Turbocharged 355-powered VS Clubsport

This VS ClubSport’s relatively sedate exterior hides 740hp worth of turbocharged fire and brimstone

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

They say nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Dom Trimboli had grown up around decent streeters, and one of them, a white VS ClubSport, had caught his eye before he was even old enough to drive. “One day, I’m going to own that car,” he boldly told his school mates. Fast-forward to age 19 and Dom was living the dream with his very own VS Clubby – a Series II auto finished in Cherry Black – but deep down he still lusted after the white ClubSport that had roamed his neighbourhood just a few years earlier. “I’d become mates with the owner, so one day I just joked, ‘I’ll swap ya,’” Dom says. “I was completely shocked when he goes, “Yeah, all right!”

First published in the October 2021 issue of Street Machine

It was a straight swap: Cherry Black auto for Heron White manual. A genuine 1996 VS Series II ClubSport (build number 1069), Dom’s newly acquired white weapon came with the standard 185kW (248hp)/400Nm (295lb-ft) injected 304, IRS, and a few rare factory options including those well-bolstered Devenish leather seats and the marble applique around the shifter. Even now, the standard airbag wheel, ClubSport door trims and even the standard 30W Eurovox cassette (!) player are all in place in what deceptively appears to be a lightly warmed stock sedan.

Cruising in the Clubby as a 19-year-old, Dom says the car was as low and loud as it could be. Problem was, a 248hp V8 car isn’t exactly P-plate approved, and Dom was quickly pulled off the road by the local highway patrol. Now, it’s unlikely when introducing a power-to-weight legal limit for young drivers that lawmakers expected what Dom did next.

“In the time I had no licence, I ended up buying an built 308 for it,” Dom explains. “Then one of my brother’s friends had a Vortech blower set-up to suit a 308, so I bought that off him and I couldn’t put it on quick enough!” Despite not being able to drive it on the street, Dom could still take the now-supercharged Clubby down the quarter, setting a 12.20@117mph. Not bad for running a manual gearbox, either – until the T5 and the stock diff let go.

Having the car off the road was an opportunity for Dom to fix a few other things, too. The engine bay was cleaned up, presentation-wise – it didn’t match the immaculate exterior – and with the engine out and a new, stronger driveline coming in the form of a one-piece tailshaft with a nine-inch and Strange 3.5:1 centre, why not send more power down the line?

“Pretty much with a 308, no one touches them. You’ve got your people who play with them, but it’s just too easy to put an LS in now, and I didn’t want that. I wanted to make a decent amount of power with a 355, just to be different,” Dom says. “I spoke to Vince at Super Street and said, ‘Look, I want to build a 355 with the Vortech.’ So we put a little blown combo together. But then he turned around out of the blue and said, ‘Why don’t we go a decent single turbo on this thing?’”

By ‘decent’, Vince meant a Garrett GT42, with the 355 designed to cop 18psi. A turbo ClubSport? “To be honest, I always wanted to go turbo with it, but I never understood and never really knew much about them,” Dom says. Now was as good a time as ever to take the plunge: Dom sold the Vortech and had a mate make custom turbo manifolds for the new set-up, with a 92mm throttlebody and huge 2200cc injectors that demand three Walbro fuel pumps. Strong internals include JE pistons, Scat H-beam rods and a COME Racing billet crank. The mill is topped by COME Racing alloy heads.

“From then it all snowballed,” Dom says. “We intended on making a certain amount of power, and then I thought the standard IRS couldn’t handle the 308 – it used to break cradles and stuff like that. So I sent the car away, got it tubbed, converted it from manual and put a Powerglide in it. Then fully ’caged it, parachute – one thing after another. It wasn’t meant to get as far out as it did!”

Sitting on Weld Racing wheels – those tubs taken up by fat 12-inch Mickey Thompsons, with 17-inch front-runners – the Clubby sits lower on its four-link rear, with Strange coil-overs and Pedders up front.

To hide the Clubby’s new weaponry, a four-inch reverse cowl was added to the bonnet; even then, there is only around 15mm between the cowl and the throttlebody. “The car was never meant to come out looking like a pro streeter; I wanted to keep it looking standard, but you can’t have both worlds,” Dom says.

That wild engine bay sits in contrast to the relatively restrained cabin and exterior, but the Holden V8 is the heart and soul of the car. It was time for the relatively subtle-looking VS sedan’s first quarter-mile run.

“It was making 576hp, and Bill from Garage Worx said to me, ‘This car should go 9.70, maybe a little but quicker, on that much power and how much the car weighs,’” Dom says. “We took it to Heathcote, straight off the trailer, didn’t touch a thing and it went 9.70@140mph! We were rapt!”

There’s more in it, too: Dom wants to get into the eights with the car, now tuned to 737rwhp on 16.5psi, while there’s plans to upgrade the current suspension with Viking fully adjustable coil-overs front and rear.

Not bad for a still road-registered Clubby that already had cachet as an HSV – and a car that Dom dreamed of as a schoolboy. His one-year-old son, Cruz, loves nothing more than sitting in the baby seat and going for a weekend spin in Dad’s labour of love. “If I don’t end up building another car, this is going to end up being my son’s car I reckon,” says Dom. “Or if I have more than one kid, I don’t know – I’m going to have to split the car or build another one!” We hear there’s a Cherry Black Clubby that may be the perfect base…


Paint: Heron White 
Brand: Holden 355ci stroker
Induction: Harrop intake manifold, Edelbrock elbow, 92mm throttlebody
ECU: Haltech Elite 2500
Turbo: Garrett GT42 
Heads: COME Racing alloy 600 Series
Camshaft: COME Racing solid flat-tappet
Conrods: Scat H-beam
Pistons: JE pistons, Total Seal rings
Crank: COME Racing billet steel 
Oil pump: COME Racing
Fuel system: Triple Walbro 460
Cooling: PWR, twin Spal 12in fans
Exhaust: Custom 3.5in system, dump pipe 
Ignition: MSD crank trigger, LS3 coil
Gearbox: Transbraked Powerglide, B&M Stealth Pro Ratchet shifter
Converter: TCE 9.5in, 3500rpm stall
Diff: Ford 9in, Strange 3.5:1 centre, 35-spline axles, 3.5:1 gears 
Front: Pedders coil-overs
Rear: Strange coil-overs
Brakes: Factory HSV with slotted rotors (f), Wilwood (r) 
Master cylinder: Wilwood
Rims: Weld Racing V-Series; 17×4.5 (f), 15×12 ®
Rubber: Achilles ATR-K 175/55R17 (f), Mickey Thompson ET Street Radial Pro
275/60R15 (r)

Vince at Super Street Automotive; Tony at Speed Works Ringwood; Luke at Hasty Auto Trans; Admir Blaca for front-to-back wiring; Bill and the boys at Garage Worx; Nath at TEKFAB; Andrew at Werribee Brake & Clutch; Peter and Charlie at Gonzo Brothers; Richie at Instyle Custom Trim; John and Mick at RPM; all my mates who spent countless nights helping me out; my dad Charlie at Rocvic Auto Repairs; my wife Jasmine and son Cruz for always supporting me