Readers’ project cars in the build

We check out some of our readers' projects in the build from the December issue of Street Machine


Paul Vella
1957 Chevrolet

“As a 17-year-old back in 1987, I was at a house buying Valiant parts from a wrecked RT Charger. Suddenly, I was overcome by the sound of the Running on Empty ’57 Chev coming down the driveway, rattling the windows.

At the time I was so in awe of the car I couldn’t do anything but stare at it. This big Maltese bloke got out – black T-shirt; cigarette box up the sleeve; Top Gun glasses.

That was Paul Vella, who’s now a good mate of mine, and who I’ve built a few cars for over the years. Earlier in the 80s, he had sold the ’57 to the movie company making Running on Empty, before later buying it back minus the running gear.

These days, Paul has a ’57 four-door, and after a few beers one day, he showed me a photo of the original ’57 and asked if I reckoned I could build a replica of the movie car out of the four-door. We talked about turning it into a two-door, giving it a tilt front, cutting the wheelarches and all the stuff that would be needed.

Well, lo and behold, we actually did it, and have just got back from the 2022 Running on Empty Festival, where Paul’s ’57 won Grand Champion. Words: Tim Wales.

Adam Murray
HQ One-Tonner

“This is my HQ Tonner, which I’m currently building with a GTS theme. What started off as a ‘keep it simple’ project has snowballed into a full-on hot rod build.

The car was purple when I first picked her up around a year ago (pictured), but since then I’ve stripped it back to bare metal and removed all the rust.

While that’s been happening, I’ve also been building a hot 308 and TH700 to go into it when the body is ready.

It’s been my dream to have my own Aussie muscle car, so I’m not holding back on this build. If the missus asks how the bill is adding up, I just play dumb!”

Bradley Marshall
Holden LX Torana

“I’ve had my 1979 LX for six years; it started off as a $3500 shell full of parts. Since then, it has slowly become the SL/R replica you see in the photos, but it’s got a long way to go.

For power, it has a 355 Holden stroker motor and a Falcon T5 manual ’box.

The rear end is a BorgWarner diff from an R31 Skyline with 31-spline billet axles; I decided to go with it after reading an article you guys did on the Skyline diffs way back when, and because I wanted disc brakes to fit under my 14×10 Hotwires.

Soon there’ll be more progress, with a new SL/R interior going in. I can’t wait to get it done and drive the doors off of it!”

Blake Clarke
1969 Dodge Charger

“I’d wanted a Dodge Charger ever since my dad and I fell in love with them from watching The Fast and the Furious and The Dukes of Hazzard.

Fast-forward to 2017 and I decided I wanted to finally chase this dream, as I had lost my dad six years prior.

With the help of Ben at Seven82Motors in Queensland, a massive adventure unfolded, with Ben undertaking a US road trip to find the perfect project.

We obviously found the right car with the ’69 Charger, so now I’m currently fully rebuilding it myself, with plenty of help from mates (with permission and encouragement from my amazing fiancée). It will be a full restomod, ready for endless cruising.”

Gavin Deighton
Holden HG Brougham

“My HG Brougham is in the shed for a freshen-up. I’m doing everything myself except paint, which has been given to Lindsay Houston at LDI Kustoms.

The Brougham runs an HP-block 308, L34-spec two-speed Powerglide, and a 3.36:1 LSD 10-bolt in the back. This photo of the Brougham with paint shows how it has been since I last built it in 1990, so it’s well overdue for a freshen-up.”

Matt Waymouth
HJ Holden

“I’ve had this HJ sedan since 2005, and my dad Terry and I have been building it over the past 13 years. It’s been a long road, but so far we’ve converted it from 202 to 308, cut out all the rust and welded in some GTS guard flutes.

We’ll hopefully have it running and painted by the end of year. It should’ve been finished years ago, but other commitments kept popping up and halting progress. But as they say, good things take time!”

Jason Bawden
1950 Dodge Wayfarer

“This is my Dodge Wayfarer, a project I bought about five years ago as a roller. I was looking for something a bit different and I liked the shape of the early-50s cars. One day I was talking to my mate, Cyril, and he told me that he had a Wayfarer in the backyard – I couldn’t believe it! I went to check it out; it’d been completely stripped out except for the bench seat.

We agreed on a price, loaded it up and I took it home. The body was pretty good for 72 years old, but I still did all the rust work that was needed. It also has a Jag front end in it with a right-hand-drive conversion, and it was set up for a small-block Chev, but said there’s no way a Chev was going in a Mopar!

I had a big-block Mopar, but would have needed to modify the firewall to make it fit, so I bought a 318 small-block and 727 Torqueflite combo. Not long after, I did Drag Challenge with my wife Karen in her big-block VF hardtop, and that event made it pretty obvious to me that the turbo LS thing was pretty hard to argue with.

So the 318 idea went in the bin, and a week later I had a 6.0-litre LS L98, which I’ve had built for boost, as it’ll be getting fed by an S480 turbo. It’ll be backed by a built 4L80E, and the goal is to do Drag Challenge in it.”

Got a sweet ride that’s currently in the build? Send photos of it along with some details to: In The Build, Street Machine, Locked Bag 12, Oakleigh, Vic 3166 or email [email protected]. Please note: Send us copies of your prints as we are unable to return photos.