STOP PRESS: Trent’s VL ran a new PB of 7.67-seconds at 179mph at the Sydney Dragway Jamboree event, 22 May.
Finishing third outright at Drag Challenge Weekend is no mean feat, but to do it at your first tilt at an organised drag racing event is amazing. Yet this is what Trent Brimble managed with his wicked-fast VL Commodore.
Trent’s previous VL, a 900hp RB30-powered Calais, wasn’t tech-inspected, so one nine-second pass at Willowbank was enough to get him touched by the ban stick. This sparked the build of the new, LS-powered VILLIN.
“I got a 9.40 out of my Calais, and then I sold it to a mate and he went 8.99,” Trent says. “I actually bought this VL from Sydney, as it was a mate’s car that he’d sold, but the bloke left it sitting in the shed so we brought it back and cleaned it up. It already had the big diff and ’cage.”
Trent’s eyes are on a solid prize for 275 radial-shod sedans: “I want a seven-second street car; that’s the goal.”
To help achieve this, the factory Turbo VL no longer runs with six-in-a-row, with Trent instead opting for a 403ci iron-block LS that has been built by good mate Jamie Swift, who owns the NOGILT turbo VH Commodore as well as Swifty’s Race Engines. The LQ9 rocks a Callies DragonSlayer crank, Oliver rods and JE Ultra pistons, while L98 rectangle-port heads were given a CNC port job by Higgins.
Topped by a Plazmaman intake and breathing through a GTX55 turbo, the E85-swilling package is controlled by a Holley Dominator ECU, and also runs Johnson tie-bar lifters and a custom-ground hydraulic-roller from Lil John’s Motorsports in the USA.
“My good mate Swifty put the motor together for me, and I bought exactly what he told me to get, because I trust him,” laughs Trent. “I bought the car and was collecting parts for a while, but I didn’t start building the VL until I had sold the Calais. Once I moved that on, it took about a year to finish.”
A TCE converter and Elite Automatics-built Powerglide live behind the stout LQ9, with the heavy-duty nine-inch out back filled with ripe fruit like 35-spline axles and 3.5:1 gears. They have quite the job to do given the prodigious snot VILLIN makes.
The Next Up Performance & Dyno-tuned monster has run 1130hp at the hubs on E85, though Trent admits this was only on 20psi; the factory cast block could theoretically handle up to 30psi.
The car was freshly finished for Drag Challenge Weekend 2020, and Trent completed Day One with an 8.63@161mph on a brand-spankers combo. He wrapped up the weekend with a PB of 8.41@159mph, laid down in the heat of Day Three at Willowbank.
On the slippery surface of an oven-hot Warwick, the VL even went 5.56@130mph over the eighth, so the first-gen Commodore has serious pace. “I was super-nervous about Warwick, as people had told me it was a scary track, but it was great,” Trent says.
“I definitely want to do Kenda and some events in it,” he continues. “I only ever sent the Calais once, did the licensing passes for this car, and then did Drag Challenge Weekend! That’s why my mile-per-hour was down, because I was still figuring out how it all worked. It’s got mountains left in it.”
1987 HOLDEN VL COMMODORE
Class: Haltech Radial Blown
Engine: 403ci LQ9
Turbo: Garrett GTX55
Transmission: Manualised Powerglide
Diff: 9in, 3.5:1 gears
All-time PB: 7.67 at 179mph
Best DCW 2020 Pass: 8.41 at 159mph