In the build: rescued XE panel van + V12 Jaguar XJS + Datsun 1600 sports sedan + HZ Kingswood + more

We check out some of our readers' project cars, from the April issue of Street Machine


Geoff Cliff
Ford XE Falcon panel van

“Hey guys, I’ve got a 1983 XE panel van that’s been a project for the last three or so months. I pulled it from a paddock in Tolmie for a couple of hundred bucks and did a full drivetrain resto on it, and cleaned up and stone-guarded the undercarriage.

“It’s running a dirt-cheap built 302 Cleveland and T5 five-speed combo. With all-new suspension front and rear, it should be a good, cheap getaway cruiser! I’m gonna rock the patina as long as I can; I’ve gotta fix a couple of rust holes and finish the last 5 per cent of fiddly stuff, then it’ll be out cruising Victoria alongside my Barra turbo XE sedan.

“I’ve got a couple other falcon projects too, like XB and XR utes, but they’re a long way off. Too many projects, not enough time!”

Jimmy Buckle
1978 Jaguar XJ-S

“Earlier this year I bought one of the cheapest running XJ-Ss in Australia. It’s an LPG conversion, which means there’s no prehistoric ECU or Lucas injection to worry about.

“Like all XJ-Ss it’s got rust problems, and the ignition system isn’t playing nice, especially after we accidentally popped the coil (whoops), but it’s pretty damn neat otherwise – even the stereo and electric windows work.

“For now I’ll be sticking with V12, because with a good set of pipes it should sound killer, and in terms of style I might even draw inspiration from the dirt rally guys in the UK!”

Mackenzie Wood
1984 Chevrolet Camaro

“I’ve always loved third-gen Camaros, so when this RHD Z28 appeared on Facebook Marketplace I snapped it up.

“The previous owner had started messily pulling it apart for an LS swap, so I was left with putting a grotty puzzle back together.

“It’s my first project car so I’ve had to teach myself lots along the way, but it’s now pretty close to hitting the road again.

“When the budget allows I’ll replace the factory 305/TH700 combo with a 350 and manual ’box, and swap the stock alloys for fat NASCAR steelies and lettered tyres for a Days of Thunder vibe.”

David Fisher
Toyota Camry

“Hi, I’ve had my LS3 VE wagon featured before in Readers’ Rockets; unfortunately I lost it in an accident. For the last 18 months I’ve been customising my five-speed manual 1996 Toyota Camry. It’s got a home-garage metallic paintjob, 18in rims, new CV joints and struts and an Exedy clutch.

“The 2.2l engine is being rebuilt with a 20-thou overbore and a ported and rebuilt head, all painted in Raptor coating.

“I’ll run the motor in, then send it back to my custom-whiz mechanic, Jimmy in Hawkesbury, to fit the twin Soarer CT12A turbos and Haltech ECU for a bit more fun.

“The interior is stock, except for the rear centre console I’m fabricating, with cupholders and USB ports.”

Simon Thompson
Datsun 1600

“I have a Datsun 1600 that has been in our family for over 30 years.

“I took ownership from my father 10 years ago and did a rebuild; I won the Victorian Hill Climb State Championship for under 2.0l in 2015, 2016 and 2017, with both L18 and SR20DE engines.

“I then turbocharged the SR and later crashed while competing at Ararat. Four years later, it’s now undergoing another full rebuild with all fibreglass panels and big flares and wheels, classed as a C3 Sports Sedan.

“For more, check out my YouTube channel, @gofiveone0.”

Daniel Burchall
Holden HZ Kingswood

“Hi SM, here is my HZ Kingswood build. I bought it as a roller for $700; it was solid with some minor rust and was reasonably straight aside from a few trolley dings. I’ve done nearly all the work myself: rust repairs, bodywork and paint.

“I converted my single-car garage into a spray booth with ventilation to facilitate the project. It’s painted in Honda Tahitian Green. I was inspired by GM-H Caribbean Turquoise; this colour is just slightly greener. I’ve fitted a VS 5.0l, 4L60E and 10-bolt Salisbury diff with a 3.55:1 LSD. I fabricated a 2.5in Mandrel exhaust with re-worked HSV headers and Hooker Aerochamber mufflers.

“It sounds amazing but it’s no race car; it’s a complete nut-and-bolt, frame-off resto. I’ve spent the money saved on labour replacing as many fasteners, seals, bushes etc. as possible. Almost everything is new, and the only outsourced work has been the seat retrimming, which is done in factory Chamois vinyl.

“I’m aiming to cruise it with my family and show it in street class events, and be competitive with cars built with a chequebook. I hope to match it with those guys at a fraction of the budget!”

Got a sweet ride that’s currently in the build and want to share it with our readers? Email photos of it (2MB+ each) along with some details on the build to [email protected].