Mark Thornton’s 1100rwhp VK Calais Blue Meanie replica

We caught up with Mark Thornton and his blown LS-powered VK Calais at Street Machine Summernats 36

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

Mark Thornton’s HDT-inspired VK Calais is one clean-looking machine, and it’s got over 1100rwhp on tap! The car certainly caught our eye at Street Machine Summernats 36, so we had to bail Mark up for chat to find out what’s under the bonnet.

That’s a bloody nice car, Mark. Tell us a bit about it.

I got it from a bloke who’d done a resto on it, but he changed it up from the Calais it originally was to the Blue Meanie replica. I personally would’ve preferred it stay a Calais, but I do love my shiny toys.

Did it have this motor in it when you got it?

Ha! Nope, it had an old, asthmatic 308 in it that could barely turn one tyre. Troy from Warspeed had built a few engines for my mates, so I got in touch with him about a new one for the VK. He sold me on this Harrop LSA-H2650i-blown, 428ci Dart LS, which made 1118hp to the rears on the dyno with Kon from Wollongong Automotive Services. He’s a master tuner with the full Haltech Nexus this thing has. I won’t take my cars anywhere else now.

What about the rest of the driveline?

It uses a Turbo 400 and a nine-inch. We tubbed the rear to fit the big Weld wheels, because I wasn’t a fan of the big white wheels most people put on these. I’ve never drag raced, but we set up the four-link and parachute for it for when I do eventually run it down the strip.

So what was the main purpose of the build?

I just wanted a tough, reliable cruiser. That’s why we went with the LS. I’ve had carby cars before, and it’s just a pain. I know that every time I get in this thing and want to go somewhere, it’ll start. We do a lot of cruising with the boys, so I wanted something that works.

Is this your first time at Summernats?

Second time coming, first time as an entrant. The boys and I all came down last year as spectators, and we all turned around after and said we had to build the VK to bring back for this one. So that’s one ticked off the list, getting to cruise it around and pump a few sets on Skid Row.

Have you done any other car events with it?

I’ve done some roll racing in Brisbane – that’s a lot of fun. We do Powercruise with it a fair bit as well; I love blazing tyres in it on the cruise sessions. I’m all about seat time, and sitting around at a drag strip for long hours just for 10 seconds of fun just doesn’t do it for me.

Will you bring it back next year?

I’m actually thinking about building an HK Monaro with the same engine package as this, so with any luck I’ll have one of those here next time. I’ve always been a Holden man – especially my Commodores – but there’s a lot of Blue Meanies around. I won’t sell this car, but I reckon an HK Monaro is next on my list.