First published in the March 2023 issue of Street Machine
The judges must’ve taken a liking to the 70s luxo-barge too, because it took home trophies for Top Engineered, Top Bodywork, Top Undercarriage/Driveline, Top Engine Bay, Top Pro Custom, and the big one: Top Judged Elite. Luckily, Statesmans have a big boot!
The build took Matt around five years, which might seem like a long time, but once you see how much work went into it, you’ll probably wonder how he got it done so quickly!
Of course, it helps if you have your own automotive business, which in Matt’s case is the Echuca Service Centre. They were able to do most of the work in-house, including bodywork, paint and dyno tuning, but on the flipside, they still had to get their customers’ cars out the door, too.
“I bought the car off an old guy in Finley,” Matt says. “It was a good, clean car, but weirdly, it was a 308 with a four-speed. It was unregistered; he was just doing track days in it. What I wanted was a four-door Australian car so we could all get in it and go for a drive. I wanted big tubs and a 1500hp engine that was nice and neat and had plenty of grunt. But along the way, we sort of got carried away and kept going, and going, and going.”
The Quey’s underpinnings are now all top-notch, with a Castlemaine Rod Shop front end that features tubular A-arms, rack-and-pinion steering and coil-over shocks, but those aren’t the only benefits. “I’d used the Rod Shop chassis before, and it lowers the engine heaps, which was really important, because I wanted to get everything under the bonnet,” Matt says.
There’s no denying it’s a tight squeeze, and there was some more clever work that went into the underside of the bonnet to make sure everything had clearance. Even so, getting a twin-turbo small-block Chevy with a sheet-metal manifold under a standard bonnet is no mean feat. And yes, I did say small-block and not LS. Matt reckons everyone is doing LS conversions, so he wanted to keep it old-school – but using all new parts, of course.
There’s a Dart Little M block with JE pistons and Scat rods and crank that measures up at 403ci, topped by a pair of AFR heads activated by a Howards roller cam. The Bain Racing intake manifold was custom-built, as no one offered a sheet-metal intake with a front-mounted throttlebody for a small-block. The whole shooting match is controlled by a Haltech Nexus R5 VCU.
That meant the computer needed to know what was going on. “I had to get things like an MSD sync for where the dizzy would normally go and mount a crank angle sensor,” says Matt. What was even harder than getting all the electronics to work was hiding it all! Have a look in the engine bay, or under the car; you can’t see a single wire, fuel line or brake line anywhere. For starters, the coils are hidden behind the firewall, while all the plumbing and wiring runs through the centre console to the back of the car.
Speaking of the centre console, that was fabricated by Shane Casey, Echuca Service Centre’s in-house metal guy – even though it’s made of wood! It splits the four Scat Procar seats down the middle and has leather on the sides and a glossy piano-black finish on the top. The minimalist dash insert has had the same treatment, with just the Haltech dash and CAN button pad taking up real estate.
The interior colour is also a bold choice, but for Matt, it was a no-brainer. He’s got two other late-model cars with a similar colour combination to the Statesman and he loves it. Shane from The Trim Shed worked his magic to cover every square inch of the interior with leather and suede.
The exterior paint is Carpathian Grey from the Range Rover catalogue. It’s a classy option with a heap of metallic in it, so there’s no way you can accuse it of being primer. As with most of the work, this massive job was handled in-house. As you may have noticed, apart from the wheel rims, there isn’t anything chromed or polished on the car. Everything is painted in either body colour, black or silver, with the exhaust ceramic-coated in black.
The Quey rolls on some big-arse Simmons rims – 20×9 on the front and a whopping 22×14 on the rear – and there was a bit of a process behind them as well, particularly when it came to the finish.
A few weeks out from Summernats, the wheel centres were still body colour, but Matt wasn’t happy: “Something wasn’t right. We looked at it, and I came up with the idea of gold-plating the rims, but then I realised it wouldn’t match the interior, so I went with the rose gold. It shines back into the polished alloy, but it doesn’t look as polished, as there’s no other polished metal on the car.”
If you missed the Statesman in Canberra, you’ll be able to catch it at MotorEx Melbourne, or if you’re closer to Alice Springs, it will be at Red CentreNATS, where Matt plans to have a red-hot go at Grand Champion.
If you’re thinking about giving it a crack as well, you’d better bring your A-game; we already know this old luxo-barge can win trophies, but with 1000hp at the tyres on the run-in tune – and plenty more up its sleeve – it not only goes like the clappers, but it can go around corners as well!
Holden HQ Statesman
|Glasurit Carpathian Grey
|Dart Little M Chevy 403ci
|Twin Precision 64/66
|Howards roller 233/241
|Twin 3.5in stainless with MagnaFlow mufflers
|Haltech Nexus R5
|9in, 35-spline, 3.5:1 gears
|Rod Shop front end, Rod Shop rack-and-pinion steering, coil-overs
|Wilwood discs (f & r)
|Simmons FR; 20×9 (f), 22×14 (r)
|Kumho 245/30ZR20 (f), Continental 305/25ZR22 (r)
Shane, Jayden, Ross, Stuart and the awesome Echuca Service Centre team; Shane at The Trim Shed; Steve at Boosted Fabrications.