Peter Kelly’s elite LS-powered 1961 EK Holden

Peter Kelly's vision of a slick EK holden pro tourer shot straight from his brain into the Summernats Top 20

Photographers: Ben Hosking

As the covers slid from Peter Kelly’s EK Holden during the Great Meguiar’s Uncover at Street Machine Summernats 34, it represented so much more than just showing off a freshly minted high-end build. For Peter, it was his vision come to life – a sleek pro tourer to enjoy with his family. And for the team at Ol’ School Garage, who’d been tasked with the four-and-a-half-year build, it was an opportunity to display their fabrication and customisation talents. The result is one of Australia’s cleanest EKs.

First published in the June 2022 issue of Street Machine

Peter’s impetus for the build arrived around 2016, when the Sydneysider grew weary of cruising an original EK. “I had been driving around in my old EK for five years, but the family didn’t enjoy the lack of air conditioning and the petrol fumes, and I was frustrated by the overall driving experience,” he says.

Drawing inspiration from the cavalcade of American TV car-building shows, Peter felt that a pro tourer vibe could be the he answer to his old-school car blues. “I love old cars with reliable, modern running gear,” he says. “And I’m addicted to those US car-building shows!”

With that goal in mind, the old EK was sold to make way for a rolling shell that would form the basis of a new project. Peter then looked into a range of workshops to get the build underway, eventually being drawn to Ol’ School Garage. “I liked their approach and style; it was a good fit,” he explains. So, the body was shipped from Sydney to the Ol’ School workshop in Hillcrest, Queensland.

Ol’ School was presented with a solid vision for what Peter had in mind thanks to a concept rendering by Aden Jacobi. Peter and Aden conversed at length to shape Peter’s wishlist of tasty mods into a rendered concept. “Ol’ School used the endering as their guide, and not much has changed on the finished car,” he says.

Like most projects gracing these pages, the build soon escalated, thanks to Peter realising he’d initially been in denial about what he truly wanted. “I never intended on it being a show car. I wanted a daily driver – something reliable, comfortable and easy to drive,” he says. “But we went deeper with it, with more refinements. I stressed to Ol’ School that I wanted quality and for the paint to be spot-on. Ultimately, a show car is what I wanted deep down; I just hadn’t realised it.”

Massive driveline upgrades were a given, so Ol’ School fabbed a fresh, strong chassis to suit the specific requirements. Provisions were made for a raft of brawny enhancements, including an LS1 backed by a T56 stick-shift feeding grunt to a trusty nine-inch.

The new driveline was complemented by a Rod Shop IFS including power rack-and-pinion steering, while the rear is located by a Rod Shop four-link. Hauling the tidy sedan to a stop are Wilwood discs tucked behind the massive American Racing VF491 rolling stock.

Ol’ School also went to town on the body, fashioning fresh floors and tubs; shaving the door handles in favour of custom flush door-poppers; deleting the fuel filler; removing the front quarter windows for one-piece glass; removing the external lower B-pillars to extend the front doors; smoothing the bumpers into single-piece items and tucking them tight to the body; and forming a sleek stainless-steel grille.

True to Peter’s original vision, the EK is drenched in a glistening Glasurit Blue Pearl custom mix. “After looking at hundreds of blue shades, we chose our top five preferences as a family,” he says. Test samples were soon delivered to the Kellys for a final decision. “Again, as a family we agreed on this colour, though it was nerve- wracking waiting to see how it would turn out. I’m really happy with it.”

Peter also remained steadfast in his choice of a black interior – even if he did have to dig his heels in. “I wanted black interior with chrome accents, though the guys at Ol’ School tried to talk me out of it,” he says. “My Audi RS4 was the inspiration for the seat trim, with the blue stitching tying in the outside.”

For the most part, technology bridged the physical distance between Peter and his EK during the build, though he managed a few in-person visits. “I went up to Queensland a few times for milestones and technical queries, but most was done by phone, email and sending photos back and forth,” he says. “There were no crazy issues or anything like that. Now the EK ticks all of my boxes.”

The EK’s Summernats 34 unveiling paid off with a Top 20 Elite position, and following on from Meguiar’s MotorEx, the Kelly family is keen to get the thing out on the road. “My family love the EK, though it’s been a long wait between cars, so they’d forgotten the experience of driving around in a cruiser,” Peter says.

“I want to enjoy and use it,” he concludes. “The EK is not detailed underneath, as I plan to drive it.”


Paint: Custom Glasurit Blue Pearl
Brand: GM LS1
Induction: Holley Terminator ECU
Sump: CRS
Cooling: Custom radiator, 14in thermo fan
Exhaust: Twin 3in system
Power: 290rwhp
Gearbox: T56 six-speed manual
Clutch: Stock
Diff: Shortened Rod Shop 9in, 3.7:1 gears
Front: Rod Shop IFS, Viking coil-overs
Rear: Rod Shop four-link, Viking coil-overs
Steering: Power rack-and-pinion
Brakes: Wilwood discs (f & r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
Rims: American Racing VF491; 18×7 (f), 20×10 (r)
Rubber: Accelera PHI-2; 225/40R18 (f), 275/80R20 (r)


Ol’ School Garage – Colin, Tim, Kane and Jason in particular; Shane and his team at Image Trimming; my family for letting me live my dream and helping with some of the design choices; my mates for their friendship and support throughout the journey