IT’S a pretty big achievement to get your car into the pages of Street Machine, especially if you’re on the west coast. Even more so back in the 80s and 90s, when just getting someone across the Nullarbor to take photos was a major undertaking. Not sure, but maybe they didn’t have cameras in Perth back then. One car that smashed that mould was Dave ‘Bam-Bam’ Martin’s chopped HQ sedan, which appeared in Street Machine not once but three times!
First published in the April 2021 issue of Street Machine
Admittedly, its first appearance (SM, Jul-Aug ’87) could be classed as a micro-feature, taking up little more than half a page of the magazine’s real estate. At that time the Quey was pretty much a tidy cruiser, although it did run a tunnel- rammed 350 – pretty wild for sleepy old Perth back then.
Its next appearance was on the cover of SM, Oct-Nov ’90, and boy, was it a different animal by then – think Bruce Banner transforming into the Incredible Hulk. The mild street cruiser had become a full-blown pro street monster with a chopped roof, a blower replacing the tunnel ram, custom graphics, and massive 15×15 rims and wheelie bars out back.
“I class anything I’d done to the car before that as just modifying, whereas to get to that stage was a full build; there wasn’t one nut or bolt left on it,” Bam-Bam says now. “That was my first attempt at building a car rather than adding a couple of chrome bits and pieces here and there.”
This whole process took little more than a year, with the car debuting in its new form at Motorvation 4 in 1990, where it not only blew people away, but appears to have confused a few of the other entrants, who complained that they shouldn’t have to compete against a car out of America! Bam-Bam admits that he got most of his influences for the car from reading US magazines, but even so, it still looked like an HQ Holden.
The next step for the car was to take it interstate, and, eventually, to Summernats 4. Bam-Bam had heard about the South Australian Hot Rod Show that was put on by John Bryant, so he got in touch. Remember, this was 1990, so no email or instant messaging; you had to put pen to paper and then wait for a week or so to get a reply. With the show entry sorted, Bam-Bam and a mate headed east, with the HQ in an enclosed trailer towed by his HZ panel van. They only made it to Kalgoorlie before the pano started having electrical problems, which resulted in them driving across the Nullarbor at night time while holding torches out the window!
Not surprisingly, the car was a huge hit at the SA Hot Rod Show, a trend that continued wherever it appeared. Eventually, the car made it to the ACT for Summernats 4 and into the safe hands of ’Nats founder Chic Henry. It was Chic who got the car to the Street Machine photoshoot – and got his head in what ended up as the cover shot. It made the front page of the mag again (SM, Mar ’91) when it was part of our top 10 cars of ’Nats 4 in one of our most epic cover photos.
After that, the HQ headed down to Victoria for the 10th ASMF Nationals at Calder Park and wowed the crowds again.
All of this hopping between shows was a pretty big commitment for Bam-Bam, and he didn’t want to transport the Quey all the way back to Perth every time, so he would leave the car somewhere safe on the east coast and then catch the bus home. Yes, the bus. “I asked the guys at Calder if there was somewhere safe I could leave it, maybe one of their NASCAR garages – they’re bomb-proof,” he recalls. “They went: ‘Yeah, no problem at all. You can leave the trailer and the caravan inside the NASCAR garage.’”
Fast-forward to late 1991 and Bam-Bam returned to Calder to pick up the HQ and head up to Canberra for Summernats 5. This is where the story takes a bit of a turn. “I rocked up and saw a couple of guys I knew and they said: ‘Sorry to hear what happened with your car,’ and I’m like: ‘What do you mean?’ I just thought they were taking the piss, but a couple of other guys said the same thing, and as I’m walking in the office I’m starting to get a bit concerned and said: ‘Where the hell is my car?’”
As it turned out, they had pulled the car trailer out of the garage, as the race manager had said they needed one of the garages for an event. They hooked up the car and trailer and drove it down the back near the railway line. “While it was down there, somebody had gone in and stripped everything off the motor from the heads up and took all the stereo gear out of the boot,” Bam-Bam says. To add insult to injury, they damaged the paintwork, as they’d dragged the engine parts out of the trailer over the car.
Not surprisingly, Bam-Bam was sick to his stomach, and to this day no one has been found guilty of the crime or held accountable for this ridiculous situation – and the fact he wasn’t even informed of it beforehand beggars belief. Regardless, Bam-Bam headed up to Canberra in the panel van to at least make something worthwhile of the trip before tackling his next massive challenge: getting the car ready for Motorvation 6.
Yep, after Summernats, Bam-Bam hightailed it back to Perth and had just one week to get the car ready for Motorvation, a commitment he couldn’t miss because the car had been advertised as a major drawcard. Most of that time was spent in the panel shop fixing the damage caused by the thieves, while parts to put the motor back together were borrowed or sourced from wherever he could find them. The engine didn’t run, but it was nice enough to impress showgoers.
Sadly, this story doesn’t really have a happy ending.
Bam-Bam did get the car back to its former glory and enjoyed it for the next 20 years. “I did some shows, cruises and polished it a lot. I went to Big Al’s once. I just enjoyed having it,” he says. Just as well, given what happened next. “The car was out the front of my parents’ place in the trailer and we were out at my dad’s 70th birthday,” he recalls. “We got a phone call from the neighbours that the trailer was on fire. After about six months, the police got back to me and told me that three cars got torched the same night in that area.”
So some random act of stupidity destroyed an iconic West Aussie street machine, but that hasn’t deterred Bam-Bam from playing with cars. His shed currently houses an original right-hand-drive ’57 Chev with an 8/71-blown 555ci Dart, Big & Ugly EFI and nitrous, as well as a ’34 Ford three-window coupe packing a blown 540ci big-block with twin Edelbrock carbs. Both cars feature a fully manualised, reverse-pattern Turbo 400 so that there’s no confusion when he swaps between the two. His latest acquisition might surprise you though – a Toyota Corolla KE70 with a turbo RB25, Jatco three-speed full-manual trans, billet rear end and Skyline brakes and suspension. It’s a nine-second sleeper and a massive handful, which is just how Bam-Bam likes his cars.
DAVE ‘BAM-BAM’ MARTIN
1972 HQ HOLDEN SEDAN
Paint: Midnight Black with Hot Pink and Fijian Blue graphics
Type: 350 Chevrolet
Carb: Twin 600cfm Holleys
Blower: Weiand 6/71
Heads: Double-hump fuelies
Cam: Custom blower grind
Pistons: Forged flat-top
Radiator: V8 Holden
Exhaust: Pacemaker headers, Supertrapp mufflers
Ignition: Vertex magneto
Transmission: Turbo 350
Diff: 10-bolt Salisbury, 4.11:1 gears
Front: Lovells springs, Pedders shocks
Rear: Spax coil-overs (r)
Brakes: HJ discs (f), HQ drums (r)
Rims: Gold-plated Appliance Striker; 14×3 (f), 15×15 (r)
Rubber: Michelin MX (f), M/T Sportsman (r)