Inside Pro Touring Fabrication’s workshop

Pro Touring Fabrication is emerging as a force to be reckoned with in the Aussie car-crafting scene

Photographers: Mitch Hemming

There are plenty of long-established, highly decorated car crafters on the Aussie scene, but it’s fair to say that Brisbane-based workshop Pro Touring Fabrication ain’t one of them – not yet, anyway.

First published in Street Machine’s Yearbook 2022

In fact, you could be excused for never having heard of the business at all prior to Meguiar’s MotorEx 2022. That event saw PTF roll a couple of bare metal works-in-progress out of the trailer – the TORI KNG Torana and THA GOAT Mazda RX-2 – and proceed to wow the masses with the creativity, craftsmanship and utter scope of work involved in both.

Up until then, PTF owner/head fabricator Dean Fono and workshop manager Aki Kaddour had very much been flying under the radar. So we decided to pay their Tingalpa, Queensland workshop a visit to check out their handiwork up close and find out what they’re all about.

When did Pro Touring Fabrication begin?

AKI: We’ve been around for about two years, but we haven’t been taking on much in the way of customer work because we’ve had such a big push on the Torana and the RX-2.

We’ve really had our hands full with those two cars, so we’ve only just started taking on additional work in the past year. But now we have some pretty cool builds starting to come through the shop, including an HT Monaro, an XB coupe and a Datsun 1600 sedan. They’re all pretty full-on builds; chassis-up type stuff with lots of CAD design involved.

Dean, from the looks of your work, you’ve been in the trade a lot longer than two years!

DEAN: I started panel beating in 2003, but I got out of that in 2012 and started doing lots of metal shaping and specialist restos.

I worked at various other shops for a few years and got heavily into TIG welding and fabrication, and while I did learn on the job from other tradesmen, I’ve since learned that a lot of what I was taught was wrong [laughs]. So I’m largely self-taught.

Do you build turn-key cars?

AKI: Yeah, we can do complete, ground-up builds. The RX-3 and the Torana are both ground-up builds. We don’t do paint, wiring or trimming in-house, but we can organise that work to be done on cars we build. The Mazda and the Torana were both buckets of shit when they rolled into the shop.

They’ve both come along leaps and bounds since then. That’s what we want, though; we want the big builds to come to us. We don’t want to do boring stuff; we want customers who have vision. It’s Dean’s favourite when someone says, “Oh, you can’t do that; that can’t be done.”

You guys kind of came out of nowhere at MotorEx this year.

AKI: We took the RX-2 to MotorEx in 2019, when it had just been started. It was just a chassis and engine and wheels – there was no real fab work done. That was the first time we showcased what Dean could do, and we got a big response.

Then we took the RX-2 and the Torana this year and got a crazy response. We’re trying not to copy absolutely anyone. Dean’s vision is second to none, and he brings that to life through his CAD, CNC and fab skills. We’re aiming to be the leaders in fabrication.

What we’ve done to the Mazda I don’t think anyone has done before. There’s not a single panel that hasn’t been made from scratch or at least heavily modified. We’re trying to let the level of work speak for itself – it’s a lot more involved than just your standard tub job. But up until now we haven’t been promoting the shop or looking to take on work.

It’s all been pretty low-key, operating on a closed-door basis. We wanted to make sure we were all set up and ready to go before we take on any additional customer work.

Technology seems to be a huge part of any cutting-edge fab shop these days.

DEAN: You just can’t beat the accuracy that comes with CAD design and CNC machining; it’s a big investment, but it takes the guesswork out of everything, and that saves the customer money at the end of the day.

I use Fusion 360 software for the design side of things, and that allows us to run simulations and figure out bump steer and the like before we’ve made a single component.

I bought a Haas VF-1 CNC machine last year, and I’ve spent every night grinding away mastering it, and here we are. I’ve used it to manufacture components like lower control arms, suspension bellcranks and brackets for our builds.

I put every dollar the shop makes back into my tools, and it’s coming along really well.

Let’s talk about your builds. Tell us about the RX-2.

AKI: The RX-2 is actually my personal project car that’s turned into a shop car. I’ve mostly just let Dean run wild on it, and 9.5 times out of 10 we’re on the same page. It has a full billet four-rotor engine.

Everything from front to back and top to bottom is billet except the rotors – the rotor housings, the crank, the dry sump tank, the plenums; everything – it’s a world first.

It has twin GEN2 Precision 83/85 turbos, a Samsonas RS90 sequential manual gearbox, and a Race Products floating rear end.

Everything we’ve done to the car has been done with street use in mind, and it’ll be registered as THA GOAT and driven on the street.

Sounds like it’ll go all right.

AKI: I reckon it’ll make 1500hp pretty comfortably, and once I’ve enjoyed it for a while, I’ll push it to make 2000. I wanna do the show circuit and make sure it’s been seen, and then I’ll take it to the track.

But I’m building it to enjoy it; it’s not going to sit in the trophy cabinet. I wanted people to see it in the metal so they understand that there’s nothing shonky about the way it’s been built.

And the Torana?

DEAN: That one’s a customer’s car, and while it’ll be registered, it’s a bit more competition-focused. It runs a billet Noonan LS Edge engine with twin G57 turbos, a two-speed Turbo 400 transmission and a Race Products floating 40-spline rear end.

For registration purposes, we’ve had to keep the standard front rails in place, just plated and strengthened. From there back it’s all custom; it’s a three-quarter-chassis car.

It runs 315/60R15s, and with it being a radial car, we’ve had to allow for big separation in the rear.

The ’cage is just a bare-bones six-point for now, but it’ll need more barwork before we go racing. It has a tilt front end for ease of servicing at the track, but the bonnet still opens normally, too.

What about the RX-3 coupe in the back?

AKI: That one is staying on the down-low for now, but we’ve got big plans and it’s coming together really nicely. Watch this space!