Searching for Street Machine feature cars can be hard work. It’s not that we spend most weekends attending car shows, drag races and swap meets — that’s fun — but finding cars of just the right quality, impact and individuality can be tough.
First published in the August 2004 issue of Street Machine
That’s why my heart skipped a beat when I saw Richard Kimber’s ’64 EH Premier at the 40th Anniversary EH car show, held at Sydney’s Silverwater Park. In a show full of cool cars, Richard’s freshly finished beast was clearly something special.
Firstly, I dropped to inspect the gorgeous undercarriage detail, then I circled the car, ‘drinking in’ what was clearly a very-well-thought-out concept. You could call it ‘resto-tech’: a seamless blend of factory appearance with a high-tech V8 heart.
The owner’s desire to preserve this awesome car’s Premier identity — including badges, console, bumper overriders and body trims — is what makes this build stand out from the more common ‘make it smooth at any cost’ school of street machining. Anthony Sant’s ’57 Chev is another car that went down a similar path with great success.
Richard, a friendly NRMA patrolman from Canberra, was pretty much born into an EH-loving family and he’s owned quite a few examples. This particular car was originally bought as a shell by his old man, who intended to perform a V8 conversion.
“Then dad found a V8 EH for sale that was already finished, so he bought that and I took over the shell,” said Richard. “I’d never been really happy with any of the cars I’d had, so my mate, Scott Brewer, and I built a rotisserie, stripped back the shell and started panelbeating.” Another buddy, Geoff White, also helped get the body super-smooth.
Richard was now committed to chasing perfection; although, this was not his original intention.
“I was originally going to paint the undercarriage in sound-deadener, but it came up so nice we decided to paint it black. Then I thought ‘why not paint it body colour?’” Why not, indeed?
He decided to stay true to his dad’s original V8 vision and got an engineer involved with the build to ensure the car could be legally registered. This meant fitting a chassis kit and an HR front end, with Torana rack and pinion steering. Richard went the extra mile with the brake upgrade, going for a mix of HZ discs at the front, VP discs at the rear and a VH master cylinder.
The 305ci TPI Chev was sourced from a mate. Richard pulled down the motor, fitted new gaskets and had the heads cleaned. Apart from a Haltech ECU and aftermarket filter, she’s a stocker. For a driveline, he plumped for a 9in diff —just to be sure — and a Turbo 350 trans.
With the bodywork completed — including those beautiful door gaps — Richard handed over the car to the professionals to be painted … which never happened.
“I got stuffed around for 12 months by painters that didn’t do anything other than have the car sit in their workshops,” he said.
Fed up, Richard’s mate, Scott, ended up handling the spray gun duties himself. The combination of Portsea Blue with a Fowlers Ivory roof gives the car an old-school feel with a bunch of extra punch.
It was at Scott’s place the build came very close to a tragic end, though. During the Canberra bushfires of January 2003, Scott’s house ended up in serious danger — so much so that his back fence caught fire, metres from the EH. Fortunately, the car escaped this peril.
With the paint done, Richard fitted the interior. Frank from Classic Car Upholstery did the trim job, including covering the factory seats in tan leather. Like the body, the interior follows the resto-tech theme beautifully. Sure, the car has a Blaupunkt CD player, but the head unit is stashed in the glovebox and the speakers hidden in the rear pillars. This leaves the factory Diamond Dot radio in its pride of place on the dash. The centre console, with its Art Deco heater controls, is another highlight, along with the Billet Specialties tiller, Auto Meter gauges and hot rod-style Gennie shifter. If you were being really picky then you could say the centre-mounted Camira handbrake is a little out of place, but hey – Richard, like most of us, isn’t made of money.
The engine bay is similarly tasteful. Most V8 EH conversions see substantial holes cut in the inner guards to allow a route for the extractors to escape. On big-horsepower cars with serious piping, this is pretty hard to avoid. As Richard’s car is a cruiser, not a bruiser, he had a set of tight-fitting extractors made by Powertone Exhaust, preserving those inner guards’ virginity. A PWR aluminium radiator completes the super-smooth theme.
Rego day. “As we had done all our homework, it just sailed through. The inspector was so impressed he asked if he could use it for his upcoming wedding.” Now that has to be the ultimate seal of approval.
Richard’s next project will have more a ‘rat’ flavour. A 1941 Ford pick-up with ZH Fairlane running gear – 351, C4, 9in. “It will be similar to Rod Hadfield’s new V12 Model A pick-up.”
Mate, it all sounds good to us.
Richard doesn’t get too excited about his car’s show success, but the car has already earned an impressive collection of silverware. It scooped Top Car at the 40th Anniversary EH show in Sydney, Top Sedan at an EH show in Wollongong, and placed in the Top 10 at the Cooma Motorfest. It also zoomed straight into the Elite Top 60 at Summernats 17.
For all that, the EH is a genuine streeter, having competed 2500 miles before Summernats without a hiccup. Worried about getting stone chips before the ’Nats?
“Nah, I always intended it to be a streeter. The undercarriage just got out of hand. I just avoided rough roads and spent a week cleaning it underneath before the show.”
1964 HOLDEN EH PREMIER
|Spies Hecker Portsea Blue and Fowlers Ivory
|Tuned port injection
|Custom extractors, 2in system
|Turbo 350, shift kit, polished housing
|Ford 9in, 3.00:1
|HZ Holden discs front, VP discs rear
|HR, Torana rack, Pedders springs lowered 2in, Pedders shocks
|Reset ute springs
|EH Premier, leather trim
|WHEELS & TYRES
|Centreline, 15×7 (front), 15×8 (rear)
|Monarch 215/60 (front), 225/60 (rear)
Scott, Brendon, Geoff, Tim, Peter, Steve, Raff and Dad – for letting me drive his V8 EH when I needed inspiration, and to my wife, Fiona, for her patience.