PURISTS who accidentally picked up Street Machine magazine while looking for stories on boring survivors, avert your eyes. While Holden turned out a quarter-million EHs, 57 years of attrition has seen cherry, untouched examples now rarer than chickens with lips. But this didn’t dissuade Queensland’s Glenn Swift from taking one such unicorn and building a rad 400rwhp streeter out of it.
First published in the November 2021 issue of Street Machine
“When I got it, the car was totally original, in grandpa-spec and with all the NASCO accessories,” Glenn says. “I probably walked around it in the shed for three weeks debating whether to cut it up, but my son Jamie convinced me to put an LS in it.”
Glenn purchased the untouched peach of a sedan off his mate Graham from the EH Car Club, whose uncle had bought it brand new. A tidy sedan in the shed completed Glenn’s ambition of owning an example of every EH body style.
“I’ve been collecting EH Holdens since I was 15, but I’d never had the four of them together,” he says. “I have a Kalgoorlie Gold wagon with a twin-carb six; it is detailed underneath, lowered on steelies, and is all mint. The panel van has a 308 and Trimatic, which is fully detailed and pretty neat. My EH ute is totally original – it’s an old farm ute and the paint is weathered nicely.”
With Glenn’s latest addition to his EH collection offering a clean, dry starting point, his and Jamie’s job was made far simpler than most 1960s projects. Still, Monro Race Cars broke out the grinder and MIG, stretching the stock rear wheel tubs to the rails so a pair of 15x8in Billet Specialties fatties and 245/60 tyres could squeeze under the precious, untouched factory rear guards.
Jamie’s name may be familiar to SM readers as the bloke with the fearsome NOGILT VH Commodore, which has run 8.08@169mph thanks to a stout turbo LS combo. However, Glenn’s EH was destined to be a cruiser with a bit of attitude rather than a drag weapon. Still, as his plans called for four times the original horsepower, an HR front end replaced the stock tobacco tin-braked kingpin set-up.
Pedders springs and shocks with HQ disc brakes live up front, working on a steering rack from a UC Torana, while out back are VH Commodore drums on the shortened BorgWarner diff. It’s a simple package, but one that has been proven over decades to work well.
As the proprietor of Swifty’s Race Engines, Jamie handled setting up a stout 6.0-litre Gen IV L98 for Dad’s EH. Running 400rwhp isn’t a big ask from the late-model small-block, so the insides were largely left alone, apart from some hand-porting of the heads, fresh Clevite bearings, a Comp bumpstick swinging 238/242 degrees, Morel lifters, PAC valve springs and a Melling oil pump.
Custom four-into-one headers get the burnt air-fuel mixture out of the tight engine bay and into a full twin three-inch exhaust, while a Castlemaine Rod Shop sump fits around the EH’s new front end and a custom alloy radiator with twin Spal thermo fans keeps a lid on temperatures. Fitting the new rad into the EH’s nose took some careful mods to the factory radiator support, and the engine bay was also treated to fresh Barwon Blue paint.
“I was thinking of putting a 308 in it, but Jamie told me I’d spend $20K to get a 5.0-litre going as well as the basic LS I have in it now,” Glenn explains. “To get a 400rwhp 308, it would have cost three times as much, and this gets up and goes! It’s like instant power, and being a two-speed it really winds out.”
Behind the thumpy LS is a Powerglide from Northside Transmissions, paired with a 3500rpm stally from The Convertor Shop. With Glenn’s EH being a factory auto car, its larger transmission tunnel came in handy, saving him and Jamie from having to make a new piece.
Since finishing the sedan, Glenn has wasted no time in racking up the kilometres on Queensland roads. “We go down to Joe’s Diner, anywhere there is cars-and-coffees, and we head to Cooly Rocks On most years,” he says. “Once I have got my panel van build done, I’ll get the sedan down the track. Jamie reckons it should do an 11, but we’ll have to see.”
That should be a bit more exciting than the 20.8 seconds that stock-standard EHs were timed at back in the day!
The holy grail for many early-Holden fans is to find a car dripping with period NASCO accessories, just like Glenn did. “The taxi bar, wind deflectors and wind splitters on the bonnet are all original to this car,” he says. “It did have chrome sill moulds, but I took them off because they can be a rust trap”
GLENN & KAREN SWIFT
1964 HOLDEN EH SEDAN
|Original Barwon Blue, Fowlers Ivory roof
|Throttle Bodies Australia inlet, 90mm throttlebody
|Comp Cams 238/242
|Melling oil pump, CRS sump
|Twin Walbro fuel pumps
|Alloy radiator, twin Spal fans
|Custom four-into-one headers, twin 3in system
|Standard LS coils, relocated
|Convertor Shop 3500rpm
|BorgWarner housing, Truetrac centre, 3.08:1 gears
|Pedders springs & shocks, HR front end, UC Torana steering rack,
|Reset leaf springs and Pedders shocks, mini-tubbed to chassis rail
|HQ Holden discs, (f), VH Commodore drums (r)
|WHEELS & TYRES
|Billet Specialties; 15×3.5 (f), 15×8 (r)
|Nankang 165/80R15 (f), Kenda 245/60R15 (r)
Rod’s Racks; John Monro; Craig at Extreme Custom Engineering; my son Jamie Swift at Swifty’s Race Engines for the LS; Mick Hanley at Northside Transmissions; Les Duncan for the wiring; John Desmond for the tuning; special thanks to my wife Karen for letting me play with these cars