It’s low, this HG ute. Real low. And with grunt generated by a full-house, fuel-injected 327, this street-sweeping mongrel is as tough as goat’s knees. A no-holds-barred barnstormer that began when Chris Hollingworth parked his Holden ute underneath his brother’s house for a while. Chris had bought the ute – which began life with a 186 and a three-speed – as a stormer with a 327, four-speed Muncie and GTS front guards.
First published in the Oct/Nov 1998 issue of Street Machine
His brother must have been bored stupid one day, because he ripped into the ute and stripped it. So when Chris sold his 350 LJ Torana (which ran twin Predators on a tunnel ram, a nine-inch diff and all the gear), he went around to repossess the ute. Which he discovered wasn’t about to rev up and go anywhere. Now, with nine grand in the bank and no wheels, 22-year-old Chris had to get into a monumental rebuild…
Ace Brisbane engine builder Mick Atholwood started on the 327 V8. Mendham’s bored it to 331 cubes and machined the steel crank. Mick dropped in a set of 11.5:1 TRW pop-top pistons on stock rods, bolted by Moroso and running on Vandervell bearings. The cam chosen was a Sig Erson, a 999X solid lifter stick with 320 degrees of duration and 595 thou lift. Valve lifters came via Sealed Power, as did the special 150-thou-longer pushrods. Rockers are the famous Yella Terra roller items.
The heads are sorta special. These mothers are 292 Turbo heads, machined by Mick Atholwood to take 2.02in inlets and 1.94in exhaust valves, closed by Crane springs. And there’s a Crane stud girdle to keep things together. Top heads need a top intake system, so on went that wild Crower injection manifold, fed by a Crower injection pump with fuel initially pushed along by a Holley Blue electric pump. And while all this engine-rebuilding work was going on, plenty of stuff was happening with the rest of the HG.
MacDowell Engineering was busy building a roll cage. Why? Chris still remembers the day he wrote off his second Torana… The lads also narrowed the nine-inch Ford rear axle, made up rear wheel tubs and a half rear chassis and fitted the ladder bars underneath lowered rear springs. Chris brought in a set of 4.57:1 Zoom gears from California for the Ford rear axle, the diff centre driving a pair of 28-spline rear axles. A heap of work went into the rear end.
The front end was radically lowered and fitted with a set of 14×5 Dragway Center Line wheels, running 185 Kleber radials. Rear feet are N50 Kelly Superchargers, mounted on 15×10 Dragways. The brakes are stock. They don’t come any stocker, although Chris did chrome-plate the booster. And the accelerator linkages. Plus the Moroso rocker covers, all the pulleys, brackets, bonnet-latch panel, even the filler cap and the bonnet hinges. And sprayed underneath the bonnet with Red Stoneguard, which makes for a really neat finish.
Talking about spraying, after the dents and dings were taken out, on went the layers of Hermitage Red. And a lot of the stuff that went on after the repaint was brand new – wheels, bumper bars, crossmembers and door trims. Keith Aubrey out at Zillmere did all the trim, using ribbed black velvet to cover the Recaro buckets, fitting a new black headlining, red carpet and layering more black velvet on the door trims, accented with a wide velvet stripe in red.
The GTS dash had big warning lights fitted in the centre for low oil pressure and ignition. A Mallory 10,000rpm tacho and an oil-pressure gauge were strapped to the sides of the steering column, which mounts a stock GTS Monaro wheel. And as the ute spends part of its life at Willowbank Raceway, each bucket seat copped a full Dominion harness.
When the engine went back in, a Top Loader gearbox was hanging off the back. This delivered the grunt through a steel flywheel, plus what Chris calls a ‘paddle’ clutch. To you and me, that is a competition pressure plate clamping to a bronze button clutch, which looks like a paddle wheel. The Top Loader was left stock, but a vertical gate shifter (built by Mr Gasket) finds the right cogs in a hurry.
Chris had the exhaust system custom made. The extractors dump into dual 2¼-inch pipes that terminate just in front of the rear axle. The wiring was mostly tucked away out of sight, though the Echlin coil was made easy to get at inside the cabin – it’s mounted on the firewall. All this took just eight months to complete, and made the HG one mean street machine.
“I had the time and I had the money,” says Chris. “I reckon I did all right but I get a bit lazy sometimes. I could have done better, but at least I get to drive it around. It’s my only street car – I usually use the back streets to get to work, so the coppers don’t worry me too much…”
Next up, he plans to rework a hatchback Torana – “just cos it’s different”.
Chris wants to thank Powell’s Body Works for the top panel and paint job, MacDowell Engineering and engine builder Mick Atholwood. “I gotta thank Mick, I work for him!” he says. And all his mates who worked on the ute whenever and wherever also get a verbal handshake.
Oh, yes. And Chris would like to thank someone really special: the bloke who kicked off this classic HG rebuild in the first place. His brother Pete.
HOLDEN HG UTE
Colour: Hermitage Red
|Makin’ It Move
|GMH 327, bored to 331
|Sig Erson 999X
|Custom extractors, 21/4in pipes
|Nine-inch, 28-spline axles
|Dragway 14×5 (f), 15×10 (r)
|Kleber (f), Kelly N50 Supercharger (r)