Jayden Zahra’s HSV VL Walkinshaw replica

Sixteen-year-old Jayden Zahra and his VL Walky replica project in the build


YOUNG fella Jayden Zahra has almost finished his mechanical apprenticeship with the family business, Spimar Car Repairs. All the while, he’s been toiling away in the background building his dream car.

This article was first published in the September 2019 issue of Street Machine

Looking around the workshop, it’s clear your family has a real passion for Holdens.

Both my parents have had Holdens ever since they got their driver’s licence. I was brought up around them; I was even picked up from hospital as a newborn in a VS Calais. My dad’s father was an avid Holden enthusiast and my mum’s brothers also had Holdens, so I guess it runs in both our families. My dad Mario has been into cars since he was a toddler. He started building an HZ ute when he was in Grade 6 and turned that into a show car. He had some nice daily street cars and a full-blown Pontiac drag car. My mum Helen has had a Gemini show car, an RX-4 rotary and loves her sports bikes. I guess that would probably explain why I carry that same gene. I’m now 16; school wasn’t for me, so with the support of my family I left to pursue my dream career in the automotive industry, which I have always had a love for. I’m not far off completing my apprenticeship as a mechanic, working in my parents’ workshop.

The VL Walkinshaw replica you’re building is going to be one very cool car. Can you tell us about it?

It started life as a golden brown VL Berlina; we bought it in December of 2016 and slowly started pulling it down mid-2017. It has taken a long time to find genuine new parts and plan the engine and running gear; Mum has spent countless hours searching for and sourcing all the bits I need. I wanted to build this car to appear as a very clean, street VL Walkinshaw, but underneath be a wolf in sheep’s clothing with the engine and running gear combination. The bodykit will also have slight modifications to improve on the standard kit. I’ll be deleting certain unwanted parts and sheet-metal work, along with hiding some of the wiring and mechanicals. I do the majority of the work with my dad after work most days if there are no customer cars that need to be finished off, and most weekends.

What’s the finished product going to look like?

It will have a much more refined body – deleting side-skirt jacking points and the exhaust hole in the rear bar, and tidying up all the gaps of the kit to bring it up to modern fit-and-finish standards. The new fibreglass kits just don’t fit like you might expect. The paintwork will make way for the genuine Panorama Silver colour to be applied. I want the interior to be the same as a genuine Walkinshaw when they came from the factory, but again, upholstered tight and without the ‘factory wrinkles’ that the cars are known for. Genuine head deck and a genuine re-trimmed steering wheel. The only real difference will be the addition of VE SS pedals to accommodate a fly-by-wire engine set-up. The wiring will all be custom, with the wiring inside the bay hidden away. Various custom-made aluminium parts, such as a header tank, heat exchanger tank, washer bottle, clutch reservoir, brake fluid reservoir and power steering bottle will find their way into the engine bay. The wheels I’ve chosen are 20-inch Walkinshaw rims. There’ll be a whole lot of other details as the build progresses, with the plan being the car will be finished by the time I’m 18.

What was the inspiration for the build?

Well, it was always going to be a Holden, as Dad had given me the option to either build a white Group Three VK or a VL Walkinshaw. Obviously I chose the Walky; they’ve always been my dream car and my preference due to the unique look of them. My dad had just finished building his seriously cool replica HDT VK Brock, with a race car twist to it, and it was my turn. We ended up going with the idea of using the last HSV running gear in the first HSV vehicle produced.

What have you learned from your dad during the build so far?

My dad is a perfectionist and has set his heart on building this car with me so that I can see how much hard work and hard-earned money is involved in building a quality car. He has put all his heart into this build so that I can enjoy this car with him, cruising together in both our builds when that day finally arrives.

What sort of running gear will be in it?

The car will be powered by a 6.2L LSA with a custom camshaft. Bolted onto that will be a T56 Magnum Tremec manual gearbox with a Mal Wood conversion. We chose to go with an original BorgWarner differential with 31-spline axles and a Harrop Truetrac, and a chrome-moly custom tailshaft. Brakes are Harrop 381mm discs with six-piston calipers, and there’s a coil-over conversion for the front suspension. It’s all finished off with a twin three-inch custom-made exhaust system.

Jayden’s dad Mario converted a VK Vacationer into a replica Brocky, with a stout, beautifully detailed Holden V8 up front topped by a VL Group A injection manifold, good for 570hp. His Pontiac drag car (inset) competed in the Super Gas class, running a best of 8.80 before being sold several years ago

There is a lot of detail and care going into the car; what do you hope the final product will be like?

I want to be able to show the car at a few major events like MotorEx, so it must be on par with Dad’s VK. I’m aiming at getting the bodykit and body as close to perfect as possible. It’ll be a nice, sleek car that will seem tame but will have the power when I want it to be there.

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– Aged around 21 or younger and have a neat ride? Send some pics and info to: Young Guns, Street Machine, Locked Bag 12, Oakleigh, Vic 3166 or email us at: [email protected]