Leanne Tanning’s L98-powered Holden HQ

Leanne's Space Blue HQ looks very similar to her old one, except this one has been repowered by a crate L98 motor with a Harrop supercharger

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

LEANNE Tinning used to cruise the steamy streets of Darwin in a blue HQ Holden powered by a 350 Chev with a four-speed Top Loader. It’s only taken a couple of decades, but she’s back in the driver’s seat and has levelled up.

First published in the February 2021 issue of Street Machine. Photos: Chris Thorogood

Is this your old cruiser?

No, we sold it in 1992 when my daughter Jaimi-Lee was born. My husband Chris promised that he’d build me another one, and it’s taken a while. We couldn’t find one with a good body, and when we did, Chris still had to source a set of doors. He made a 3000km round trip to Alice to get some, only to find they were rusty, but then a great set turned up locally. This Premier is the same colour – Space Blue – and has the same Center Line wheels, but that’s about where the similarities end.

Leanne Tanning

What’s been done to it?

It started out as an SA-built HQ Premier, but it was just a shell. We did all-new sills, new floorpans, new cowl panels and the doors. It’s been repowered by an L98 crate motor with a Harrop supercharger, backed by a Turbo 400 gearbox and a sheet-metal nine-inch.

Crikey! I bet it steers and stops better than the old one, too.

Definitely. It has tube-arm front suspension, and coil-overs front and rear. The brakes are all Wilwood, so it’s a much better car to drive. Crazy, because my old HQ was my daily driver! This one is a street car, but I only drive it every weekend or so.

How does it go in the heat of the tropics?

No problems. It’s got a PWR radiator, power steering and air conditioning, so the car doesn’t get hot and neither do I. The only heat was from Chris when I said I wanted my Holden to be as good as his XR Falcon.

Oh no – a Ford fan and a Holden fan under the same roof! Can you co-exist?

I’ve always had Holdens. Before the first HQ I had a TE Gemini, and until recently I’ve had a succession of HSV ClubSport R8s. They were my daily cars, but now I’ve got a Lexus IS 350F Sport. Yes, Chris is a big Ford fan, and has done XRs and XWs, plus he’s also got a Dodge Challenger, so with this being the first Holden he’s modified, it was all new to him.

We met you at Red CentreNATS 5; how did you go?

Chris had entered his XR a couple of years prior, so it was my turn. We only got the HQ finished and registered the Monday before, loaded it on the truck Tuesday night, and drove down the Wednesday morning. Despite this, it all went really well with no issues at all. At the time I think I was the only female to have competed for Grand Champion at Red CentreNATS. I had to drive in all the events, and I was a bit nervous about the drags, but nothing went wrong. We got in the Top 10 Elite, so it was worth it.

What’s next for this Holden girl?

Chris has done all right, as he’s built two cars to receive Top 10 Elite at RCN; one Ford and one Holden. My brother-in-law Paul did all the paint and panel for the HQ at his Darwin business, The Resto Shop, and is building an XP Falcon coupe, so maybe we’ll go to the next RCN with him. We just love cars.

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