Home-built Holden 355-powered 1965 HD Premier

Green with envy - that's the reaction Darren Young's neat-as-a-pin, 355 V8-powered HD Holden tends to inspire

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

AS DARREN Young surveys his uber-slick 1965 HD Premier, a smile creeps across his face. “To have built almost every part of this car myself has been very rewarding,” he says. “I’m pretty chuffed with how it has turned out.”

First published in the February 2022 issue of Street Machine

The fact that it’s gracing these pages proves we agree. And while Darren’s skills as a qualified panel beater and spray painter are apparent throughout, it’s the memories made and experience gained during his Holden’s long transformation that matter most to him.

Darren’s adventures with the HD began 18 years ago, when he chanced upon it for sale for next to nix: “I jumped on it – it was a massive $2400,” he laughs. “The car was painted gold, so I gave it a quick change of colour over the next six days to a solid shade of green.”

Powered by a 202ci with Trimatic and with a lowered stance and a set of mags, the HD soon became a sweet turnkey daily.

Over the following seven years, Darren turned up the wick by adding an SC14 Toyota supercharger, before a rebuild of the old red motor saw the blower swapped out for a cheap AR70 turbo. “It went hard,” says Darren of the hairdryer-assisted combo. “But the supercharger looked lonely on the shed floor, so after a lot of nutting out, she became twin-charged, running the turbo through the carby, which was on top of the SC14.”

The home-built monster never saw a dyno, though it was good for a mid-eight on the eighth-mile. But the twin-charged affair proved temperamental: “It was somewhat unreliable, blowing head gaskets quite often,” Darren admits.

The final straw came 11 years ago, when the heavily force-fed unit blew yet another gasket while Darren was out at the drags. He then found rust lurking beneath the front and rear windscreens. It all pointed to the car needing a thorough rethink and overhaul.

“Over the years I’d done a couple of quick paintjobs on the HD, so I decided that now was the time to do it properly,” Darren says. “I wanted to build the old girl the way I had always dreamed of – with a V8. You can’t beat that sound!”

While the body was in pretty good shape, the floors were less than stellar and required a bunch of new tinwork. Darren employed his panel skills to beautify the engine bay, fabbing a bead-rolled firewall, smoothed inner guards and a clean radiator support with a custom bonnet-catch relief.

To fill that engine bay hole, Darren took a punt on a cheap, second-hand 355ci stroker Iron Lion. It never lived long enough to see street time; merely driving the Prem in and out of the workshop chewed the cam and lifters. “As I had already done the rest of the work, I decided to give the engine rebuild a crack, with help from my good mate Geoff Manley,” Darren says.

The fellas jam-packed the Holden block with a bunch of decent gear for a reliable yet tough ride. A 355 stroker crank works Sealed Power hypereutectic pistons via H-beam rods, while a Crane 288 solid cam operates the valves in the early HDT heads. Darren reckons it will be good for around 450-500 neddies.

As everything fell into place, Darren moved on to the crescendo – dousing his beloved HD in a delicious Atomic Green Mica hue. It’s a shade that’s stuck since that initial spray job, thanks to the ENVYHD number plates that Darren’s wife Melissa gifted him some 16 years ago.

Inside, the HD has been decked out in tan vinyl by Kade from Corowa Upholstery. Darren also incorporated some comfort enhancements: “I’m six-foot-two, and as the Premier seats don’t adjust, I’ve always felt uncomfortable in them,” he says. “So I’ve used VX Commodore seats and removed the headrests to keep the old look.”

The seat runners were also shortened to keep Darren’s noggin off the headlining. The original Prem bench has been retained in the back, while a smattering of Auto Meter gauges and a B&M MegaShifter offer some modernity.

Throughout the 11-year build, Darren remained steadfast in wanting to drive the Prem whenever and wherever, without raising unwanted attention. “It’s all engineered; I had enough issues as a young bloke, so now I’ve built the HD how I wanted, but this time I made sure everything was street-legal,” he says.

That’s not to say Darren considers the HD finished, though: “Future plans are to mini-tub it and possibly fit a four-link rear, as I have a pair of 10-inch-wide Center Lines begging to go on the old girl. I love the pro street look.”

For now though, Darren is aiming for a heap of seat time. “I’ll do shows while it’s pretty and take it out on the strip later,” he says. “I built the HD to drive, so that’s what’s going to happen. I don’t see the sense in spending all of this time and money on something that you’re not going to drive.”

It’s hard to fault Darren’s logic there!


Paint: DeBeer Atomic Green Mica
Brand: Holden 355ci
Induction: Holley 750cfm
Manifold: Torque-Power
Heads: Early HDT
Camshaft: Crane 288 solid
Conrods: H-beam
Pistons: Sealed Power hypereutectic
Crank: Stroker 355 TAE Oil pump: JP Performance high-volume, V6 Conversions sump
Fuel system: Carter Black pump, PULP
Cooling: HQ four-row alloy radiator, homemade shroud, Aeroflow fans
Exhaust: CRS headers, dual 3in pipes
Ignition: MSD billet distributor & leads
Transmission: Trimatic, full-manual shift kit
Converter: Dominator 3500rpm stall
Diff: Early-60s Chev 10-bolt, 3.55:1 gears
Front: Lovells springs, CRS 2in drop spindles, Monroe shocks
Rear: Reset heavier leaf springs, Monroe shocks
Steering: Shortened VK Commodore rack-and-pinion, VP Commodore column
Brakes: VS Commodore discs (f), Pontiac drums (r)
Master cylinder: Aftermarket 1in-bore HQ-style
Rims: Center Line Pro Stock; 15×4 (f), 15×8.5 (r)
Rubber: Radar Classic 155 (f), BFGoodrich T/A 265 (r)


My wife Melissa for putting up with me and my obsession with cars; Kade from Corowa Upholstery for the trim; Geoff Manley; Troy Maguire and Rob Barbour for being a phone call away; Matt Mundie; Alan from Loud Pedal Vehicle Engineering; Scott Briant for repairing and polishing the stainless mouldings