Paul Cundy’s iconic VB/VK Commodore

Grab a comfy chair and admire one of the neatest Commodores ever crafted

Paul Cundy VB/VK Commodore

Here we have the full feature story on Paul’s VB/VK Commodore, First published in the February 2001 issue of Street Machine. Scoot down to the bottom of the yarn to see where the car is now!

Long-haul street machiners will be well aware of the name Paul Cundy. Those of you familiar with Mr Cundy’s handiwork would be well aware that it’s definitely in-your-face stuff, no less than five of this Armidale-based larrikin and panel beater of note’s striking creations have graced the pages of Street Machine.

We first gave you a glimpse of Paul’s handiwork back in the July/Aug ‘92 issue of SM, with his sliced and diced HJ ute which went by the name Lowlife. This road grader was followed with a V8 shopping-trolley Corolla (SM March 95) and then the Demon (SM April/May ’96), a chopped and wildly graphiced sound machine masqueraded as a Ford Fairlane.

Not one to sit on his laurels, these three thought-provoking show stoppers were soon succeeded by this neat-as Commodore and a similarly flavoured ‘34 Chevrolet roadster (SM March “99). If all that’s not enough to knock your socks off, take a moment to consider the daunting fact that every one of these eye-popping vehicles impressed the Summernats judges enough to score a possie in the créme da la créme Top 80. A mighty effort to say the least!

Don’t be fooled by apparent appearances, this VK Calais is not what it seems. Under the cleverly disguised exterior lies a poverty-pack VB SL.

While Paul often gets the hankering for a cold VB, he reckons Commodores carrying the same designation look shit. Paul had visions of a Pro-Street VK, however with only a clean VB shell at his disposal, there was little option other than to perform a complete VB to VK transformation.

Out came the MIG welder, and in went the VK’s trademark rear-quarter window, along with the associated lights, guards, bonnet, bootlid, bumpers and a bazillion other bits and pieces that came fresh out of Holden’s distinctive red and white parts boxes.

Considering Paul’s extensive list of Summernats cruisers, it’s fairly obvious that he has more than a passing interest in the Canberra festivities. As he states, “I just love the event, it’s the perfect opportunity to catch with like-minded old friends.” More to the point, Paul likes to have a new and interesting ride to make the most of it.

When Paul’s team of beer-swilling local boys get their act into gear they’re quicker than a championship-winning McDonalds drive-through team. They hunkered down and knocked this beauty together in just five short months. That’s not to say they didn’t put a truckload of hours into it.

The engine bay alone absorbed around 746 episodes of Seinfeld (or Friends if you’re that way inclined) with endless hours of MIG welding and a bucket or two of Spak-Filla.

You’ve got to admit the finished product is the smoothest and most sanitary-looking Commodore engine bay to date. It’s so sexy that it’s likely to convince Plastic Pammy she needs to seriously consider yet another round of image-enhancing body mods.

More importantly than what’s in the engine bay is what’s missing. Look around, you’ll notice the lack of brake booster (under the dash), wiper motor (one piece Citroen unit), wiring (under the guards), heater (who needs one), plenum (deleted), radiator (under the smooth front panel), battery (in the boot) and not a nut or bolt in eyeshot. It’s a deceptively-good engine bay.

With the engine bay out of the way, Guy Yates rolled up his sleeves and got stuck into the undercarriage. He spent serious hours smoothing out all the spot welds, dags, drain holes and all the regular manufacturing irregularities.

Spanning the windscreen pillars is a stock-width VR dash that totally transforms the dated look of the VB. While the Armidale Army are gluttons for punishment they decided against integrating the VR gauge cluster and went with a plethora of gauges from the House of Auto Meter.

Once the dash and amazing VB-come-VR door trims were finished, Jason and M&T McFarlane Autotrim carried over a similar update treatment for the remainder of the interior. They got top marks for a great job in modernising one of Holden’s less notable styling efforts.

It’s got to be said the dumped-in-the-weeds Pro-Street look really suits the early Commodore silhouette. Thanks to a set of 240K struts up front and a general rooting around with the arse-end, Paul’s orange street stalker now sits lower, sleeker and meaner.

Beefing up the taxi’s (er…four door sedan’s) rear is a Ford you-know-what, with a pair of purposeful-looking BF Goodrichs hanging off either side of the cut ‘n’ shunt Henry housing.

However, this dumped stance caused the guys plenty of headaches during its Summernats debut.

After months of slogging away, the team screwed on the final pieces with just hours to spare. Unfortunatley within minutes of unloading it off the trailer disaster struck. The brand-new suspension had settled lower than they initially expected.

While this might seem like a godsend to a guy who’s famous for building cars that strike fear into the heart of lane-marking cats-eyes everywhere, the now lower ride height caused the new one-piece tail shaft to permanently rub on the trans tunnel, which was anything but a godsend.

Zero cruising for the weekend, too low to get up onto the undercarriage judging platform. The highly anticipated Summernats debut turned into an absolute debacle of a weekend. Soul-wrenching dejection was an apt description.

As Paul philosophically states, “It’s the car we put the most work into (hoping to crack the Summernats Top 10), yet it’s the car that scored the least amount of recognition.” Arrgh!!!

To give the sedan added impact, paint guy Craig Saxby squirted the lower half of the car with pink pearl, while the upper portions have white pearl over an PPG Organic Orange hue.

You don’t build five knockout cars without being a wheeler and dealer. But by Paul’s own admission stumbling across the 332 donk now sitting in the engine bay was by far his weirdest deal.

Paul had to drive out to one of his local scent-burning sandal-wearing tree-hugging hippy communes, where he was directed to a dilapidated old shed. In the middle of the shed under a pile of old tarps was this stroked 308.

The story goes the engine came out of a red-hot LH Torana; the hippy sold the car, but kept the mill. He had a fist full of receipts indicating it was chock full of good bits like ported and polished heads, Duggan intake manifold, monster bumpstick, hi-comp forgies and roller rockers running a diet of Avgas.

Greg Love stripped it and gave it the once-over. Upon firing it up, Paul felt the previous owner’s claims of low 12-second timeslips seemed quite realistic.

Armidale is close to Tamworth (where they have both kinds of music; country and western). Naturally Paul and the gang are keen on their tunes. Therefore it was only natural a top-shelf Alpine audio system was on the hit list.

One of the neatest things about this Commodore is its total lack of tacky plastic bolt-on bits ‘n’ bods. Rather the Commodore’s build follows the less-is-more philosophy (sanity has prevailed.)

For the moment the Armidale kid is preoccupied with the rod. Once he tires of that fetish, he fully intends to give the four-door a ‘good going over’ to see if it can score the recognition the crew was originally hoping for.

For now he’s just letting it mature like a fine wine. One thing you can be dead-set sure of, second time around it will still be bloody low, and Paul and the gang will cruise the arse off it.

UPDATE: After a long slumber, Paul has recently pulled the Commodore out of hibernation, ready for a tidy-up. Fingers crossed we’ll see it at Street Machine Summernats 36!

Paul Cundy
Holden VB/VK Commodore

Colour:PPG Organic Orange
Type:332-cube stroked Holden 308
Heads:Ported and polished
Carb:Holley 750 annular discharge
Gearbox:Powerglide auto
Diff:Nine inch 4.11:1 LSD
Seats:Holden; retrimmed
Wheel:Black leather
Rims:15-inch Center Line Billets
Rubber:185/60 HR15 front Goodrich Euro TA 305/50 R15 rear