LSA-swapped 1991 Holden VN SS Commodore

Two decades ago, Todd Blazely had to sell his beloved Atlas Grey VN SS, so when he finally snagged another one, he went all-out

Photographers: Shaun Tanner

Todd Blazely bleeds Holden red. The Yarra Glen-based dad has owned a raft of hot HSVs over the past few decades, alongside a range of collectible Commodores, with 20-odd cars passing through his stable.

One personal favourite was an Atlas Grey VN SS, sold in 2000 to finance his first home. It was a fairly wise decision in hindsight, but it left Todd pining for another one. “I still loved the shape and look,” he says. “So I always wanted to build a really nice one that looks standard but isn’t.”

First published in the March 2022 issue of Street Machine

To that end, Todd managed to snap up a solid Atlas Grey SS in 2017. “It had been sitting in a storage yard in Box Hill for about eight years,” he says, “but it was driveable.” He paid just $16,000 for the car – a trivial sum compared with today’s wild SS market.

In Todd’s mind, there was only one bloke to coordinate the job. “I grew up with Mario Pancione from VCM Performance, and he always had Brocks around his place,” he points out. “So I know the efforts he goes to with the finish of a car and the small details that make a build like this stand out.”

Like so many other big projects, Todd’s initial plans for the VN were a bit more modest, having set a budget of $80K. “I originally wanted a 355 stroker with good power,” he explains. “Then we decided to tub it to the rails and fit big rears. With all the upgrades, that budget didn’t last too long!”

With Mario in Todd’s ear, the plastic V8 was soon dropped in favour of a more ambitious LSA transplant. “At that stage, not many people had tried to engineer a car with an LSA and to the finish we were aiming for,” Todd says. “So we jumped all-in and blew the budget out of the park!”

VCM/Autotechnique started with a fresh crate motor, hooking up H-beam rods and forged SRP pistons to the factory crank for an unchanged 6.2-litre capacity. Tremaniac Racing heads were then bolted up, packed with Manley dual valve springs.

An LSA blower tops the combination off, breathing through a factory GM throttlebody and fitted with an upsized pulley for 16psi of boost.

Feeding the mill with E85 are 1200cc injectors, themselves supplied by twin Walbro pumps and an Aeromotive surge tank. The whole arrangement is managed by the factory GM E67 ECU. “Running E85 is a little bit painful, as there aren’t many Uniteds around to fill up at,” Todd admits. “I’m getting around 150-220km to a tank, depending on my right foot!”

A fully manualised Turbo 400 ’box from MDT sits behind the mill, mated to an SDE 3200rpm converter. The tailshaft is a GJ Drivelines unit, spinning a shortened BorgWarner diff with a Truetrac centre and billet axles.

Strapped to the dyno and fed 16psi, the VN made a stonking 737hp at the wheels and a massive 1253ft-lb of torque. “You couldn’t drive it like that; it was just too insane for the street,” Todd laughs. “And I built it to drive, not to just sit in the shed!” Turned down to 12psi, that figure drops to a slightly more sensible 670hp.

“I haven’t run the quarter-mile as yet,” Todd says. “It would be great to get into the nine-second bracket, but traction is the killer for a light car with so much torque.”

Todd reins the beast in via Wilwood six-pot calipers and chunky 381mm discs up front, with four-pots and 355mm rotors out back. Viking coil-overs feature on each corner. Though a four-link would have been ideal to boost traction, Todd reckons he would’ve faced some major hurdles. “There’s a couple of guys doing four-links with VNs at the moment, but they’re building them to drag race,” he says. “Trying to get it engineered in this type of car is nearly impossible.”

With the running gear sorted, Bayswater’s Motorvation Custom Paint & Panel was enlisted to bring the body up to scratch. “There was no rust in it, but it was still a 30-year-old car,” Todd says, “and the VN rear quarters always have a ripple in them.”

The whole car was taken back to bare metal, and Todd’s initial ideas of a simple engine bay repaint became a full shave. Other mods include an antenna delete and infill of the exhaust cut-out, neatening up the car without sacrificing factory looks.

Motorvation also laid down the Atlas Grey paint, a process that Todd says took over 12 months and 600 hours. “The result is a very straight car, and the paint is fantastic,” he enthuses.

CKT Custom Interiors decked out the cabin, which perfectly reflects the factory theme. The front pews are HSV Devonish pieces, modified to accept Scheel headrests and wrapped in correct VN SS material. A VQ Statesman rear seat also made the cut, having received the same treatment.

Work on the car wrapped in 2020, and perhaps Todd’s biggest achievement was keeping the entire purchase and three-year build hidden from wife Nadine!

“The kids kept it secret for three years – Nadine knew nothing of it until I drove it home,” he says. “She said, ‘When have you had a chance to do that?’ I told her, ‘I didn’t; I paid someone to do it!’”

Todd has been stoked with the car’s reception so far, including claiming two trophies from a couple of Melbourne shows. Following a forthcoming MotorEx appearance, which Todd says will be a “real test” for the VN, he plans to tackle a VK SS mock-up. And if the final product looks anything like this Commodore, we can’t wait to see it.


Paint: DeBeer Atlas Grey
Brand: GM LSA crate 6.2L
Blower: GM LSA supercharger
Heads: Tremaniac Racing
Camshaft: VCM custom-grind
Conrods: H-Beam
Pistons: SRP forged
Crank: GM LSA
Fuel system: Aeromotive surge tank, twin Walbro pumps
Cooling: PWR
Exhaust: Pacemaker tri-Y, custom 3in stainless
Ignition: GM
Gearbox: Turbo 400
Converter: SDE 3200rpm
Tailshaft: GJ Drivelines
Diff: BorgWarner 78, Truetrac centre, 31-spline axles
Front: Viking coil-overs
Rear: Viking coil-overs
Brakes: Wilwood six-piston calipers and 381mm discs (f), four-piston calipers and
355mm discs (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
Rims: HDT Momo Star; 20×8.5 (f), 20×10 (r)
Rubber: Landsail LS588 245/30R20 (f), Nankang Noble Sport NS-20 275/30R20 (r)

Mario and Sam at VCM for the parts and vision; Dom and Rob at Autotechnique for the build; Tim and Alex at Motorvation Custom Paint & Panel; Phil at Progen Performance; Con at CKT Custom Interiors; Jamie at Full Flight Engineering; Matt at Mirror Finish Detail; Ron at Eastern Wheel Works; Reece at Body Shop Bayswater; my family: Nadine, Mitchell, Charlie and