THERE’S no doubting that the EK and FB Holdens borrowed a few styling cues from the wildly popular tri-five Chevs. Sure, the Aussie-built early-60s sedans may’ve been more understated than their US inspiration, but they’re also lighter, taking up a smaller footprint on the road. You’ll also find it easier to locate a useable specimen without mortgaging your house. Shoehorn in a V8 with a massive Roots blower, whack big rubber on the rear, drop the stance and paint it a retro hue – now you’ve got yourself one killer ride.
This article was originally published in the September 2018 issue of Street Machine
And it’s these very attributes that Vince Panuccio desired in his own EK build. “I wanted a ’57 Chevy, until I drove my mate’s – it handled like a boat,” he laughs. “I wasn’t too happy with that.
“Then the shape of the EK and FB caught my eye, and I had a picture in my head of what I wanted to do. When The Chop Shop came out with Henry Parry’s FB (SM, Jan ’14) I was spewing, as that’s what I wanted to do. So I went and built my own,” Vince says.
ProFlo has opened up the wheelarches, to not only allow for an extra 6-7in of wheel width from factory, but also get the car closer to the bitumen, with the EK now right on the legal 100mm ground clearance
Around a decade ago Vince bought his sought-after model in project form, but it proved to be too great of an undertaking. “Due to family commitments the EK just sat in the back of the shed; I couldn’t do anything to it,” he says. “A mate of mine then found this one in Lismore about four years ago. It already had a fair chunk of what I wanted to do to it.”
It makes sense to buy a project with plenty of the hard yakka already done; you can save yourself a heap of time and cash while getting on the road sooner, which was exactly what Vince was chasing. “It was engineered with a small-block Chev V8 and tubs, so I added wheels, lowered it and put on a blower,” he says.
Okay, so it wasn’t quite that straightforward. First, Paul from ProFlo worked his magic to get the massive Schott rims to fit underneath by doing further tub work, before rounding off the arches and tweaking the doors and sills to suit. At the front a CRS front end kit was added, before the engine bay was tidied and an under-dash master cylinder installed. At the rear the fuel filler hole was deleted, with the neck routed inside the boot instead. The bonnet was then cut to suit the protrusion of Vince’s chosen power-adder. Once home, Vince reinforced around the hole and then panel-beated it straight.
Poking through that hole is a must-have bug catcher sitting atop a Blower Shop 6/71 pump. Below, Joe Zinghini added a bunch of go-fast parts to the small-block Chev, including AFR heads and a Scat rotating assembly. He then tuned it to run E85, which pumps through a Holley Dominator billet fuel pump up to the injectors, commanded by a Haltech ECU. An MSD ignition and ICE dizzy provide the zaps. To exit the spent gasses, Vince whipped up a pair of three-inch pipes to feed off the ProFlo two-inch headers.
Behind the massive 19 and 20in Schott wheels are Wilwood discs, making sure the EK has as much whoa as go
Getting the power down to the massive rear rubber is a TH400 with full-manual shift, coupled to a 3½-inch custom tailshaft backed by a nine-inch packed with a Strange Truetrac centre, 3.55s and 31-spline axles. The combo makes a stout 441rwhp.
With the factory filler hole removed, the neck has been routed to the left rear of the car, and is filled through a hidey hole in the boot. It’s then been neatly boxed over and covered in Camel vinyl. “Originally I wanted it like a ’57 where you open the tail-light,” Vince says. “But it was too much mucking around; I wanted the car on the road!”
Part of the ‘already done’ side of the EK was the tidy FB additions. “The body was decent, it just had different colours on it, and the gaps were out,” Vince explains. “So, I had my mate Sid from Sid’s High Quality Smash Repairs do a quick paint-over.” Sid laid down the custom Protec orange with Mercedes white, in a ’55 Chevy-inspired two-tone scheme.
“It was engineered with the 327; I then added a blower to make it look tough,” Vince says. “It’s a tight fit, but it all works. I have the engine out again at the moment to add a bigger roller cam for more horsepower”
Inside, the cabin is a luxurious mix of modern and retro styling. A bloke called Louie, who was also responsible for the top-notch interior in David Xuereb’s TC Cortina (SM, Jul ’18), wielded the shears and threaded together coverings for almost every surface, including the electric Toyota Soarer buckets and customised rear pew. “I chose the Camel leather-look vinyl, which became a drama, as when Louie ordered some more and it was all creased. We had to wait eight months for new material, as I didn’t want to go with another colour. I wanted to keep it old-school,” Vince says.
Electric Soarer seats (sans headrests), a custom-made rear seat and door trims are swathed in Camel vinyl, with stainless embellishments. Classic Instruments ’57 Chev gauges reside in the factory bezels, while hiding in the glovebox is a sneaky Kenwood stereo
While Vince has certainly upped the ante on the finish, he kept to a short two-and-a-half year build time. “It all went pretty smoothly. I’m very happy with how it’s turned out,” he says.
The custom centre console has a compartment for Vince’s phone to be used as a GPS screen. Below are switches for headlights and interior light, with two spares. Shifter is a B&M unit alongside a modern handbrake
I’d be happy too if my Summernats 31 debut earned me a trophy haul, with Vince taking out Top Interior, Top Modified and Outstanding Engineering in the Street class. “I was rapt to have won! I then thought that I should pull it apart again and go in Elite. But I decided not to, as really I just want to drive it!” Vince laughs.
“It’s excellent to drive, as everything has been done to suit so it sits on the road really good,” he continues. “It has plenty of power, though if I want I can put five people in and just cruise it. Whenever I get a chance, I drive the thing.”
1961 EK HOLDEN SEDAN
Paint: Custom Protec orange & Mercedes white
Brand: Chev 327ci
Induction: The Blower Shop 6/71, EFI
Camshaft: Comp Cams solid 230
Pistons: Scat forged
Oil pump: Melling; Aeroflow modified sump
Fuel pump: Holley Dominator billet
Cooling: Custom four-core radiator, twin 12in thermos
Exhaust: Custom 2in headers to twin 3in; Premier race mufflers
Ignition: MSD ignition, ICE dizzy
Trans: TH400, full-manual shift
Converter: Slingshot 2800rpm stall
Tailshaft: Custom 3½in
Diff: 9in, Strange Truetrac centre, 3.55:1 gears, 31-spine axles
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front suspension: Adjustable Strange coil-overs, CRS front end kit
Rear suspension: Adjustable Strange coil-overs, four-link
Brakes: Wilwood discs (f & r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
Other: HQ stud pattern
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Schott Mod 5 eXL; 19×7 (f), 20×12 (r)
Rubber: Kumho; 225/40/19 (f), 315/35/20 (r)
Seats: Soarer and custom rear seat, Camel vinyl
Carpet: Mercedes loop
Gauges: Classic Instruments for ’57 Chev
Seatbelts: Custom brown re-webbed