NO DOUBT about it, modified cars can be the cruellest of mistresses. But life is all about perspective and when you have a run of misfortune that gets you believing the car gods are taunting you for their own amusement, it’s important to remember that there’s always some poor bugger who’s worse off.
This article on Brendyn Wardell’s 2ANGRY VL Commodore was originally published in the March 2013 issue of Street Machine magazine.
Unfortunately for Brendyn Wardell, that poor bugger seems to be him. Back in 2003, he’d just completed an eight-year build on a 6/71-blown VK that was STR8AZ by name and by nature, positively dripping in mind-bendingly deep black paint (SM, July ’03). Following a successful night at the drags, he awoke to find his pride and joy had vanished and nobody has seen hide nor hair of it in the 12 years since.
But Brendyn is not the defeatist type, so instead of hanging up his spanners, he got started on his rebound rebuild. The Walky-kitted VL was dubbed 2ANGRY and it too was painted black, with a 6/71-charged Holden V8. It was driven for two years before being yanked off the road for the full ground-up treatment.
Ever since, Brendyn has toiled away on the injected, tubbed and four-linked weapon. He got to the point where he was 90 per cent happy and decided to debut it at Summernats 26. “We rushed to get the car ready and it had a number of teething problems. It was overheating all day Thursday and Friday on the way to the Street Machine photo shoot, so I pulled over to let it cool down and then it wouldn’t start. The starter motor was stuffed, so I sourced another one, replaced it by the side of the road, made it to the shoot, and then cruised back to Summernats.
“It seemed to be running cooler, so I took it out for its first lap, gave the throttle one little stab and broke the diff. My mate Fats pulled the centre out of a six-cylinder VR up on the Central Coast and drove it down, then stayed up all night to help me fit it. We finally got it done at 9am on Saturday.
WHAM! The day after having the car judged at Summernats and shot in the Street Machine studio, the VL was hit from behind on Northbourne Avenue. Photos: Darren Bevan
“I was heading back to Summernats to park the car on the oval and I was two blocks away from Exhibition Park when I heard a massive bang. I got out of the car and was hit by total devastation. It was game over.”
What had taken seven years to create took just moments for an SUV to utterly undo. Police estimate that the Ford Territory hit the stationary Commodore at between 70 and 90km/h, shunting it into the car in front and destroying every panel. The Territory was towing a ride-on lawnmower, which flew out of the box trailer and lodged itself deep in the Territory’s boot. That no-one was seriously hurt was a straight-up miracle.
“The highway cop who was first on the scene was fantastic — he was sympathetic that the car had been destroyed after so much hard work. But he’d been to plenty of wrecks and said that when the aftermath looks like this, people don’t often just walk away like we were able to.”
Within minutes of the smash, the internet was rife with stories about the accident and one of the rumours was bang on. “Yeah, I had a back seat full of passengers who, by sheer chance, jumped out and got in my van just a couple of blocks earlier,” Brendyn confirmed. Considering that the parcel shelf, rear bench and front buckets are now all touching, the outcome of the accident had those passengers remained in the car doesn’t bear contemplating. That has to be a source of huge consolation.
Another consolation is that Peter Bateman had already captured the car’s glory in the studio. The super-aggressive Walkinshaw aero works beautifully with the Pro Street theme, and with the body coated in custom grey and sinister black highlights, it’s a tough yet classy look.
“The colour was a bit of a gamble but it came together nicely in the end,” Brendyn says. “I pictured the car exactly as it was finished four or five years ago, and aside from a few little things I’m stoked with how it came up.” To complement the hue, the Enderle injection hat and Hampton 6/71 pump were covered in wrinkle-finish black by Pro Coat. The hat is configured for EFI and features eight internal injectors which work in conjunction with another eight mounted in the Max Wedge blower manifold; all 16 are bossed around by a Black Box ECU.
The engine itself is a stout 355ci stroker, with ported VN-style heads, forged slugs, Eagle rods, a steel crank and a 0.580in lift solid cam. Backed by a tough Turbo 400 auto with a 3000rpm converter, the combo never got to see a dyno but Brendyn estimates that it would have been good for 450-500rwhp on pump juice.
Out back, 20×10 Showwheels KWC billets sport plenty of dish and are housed in a set of mini-tubs at either end of a significantly shortened VL Turbo diff, which is cradled in a four-link with QA1 coil-overs. The front also boasts coil-overs, this time from K-Sport, who also supplied the whopping 360mm brake rotors, with eight-piston calipers at the pointy end and six-piston units on the rear.
The cabin is — was — suitably classy. A VY Senator gave up its seats for the cause, the rear considerably modified to suit both the narrower VL cockpit and the tubs. They were trimmed in latte-coloured leather and, along with the custom door cards, embroidered with the Group A SS logo to tie in with the Walky-themed exterior. A Momo steerer, B&M shifter, Auto Meter Carbon Fibre instruments and a Kenwood/Pioneer stereo rounded out the details.
That such a beautiful car was destroyed after just three days on the road is heartbreaking but now it’s time for some good news. In the Summernats 26 Street judging, 2ANGRY was posthumously awarded Top Modified, and was of course a shoe-in for the Hard Luck award.
The car was insured and Brendyn has kept the wreck, so he’ll be able to salvage enough parts to kick-start the next build. “Honestly, I can’t speak highly enough of Shannons Insurance and the way they handled everything. If you own a street machine and it’s not insured with them, you’re crazy,” he said.
The engine and gearbox were unharmed in the accident, and the custom Showwheels rollers somehow also escaped unscathed. The brakes, front coil-overs, fuel system, wiring harness and parts of the interior are also salvageable, and Brendyn is showing tremendous character and testicular fortitude in already setting his sights on the next build, after two total losses.
“I’m a born car-head, so I can’t really help it. My missus owns a pink VS with a blown five-litre and my three daughters love it, so the whole family is involved and cars have been great for us. Even if you’ve had a shitty day, all it takes is a cruise to sort you out. Cars are great stress relief and they release a lot of good energy,” he said.
“The amount of positive feedback I’ve had on the VL and the amount of support I’ve had from the modified car community has been overwhelming; the comments and tribute videos online have been amazing. One guy I don’t even know did this awesome drawing of the car; it was so well detailed and it would’ve taken him ages.
“I’m just going to view it as a setback in the one build. Instead of taking seven years it’s going to take me eight and I’ll end up with a far better car because you can always improve things. The most important thing is that nobody got seriously hurt or worse, because that could’ve easily been the result. I can deal with a written-off car.”