Reader’s Rocket: Anne Brown’s 1972 HQ One Tonner

Anne Brown's 253-powered HQ Tonner was a home project build with her husband Anton, during the COVID pandemic travel restrictions in WA


Anne Brown’s 1972 HQ One Tonner is very much a product of the COVID pandemic, a project she undertook in lieu of a holiday to Europe and the United States. It was finished just in time to debut at the 2022 WA Hot Rod & Street Machine Spectacular, where it was the only One Tonner in the building!

First published in the October 2023 issue of Street Machine. Words: Anton Brown. Photos: Brodie Butler.

How did this project come about?

We finished restoring and modifying my husband Anton’s HQ well-body ute at the end of 2019, and given how successful his car turned out (Readers’ Rockets, SM, Jun ’21), I decided I wanted to have a classic of my own to cruise in. It definitely came about sooner than I expected.

After Anton’s ute was finished, we were going to go travelling to the US, but COVID travel restrictions put an end to all those plans, so we needed something to do at home. We started looking for my own project, and there were a few cars on the shopping list – EHs, LC/LJs and HQs. I remember riding in my grandfather’s EJ, so I had a soft spot for the EJs and EHs.

So why did you end up picking an HQ Tonner?

When all was said and done, we settled on an HQ – I love the look of them, we had the experience of working on one before, and did I say I love the look of them? Why a Tonner though? I wanted something a bit different to Anton’s ute, and I’d seen other Tonners around that look great. I also knew from the beginning what else I wanted to see in the car – a Holden V8 and manual gearbox.

I think the older V8s simply sound better, and it’s a lot more fun driving a manual around. I knew what colour I wanted it to be and how the interior would look, too. I especially wanted a wooden tray on the back, and, being a proud West Australian, it had to be made out of our own exquisite jarrah timber.

Tell us about the build process.

We replaced the tired old six-cylinder red motor with a Geoff Perry-built 253, complete with Edelbrock carb, Crane cam and a custom exhaust with Genie extractors to spice things up a bit. The entire brake and suspension systems are all brand new, and we went with an Aussie four-speed gearbox to keep it original. We hid as much as possible of the engine bay wiring to give it a clean look and made brand-new battery cables, complete with gold-plated terminals.

The dash fascia and gauges were all restored and recalibrated to the sender units. We took the body off the chassis and did all of the rust removal in the backyard workshop, as well as replacing door skins, and built the new tray from scratch. I’m a big fan of the classic cruiser look, so we went with lots of fresh chrome, with a new front bumper, scuff plates and some more in the engine bay, and finished off the look with a set of 15×7 five-spoke rims and Mastercraft Avenger tyres with raised white lettering.

What about paint?

After months of looking at cars on the road and at various shows, we settled on painting the car in a slight variation of Stargaze Blue, which is in fact a Suzuki colour.

And the interior?

I kept the bench seat but had it reupholstered in a way that, at first glance, looks as if a couple of bucket seats were installed. Add in a custom entertainment system, and I’ve ended up with the cruiser I wasn’t expecting just yet, but I really love it now it’s complete.

We were also very lucky to score the TQN253 number plates, which was the perfect final touch.

What do you love the most about it?

The best part of having the One Tonner is that if I want to go for a cruise, I don’t have to trick Anton into giving me the keys to his ’Q – I’ve got my own!

Girls — wanna be famous? Send pics, car details and contact details to: Iron Maiden, Street Machine, Unit 9/3-5 Gilda Court, Mulgrave, Vic 3170. Or email: [email protected].