In Expression Session, I really enjoy taking new ideas and imagining what they could look like as a finished car. But so many awesome ideas already exist that were executed years ago and haven’t been revisited since. So, what if we took on an old concept or build and imagined what it could look like if it were built today?
First published in the August 2022 issue of Street Machine
SM reader Roger Shamrock has been thinking the same thing, and that’s what made his concept so compelling – a modern take on Alan Cooper’s insane, SMOTY-winning BLOBAK ute.
The original BLOBAK was a crazy HQ ute with a blown SBC mounted in the tray, using a Cadillac transaxle to get the power to the rears. It sported classic 80s styling and modifications, including a rear wing integrated into the quarter panels, dual tail-lights and extended B-pillar fins.
After taking out the inaugural Street Machine of the Year trophy in 1988, Alan gave the ute a full makeover, refining everything and adding some simple graphics, a WB Statesman front, and a thongslapper in the engine bay, just as a starter motor for the blown SBC!
Since then, the HQ has been fully rebuilt as a road car and renamed ‘The Silver Ghost’, powered by a 350 Chev at the pointy end rather than the blown SBC in the tray, and with the Moon discs ditched for some five-spoke Cragars. The ute is now off the road, though, and with the chassis and body separated, it’s looking pretty sad.
For our BLOBAK III concept, Roger wanted a modern take on BLOBAK’s second incarnation, based on the VF ute. Inspired by the gumby-looking, VE ute-based C8 Corvette test mule, he suggested we run a C8 ’Vette transaxle and much-lower-profile Harrop supercharger in the tray, all covered by a hard lid with a supercar-style engine window.
I got started with an HSV Gen-F2 Maloo, relocating the LSA donk into the tray, and positioning it to allow the C8 transaxle to sit in line with the wheels. The LSA does already ship with a supercharger, but for the engine bay to remain fairly symmetrical and to allow for a decent-looking intake, we needed the blower drive and intake to either be aligned vertically or at opposite ends of the blower. After speaking to the guys at Harrop, we decided the HTV2300 was a perfect fit, and added their HTV2300 kit to the 3D model.
The engine window in the lid idea led to plenty of research into supercar engine bays and styling, and really influenced my approach to the concept. With enough room for a neat intake now that we have the right blower, I designed a dual-pipe unit that draws from concealed airboxes, made from carbonfibre in keeping with the supercar influence, and added an exposed pushrod suspension set-up behind the donk to help to fill out the ’bay, with a billet centre mounting bracket. With the mechanical side of the engine bay sorted, carbonfibre panels were designed around the LS, intake and suspension, inspired by those in the Audi R8.
Beginning on the exterior styling, I sketched out several approaches to the engine bay window, vents, wing and extended B-pillar trims. My initial approach was to beef up the hard lid and trims to the extent where the ute almost became a wagon, but I quickly realised that it looked best with a slightly taller hard lid and double-length pillar trims, flowing into slightly more pronounced ridges that run through to the end of the lid. While the trims may not be as large as those on the original BLOBAK, my intent was to make these modifications look as OE as possible, so I didn’t go too crazy.
The hard lid and pillar trims were modelled as one piece to ensure they flow together nicely, and I added the panel gaps. A raised section was then created in place of the two humps on the stock lid, where the engine window and vents were then added, with an elongated hexagonal mesh in the vents to tie in with the HSV front grilles. To match, the rear number-plate recess was converted into a vent with a carbon border.
When it came time to pick wheels for the build, we decided that Moon discs wouldn’t quite suit a plastic-bumper car, so I designed a custom set of concave billets for the ute. After a few iterations, I settled on this smooth design with small windows around the edge, and added stepped-lip barrels. These wheels were initially designed with a 20-inch diameter, but once I’d lowered the finished ute over them, I increased their diameter to 21 inches to better fill out the arches.
As a nod to the WB Statesman nose-job on BLOBAK II, the factory front bumper was swapped out in favour of a VF Senator bumper and grille, with the grille border and most plastics replaced with carbonfibre items or painted black to tie in with the rest of the car.
So, how’s that for a modern take on BLOBAK?
- Pushrod rear suspension
- Supercar-style engine window and vents
- Modified pillar trims and hard lid
- One-off billet wheels
Got a cool idea for a build that you’d like to see brought to life in Expression Session? Email us at [email protected] with a detailed explanation.