Rob Godfrey’s SMOTY-winning HQ One Tonner

Always built as a goer, it was the driving events that got this 2008 Summernats Grand Champion over the line

Photographers: Simon Davidson, Easton Chang

Rob Godfrey’s HQ One Tonner is an automotive Cinderella story. Bought at age 15 to see Rob through his carpentry apprenticeship, it evolved into one of the most successful street cars in history.

As published in Street Machine Legends II

Rob balanced tough with tidy and racetrack with road miles, doing most of the work himself, with the help of several good mates.

The Tonner was initially charcoal grey and Holden-powered, but Rob upped the ante to big-block in the early 2000s and upgraded the car to suit, welding in a four-link rear and a discreet rollcage. The car then ran high-nines, but Rob wanted more – specifically a tall-deck 655-cuber, which was pieced together by pro street guru Mark Hayes.

To keep the rocker covers from protruding through the bonnet, Rob lowered the engine, leading him to create one of the best-looking HQ engine bays in existence. The rebuild also called for new paint, this time a searing House of Kolor Sunset Pearl.

TOYTON went on a trophy-winning rampage at Summernats 20 in 2007, hauling home both Tuff Street and PPG Supreme.

Rob returned in 2008 to have a crack at the Elite Hall. He put the Tonner straight into the Top 10, nailed the driving events, and found himself lifting the Grand Champion sword! He then pumped a massive skid driving off the burnout pad and headed straight to the dyno to take out his class. It was a dominant performance that no doubt helped propel the HQ to SMOTY fame later that year.

Rob got the HQ down to a best of 8.8 seconds and won a couple of meetings, too. Other achievements include a record-setting 1053rwhp at Summernats 22 and a Powercruise powerskid comp win.

In 2012, he brought the HQ back to Summernats with a blown 502, and when invited to participate in the City Cruise, he ran a single four-barrel carb before swapping the 8/71 back on the next day!

“I accomplished more than I ever thought possible with the ute, and I absolutely love it,” says Rob. “I put the big motor into a Torana race car because I didn’t want to wreck the Tonner. These days I just like taking it for a cruise to the pub with my dad’s XW Falcon.”


Engine 655ci CHEV
Gearbox TURBO 400
Diff 9in

Originally published: September 2007