Drag Challenge contender: 1000rwhp VF Valiant Regal

Keith Fabian's VF Valiant Regal looks mild on the outside but packs an 1100hp punch under the bonnet

Photographers: Jordan Leist

I’m sure I’m not the only one who, when they think about VEs or VFs, picture Valiants. Others, of course, might picture the similarly monikered Commodore models with a hot LS motor up front. Well, here’s a car that blurs the line between the two: a VF Valiant Regal packing a stonking, single-turbo, 6.0-litre LS.

First published in the November 2022 issue of Street Machine

Right about now, some of you Pentastar fans might be spitting chips in disgust. But the VF’s owner, Keith Fabian, is certainly not averse to Mopar-powered Vals, as evidenced by his blown 340-powered VG (SM, Feb ’20). For this VF Regal build, though, Keith was after something more late-model – something that wouldn’t break the bank if he hurt it and could put up a good showing at Street Machine Drag Challenge.

“I was thinking about going Barra; I just wanted to go with something late-model so I could chuck the family in it and go to the bakery,” Keith says. “But I still wanted a mild V8 sound, just with a small cam, and it all had to fit under the bonnet – that was a mission.”

Keith turned to Jeff Johnson to screw together a tough and reliable powerplant. “I wanted to start pretty mild, but Jeff just said, ‘Nup, let’s just get it done.’” With that in mind, Jeff took it from a blow-through carby deal to a full-blown animal, with a Holley Pro Dash housing a Dominator ECU, EGTs in each port and sensors everywhere.

“I did start with an alloy 6.0-litre, but I got a great deal on a brand-new, cast-iron LY6 block,” Keith says. “That’s why I really like Jeff; instead of insisting on a $5000 block, he was happy with the factory block, and even the crank is an LSA crank instead of something like a Callies Magnum – he builds mild engines that just perform. I’ve seen engine builds like this go thousands of kilometres and do lots of street duties and the odd bit of racing, and that’s what I wanted with this car – 80 per cent street duties and 20 per cent racing.”

Where the mild turns wild is when you spot the turbo hanging off the side of the motor. “Jeff was very excited when I told him what turbo I wanted to run,” Keith says. “I always wanted a large-frame turbo.

When people see a car that looks like this and then you pop the bonnet and they spot the turbo, I haven’t had anyone not laugh. It’s kind of silly, but good at the same time.” The whirly boi is a Garrett GTX55 Gen II and is nowhere near its limit on this engine, with plenty of room for growth if Keith feels the need. You know how the rest goes.

Keith had known about the car itself for a long time, so he knew it was a nice, solid example with next to no rust. To be honest, he could have quite easily rocked the original patina, but considering his business is West Coast Auto Smash Repairs, it’s probably not a good look to be rolling around in a dented-up old Valiant with crusty paint – even if it does make over 1000hp at the tyres!

Advanced Race Fabrication took care of the rollcage, which is teched for 8.0 seconds. It’s a pretty trick bit of gear that uses Billet Race Craft joiners, which are fully approved by FIA, Motorsport Australia and ANDRA and are super strong in every direction.

Keith can easily remove the door bars to replace the race seats with a bench seat. “I’ve modded the bench to go around the shifter, so I can still take four kids when I want to go cruising,” he says. Advanced Race Fab also did the chassis connectors and parachute mount and were suitably impressed with the fab work that Keith had already done before bringing it into the shop.

Keith decided to paint the car in the original Navajo Beige, complemented with a burgundy interior – just as it left the factory.

While the body remains pretty much original, Keith performed a couple of little tricks to fit the driveline and make sure the car could handle all that extra grunt. To fit that giant turbo, he had to move the left-hand inner fender out 40mm, while out back, the car was mini-tubbed, the leaf springs were moved inboard, and a new boot floor was fashioned to house the fuel cell. Like all well-executed modifications, you wouldn’t know anything had been done unless it was pointed out to you.

As a cheeky nod to the original output of the 225 slant-six, Keith left the ‘160-HP’ badge on the bootlid. “I joked to my mates that I’d make that much power in each cylinder,” he laughs. “It will run on pump fuel and E85, so there’s a 98 tune and an E85 tune. On gate pressure with E85, it makes 900hp, but when I turn on the CO2 bottles for the boost control, we made 1118hp at the hubs on 26psi. On 98, it still makes 808hp at 16psi.


Paint: Spies Hecker Navajo Beige
Type: LY6 iron block
Inlet: Holley Sniper
Throttlebody: Holley Sniper
Turbo: Garrett Gen II GTX55
Heads: Billet CNC-ported LS3
Valves: 2.165in (in), 1.590in (ex)
Cam: BTR hydraulic-roller
Pistons: Wiseco forged
Crank: GM LSA
Conrods: Molnar Power Adder Plus
Radiator: Custom alloy
Exhaust: Steampipe headers, 4in dump into 3.5in pipe
Ignition: GM
’Box: Reid-case Powerglide, transbrake
Converter: Shotgun
Diff: Strange Pro Case, 3.55:1 gears
Front: Torsion bar, Calvert shocks
Rear: Leaf springs, adjustable Calvert shocks, low-profile CalTracs traction bars
Steering: Standard
Brakes: Hemi Performance discs (f), Wilwood discs (r)
Rims: Weld Forged V-Series; 17×4.5 (f), 15×10 (r)
Rubber: Mickey Thompson 26×6.00 R17 (f), Mickey Thompson ET Street Pro Radial 275 (r)

All my boys at the shop and Justin for all the help.