The first rule of custom building is not to make it look like a custom build, like Neville Pemble's stunning FC Holden Station Sedan

Photographers: Tony Rabbitte

Nothing special on this Holden FC Station Sedan, just a few stainless steel bolts here and there

This article on Neville’s FC Holden was originally published in the January 2011 issue of Street Machine

WE ALWAYS expect the next one. You see a street machine as perfect as this Holden FC Station Sedan and you want more from whoever built it. What’s Neville Pemble’s next project? “You have to be kidding!” he says. “That must be a trick question.”

Holden FC Station Sedan bonnet upNeville’s put a lifetime’s effort into his Holden. You could almost be forgiven for not realising it, because a casual glance tells you it’s a nicely restored old wagon. Then the more you look, the more it blows your mind. This ain’t the same car grandad went a-courtin’ in but an amazing Q-ship chock full of detail and perfection.

The V8-powered FC is not Neville’s first street machine, though. “Ten years ago I had an EH panel van show car,” he explains. “I was the first to put a V6 Ecotec into one.”

A change in circumstances meant that had to go and the FC was only destined to wear the stickers of Neville’s pool-pump business as it trundled around Sydney’s northern beaches.

“I added a stainless steel bolt here and there and, well, you know how it is.”

He couldn’t help himself. The Holden was ripe for it, too. Bought on eBay from Wollongong’s Australian Motorlife Museum, it’d been filled with fish oil and stored well.

“The body needed just about zilch done to it,” Neville says. It was so nice his mates all reckoned it was too good for him, which got Neville thinking. Mitch Reinders, a good friend whose wild FC (SM, Dec ’09) made the SMOTY finalists list, happens to live just down the road.

Holden FC Station Sedan inside“I kept looking at Mitch’s and thinking I’d like to go a little further with mine. Mitch’s is a really grunty drag thing. I wanted class.”

Class he got, though not without headaches. Simple stuff turned difficult. He ordered the Ford nine-inch diff housing and axles from a wrecker: “They forgot to mention the axle was twisted and the housing was bent.” Craft Differentials fixed that. The sump, ordered to clear the HR front end, had to be modified to fit properly. The custom engine mounts were wrong too, and had to be ditched. The list went on.

Holden FC Station SedanThen Neville discovered his FC under a tarp outside the panel beater’s shop.

“When I saw that and the surface rust, I took it back! I had the car at two panel beaters and painters who promised everything and delivered nothing. I had asked Vince at Straightline Paint and Panel to spray the car first but he was doing an old Buick and only does one restoration at a time.”

But Vince took pity on Neville’s anguish. “He did the extra 10 per cent the other painter didn’t do and got most of the imperfections out of it. He spent a lot of time getting my FC right and it made the difference.” The colours are virtually identical to the original FC Ice Green and Forest Green, which go together very well, although Neville discovered Holden never used them in combination.

Meanwhile, a $2000 wrecked VN Commodore provide an engine, steering column and front brakes before the leftovers sold for $1500. Bargain! Except that the brakes didn’t fit inside the billet wheels. Bummer. Back to HQ discs, then.

CDA bored, balanced and rebuilt the donk and painted it grey — “So I can say it’s got a grey motor!” It was matched to a manualised Turbo 700 built by BMS Performance.

When he first took the FC to shows, it had the original VN V8 banana intakes on top, and people were unimpressed. This prompted him to go for trumpets fabricated by Evolution Motorsports, a set-up that also acts as a hidden air filter.

“I went to a hell of a lot of trouble to hide the wiring,” he adds. Even more trouble to hide the throttle cable, which links to a throttlebody that’d been turned through 90 degrees to accommodate the cool custom air filter system.

“Once I’d blinged it up under the bonnet I didn’t have to do much more.”

Holden FC Station Sedan dashThe stunning interior is like an original FC, only to far higher standards after Lyn’s Trim got stuck in. Greg and Lyn travelled to Sydney twice to measure and install things on site. Jason, from Manly Auto Instrument Repairs, customised the VDO gauges by painting the needles to match the bodywork and adding LEDs for the indicators, neat touches that really set off the project.

This kind of thing paid off immediately. Neville had the FC registered on 19 March 2010 and won Top Street Machine at a show the next day. It’s been winning ever since, missing out on tinware only at the Meguiar’s MotorEx, where the competition is the toughest you’ll find.

Holden FC Station Sedan dash“It’s a good outlet for me because I work from home, so it’s good to get out to car shows,” Neville says.

He drives the FC to the shows too — usually in convoy with Mitch, which would be a great sight to see. That’s about the only driving it does at this stage but the older it gets, the more it’ll be enjoyed on the street.

Still, it’ll probably never wear the stickers of the pool-pump repair business.

Colour: PPG Shannon Green/Forester Green

Type: VN Holden 304ci V8
Inlet: Custom trumpets & filter
Pistons: Hypertec flat-tops, moly rings
Cooling: Aussie Desert Cooler radiator, twin Davies Craig thermo fans
Exhaust: Custom 2¼-inch mandrel-bent system
Ignition: Custom

Gearbox: Turbo 700, manualised
Diff: Nine-inch LSD, 3.25:1
Converter: 2500rpm

Front end: HR Holden
Steering: Shortened VB Commodore rack, VN column
Suspension: Kmac coils (f), Carrolls leaves (r), lowered 2in, Monroe shocks
Brakes: HQ Holden, XB Falcon master cylinder, Gemini booster

Wheels: Billet Specialties Street Lites, 15×6 (f), 15×7 (r)
Tyres: Pirelli P3000 175/65 (f), Falken Ziex ZE912 225/50 (r)

Tiller: Zoops 14in Classic
Trim: Leather & vinyl
Meters: VDO, customised
Shifter: B&M Pro-Ratchet