Readers’ Project cars in the build

Father-and-son project HT wagon, LS1-swapped LJ Torana, '63 T-bird, WB Holden ute, Ultima GTR supercar + more


We check out what some of our readers have been up to lately with their projects cars…


“I’m 15 years old, and this is my 1970 Holden HT Kingswood wagon that I’ve built with my dad.

“We bought it as a rolling shell back in 2016 and have only just finished it after a six-year build. She’s running a standard 173 Holden six backed by a Trimatic. It’s still stock, so I can drive it on my P-plates without being hassled. Don’t be fooled, though; that doesn’t mean it’s all standard! It has been mini-tubbed to fit a 26×12.00R15 rear tyre on the Billet Specialties wheels, and runs a nine-inch diff.

“This has been a full nut-and-bolt resto, and there have been many hours spent out in the shed after work and school to get this car to where it is today. I couldn’t be happier with how it has come out.

“I’d like to thank my family and all the people who have helped along the way. Only a couple more months until I’ll be able to drive her out on the street, and I can’t wait!”


“Here is my current little project, a 1972 Holden LJ Torana I’ve dubbed PRHBTD. It started life as a standard SL sedan when I got it back in 2017, and has undergone some major surgery since then. In the rear, I had the factory fuel tank removed and added a new boot floor, mini-tubs and a custom-made drop tank. Brakes have been upgraded and converted to VT 330mm discs up front, and a Hopper Stoppers custom nine-inch disc-brake conversion in the rear.

“It runs an LS1 and four-speed auto from a 2004 Monaro, which is a pretty basic set-up for now, but I have individual throttlebodies, a camshaft and a stall converter all ready to go in. The interior includes new Auto Meter gauges in an XU-1 dash cluster.

“I’m going through the stages to get the car road-legal here in New Zealand, and am busting at the seams to get behind the wheel and hit some roads.”


“This is my 1963 Ford Thunderbird project. I’m currently an auto electrical apprentice, and I originally purchased the ’Bird to practise my trade on. So far I have a new interior for it in the original pink, which I bought from SMS Auto Fabrics in the States.

“The original 390ci FE big-block V8 has had a quick freshen-up and been painted in metallic gold, and I have engineering approval for the airbags to get her to sit nice and low. The plan is to build it into a 60s-style mild custom in the original factory shade of pink, with some flake and candy patterns on the roof to set it off nicely.”


“I am 16 years old and in my first year of my panel-beating apprenticeship. I became interested in cars from a very young age, as my whole family are car fanatics. I got my first job at 14 and saved up my money, and in just under 12 months, I purchased my first car, this 1979 VB Commodore. “The car didn’t start and needed a lot of work done to it, so I started saving hard, and each fortnight I would put something towards the car.

“So far I have stripped it on my own, and then paid to have it sand-blasted and undercoated/primed. I am currently in the process of tubbing it myself. My goal is to have a Top 60 elite car that can get unveiled at Summernats. I believe that with my hard work, determination and newly acquired skills, I can achieve this goal some day.”


“Here’s my 2002 WH Statesman, a car I bought from the Wagga Wagga Shire Council as a full grandpa-spec machine. It’s currently undergoing some big changes, with a full build on the LS1 with ITBs, a Paul Rogers transmission behind it and 3.7:1 gears in the rear end.

“Everything inside and out, including the paint and panel, has been replaced or restored; we’re going balls deep with this one!”


“Just before COVID kicked off, I bought this 1984 WB ute for cheap. It was originally going to be put away, but once I got it home, I was inspired. I did a quick rebuild so I could use it, with the goal of rebuilding it to a better standard later on.

“In late 2022, I started the proper rebuild, and I had always wanted a blue 202 with a built red head and triple carbs. With that in mind, I salvaged a 10-bolt Salisbury diff from my dad’s WB Tonner after it was written-off in an accident. I rebuilt the diff and also tracked down an M22 gearbox. Then I started on the body, learning how to weld on my first big build; it was definitely daunting, but it had to be done.

“I’m looking forward to painting it; the colour will be Flamenco Red, which is its original shade.”


“This is my 2000 Ultima GTR supercar that I’m currently building into a mid-engined machine with a good old Aussie Ford Barra engine! This is (I believe) the first of its kind. It was originally built by Dick Johnson Racing as a track car, and I purchased it with damage. I fixed it, drove it around for a bit and then decided to pull it down and turn it into the monster it is now.

“The Barra engine will have an 88/88 turbo, with goals of around 1500hp. The engine is placed in the car backwards, with a 10-degree angle to help centre the weight distribution. It has a custom CNC-machined billet 6061 transfer case with four straight-cut gears to allow a two-speed Reid-cased Powerglide, mounted alongside the engine facing back to the fabricated live-axle sheet-metal diff with a four-link and billet Watt’s linkage.

“It runs AP Racing brakes all ’round under 15×15 wheels, and has a new chrome-moly rear chassis section. I’m currently taking new moulds to produce the body in carbon to make it even lighter. I hope to get it in the Top 10 at Summernats and also win some MotorEx engineering awards.”

Got a sweet ride that’s currently in the build? Send photos of it along with some details to: In The Build, Street Machine, Unit 9/3-5 Gilda Court, Mulgrave, Vic 3170, or email [email protected]. Please note: Send us copies of your prints as we are unable to return photos.