Carmine Carofano’s INFINITY HQ Statesman

In the 1990s, Carmine Carofano's slick HQ Statesman was a weapons-grade trophy magnet

Photographers: SM Archives

THE early 90s saw the Australian show car scene evolve dramatically. The top trophy winners went from being essentially restored cars with nice paint, lashings of chrome and maybe a retrimmed interior to full-blown show cars. This new direction saw huge hours invested into smoothing out all those mass-production blemishes while adding a ton of refinement and detail.

From the February 2022 issue of Street Machine

Carmine Carofano’s ultra-slick 1973 HQ Statesman, INFINITY (SM, Jul-Aug ’93), was one of the leaders of this new school of super-detailed, super-smooth rotisserie builds, a style that still proliferates today. There’s not a burr, spot weld or daggy edge to be found.

The Stato started life as a factory 350 Chev model. The original engine was replaced by a far healthier 350 thanks to the work of John Sawka. It was also beautifully detailed, with Carmine’s brother Davide spending around 60 hours grinding the block smooth.

Underneath the car, there were no brake or fuel lines or handbrake cables to be seen. The floors were oxy-heated and panel-beaten smooth, while the chassis, inner wheelarches and diff were also smoothed. All the chassis mounting bolts were concealed – in fact, there were no exposed bolts coming through the floor at all. The fuel tank was relocated above a large, smooth panel that became the new boot floor. To work around the mirror-image extractors, the floor was modified and a custom gearbox crossmember was fashioned from polished stainless steel. The deburred and smoothed door hinges were recessed into the body.

As the proprietor of Carofano Motor Trimmers, Carmine added lots of neat interior touches to INFINITY such as boxed and hidden seat frames.

On debut at Summernats 7, INFINITY picked up Top Sedan, repeating the feat the following year while also securing a spot in the Top 10.

The year after it was featured in Street Machine, Carmine added an integrated Holden Apollo dash. “It’s all the rage these days to put late-model dashes in old cars, but I was doing that 25 years ago,” Carmine says today.

In addition to Summernats, Carmine showed the car extensively around the country. “I took it to all the shows: Melbourne Hot Rod Show, Mount Gambier, Ballarat, Adelaide, Brisbane, Darling Harbour in Sydney, and I got a Superstars invite to MotorEx,” he says. “It’s won over 600 trophies!”

After the 2002 Adelaide Hot Rod Show, Carmine got the urge to give the Statesman a fresh makeover. It now sports EFI, a Rod-Tech front end and a tubbed rear with a Quick-Change Champ diff (with full floating ends), plus front and rear alloy hubs made by good mate Shayne Eves.

There’s 20×7 wheels in front and 20×12 out back, along with a full rear clip, and the rear arches have been stretched to fit big tyres. It sits 100mm off the deck, but you can still turn the front wheels, as they’re tucked right in.

“I went at it hard for a few years,” says Carmine of the extensive makeover. “Then I kinda pushed it in the corner and forgot about it for 16 years. We got busy doing the interiors for a lot of high-end show cars.

We did Mark Jones’s FAT 57 twice – tweed first, then leather – plus his FAT GTO. We did Astill’s Pioneer coupe (SM, Jan-Feb ’95), Dawayne Baugus’s Camaro (SM, Jan-Feb ’99) and Bruno Simone’s ’55 convertible. But I’ve been chipping away at the HQ for the past couple of years. It’ll be ready to unveil at Summernats 2023 – bigger and better than ever!”

That’s not the only car on the way from the Carofano stable, either. “My son Eric is 21 and works with me, and we’ve got an awesome ’Cuda we’ll be debuting at Adelaide,” Carmine reveals. “Eric is also building an FC sedan that we’ve converted into a two-door – it looks like a ’55 Chev two-door post. It’s full old-school: 15×10 wheels, 15-inch-wide tyres, full chassis, Moon cross-ram with Webers. It’s about two to three years away.

I’m also building a two-door FC wagon, but mine’s got a 700-cube big-block, 8/71 blower, Joe Blo EFI hat and a full chassis. Plus there’s customer cars. We’ve got a lot going on.”

You might say Carmine has projects stretching to infinity…


Paint: Midnight Blue
Engine: 350ci Chev
Intake: Edelbrock and Holley
Cam: Crane
Trans: TH400
Diff: 9in
Springs/shocks: Pedders (f & r)
Wheels (original build): Cragar; 15×5 (f), 15×8.5 (r) Tyres: Yokohama 352 (f & r)