ONLY a handful of cars can lay claim to twice being a Street Machine cover car, and Gerry Mediati’s show-stopping 1971 HQ One Tonner (SM, Jul ’04 and Feb ’07) is one of them.
First published in the March 2022 issue of Street Machine
From the outset, Gerry’s goal was to turn his Holden commercial into an Elite-level showstopper. The original build on the Panther Mica Tonner dubbed FLAME GRILLED featured an incredibly detailed engine bay (complete with injected 5.0-litre iron lion) along with a fully smoothed chassis and undercarriage. This, combined with phenomenal fit and finish, saw it snag Top Ute/Pick-Up and a Top 20 spot at Summernats 17. A further 12 months of refinement was rewarded with a Top 10 gong, 3rd Top Engine Bay and 2nd Top Ute/Pick-Up at ’Nats 18.
Even in our original 2004 feature, Gerry was adamant he wouldn’t stop until the Tonner was the best ever. He already had plans for yet another makeover, with additional body mods, more detail, and a bad-arse, blown EFI donk to give the car a much tougher persona. The induction set-up on this new mill was ground-breaking stuff indeed for its day, as converting traditional mechanical injection set-ups to EFI was in its infancy 18 years ago (see more, below).
After taking a break in 2005, Gerry got stuck back into the Tonner the following year. Unfortunately, disaster struck while the car was on the dyno getting tuned. The tailshaft’s front uni broke while the rear tyres were spinning at some 200km/h. The wayward shaft proceeded to shred the underside of the Tonner and smash the back of the gearbox, dumping trans fluid directly onto the hot exhaust. It all erupted into flames, burning the dyno operator’s arm and scorching the Tonner’s interior through the open driver’s door. Gerry also sustained an eye injury from extinguisher powder while he frantically doused the flames.
Although devastated, Gerry picked himself up and set about rebuilding the wounded Tonner yet again. As well as a fresh new look, he also added a bulletproof, 2000hp-capable driveline. Along with the blown EFI mill and the green flames the Tonner now sported, the other immediately noticeable difference was the spearmint leather interior by G-Trim (the old tweed interior was unsalvageable).
At Summernats 20, the new and improved FLAME GRILLED again scored a spot in the Top 10, along with 2nd Top Interior and Top Ute/Pick-Up. It also scored its second SM cover (Feb ’07).
“I set out to build Australia’s best One Tonner,” Gerry says today. “Given its success at Summernats, I can confidently say I achieved what I always wanted.
“The car didn’t go to another show after ’Nats 20,” he continues. “It’s never been seen. I brought it home and just parked it. At the time, I was getting stuck into my Fiat Abarth build. I’ve never driven it much because I didn’t want to wreck it, but it’s now time to bring it back and enjoy it – show people it’s still alive.
“I’ve sold my towing business and gone back to my trade as a panel beater and mechanic – these days I’m restoring cars for customers. I’m nearly finished a couple of builds, and once they’re done, I’ll get back onto the Tonner. I’ve got to take the motor out, fix an annoying oil leak and repolish all the alloy. I’m hoping to get it back on the road by the end of the year, or maybe the beginning of next.”
No doubt this truly stunning machine will turn just as many heads as it did back in 2007.
ENDERLE’S classic mechanical injection hats sure look bitchin’. However, they’re designed for high-horsepower, methanol-slurping drag engines operating at full throttle – not very suitable for street cruising. But converting them to EFI, as ProFlo Performance did with Gerry’s hat, solves many of those driveability problems.
“I think this was the second hat I ever converted,” says Paul Sant from ProFlo. “We’ve done a couple of hundred since then, but Gerry’s was one of the very early ones.”
For Gerry’s hat, the electronic injectors were fitted in a billet plate (A) sandwiched between the hat and the blower. The injectors sat upright inside the hat, squirting straight downwards. The two outside butterflies were blocked off, as the centre one (B) supplied more than enough air. What used to be hard fuel lines (C) were instead used for brake booster vacuum, while the throttle position switch was disguised as an Enderle barrel valve (D).
1971 HQ HOLDEN ONE TONNER
Paint: HOK Panther Mica
Engine: Holden 5.0L V8
Blower: GM 6/71
Injection: Enderle EFI hat
Diff: 9in, Strange centre, Mark Williams axles
Brakes: HQ Holden (f & r)
Rims: US Wheels; 18×8 (f), 20×11 (r)
Rubber: 225/50R18 (f), 295/45R20 (r)