Deluxe Rod Shop-built FX Holden

It might look like it from the outside, but deluxe Rod Shop’s latest build isn’t just a beautifully restored humpy. It’s a finely detailed pro touring masterpiece

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

Trends in modified-car culture ebb and flow, but something that has never waned in popularity is a finely detailed street car packing later-model engineering.

First published in the September 2022 issue of Street Machine

Steve and Kathleen Alldrick’s Deluxe Rod Shop is renowned for building such exquisitely finished, re-engineered masterpieces. Their track record of unveiling cars at events like Street Machine Summernats, MotorEx and the Victorian Hot Rod Show speaks volumes for the quality of their work, but even Steve was taken aback by how their latest build was received when it broke cover at Summernats 34.

“I really thought people would think it was just a nice old Holden,” he laughs. “We were unloading it in the Elite Hall on the Wednesday and had all these people like Mick Fabar and Peter Fitzpatrick coming up telling us they thought it was the best car we’d ever built.”

The car in question is Kevin Baird’s FX Holden, which appears at first glance like a stocker riding on plus-sized wheels. However, there is a mind-boggling amount of engineering hidden under the handmade panel skins.

“Kevin waited a year to get his car into the shop, and when I went to look at it I ended up poking holes all through it, and he was like, ‘Oh’,” Steve laughs. “He’d got it from country SA and paid okay money, but it was just rooted. Kevin is a farmer, and the FX was so bad he was selling cows to pay for all the metal we had to put into it!”

Once the humpy was parked in Deluxe’s Yea, Victoria headquarters, the team wasted no time in gutting it and setting out a plan to get rid of the rot and work on some mechanical upgrades. “The goal was to have it identifiable as a humpy Holden, so it started off that Kevin wanted the rust fixed, a 202 chucked in and a Rod-Tech front end fitted,” Steve explains. “That became a 308, and then a small-block Chev. I told him how much we’d have to cut to fit the SBC and that an LS is 40mm shorter.”

Deluxe didn’t just do an LS engine swap, though. The team fabricated an internal chassis with 3mm front rails, along with new sills, door skins, wheelarches, guard bottoms, trans tunnel and floors. They also raised the rear to make space for the four-link and coil-over struts. All these changes are hidden behind stock-looking sheet metal.

“It looks stock, but every single panel has been changed on this car,” Steve says. “The guards, bonnet and bumpers are all tighter and fit far better, and the back guard gaps were tightened up, lead-loaded and file-finished. The firewall was also de-crowned and moved back three inches to fit the 6.0-litre LS2, and we forward-mounted the radiator, which is why it has the Falcon bonnet latch.

“Before he was a farmer, Kevin was a service advisor for Dustings Holden for decades, so he’s a diehard GM-H man, and we joke that there are so many Ford parts on his car with the BA bonnet lock, Customline Y-block air cleaner, nine-inch, Mustang fuel tank, and stud pattern on the wheels.”

Kevin kept the engine GM though with that crate LS2, into which a VCM bumpstick and upgraded lifters and valve springs were slapped. With 400hp potential, there was really not much call for any further grunt-hunting, though the mill’s aesthetics required attention.

LS engines might be renowned for making bulk power on the cheap, but they’ve never been accused of being good-looking. To fix that, Steve fitted a Holley front-drive pulley set-up, along with an Edelbrock single-plane intake manifold with an adapter to mount a VE Commodore drive-by-wire throttle upright like a carburettor. This was then hidden under a customised oil bath-style air filter housing.

Similarly, while Deluxe could have bought an off-the-shelf radiator, that wouldn’t have been as aesthetically pleasing as the custom item made by Anthony at Radformer Radiators. “We curved the top panel and tank and gave him a wooden buck, so he had the exact dimensions,” Steve explains. “This way there was no guesswork and it would fit perfectly.”

The chase for a high-quality finish for the humpy didn’t stop there, either. Deluxe has made a habit of winning trophies for cars and hot rods with undercarriages as clean and well-finished as their shells.

“Kevin wanted to just chassis-black the underside, but I did stoneguard and chip-resistant Valspar underneath, as that’s the lowest standard that can come out of my shop,” says Steve. “Kevin would be trying to polish the original pitted chrome, whereas I needed to send it to be redone, and he understood once he saw the car coming together.”

The finished car blew minds when it debuted as part of the Summernats 34 Great Meguiar’s Uncover, and Steve thinks this may be because it combines the vibes of a restored classic, a high-end street machine and a re-engineered pro tourer into one cohesive package. “It looks right, but you’d have to park a stock FX next to it to understand,” he says. “It’s not ridiculously low, but you do stare over the roof. It’s not a hot rod and it’s not a street machine in my eyes. It’s an old Holden, but at the same time it isn’t as well.”

The project also took on a deeper meaning for Kevin as it came together. “Kevin had a stroke halfway through the build,” Steve says. “Living 20 minutes away from the shop, he’s our closest customer and he’s become a friend here. I think that coming here, running parts and being involved kept him occupied and gave him something to do. We’re now doing a Group N FJ race car for him.”

We’re sure that FJ will be another knockout from the Deluxe team!

1948 HOLDEN 48-215

Paint:PPG Milano Ivory
Brand:GM LS2 6.0L
Induction:Edelbrock single-plane, 100mm drive-by-wire throttle, 90-degree adapter,
custom oil bath air filter
Camshaft:VCM hydraulic-roller
Oil system:Holley sump
Cooling:Custom radiator
Exhaust:Custom headers, custom twin 2.5in system
Gearbox:Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual
Clutch:Centerforce 11in
Diff:Ford 9in, Strange Engineering centre, 3.9:1 gears
Front:Rod-Tech IFS
Rear:Rod-Tech four-link
Brakes:Wilwood Dynalite discs (f & r)
Master cylinder:Wilwood
Rims:Custom steelies; 17×7 (f), 17×8 (r)
Rubber:225/50R17 (f), 245/60R17 (r)

Steven and Kathleen would like to thank the team at Deluxe Rod Shop: Corey Scragg and Aron Heard for the fabrication, Jim Wolstencroft for fit and assembly, Troy Kinsmore for paintwork and Mick McCallum for bodywork; Scott Green at SG Auto Electrics for wiring; Scott Barter at Oxytech for all the powdercoating; Tim & Paul Irvine at Tin God Solutions for the wheels; Barbara at TCR for parts; Anthony at Radformer Radiators; Pete at Melomotive; Brendan at Car Builders; David Baldwin at Sew ’n’ Sew Auto Upholstery for the trim; Greg at A Class Metal Finishers; Kevin for allowing us to build him his dream.