intake. Fuel? Methanol, of course.

“We did all the homework, prepared every item meticulously and executed it perfectly. The key to keeping these engines alive is all of the prep work and a very good oiling system such as the four-stage Peterson dry sump setup we have on it,” said Chris.

 Banging through the gears is done via the Reid Powerglide with a Slingshot 4500rpm converter and manual valve body by Neal Racing Transmissions in the USA. Mountains of torque head down a 3.5-inch alloy driveshaft by Sydney Driveline Services, out to the Strange Ultra Case 9-inch live-axle diff with 35-spline Moser axles and a full spool by JL Racecars.

The killer blue hue is Bionic Blue by Peter at P&M Pro Finish, with the fibreglass bonnet by Alfa Motorsport Fibreglass. Chassis wise, there is coil-over front and rear suspension and strengthened and braced body mounts all done by owner Chris and Adam Duffey. The braking is handled by Wilwoods all ’round.

 “The car has been tech inspected and I have done my licensing passes at the Grudge Kings event before it got rained out. I hope to get it out again at a private track meet very soon and I’m aiming to run mid-8s on the quarter mile” Chris says.

Chris has just purchased a second VH sedan to build for his son Chase who is just 16 months old, which will be nothing less than the quality and toughness of this build.