ProCharged HZ Holden One Tonner

This elite-level HZ Tonner was built to get Levi Chitty hot under the collar on the burnout pad - and cool him down afterwards thanks to the handy under-tray esky!

Photographers: Troy Barker

Things can get pretty hectic when a fully armed honeybee flies into a moving car. A flick can send it back out the window or, in Levi Chitty’s case, directly under his old man’s double-plugger-clad foot. “We were in Dad’s Tonner,” Levi recalls. “It ran a 327ci four-speed and was a nice ute.” Well, it was until his dad, Jack, recoiled from the bee sting, dropped an f-bomb and crashed into a Stobie pole.

First published in the July 2022 issue of Street Machine

Young Levi and his father were both okay, but the HQ One Tonner was worse for wear. “We put it back on the road but never matched up the new panels,” Levi says. “It was pinched about three months after and we never saw it again.”

When Levi was able to purchase his own wheels a couple of years later, he went through an XB Falcon, a TX Gemini, an LH Torana and a four-speed EH Holden with a 186S and a floor made of air. But despite the plethora of rides that had impressed young Levi, it was Jack’s missing Tonner that stirred the fondest memories. And Levi knew where he could get a tough one.

“A mate of mine owned this,” he explains of the metallic brown HZ Tonner parked between us. “I put it out there that if he ever wanted to sell it, I’d buy it. It had a Mexican crate motor, and I knew it could do a great burnout, so I was stoked when he got in touch in 2017 to sell up.”

Given the tinware this Tonner picked up at last year’s Adelaide Auto Expo, it’s clear it’s had just a bit of work done to it since ’17.

First, Levi pulled the 350 the Tonner came with. “I drove it around with the 350 in it for about six months, but when I decided to give it a birthday, I sold the motor, as I didn’t know what was in it,” he says.

Envisioning big wheels, new paint and shitloads of stealthy horsepower, Levi then turned to Adam at Southern Classics & Customs, who in turn tapped Jason at Lonsdale Autoshop to oversee the project. Jason is a dab hand at managing these things, suggesting they build the car to completion, disassemble it, then worry about the paint and panel. That way, the final step would be a simple assembly job. Theoretically, anyway.

“Levi wanted a ProCharged small-block, but you’ve got to throw heaps of killer parts at it to ensure it holds together,” Jason explains. To that end, Jason engaged Fury Romeo at Lonsdale Engine Worx to build the bottom end while he concentrated on the top end and chassis modifications. “I can build a tough engine, but my workload was already insane, and Fury loves a stroker,” Jason laughs.

Plenty of previous history between the two shops meant the joint project came together without too many hassles, although one did occur. “We had an oil leak and didn’t know where it was coming from,” Jason says. “We’d do a run on the engine dyno and it would stonk; then we’d walk into the room and there’d be oil everywhere.” It was a major drama for a bit, until Jason found a pinhole in the sump. “It’s a quality brand, but it had a little imperfection.

It really wasn’t a big issue, but it was a big issue until we worked out what it was,” he says. “If it had gone into Levi’s Tonner like that, it would have been almost impossible to find.”

Jason also removed the body and got busy on the chassis, altering it to accept a variety of under-tray cooling aids and generally bulking things up. Once ready, it went around the corner to Adam at Southern Classics & Customs.

“They had it all sand-blasted, and that’s when Adam gave me the bad news: The chassis was cactus in areas Jase just couldn’t have seen,” Levi says. “What looked like good metal was paper thin, and the bits that needed the most strengthening were the ones that were most rooted.

It could have been repaired, but weighing up time and labour versus finding a good chassis, there was no comparison. Besides, I figured Jason could just move most of the mods he’d done.”

Levi spent two months searching for a replacement, finally finding what he was after in Bendigo. “It had already been sandblasted and powdercoated, ready to go,” he says. Adam was happy with it, too, although Jason was perhaps less enamoured: “Turns out there were heaps of differences between the two; a lot of the crossmembers and bracketry didn’t fit,”

Levi explains. “Even the exhaust had to be modified to suit. It was a pain, but Jase handled it all.”

Levi’s Tonner has gone from having one of the lightest rear ends in the business to one of the heaviest. The addition of a custom 110-litre fuel tank, water-to-air barrel cooler, trans cooler and various strengthening members, not to mention Adam’s creation of the flip-up tray, saw a whopping 320kg added back there.

And let’s not forget the marine-grade esky that lives underneath the tray, which can swallow an entire carton and then some. “The plan is to rip a skid, flip the tray, open the esky, crack open a beer and neck one as the smoke clears,” Levi smiles.

“It always had to be streetable, but at the end of the day I want to do some burnouts in it,” he continues. “But it’s probably turned out too nice for that.” Nah, send it, Levi!


Paint: PPG ‘Tonner Mocha’
Type: Dart 400ci cast-iron small-block Chev
Intake: Edelbrock Victor Jr
Induction: Quick Fuel blow-through
Heads: Air Flow Research 210/220
Pistons: CP-Carrillo
Rings: CP-Carrillo
Crank: Scat Pro Series Lightweight stroker
Rods: Scat Ultra Lite forged H-beam
Cam: Crow Cams custom solid-roller
Pushrods: Crow Cams thick-wall
Lifters: Crow Cams pressurefeed
Oil pump: Melling Select High Pressure
Ignition: ICE
Fuel pump: MagnaFuel ProStar 500
Exhaust: Custom extractors, MagnaFlow mufflers
Transmission: TH400 with billet internals
Converter: Dominator 5000rpm stall
Tailshaft: Custom 4in one-piece
Diff: Truetrac 9in, narrowed, 35-spine axles
Front: Castlemaine Rod Shop front end, Viking coil-overs
Rear: Viking double-adjustable coil-overs, leaf springs with Gazzard Brothers
traction bars
Steering: Custom power rack-and-pinion with VL Commodore pump
Brakes: Wilwood discs and calipers (f & r)
Rims: US Mags Slasher; 18×8 (f), 20×10 (r)
Rubber: Kumho Ecsta; 235/40R20 (f), 295/30R20 (r)

Jason and Jaiden at Lonsdale Autoshop; Fury and Ross at Lonsdale Engine Worx; Adam, Jodi and the team at Southern Classics & Customs; Ben at Elite Trim; Chris at CK Racing