Michelle White’s HZ Holden Premier

Michelle White's Summernats Top 60 blown HZ is the gleaming end result of a 40-year automotive odyssey

Photographers: Ben Hosking

Project cars scar your hands, cause sleepless nights, push your patience and stress-test your bank account like little else in life. But they can also bring amazing, like-minded people together, and the satisfaction of overcoming a difficult automotive problem is a hit of dopamine you can’t buy in a back alley.

First published in the March 2022 issue of Street Machine

Cars have been a life-long passion for Sydney’s Michelle White, culminating in the five-year build of her beloved HZ Holden. Unveiled at Summernats 34, Michelle’s blown, Elite-level streeter is a car she has envisioned since her formative years.

“I’ve been into cars since I was about 14 years old,” Michelle says.

“There was a guy down the end of my street with an EJ wagon. He’d be out the front every Saturday working on it or washing it. His parents were friends with my grandparents, so we hung out a lot.”

Michelle found early love with a tough 350 Chev-powered HQ Statesman, and while that toughie met its end in the hands of an ex-boyfriend, it lit a fire in her for the big-boned H-series Holdens.

“Holdens were the cars I liked from a young age,” she says. “When I got divorced, I decided it was time to get another HQ Statesman, but a friend of mine told me about this HZ at Punchbowl Auto Wreckers. It had a 253 and Trimatic, the original brown interior and gold paint. As time went on, I did things to it like putting in a 308 after I blew up the 253 racing it at Eastern Creek.”

Michelle clocked plenty of miles in the HZ driving to shows and events, even entering it in the burnout comp at Supernats. It became her pushrod-powered therapy: “Anytime I needed to clear my head, I’d just get in the car and go for a drive,” she says. “I drove the car literally every weekend.”

That changed after an unfortunate accident with a hoist left the Premier looking a bit sad, so Michelle decided to consult an old friend, Paul Sant at ProFlo Performance.

“I went to see Pauly to get a quote to fix the dents and some rust,” she explains. “I had no intention of changing anything, but then my mate Greg said I can’t go to all that trouble and not change the colour. I had no idea what I had done by deciding to change the car’s colour!”

It’s one thing to decide on a colour-change respray, but committing to a new hue is another matter. “It was a nightmare deciding on a colour; it took me six months,” Michelle laughs.

In the end, she went for a custom House of Kolor blend she dubbed Mystic Magenta. Little did she know how well acquainted she’d become with the HOK headquarters. “I kept getting phone calls from my painter, Paul Abela, asking for more paint, more paint and more paint; I thought he was drinking it,” Michelle laughs.

“Then the subject of whether or not to put the car on a rotisserie and paint the undercarriage was raised. I’d now set a high standard that had to be continued to the end, so I said, ‘Yeah, why not.’”

House of Kolor Gunmetal Grey was used on all the brackets and drivetrain to contrast with the beautifully finished floors and undercarriage, and it has made for a stunning result.

“Once the car was painted and I saw it in the flesh, I was gobsmacked,” says Michelle. “It’s absolutely amazing. The end result is better than I could have imagined – you can’t wipe the smile from my face when I look at her.”

Of course, while ProFlo has turned out many beautifully crafted trophy-winners, Paul and the crew are also renowned for building some of the toughest streeters seen on Aussie blacktop, and Michelle’s HZ isn’t lacking in the stones department.

“I’ve known Paul from ProFlo for 25 years, and I’ve always said I wanted him to build me an engine,” Michelle says. “But it was always a dream; I never thought it would become a reality.”

But reality it most surely is. The 308 runs a Scat steel crank, H-beam rods and SRP forged slugs for a capacity of 355 cubes, while ported 308 iron heads, a Comp hydraulic cam, Speed Pro antipump lifters, Trend 5/16-inch pushrods and Manley valves connect the top end together. Topping the Newby intake manifold is a Blower Shop 6/71 pump with an Enderle Bird Catcher hat, set up to run EFI through a Haltech Elite 2000 ECU. While it is estimated to make over 700hp, it hasn’t been on the dyno yet, as Paul wanted to keep the custom-polished headers fresh for the Summernats unveiling.

“The saying goes, ‘you aren’t known unless you’re blown’, and I told Paul that I’m driving this car, so it won’t be hidden in a garage,” Michelle laughs. “He built it so I can use it, and while I won’t be taking her out as often as before, I will be driving it.”

Behind the angry plastic is a manualised TH400 and nine-inch combo, packed full of the best gear like a TCE converter, custom 3.5-inch tailshaft, 31-spline Moser axles and a Truetrac centre.

“I said to Paul that I can’t go to Summernats without doing a lap or two, so we did a little street tune in it, and it’s just perfect to drive,” Michelle beams. “Words can’t describe the feeling of driving that car for the first time.

“Cars have been my passion and my drive,” she concludes. “I wasn’t able to physically do a lot of the build myself due to injuries from a car accident, but what I did do is create the vision of what you see now. I’ve had arguments with mates about choices for my car, but I built it how I wanted it.”

For a car nut like Michelle, it just doesn’t get any better than that.


If it takes a village to raise a child, then it must take a pit lane full of enthusiasts to build a killer car. Michelle’s HZ build is no exception.

“I really need to give a huge thank you to Jamie and Joanne Galea,” Michelle says. “Jamie didn’t know me from a bar of soap, but he offered to transport the HZ to Summernats because I didn’t have an enclosed trailer, and that was just amazing for me. His wife Joanne gets the car obsession too and she’s been awesome; they had an XW they unveiled at Summernats a few years ago. They’ve become really close friends.

“I’d also like to thank and apologise to the boys at work for having to put up with me talking or whingeing about the car for the past five years,” she laughs. “They listened and supported me, and kept me laughing on the long road.

“My partner Ric has been so supportive, even though he doesn’t agree with a lot of my choices, like the blower. He’s had blown drag cars in the past and he believes superchargers should be fitted to race cars, where they can be used to their full potential. That is his opinion; mine is completely different!”


Paint: House of Kolor Mystic Magenta
Brand: Holden 355ci
Induction: Newby intake manifold, Enderle Bird Catcher hat
ECU: Haltech Elite 2000
Blower: Blower Shop 6/71
Heads: Holden red 308
Camshaft: Comp hydraulic-roller
Conrods: Scat H-beam
Pistons: SRP forged
Crank: Scat steel
Oil system: High Energy sump, Melling high-volume pump
Fuel system: Twin Walbro fuel pumps
Cooling: Custom Mood Motorsports radiator
Exhaust: 1.75in four-into-one headers, twin 3in exhaust
Ignition: MSD distributor, MSD 6AL box
Gearbox: TH400 auto Converter: TCE
Diff: 9in, 31-spline Moser axles, Truetrac centre, 3.36:1 gears
Front: King Springs, Koni shocks
Rear: King Springs, Koni shocks
Brakes: AP Racing calipers and discs (f & r)
Master cylinder: VT Commodore
Rims: Schott Americana billet; 20×7 (f), 20×8.5 (r)
Rubber: Nankang Ultra Sport NS-2; 235/35R20(f), 255/35R20 (r)


My boss Dean Oakey – working at American Auto Parts/Rare Spares is where I belong; my partner Ric Granziotto for being there to guide me with the build; Jamie and Joanne Galea for all the car transport; Mark at Ontrak Auto Electrical; Damien at Lowe Fabrication; Joe from Holden Dreamrides; Darren at Mood Motorsports; my daughter Samantha; all my friends and family who attended the car’s unveiling at Summernats