Danny Howe first came to our attention when we featured his stunning Barra-powered, eight-second XE Falcon S-Pack ute (SM, May ’21). This VN Commodore is the latest addition to his stable, and it’s a different sort of build to the XE.
First published in the June 2023 issue of Street Machine
While the XE hid its unassuming grunt within a sleek factory body and bonnet, Danny wanted to go completely the other way with this VN. “I do this funny thing where I buy car parts and then build a car to suit, and in this case it happened to be a blower,” Danny says. “Then I saw an SV89 come through a mate’s shop for a rear-end job, and I kind of fell in love with it. I wanted to build a Summernats and Powercruise car, so I thought a VN would be perfect for that with the blower hanging out the bonnet.”
Danny found a tidy V6 Calais locally in Dandenong to use as the base, and instantly began work. “We ripped the six out straight away, and I reckon it was tubbed within two weeks,” he says. Those tubs were taken care of by PSIDUP Fabrications, along with adding a four-link and nine-inch diff.
To power the VN, Danny had Con from Pro Race Engines sort out the perfect package to sit under that Blower Shop 8/71 supercharger.
“We looked at a few options, but the LS just made the most sense in the end,” says Danny. The basic package consists of a cast 6.0-litre block filled with a K1 crank, Compstar rods and CP pistons to nudge capacity out to 408 cubes. The heads are Blackwell units, topped with a Shaun’s Custom Alloy intake manifold and the 8/71. Using Holley Terminator X management and sucking E85, the combo made a best of 696rwhp on 11psi of boost through the TH400 gearbox.
Danny is an experienced mechanic and is now dabbling in panel beating at his work at Avondale Motors, where the bulk of the VN build took place. The car copped the full cosmetic treatment inside and out, with a complete respray in the correct Holden Alpine White and the SV89 bodykit added.
The engine bay also got cleaned out and smoothed, as Danny didn’t want anything to distract from the beautifully polished blower. “Trying to keep the bay super clean was a lot of work, but the Speedflow fittings made the job easier, and billet rocker covers from Warspeed finished off the look,” he says.
With only 200 SV89s built, the job of sourcing all the appropriate bits was something of a challenge. “Most of it was just luck on Facebook Marketplace and hunting around,” says Danny. “We found two separate sections of rear seats, and we had to re-use the Mulberry material for the front seats when John’s Trim trimmed them. Same goes for the bodykit; it was just right place at the right time.”
Along with wanting the blower hanging out of the bonnet, Danny also had a clear vision for the stance he was after from the VN. “I had GJ Drivelines make a two-piece shaft so we could get it as low as it is,” he says. “I wanted that pro street look on the Welds.” Helping the VN achieve that look is a set of adjustable BC coil-overs in the front, with QA1 items in the rear.
Once the engine was plumbed, the wiring was neatly added by Chris from Racewires, while the job of tuning the angry LS combo was given to Jason Kenny from LS Power Performance.
It took just eight months to transform the car from a bog-stock V6 VN into a blown monster often seen trawling the south-east suburbs of Melbourne. “It’ll turn the tyres no problem, but it’s also super driveable on the street,” says Danny. “Everything went well with this build; there were no hiccups and everyone was super helpful to make sure the car did what we wanted and needed it to do.”
As for what the future holds for the VN, Danny reckons he’s pretty content. “I don’t have much planned for it, but I would like to give it a crack down the strip,” he says. “We’d just need to change the diff gears; it makes a fair chunk of power, so I reckon we’d get a 9.50 out of it.”
Danny also hinted that he has a much more serious project currently in the works, which – all going well – will see the light just in time for Drag Challenge. Keep an eye out for that!
The VN HSV SV89 debuted at the 1989 Melbourne Motor Show, with HSV offering just 200 examples to buyers. Power of the newly injected iron lion was bumped from the SS’s 165kW (221hp) to 180kW (241hp), with both auto and manual ’boxes available.
That, combined with the unique body styling and Mulberry-coloured interior, certainly made an impression, as all 200 spots on the order list were sold out by the end of the show.
1989 HOLDEN VN SV89 TRIBUTE
|Paint:||Holden Alpine White|
|Induction:||Shaun’s Custom Alloy manifold|
|Supercharger:||The Blower Shop 8/71|
|ECU:||Holley Terminator X|
|Camshaft:||Comp Cams 114 LSA|
|Fuel system:||1100cc injectors, Pierburg pump|
|Cooling:||Alloy rad, Spal fans|
|Diff:||9in, 31-spline billet axles, 3.45:1 gears|
|SUSPENSION & BRAKES|
|Brakes:||Harrop discs (f), standard discs (r)|
|WHEELS & TYRES|
|Rims:||Weld V-Series; 17×4 (f) & 15×10 (r)|
|Rubber:||Mickey Thompson 26×6.00R17 (f), Mickey Thompson ET Street Radial Pro 275/60R15 (r)|
The boys at PSIDUP; Con at Pro Race Engines; Mark’s Autos; Chris’s Diffs; GJ Drivelines; Chris at Racewires; Jason Kenny at LS Power Performance; Avondale Motors; Progen Performance & Auto Hoses; Speed Pro; Speed Parts.