Readers’ project cars in the build

We check out some more of our readers' works in progress


Andrew Goodwin
1964 Ford Fairlane

“This is our ’64 Compact Fairlane that Dad and I picked up around two years ago. The grand plan was to give it a quick tidy-up and flip it. Unfortunately, once we had a good look over it, we realised it was a lot rustier than we had first thought. With our original plan in tatters, we decided to start from scratch and build the car from the ground up, doing the work ourselves to keep the costs down.

I’ve learnt how to hand-form and weld in patch panels while Dad strips and assesses the rust sections. So far I’ve made both rear wheelarches and lower guards, the entire boot floor, removed and repaired the parcel shelf, replaced the drip rails (the only purchased patch piece so far), patched the floor, and am currently working on the panel underneath the plenum.

The plan is for us to complete as much as possible in my shed, including all fabrication and rust repairs, paint, wiring and mechanical. We’ll have to outsource the upholstery, but not much else. Once complete, the car will be two-tone with a silver metalflake roof and matching steering wheel. All the badges will be shaved for a mild custom look, and the car will ride on a set of Cragar SS wheels with an appropriate ride height.

My seven-year- old son, Charlie (pictured above), has also been helping out, and it’s pretty cool to have three generations working on this car.”

Kyle Chappell
Holden HZ Kingswood

“This is my HZ Kingswood in the build. I was originally going to keep it as a six-cylinder/automatic stocker, but I’ve now opted to mini-tub the rear end to fit the 15×10 wheels and 325 tyres. The running gear I have in mind will probably be a small-block Chev backed by a TH400 ’box and a nine-inch diff.

I want the car to have an old-school street bruiser look with a rough-ish patina on the outside. Aside from the aforementioned tubs, so far I’ve rust-repaired the car with replacement quarter panels and rebuilt the sill panels. The build can be followed on my YouTube channel, The Resto Shed.”

Sam Brown
Ford XF Falcon panel van

“This XF panel van is actually my first car. We’re both 1986 models, and we’re both showing it! It was originally a column-shift auto, and one of my big first mods back in the day was the floor-shift manual conversion. I took it off the
road around eight years ago, and I finally pulled my finger out last month to start bringing it back to life.

A big part of that was binning the original crossflow six and replacing it with a later Intech motor. I took a week off work and replaced the dash, engine, gearbox, diff, disc brakes, front suspension and all the wiring.

After a few extra weekends of work, I got the car to run with its new Intech heart, and while it may seem like an easy swap, it was awesome to finally have the van running and driving after eight years.

There’s still a long way to go before it gets back on the road (including a lot of rust repairs), but this is a big step.”

Luke Johnston
Holden VL Calais

“I’ve got a 1986 VL Calais that has had a full inside-out respray in a custom bronze metallic. It has all new plastics from Rare Spares, as well as complete custom burgundy leather trim that’s in the middle of being done.

The driveline is a cammed 304 plastic V8, a trusty Trimatic ’box and a VL Turbo diff. It’s sitting on Pedders suspension with 20-inch wheels, and the idea is to build just a nice, clean street cruiser.”

Jesse Jury
Mazda Bravo

“I finally started one of my dream builds this year, turning a crappy Mazda Bravo farmer’s ute into a turbo-LS street sleeper and Drag Challenge weapon. My dad had a four-door version when I was growing up, so I always wanted to build a two-door one with a tub and a stupidly fast driveline.

A few months ago, I got a rust-free ute and completely went over it from top to bottom, replacing everything and putting it back on the road. I got a second ute a few years ago to use for parts, so the idea is to keep the ‘hero’ car on the road and working while figuring out the LS swap on the rolling shell.

Once everything is fabricated and wired, we should be able to just drop it into the registered ute and have a sleeper in no time. Right now, I’ve figured out the mounting points with a worn-out LS1 and 4L60E, but I plan to use a TH400 for the final conversion.

There’s a chance we’ll get it all working aspirated first and then do the turbo conversion later. The outside will be staying exactly how it looks now for the full sleeper effect.”

Scott Reichstein
Toyota HiLux

My 1981 2WD HiLux is running coil-overs all ’round, disc brakes on all four corners, drift notched chassis, four-link rear and Truetrac LSD. The engine is a built Toyota 3RZ four-cylinder that made 402rwkW (539hp) on 22psi, thanks to the Pulsar G35-1050 turbo on a garage-built steampipe manifold.

Other go-fast bits include a 45mm Turbosmart wastegate, forward-facing plenum, Kelford camshafts, Eagle rods, CP pistons, Cometic head gasket, ACL bearings and ARP head studs. The fuel system is built for E85 and uses a Bosch 044 lift pump, Holley Dominator feed pump and twin rails with eight 1000cc injectors. A Link G4X Fury ECU controls things, and it has a Powertune digital dash.

The gearbox is a Toyota five-speed R150 with a single-plate carbon-ceramic clutch. On the outside, 4×4 factory guards house the 18-inch BBS wheels, while inside it has WRX seats and a GReddy steering wheel. I’ve been tinkering with this for around 15 years, so I’m finally starting to get to enjoy it.”

Jason Madden
Holden LJ Torana

“I started this 1972 Torana build back in 2012, and it’s turning into a big project. The plan is to register it as a two-seater with a rear clip featuring a four-linked, braced step-back Strange nine-inch. That will help fit the 15×10 Weld Star
rear wheels with 15×12.5 Mickey Thompson rubber. The fronts are the same in 15×4, with Leyland P76 discs drilled to 4.75 stud pattern with Wilwood calipers.

The plan is to have a 2JZ up front, and I already have a 600hp-rated Powerglide from Craig’s Automatics to go behind it. I just got the front subframe back from the powdercoaters, so the next step is to get her rolling and then send her off to get the rear chassis work done. She’s going to be a beast of a thing when she’s done!”