Top 20 WB-fronted HQ Holden One Tonner

Garry Rosser’s WB-fronted HQ Tonner went from scrapyard find to Top 20 Summernats stunner

Photographers: Ben Hosking

The team at John Zelukovic Smash Repairs in Orange, NSW have turned out plenty of elite-level stunners over the past few decades, and their latest trick – a WB-fronted HQ One Tonner for Garry Rosser – ranks among the finest.

First published in the June 2024 issue of Street Machine

For Garry, the journey began over 10 years ago. “He came to us with the car after a long time of not much happening at another shop, and he wanted us to finish it off,” Ben Zelukovic says. “The work was not great to say the least, and it turns out the Tonner he had was badly bent; nothing would line up in the front.”

Ben discovered the issue while measuring it up against a straight Tonner at a local wrecker’s, which he says led to a lightbulb moment. “I thought, ‘If this one at the wreckers is straight, why not just start again with it?’ So, that’s what we did.”

The boys salvaged what they could from the first HQ, and a comprehensive, ground-up rebuild got underway. “We already had the engine and driveline done, and the interior was half-trimmed in the red vinyl,” Ben says. “So Garry opted to stick with that, to keep costs down.”

The chassis was stripped, and any unnecessary holes were filled. “I’ve always hated the gap in the chassis rails at the back of the cab, so I had the boys fill it in,” Garry says. “I don’t like the rain gutters either, so I had them deleted, and I love Kindig It door handles, so I got a pair of those.”

The front bar was given a nip-and-tuck job, with Garry opting for a WB Statesman nosecone. “I’ve always liked the look of a blower with a Stateman front on these utes, so that was a must for me,” he explains. Other notable body mods include a rear diffuser under the tray, and the fact the tray itself tilts like that of a dump truck.

“Garry wanted to keep the tilt tray from the first build, but we fully revised it so it actually worked,” Ben says. “The diffuser was my idea. It’s something I’d thought about doing for a while; it’s different!”

For the longest time, Garry insisted on a white exterior to offset the red trim. Ben can be quite persuasive, however. “Garry wanted a super-sparkly white, but I just couldn’t get one he liked,” Ben says. “We did a few test panels in this red, and he ended up coming around – thank God!” The colour, cheekily named Gazzberry, coats the body, chassis and tray.

Inside, Garry upgraded to VY SS seats, with trim by Wayne Birkin. “I liked the red, but we wanted something to break it up, so Wayne found the croc skin in red,” Garry says. “I like it; it’s something different. If people don’t like it, that’s fine, but he did a really nice job.”

The boys at JZ Smash modified the GTS dash to receive extra Auto Meter gauges, along with vents nicked from a car that Ben’s keeping close to his chest. “Let’s just say they’re custom,” he chuckles.

Garry wanted a Holden V8 for his V8 Holden, and the engine package had already been sorted by the time the Zelukovic crew got their hands on the Tonner. The 304 has been stroked to 383 cubes using a COME Racing crank, Scat H-beam rods and SRP blower pistons, and sitting atop the Edelbrock Performer heads is a 6/71 from The Blower Shop, sucking through a pair of Holley 650 carbs. At the time of writing, it’s only kicking around on a basic run-in tune, but both Ben and Garry reckon it should be able to churn out somewhere between 750 and 800hp once dialled in.

Behind the iron lion is a Hughes Performance Turbo 400, with a nine-inch rear using a McDonald Brothers four-link kit.

The build took around four years to complete, and when Garry first came to JZ Smash, his goal was simple: “He just wanted to get into the elite hall at Summernats,” Ben says. “He wanted a street cruiser, but he wanted it to get into that hall!”

Ben reckons the rush to get the HQ finished nearly killed him, the covers were pulled off in the elite hall at Street Machine Summernats 36. Not only did Garry fulfil his dream of placing with the best, but the Tonner scored a spot in the Top 20, along with the Top Ute trophy. “I honestly couldn’t believe it,” Garry says. “It was a dream come true; I just stood there looking at it and couldn’t believe it was mine! I still go out to the garage now and do the same thing.”

Ben was equally thrilled with the result. “I suppose I did expect it to go Top 60, but to get Top 20 and Top Ute was surreal,” he grins. “It’s a great honour for us, and I’m stoked for our crew and Garry.”

The Tonner will hit a few more shows before Garry puts it to work as a street cruiser. “I can’t thank Ben and the boys enough,” he says, “and my family for their patience and support throughout the build.”


Paint:Glasurit Gazzberry custom mix
Brand:Holden 383ci
Induction:TBS 6/71 blower
Carbs:Twin Holley 650cfm
Heads:Edelbrock Performer
Camshaft:Camtech solid-roller
Conrods:Scat H-beam
Crank:COME Racing
Oil pump:Standard
Fuel system:MagnaFlow pump
Cooling:Aussie Desert Cooler
Exhaust:15/8in extractors, 3in system
Gearbox:Hughes Performance TH400
Diff:9in, 31-spline, 3.55:1 gears
Front:Viking coil-overs
Rear:Four-link, Viking coil-overs
Brakes:Wilwood discs & four-piston calipers (f & r)
Master cylinder:Wilwood
Rims:KWC Forged; 19×8 (f), 19×10 (r)
Rubber:Achilles ATR Sport; 245/35R19 (f), Kumho Ecsta 285/35R19 (r)

Ben at John Zelukovic Smash Repairs; Darryl Harrington; Victor Yeghoyan; Luke Mitchell; Andrew Lynch; Wayne Birkin at Street Trim; my brother Mark; my son Cory and my wife Helen.