Home-built LS1-powered Holden HR Premier

This slick, LS-powered HR is just one of the many homebrewed projects that brings Jason Pellett's car-crazy clan together

Photographers: Ben Hosking

Jason Pellett has been tinkering with cars since he was 15 years old. This affinity for all things automotive led him to pursue an apprenticeship as a panel beater, fuelling a passion for homebuilt projects that continues to this day. “Back in the day I used to muck around with Commodores,” he says. “I’ve moved on from them, but regardless of the car, I’ve always made sure I did as much work as I could myself – I love the challenge.”

First published in the April 2022 issue of Street Machine

While cutting out rust, learning to weld or rewiring an EFI car on your own can be tricky enough, more than a few honest car guys and girls have found the biggest challenge to be finding a partner that understands their passion. This wasn’t the case for Jason though, whose partner Ashley doesn’t just understand his fascination with all things mechanical, she lives it too. The couple have twin boys, Kye and Kayde, who are just as car-obsessed as Mum and Dad, meaning that whenever Jason rolls the next project into the shed, it’s a family affair to get it finished. “Proudly, our projects never leave the back shed,” he beams. “We roll them in and they drive out under their own power.”

That was definitely the case for this HR, which Jason sourced from a mate. “It was stacked on pallet racking in his shed,” he laughs. This unconventional storage method meant that the shell had been saved from the fate that so many cars of this vintage suffer – rotting in a paddock and rusting to a slow and undignified death.

The fact that the car was missing an engine and gearbox didn’t deter Jason, whose goal was to repower it with a small-block Chev.

“As soon as it was in the garage, we started tubbing it and installing chassis connectors,” he explains. “We used a Castlemaine Rod Shop front end to suit the Chev; it uses a Torana rack, a notched factory crossmember and converts the front to HQ disc brakes.” However, fate then intervened, and Jason’s plans for a tough 350-cube Chev were given a high-tech realignment.

“I was scrolling Facebook Marketplace and found a wrecked VY SS. It already had the heads and cam done, as well as a built auto, so I snapped it up and used it as a donor vehicle,” he says. Hence the stout LS1 now lodged in the HR’s exceptionally neat engine bay. The mill is no slouch, either, benefitting from a GM Motorsports Turbo Killer camshaft and cylinder heads, as well as a Proflow intake manifold that got the nod to try and pretty up the late-model donk. “I just think LS engines are so ugly!” Jason laughs.

Engine mounts, headers and the relocated starter motor were all sourced from the team at The Rod Shop. “Getting the engine physically sitting in the engine bay wasn’t the difficult part; there’s a fair bit of room,” Jason explains. “However, adjusting everything so that your headers don’t burn the paint or that the extractors don’t foul on your gearbox – that’s the part that takes the most time.”

Hanging from the back of the LS1 is a shift-kitted 4L60E coupled with a 3500rpm stall converter. However, Jason’s choice of diff is notable. “It’s a Dana axle out of a Volvo,” he says. “I’ve used them on the last couple of builds. They’ve got 28-spline axles, they’re basically the perfect length, and they’re pretty strong,” The diff in the HR benefits from an LSD centre and an upgrade to 3.7:1 gears.

The detailed engine bay boasts a laundry list of custom features, including a totally refabricated smooth firewall, smoothed inner guards and radiator support panel, and a full wire tuck, with the engine loom snaking up the back of the motor and underneath the intake manifold. Jason then borrowed from the craft he learned over a decade ago and lashed down layers of Audi’s famous Nardo Grey. “I had the colour sitting on the shelf for a while; I was just waiting for the right car. I knew that it’d really offset all the black on the HR,” he says, alluding to the exterior brightwork that has been powdercoated in satin-black.

One of the last pieces to the puzzle was to refresh the factory interior, and while Jason can’t lay claim to trimming the seats himself, everything else in the cabin, including that custom centre console, is his handiwork. A half-wrap billet steering wheel sits atop an HQ Holden steering column, while a bevy of modern aftermarket gauges occupy the modified HR dash. There’s more Nardo Grey paint inside, along with factory HR Premier seats that have – like the door trims – been retrimmed in dark grey vinyl.

With the HR neatly wrapped up, Jason treated himself and the family to an early Christmas present – a hoist for the garage so that they don’t have to build the next project rolling around on the shed floor! And that next project? A ’57 Chev, which Jason assures us has a date with a small-block Chev. Well, we’ve heard that one before!


Paint: Nardo Grey
Brand: GM LS1
Induction: Proflow mid-rise intake manifold, Proflow 102mm throttlebody
ECU: Factory GM
Heads: GM Motorsports
Camshaft: GM Motorsports Turbo Killer 
Crank, rods and pistons: Stock 
Oil pump: Melling
Fuel system: Standard HR fuel tank modified with VE Commodore fuel pump hanger
Cooling: Alloy radiator, two 10in fans
Exhaust: Castlemaine Rod Shop extractors, dual 3in exhaust, single 4in outlet
Gearbox: 4L60E, shift kit
Converter: 3500rpm
Diff: Volvo Dana axle, 3.7:1 gears, LSD centre
Front: 2in lowered King Springs, Monroe shocks
Rear: 3in lowered leaf springs, Monroe shocks
Brakes: HQ discs (f), Volvo discs (r)
Master cylinder: VY Commodore
Rims: Showwheels Streeter; 18×8 (f), 20×10 (r)
Rubber: 215/35R18 (f), 275/30R20 (r)

Mark Sullivan at PROcoat; Ian Redman at Redman Motor Trimming; Menace Auto Stylin’; my father-in-law Todd; KK Custom Buildz; my wife Ashley; our twin boys Kye and Kayde