It ran no blower, didn’t feature any crazy murals and had only subtle body mods, but Ian Hazel’s PREM70 sent shockwaves around the country when it was featured in SM, June-July ’84.
The HG wagon was fresh from taking out a swag of trophies at the 6th Street Machine Nationals in Canberra, including Best Street Machine, Best Interior and Best Standard Paint.
The iconic photo shoot for the car certainly played a role in PREM70’s enduring fame, taking place at Holden’s Elizabeth, South Australia factory in front of a fleet of brand-new VK Calais. The story inferred that the HG was on a par with Holden’s latest and greatest and quoted an engineering executive thusly: “It is some motor car. A real credit to its owner. I wonder how many of these we would have sold.”
But what made PREM70 such an influential car was its vast array of subtle body mods and amazing attention to detail, something that guys like Ron Barclay and Rex Webster would take to new heights a few years later.
PREM70 started as a very clean wagon, with 50,000 miles on the clock, a 186 engine and four-wheel drums. Ian upgraded the brakes and suspension first up, then slotted in a 253, four-speed and VC Commodore disc-brake rear end in 1981.
Things really amped up when he took it to Dave Crispin’s workshop in 1982. Ian’s intentions were just for a set of late-model exterior door handles, but once in Dave’s shop, it blew out to a spectacular 18-month rebuild, with Dave, panel beater Dave Pullman and Ian himself all pitching in.
The body beautiful
The body mods included the door handles, subtle flared guards, a Mazda 626 aerial, a steel sunroof, deleted tailgate handle and the pièce de résistance, the ’56 Chev-style swing-out tail-light, which conceals the fuel filler. The detail to the undercarriage was impressive, with the spot welds smoothed, the seams and holes filled, the spare wheelwell removed and the fuel tank boxed in.
The whole deal was painted in gloss black, with plenty of body-colour detailing and just enough chrome. The engine bay was also smoothed, with the inner guards extended, the pressing marks removed, all holes filled and the firewall ledge removed. The whole lot was painted body colour, with more tasteful chrome and all wiring concealed.
Inside, Statewide Grilles took on the task of adapting a full HZ GTS dash and instrument cluster to the HG, cutting and shutting it to make it fit seamlessly. This was matched with a HZ Premier centre console and steering column. From there, the team added a host of goodies, including power windows, central locking and the electric sunroof. Other neat touches include Jaguar XJ6 interior lights above each B-pillar and lowered HG seats, rebolstered for a more modern appearance and fitted with VH headrests.
The drivetrain was typical 80s hot streeter, with the 253 hopped up with worked L34 heads, a Sig Erson cam and a 650DP Holley. HZ front discs were matched to VH rears, with a 3.08:1 third member. The rims were originally eight-inch Magnum Eliminators wrapped in BF Goodrich T/A tyres. What else?
Update, 24 March, 2023
Word is Ian has bought the wagon back!
It was a landmark build, and thankfully one that survives intact in the care of current custodian, Paul Brown. “It was the car to aspire to back in the mid-80s,” Paul says. “I owned an HT wagon when the HG was in its prime and it always floored me. I would ponder the car for hours at shows, so when it came up for sale 17 years ago I jumped at the chance.”
Paul’s HT was long gone but the passion was still there, evident from the pristine condition of the HG to this day. “I see myself merely as the custodian of an iconic car. I’ve resisted encouragement from my mates to put in a bigger engine and wheels. I just want to keep it as close as possible to the original build.”
So the 253 and VC Commodore driveline remain intact, along with the 80s interior, including the complete HZ dash.
The Eliminators were replaced with Appliance five-spokes late in the car’s show career, and amazingly the custom metallic blue paint is still as applied by Dave Crispin decades ago. And yes, the trick fuel filler hidden behind the left tail-light is still there. It was mind-blowing at the time and is a signature mod for this car.
“You pull up at a servo, pop the tail-lamp out and people come out of the woodwork to chat – they think they recognise the car but seeing that happen seals the deal,” Paul says. “It takes five minutes to fuel up but an hour and a half of talking before you get to leave!
“Ian Hazel deserves a lot of credit for having the foresight to equip the Prem with so much fruit that is only now becoming standard. I’ve met with Ian and he was happy to talk about the car and show me his build photos, which was fantastic.”
The HG build was Ian’s swansong, however, and he stepped away from the scene altogether after the sale of the HG. But such is the quality of the original build, and the care shown by Paul, that all of the 30-year-old custom features are still mint, and Paul enjoys the car on occasional outings with his wife and three kids.
“I must admit that every time I open the sunroof I shit myself and hope that it’ll close, but seriously, you walk around the wagon today and it’s a credit to the professionalism of Ian and Dave Crispin; it’s still perfect.”