Nick Samuel’s relatively young age belies his penchant for tough street cars. At only 31, the property developer can lay claim to the kind of rides that many spend their whole lives lusting after.
First published in the May 2023 issue of Street Machine
Like many a Sydney lad, Nick’s youth was littered with old Mazdas and VL Commodores, including a particularly tough RB30-powered VL in his early 20s. “It had a big Maatouks-built engine in it and a tough auto, but I was just a young bloke and didn’t know how to drive the reverse-pattern auto!” he laughs.
Ultimately, the turbocharged Nissan overpowered Nick’s inexperience behind the wheel, but it left him with unfinished business with one of the General’s most popular platforms.
Nick went on a search for another VL and unearthed a real unicorn to serve as the base for this build – a ‘333 Pack’, meaning it was a genuine V8 Calais that the original owner had further optioned with a factory sunroof and leather trim. “It already had an LS2 in it making around 300kW [402hp], but a few small things like the closed-door respray really bothered me,” Nick says. Before long, he found himself fervently researching and planning the next stage of the car’s evolution.
After ringing around a few different engine builders, Nick contacted Troy Worsley at Warspeed Industries to pick his brain about a potential engine combo. “From the minute we started chatting, it never felt like a business deal; it felt like two mates chatting,” Nick says. “Instead of just trying to sell me a package, Troy was asking me questions about my goals for the car and my driving style, matching me up with the right combination of parts.”
That explains the 440-cube, Harrop-supercharged LS now living in the VL’s engine bay. “I just told him I wanted a big V8 with a big supercharger,” Nick says.
The car offers the best of both worlds – perfect manners for a run to the local cafe on the weekend, but then pure malevolence with a mash of the throttle
The combo is based around Dart’s flagship LS Next SHP Pro block, with a Callies and CP rotating assembly taking capacity out to 7.2 litres. It’s all topped with heads from Nathan Higgins and a 2650 huffer from Harrop Engineering. “The Harrop superchargers are Australian-made, and it’s always a pleasure to be dealing with an Australian sales team and after-sales support,” says Warspeed’s Troy Worsley. “It makes choosing their products really easy.”
Troy credits the engine’s success to two things. “The first is the cam,” he says. “That’s our go-to cam, and we know that when we match it to a combo like this, we’re going to see over 1000hp at the rear wheels.”
The second? The tuner. “I told Nick that if he was going to use my engine, he was going to use my tuner, and Kon at Wollongong Automotive Services uses Holley, so that’s what’s fitted to Nick’s car,” Troy says. “It’s really important as the engine builder to have confidence in the tuner, and Kon and I work really closely together.”
Behind the huffing and puffing monster-cube LS is a manualised Turbo 400 and a shortened nine-inch, hung from a four-link rear end that houses the meaty Weld wheels and 275 drag radials in modified wheel tubs.
Much like Nick’s prematurely departed VL Turbo, he opted for a deep Raspberry Candy colour to adorn the panels of his 333-Pack Calais, honouring the car’s factory maroon paint.
Aside from the VL being refinished to perfection, Nick hasn’t deviated from the way GM-H designers intended it to look way back in the late 80s, even skipping any form of bonnet scoop to leave the gloss-black Harrop ’charger poking proudly skyward.
At first glance, the interior might just look like a neat, modern take on the factory beige leather trim, but Nick’s insistence on quality extended to the cabin, which is now swathed with Nappa leather and Alcantara.
“It was really important to me that we built a trim that wouldn’t look old in a few years, and I think we’ve achieved that by staying true to original styling and using proven components like the Scheel seats,” he says. “I’m committed to quality, and I’d much rather take twice as long than cut corners or compromise on my vision.”
The car then rolled into Sydney feature-car factory ProFlo Performance for Paul Sant and his team to work their magic on it. “We fitted the engine, plumbed it and got everything working, like the water-to-air [intercooler] for the supercharger,” explains ProFlo’s workshop manager, Sam Caruana.
“We set the car up on the 17-inch Weld wheels and got the stance right, which then meant fabricating a custom exhaust for ground clearance. It came to us as a roller and left ready for the tuner.”
For a car with over 1000hp on tap ready to torture the rear wheels, Nick insists that it offers the best of both worlds – perfect manners for a run to the local cafe on the weekend, but then pure malevolence with a mash of the throttle!
“As soon as I’m not so precious about it, I’ll take it to Powercruise and start racing it, and drive it like I stole it,” he says. “But for now, I’m still too in love with how it looks!”
HOLDEN VL CALAIS
|Paint:||PPG Candy Raspberry|
|Brand:||Dart LS Next SHP Pro|
|Induction:||Harrop FDFI 2650 supercharger|
|Heads:||Higgins LS3/7 six-bolt|
|Camshaft:||Warspeed Industries grind by Kelford Cams|
|Crank:||Callies 4.00in CCW|
|Oil pump:||Modified Melling Select|
|Fuel system:||Three Walbro in-tank fuel pumps, 1500cc injectors|
|Cooling:||Powdercoated custom alloy radiator|
|Exhaust:||ProFlo Performance tri-Y headers, custom exhaust system|
|Ignition:||Relocated coil packs, custom ignition leads|
|Diff:||9in housing, 35-spline axles, 3.5:1 gears|
|SUSPENSION & BRAKES|
|Front:||Coil-overs, adjustable radius rods|
|Brakes:||HSV 343mm rotors with four-piston calipers (f & r)|
|Master cylinder:||VT Commodore|
|WHEELS & TYRES|
|Rims:||Weld V-Series; 17×4.5 (f), 17×10 beadlocks (r)|
|Rubber:||M&H Racemaster; 185/55R17 (f), 275/50R17 (r)|
Troy at Warspeed Industries; Danny Makdessi at Custom Bodyworks; X-Trim; ProFlo Performance for putting it all together; Omar at Autoshine Detailing