Ben Judd's show-stopping six-cylinder Holden EH wagon is one cool cruiser on the cutting edge

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

Ben Judd mixes classic and cutting-edge to create a drop-dead gorgeous Holden EH streeter that was the talk of Motorex 2017

This article on Ben’s EH wagon was originally published in the December 2017 issue of Street Machine

WITH its striking two-tone paint scheme, slick panelwork, slammed stance and monstrous wheels, Ben Judd’s PRO EH was always going to be a full-blooded people magnet. But it’s only after being drawn in by those big-ticket items that you get blown away by the clever marriage of old-school 202 six, the incredible attention to detail, and the innovative interior – all of which set tongues wagging at MotorEx 2017.

Mixing wildly different styles often results in an awkward-looking street machine. Not Ben’s EH – it pulls it off with cheerful nonchalance.

One reason the wagon combines such varied styles is that the build took 12 years. It also has a lot of history with the Judd family. From 1978 it served as the family truckster, ferrying the Judd boys – Ben, Nik and Simon – to and from school. Then in 1993, Ben’s mum rewarded him for getting his licence by gifting him the iconic Holden wagon.

As his first car, Ben built it up as a neat streeter, hotting up the factory 179 with triple sidedraught Webers and other goodies. Unfortunately, Ben was forced to park it up in 2005, as the flourishing rust needed major attention.

With only 4in of backspace, the massive, deep-dish rear wheels created dramas with brake caliper-to-chassis clearance. HSV/Harrop brakes not only solved the problem, they added plenty of stopping power and cool looks

To kick off the rust eradication program, the bare shell was sent to Friend’s Auto Restorations & Sandblasting for a play date with a blasting gun. Shedding the paint confirmed what the Judd brothers had already expected and from then on they were committed to a full ground-up rebuild.

The build turned into a three-way project between the brothers. Being a mechanic, Ben handled that side of things. Nik is a gun panel guy, while as the main man behind Elite Custom Interiors, Simon’s work should be well known to Street Machine readers.

Like most street machiners, the Judds have a bit of a rubber fetish. To satisfy this perversion, Miller Chassis grafted a set of fairly large tubs under the wagon’s rear.

“We love big rubber; all our cars are tubbed,” Ben says. “Simon’s Capri is in the process of getting tubbed, an HK Monaro we’re also working on is tubbed, the wagon is tubbed – you can’t beat the look of a tubbed car!”

A tunnel section was also cut into the floor to accommodate a burly three-inch exhaust. Why does a 202 Holden six need a three-inch exhaust? Because it’s a stove-hot, 325hp 202, that’s why!

“It’s basically a sports sedan engine,” Ben says. “Back when the car was my everyday streeter, the original 179 dropped a valve and blew up the bottom end. A mate of Dad’s had lots of Holden six stuff and had a good bottom end he was willing to part with. When picking it up, we got to chatting and he told me: ‘If you want it to really go, you need to get one of these heads.’”

The head in question was a super-rare, one-of-25 Phil Irving 12-port. Ben took his advice, purchasing the head as well as the good bottom end. While bolting it together, Ben added a trio of Webers to create a 179-cube howler that served him well for a number of years.

Fast-forward to the new rebuild, and Ben wanted more oomph, while still retaining the EH’s red motor origins. Given there’s no replacement for displacement, the 179 made way for a meticulously prepared 202. Other upgrades included detailed porting of the Irving head, copper head gasket, O-ringed block, forged slugs, 12:1 comp, H-beam rods, solid-roller cam, electronic ignition and a cavernous set of 50mm Webers. If you’re thinking 50mm is damn big, blame well-known racer Brad Tilley.

He told Brad: “If it was a race car, you’d use 55s, but to get better driveability, go with the 50s!”

When they pulled the string on the dyno, Tilley’s input and Ben’s engine building skills were rewarded with 325hp – a mightily impressive figure for a streetable Holden 202.

Rounding out the drivetrain is a Protrans Trimatic and a very narrow VL turbo diff. To get that oh-so-perfect stance, there’s three-inch-lowered King springs up front, while the relocated rear leaf springs have been flattened around five inches. In addition to upgrading to ball-joint HR front end, steering duties are now handled by a Commodore rack, and instead of being front-mounted as normal, the narrowed rack is mounted behind the HR crossmember.

The beautifully detailed engine bay and 202 belie the engine’s 325hp performance. Super-rare Irving 12-port head (heavily ported), big compression, solid-roller cam and a trio of 50mm Webers are key ingredients. The firewall required recessing to clear the Webers, while every second guard bolt was deleted for a cleaner look

Hauling the wagon to a stop are brawny HSV/Harrop four-piston calipers clamping chunky 343mm and 315mm rotors.

“They were actually a necessity,” Ben says. “Initially I had VL turbo brakes on the rear, but after Craft Differentials shortened the diff to suit the deep-dish wheels, the calipers went inboard too far and hit the chassis rail. Then I noticed the HSV calipers stuck out way less – that fixed that. Rather than just do the rears, I bit the bullet and went big brakes all ’round. I’m glad I did, as they look so cool.”

Although there was plenty of room inside the cavernous 19- and 20-inch Intro billets for such a large brake package, that wasn’t always the case.

“I started off building the car to suit 15-inch Mickey Thompson bigs ’n’ littlies. But styles change and I decided to change things up and go the billets,” Ben says.

They’re such a standout feature, it’s hard to imagine PRO EH looking right with any other wheel.

Brakes are non-boosted, but Ben tells us it’s got good pedal feel and stops pretty well. The modified steering column runs down to a rear-mounted, narrowed Commodore rack. Note also the ‘black motor’ electronic dizzy outfitted with MSD leads and coil

Having spent countless hours on rust repairs and fabrication, Nik Judd (with plenty of help from Ty Yusuf and Ben) set about adding new door and tailgate skins, then finessing those classic EH bodylines into shape. They’re so sweet ’n’ sexy, they’re enough to make that other ‘Body’ (aka Elle McPherson) jealous. From there, the wagon was rolled into the booth at Exclusive Customs, who laid on the Mineral White over Electric Blue – the latter a 2003 Mini hue that perfectly suits the EH.

As trick as the paint, the wheels and the engine are, they’re never going to overshadow PRO EH’s jaw -dropping interior – take a bow, Simon.

The wave-shaped front seat started out as an original EH bench. Its back was fixed, its profile slimmed and the frame strengthened and re-contoured. And, as Overhaulin’s Cherielynn Westrich noted: “They even installed retractable lap belts in blue to match the paint colour”

“It was never part of the plan to go this far with the interior,” Ben says. “But it looked so good when it came back from Exclusive, there was no other choice.”

Building such a full-on custom interior in a freshly painted car caused a few headaches. Getting the seats in was especially hairy.

“We taped everything up and managed not to scratch any paint,” Ben says. “But it made life really hard because we couldn’t weld brackets or drill holes where
we wanted.”

There’s a ton of work here – shaved glovebox, smoothed dashtop, leather-covered tunnel, beautifully integrated B&M shifter, plus billet brake and throttle pedals. The trimmed crash pad that runs across the dash was originally four pieces – it’s now one continuous piece

The concept was to retain as much of the EH feel as possible, but tweak it. In keeping with the brief, all the stitching in the white Hans Reinke Lamborghini Nappa leather is reminiscent of 1964. A host of original EH interior fittings were also retained. However, there’s no getting past the fixed-back wave-shaped bench seats. In the front, Simon welded, strengthened and reshaped the factory frame before using high-density foam to create the final shape. The rear he made from scratch.

As challenging as the seats were, the flat floors were even more so. The Porsche Pearl Grey carpeted floor inlays are one-piece that run front-to-back. They butt up to hand-formed, leather-covered panels made from hoop pine that have been resined, sanded and bogged. Same for all the rear panels, which give the wagon a super-sanitary and classy look.

Auto Meter Prestige Antique Ivory gauges look right at home in the billet fascia. The gorgeous FC horn button was machined down to fit into the beautifully restored EH steering wheel

Looking up, you’ll see a one-piece hoodlining. This massive project took Simon, Nik, Ben, Ty, Adam, Steve and Big Al over 200 hours to complete and required the roof skin off a donor EH wagon to use as a mould.

“It goes in through the back,” says Ben. “Only just, as it’s a perfect fit.”

From the factory, EH wagons were only equipped with one interior light. A second light was incorporated to help secure the one-piece hoodlining. They work in conjunction with a couple of hidden screws at the back, plus the original coat hooks on the side and sun visors up front

The custom door trims incorporate multiple insert panels along with the same polished billet strips used on the floor and cargo area.

This whole story could be dedicated just to the interior. Look closely at the accompanying photos to appreciate how impressive it is. No EH interior has ever looked like this.

“Over the 12-year build we missed multiple Summernats and MotorEx deadlines,” Ben says. “I decided early in 2017 that we were going to MotorEx this year – no ifs, no buts. It was a massive effort by everyone, a mad scramble that nearly killed us, but we got there. Silver for Impact & Display, plus Cherry’s Pick made it all worthwhile.

Yes, that is an original EH ashtray built into the swoopy front seat. Studying PRO EH’s interior reveals many such original EH fittings and accessories

“I haven’t really driven it yet,” Ben continues. “I’ve pretty much only driven it around the block. But on that short drive it surprised me; it seemed to go pretty good. And that’s comparing it to my LS-powered VL and Simon’s 10-second Capri.”

One thing you can be sure of: Whenever it ventures out, PRO EH will turn every head in sight – it just has that presence about it.

Holden EH wagon


Colour: PPG Electric Blue/Mineral White

Engine: 202 Holden
Head: Phil Irving 12-port
Intake: Phil Irving triple Webers
Carbies: Weber 50mm
Cam: Crane solid-roller, 612thou lift, 264/255
Lifters: Crane
Pushrods: Crow Cams
Springs: PAC with titanium retainers
Crank: Stock Holden 202
Rods: Yella Terra H-beam
Pistons: SRP Forged
Rings/bearings: Moly/ACL Race Series
Sump: Haddad Race Engines
Ignition: VH electronic; MSD coil & leads
Oil pump: JP Performance
Radiator: Shaun’s Custom Alloy, thermo fan
Headers: Custom extractors
Exhaust: 3in with HiTech Muffler
Preferred fuel: 98 PULP
Power: 325hp@6200rpm at the crank

Gearbox: Trimatic, manual shift
Converter: Dominator 4500rpm stall
Diff: VL Turbo, 28-spline, 3.89:1

Front suspension: HR front end, King 3in-lowered springs, Koni adjustable shocks
Rear suspension: 5in reset leaf springs, Koni adjustable shocks
Steering: Rear-mounted Commodore rack
Brakes: HSV/Harrop; four-piston calipers and 343mm rotors (f), four-piston calipers and 315mm rotors (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood; Wilwood pedal box

Trim: Lamborghini Nappa leather
Seats: Custom bench
Carpet: Porsche, Pearl Grey
Wheel: EH with FC horn button
Seatbelts: Retractable lap belts
Shifter: B&M Hard Core Bandit
Gauges: Auto Meter Prestige Antique Ivory
Tunes: Hidden Bluetooth system operated via phone app
Speakers/amp: Vibe 5.25in/Vibe 2-channel
Soundproofing: Dynamat

Rims: Intro Saltster; 19×7 (f), 20×12 (r)
Rubber: Nitto; 225/35R19 (f), 345/25R20 (r)
Build time: 12 years