Danny Landsdowne’s 2JZ-swapped VL Commodore wagon

Danny Landsdowne’s 2JZ-equipped VL wagon is heading for the six-second zone

Photographers: Steve Kelly

Update, 18 March:

The wagon ran a new quarter-mile personal best on the weekend at Sydney Dragway, running a stonking 7.050-second pass at 197.8mph. Six-seconds here we come.

The story to here:


Just when you thought you had seen every possible combination in a first-gen Commodore, Danny Landsdowne and the boys from Brisbane’s Spot On Performance knock it out of the park with this 9000rpm, 2JZ-powered VL wagon.

First published in the March 2023 issue of Street Machine

“This car kind of chose me,” Danny begins. “It started years ago when a mate had this VL wagon and then bought a 2J and lost interest in the whole deal. We got it going with just a set of mini-tubs in it and a six-point ’cage, back in the days of Modified Street rules and racing.”

The VL was a quick car for that time, running into the mid-sevens on a 10.5-inch tyre. Then, when X275 Radial became the next big thing in drag racing, Danny campaigned the car in that class.

“We could run 5.50s all day on radials,” Danny recalls. “We were not so much interested in chasing round wins as having fun, so if we couldn’t run to the index, we’d just crank it up and run 5.20s. Unfortunately, X275 finished, so we went to Jambo and Kenda events, eventually running a best of 4.83 to the eighth at 3180lb, and 7.50 over the quarter at 185mph.”

The wagon was a handful, and loved to wheelie; eventually, it went into the wall at Sydney Dragway. The Spot On crew took that as a sign to step back and reassess the car, as it was getting dangerous at those speeds with just a six-point rollcage.

“I took the car home, cut the whole lot out except for the sills, roof and quarters and bolted it to a chassis table,” Danny says. “I bought the Tim McAmis plans for building a 25.5 car and adjusted the bar sizes to suit the VL. It was pretty easy, as they give you the bar lengths and angles and off you go.”

Danny decided to stick with the same motor, which is essentially a factory block with a 3.0-litre factory crank and Carrillo rods. Rams Head Service in Sydney has run its CNC-porting program through the factory head; it’s a dry-deck deal with GSC billet cams from the US. The manifold is fitted with two banks of 2400cc Siemens injectors.

A massive GTX55R feeds this monster, and the intake charge is cooled by a water-to-air cooler with a Plazmaman intercooler core and fabricated tanks, with an ice box on top that saturates the core. The cooler holds 5-6 litres of water and allows for single-digit intake temps on the startline, with a maximum of 39 degrees at the end of the pass, even with 50-55psi of boost. Methanol obviously helps.

The Toyota mill is lubricated and cooled by a four-stage dry sump oiling system with a Barnes pump.

Transmission is an Al’s Race Glides Reid-cased TH400 with a ProTorque U9 converter, while the stunning rear end boasts a full Race Products floater housing with Danny’s own-design brackets, Lowdoller shock sensors, laser ride height sensors for wheelie control, and Menscer shocks.

The latter items have been fitted with an XL external canister and were re-valved locally by the Afco Shock Doctor. The bolt-through diff centre has 3.7:1 pro gears and runs 35-spline axles.

If you are wondering about the big slab of metal hanging under the diff (above), the car has been set up with a 56 per cent weight split on the front, and the extra weight at the back helps achieve that number.

The nitrous bottles, dry sump tank and pump, intercooler and more have also been set up to balance the car to the driver’s weight.

“It’s hard to scale a car as you build it; if you get it exactly right, then you fluked it,” Danny says. “I have added an extra 50lb to the rear, under the diff, which makes the car 2720lb ready to race. The way it’s mounted means it’s only rolling weight, so it shouldn’t hurt the car too much, although at some stage we would like to race the car without it and see the difference.”

The large tank at the rear that looks like an air dam is the breather tank for the engine, and Danny uses the car’s top frame rail as a breather pipe from the motor.

Incredibly, Danny built this whole car at home. He bought rolls of Jerry Bickel carbonfibre, made the whole interior in alloy and then used those items as templates for the carbon. “There were thousands of hours in the carbon, and then drilling and screwing the polycarbon windows all the way around killed me. The final assembly was definitely the toughest job; lots of screws and fiddly carbon work – very stressful and time-consuming.”

The day eventually came that the VL was all finished; unfortunately, first meeting out, it broke a valve spring bucket and dropped a valve. “I’ve just never heard of them breaking a bucket before,” Danny remarks. “So, we fitted a new head that night and went back to the track, and then smashed the tailshaft the second day, which really got me down. We sourced a new shaft overnight. I guess if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”

Despite the challenges it’s thrown his way, Danny’s come to love the car. “To start with, I wasn’t so sure,” he admits. “It was loud and stiff, but it has grown on me. You can’t throw it around like my old car.”

With just a couple of meetings under its belt, the VL wagon has already run 4.85@152mph over the eighth on low boost, which is amazing in itself. “The car feels light, fast and low,” Danny says. “I’m only running it on 35psi of boost for now, and I’d like to get some seat time before I turn it up. I’m really being cautious at this point.

Ultimately, I can see it running a 4.60 pretty easily. We have a new motor coming that will make 600hp more, but I think the car should be capable of a 6.70@215mph over the quarter with the current combination.”

What is perhaps even more impressive than the car’s 4.60-second potential is the quality of the build, and Danny did it all, minus the paint, at home in his shed over three years.

Needless to say, he couldn’t have done it without tons of support, so he’d like to thank Mick from Bipit Kustoms; his wife Kylie and kids Seth and Charlee; his brother Jon; and mates Andre, Jamie, Daniel, Ryan and Brad.