Readers’ rockets: Dodge Dart, XD Falcon, Saleen F150, VH Commodore + more

We check out some cool rides from our readers


Aaron Marmara
Dodge Dart

“I bought my Dart off a mate in about 2009; it’s a ’67 two-door-post sedan. It originally ran a slant-six; it then had a mild 440 that I tweaked over the years, but that snapped a rod at 5500rpm at Mopar Sunday in 2019. I pretty much salvaged the heads (one was damaged), and I was lucky enough to get a virgin-bore 440 block from a mate who was waiting to build a stroker for his Val.

Local Mopar guru Ash Knowles went to work and built me a mild 494 stroker with an all-Scat rotating assembly, SRP pistons and a Howards hydraulic-roller cam (.600in) and lifters. I had to get the Eddy RPM heads repaired a little after the lock-up. It also runs an 850 Quick Fuel carb and ICE ignition.

Auto is a B&M 727 with some slick Hurst Lightning Rods, and while the engine was being built I had it tubbed for a shortened nine-inch with a 35-spline aluminium centre with Dutchman axles. The first drive on the new combo was to the track at Chryslers On The Murray.

Credit to Ash Knowles, as it was fired up on the trailer for the first time the night before I left, and it ran sweet at COTM apart from an ignition coil failure. It also had a closed-door respray about six years ago after a scrape at Mopar Mayhem. I love driving it and always have my co-pilots along for the ride.” Photos: Luke Hunter

Jon Woods
Ford XD Falcon

“Here’s the 1980 XD I built. It gets driven to the odd show, and a few weekends a year on family adventures. I did pretty much everything from the ground up, excluding engine machine work and stitching up new seats.

It runs a well-built, high-comp 351 with SRP forged pistons, a big Crow street cam and roller rockers, sending power back to a built C4 with a 3000rpm stall made by TCT.

Out back is a spooled Dana 78 with 3.5:1 gears. It ended up being done to a much higher standard than was originally planned; I got a bit carried away! But it’s still a street car, not a trailer queen – though it never goes out if it looks like rain!”

Kenny Gourley
Saleen F150

“Here is my 2006 Saleen S331 F150 with a supercharged 5.4L 3V. It’s build number 63, and is also my daily. Mods include 1.75in four-into-one SS headers, 3in high-flow cats, X-pipe and dual 2.5in side-exit exhausts.

It runs a 10psi pulley, a fabbed intake elbow, and a 5in intake and airbox. The truck is lowered 2.5in with Track suspension and sway-bars. I did all the mods and fab work myself.

She makes 345hp on 10psi and easily blazes the 305/40R23s. My truck was once owned by Steve and Elizabeth Saleen, the owners of the company. Being one of only six in Australia, I get lots of comments, and my kids love being dropped to school in her.”

Corey Van Genderen
Ford XA Fairmont

“This is my 302 Cleveland-powered 1971 XA GS Fairmont. It was my family’s daily driver from the mid-90s up until 2009, when my father handed it over to me as a then 19-year-old.

My father bought it for $1800 as a fairly straight and very original unrestored car. I have great memories of going on road trips, towing the family boat, Dad doing a burnout or two, learning to drive, racing someone on the highway with my L-plates on, and (allegedly) stealing the car when I was 17 for a joyride with my mates while my dad was on a fishing trip.

The car sat in Dad’s driveway between 2010 and 2013 before being moved into my shed. In 2017, my cousin lost his life under tragic circumstances, and I realised that anything can change in a split second, so why not build the car and enjoy it with my family instead of leaving it to rust away?

So, in October 2017 it was sent away to my very good friend Glen Hoger, with the plan for it be restored over three years, give or take. Over four years later, we are done! After being stuck overseas for nearly two years, I drove it for the first time just before Christmas last year.”

Michael George
Holden VH Commodore

“This is my 1983 VH SL Commodore. I’ve had it for many years now. It was once my old man’s race car, running a 253. I built a 355 stroker for it a bit over a year ago, and she goes a bit harder than the old 253!

It’s a VN 304 block with a 355 Scat crank, Scat rods, heavily ported heads with bigger intake valves, Harrop high-rise intake, 750 Holley HP street carb, Camtech solid cam, 1.65 adjustable rockers, 30thou-oversized pistons, MSD 6AL and MSD Billet dizzy. I put so much time and effort into this motor, and it gets my heart racing every time I hit that key.

I got it into the In The Build section in November last year, and now I’ve finished the motor and got it on club rego. It’s an achievement I’m pretty proud of.”

Mason McCormick
Dodge Charger

“Here’s my ’69 Charger R/T. It’s a 440ci/four-speed manual car from Kentucky and was imported into Australia in 2006. It had major rust issues, so a complete tear-down was required and 90 per cent of the steel was replaced: chassis rails, floor, rear quarters, front fenders, bonnet – everything had to be replaced with new OE parts.

I decided to do at least rings and bearings in the engine, but that turned into everything – rods, pistons, valves, both manifolds, cam – being replaced with new stuff. The exterior colour is from a 2013 Viper, and the interior was done in leather.

There’s new eight-piece glass, new bumpers and tail-lights and a rebuilt grille, and it sits on 20-inch Streeter wheels. The three-inch stainless exhaust makes it sound awesome!”

Alex Turnbull
Ford XC Fairmont

“I’m Alex and I’m 22 years old. I own this 1977 XC Fairmont. It currently has a freshly built 408ci stroker Cleveland with a four-bolt-main Arrow block, which took me 1.5 years to build.

My father originally built the car 16 years ago; at that time it had a 302 Cleveland, which he drag-raced with nitrous. He then turbocharged that 302, but unfortunately it couldn’t handle the boost. Then it had multiple engines, including another 302 and a tunnel-rammed 351. In 2019, my father handed me the keys to it. I took the ram off and put a single carby back on with a nitrous kit. That 351 ran a PB of 11.87@111mph.

Unfortunately, it chewed a lobe on the cam, so I pulled it out and decided to build this engine. While I did that, I smoothed and repainted the engine bay; the body of the car will be repainted at some stage. I’ve recently purchased a Paul Rogers 1200hp-rated TH400, which is reverse-pattern manualised and transbraked, as the engine has more power than the little C4 can handle.

There are some other things I still need to get done, like a rollcage and parachute for racing and a stronger nine-inch. My goal for the car is to run at Drag Challenge and hopefully get it into the low 10s or high nines. I’m attending Summernats 35 with the car, driving up from Tasmania in it.”

Paul Harris
Holden VE Commodore

“In 2018, my 2007 VE Commodore was resprayed from Phantom Black to VS HSV Cherry Black by Nathan Utting at Utz Kustoms, as well as being ’bagged. That’s when it took on its identity as Dark Devil (DRKDVL).

Rob at HAMR Coatings supplied us with an incredible and exclusive HAMR shift colour. At Kut Kustomz, a new front bar with ECM splitter, new modified Maloo side skirts, HDT rear spats and a G8 rear bar diffuser were fitted and hit with the new colour.

In January 2020, the car was involved in an accident, resulting in the entire driver side being damaged, and then COVID hit and the car went from a repair and tidy-up job to a wild custom respray and more. While the repairs were underway, we saw the guys at BNB Products and had a bespoke interior made to complement the paint.

On top of this, we looked at all the finer details and had many custom detail pieces made, including scuff plates, extinguisher and floor mats, and even had Unspoken Design create some custom headlights.”

Bryce Merrick
1966 Ford Mustang

“This is my ’66 Mustang. It’s an ongoing project. I’ve recently rebuilt the 377ci stroker Clevo in it, and it’s making a nice 460hp and 440lb-ft. A four-speed Top Loader and nine-inch diff with 3.5 gears complete the driveline. I was lucky to be given the car from my old man after I lost my Mk2 Escort on the way home from a local car show (T-boned by a drunk driver). I hope you guys like it!”

Renee Simms
Holden HG Kingswood

“I bought my 1971 HG Kingswood back in 2018 with a humble 253 in it. Once in my possession, the first thing I did was lower the rear suspension and fit a set of Auto Drags. Then came the desire for more horsepower to match the tough new look, so it now has a carby LS1, which is a lot of fun. Perfect for summer nights out cruising!”