Blown and injected manual WB Statesman at Supernats

This 750rwhp barge is perfect for clutch-kicking shenanigans

Photographers: Luke Hunter

Brett Travers’s family has a long-running affinity with long-wheelbase Aussie yachts. “My grandfather had a WB Statesman when I was a kid,” the 38-year-old recalls. “I used to call it ‘the limousine’. These days I know it’s not – it’s just a bloody big sedan! Later on, my old man also had a ZH Fairlane with a 351.”

Fast-forward a few decades and Brett was on the hunt for a new project. “I loved the ZH, but being a Holden man, the WB was the closest equivalent. So I thought, ‘Why not?’”

Fittingly, he found the Statesman you see here as a grandpa-spec car, finished in white with a Cerulean Blue interior. Before long, he set to yanking the factory 308 and Trimatic combo for something more radical.

The current donk is a DeeBee Engines-built LQ9 packing a Scat crank, SRP forged H-beam rods and matching pistons, displacing 402 cubes. Up top is a Blower Shop 8/71 supercharger, with Joe Blo fuel injection managed by a Haltech Elite 2500 ECU. A pair of Bosch 044 in-tank fuel pumps rest inside a 75-litre aluminium drop tank in a flex-fuel set-up.

Likely the most unusual aspect of the WB is Brett’s choice of transmission. “I’ve got five cars and they’re all manual; I just can’t stand autos!” he laughs. A VZ SS-sourced T56 manual ’box rests behind the V8, transferring power through a Mantic triple-plate clutch. “It’s something of a ‘look at me’ thing,” Brett admits of the six-cogger. “People look at the blower, then look inside and go, ‘Get fucked, that is not in there!’”

Brett pillaged a manual pedal box from his cousin’s 202-powered HQ, which he says bolted straight up. “I had to cut a hole in the firewall for the clutch master cylinder, but it works beautifully.” The remainder of the powertrain is a custom GJ Drivelines tailshaft and nine-inch rear with billet 35-spline axles. The arrangement gets a serious workout, with 757hp at the wheels and 1555Nm of torque, which Brett points out is a “phenomenal amount” for a manual. “The clutch is beautiful though; I was clutch-kicking third all weekend with no worries!”

With such big power, Brett concedes the WB is an “absolute pig to drive”. While a Turbo 400 may eventually find its way behind the LQ9, he plans to keep the manual for as long as he can. “As much as it would be fun to mash tyres, right now there’s an extra element of driving skill in the equation. It hunts around with the blower, so if you clutch out on the down-hunt you bunny-hop everywhere and look stupid!”

Brett chose to have the WB coated in Indium Grey, a late-model Volkswagen colour. “A lot of the gunmetal colours have a fair bit of gold in them these days, but this one was the purest, blackest gunmetal I could find.”

The full-fat barge is pulled up with Wilwood four-piston brakes, and is currently without power steering. “Steering was really hard on the weekend,” says Brett, “so I’ll be doing an Astra electric pump conversion soon.”

Maynes Motor Trimming wrapped the seats, dash and console in black leather. The pews are WB Caprice pieces, wrapped to imitate those in Brett’s VZ R8 with a combination of solid and perforated leather.

Though Brett’s happy with the WB’s debut performance at Supernats, it’s still not quite finished. “It was running rich all weekend, so it wasn’t as good as I would’ve liked, but it still held third gear up the straights, so I can’t complain for now!”