H BOMB: Holden 355-powered EH

Sam Rayner's explosive EH is a weapon of mass-market destruction


Hydrogen bomb is just an old-school weapon of mass destruction,” says Sam Rayner, and that’s all he needs to say to explain how his explosive EH got its name. His 40-year-old ballistic missile has the force to blow away any brand new HSV and vaporise an invasive horde of fast fours in an instant. And yet it’s also as sweet as it looks, backed with the cred of Summernats 17 Top 60 selection against the best field the Elite Hall has ever seen.

First published in the May 2004 issue of Street Machine

That’s what you get when one bloke puts five solid years into a car, backed by names like Sarkis Brothers and Paul Sant, underscored by his training in sheet metal work and his job as an aircraft technician, and kept on track by a missus who refused to let him stop when it all seemed too hard. It’s as if the planets aligned for H Bomb – or more likely it was the satellites in control of ballistic missile guidance.

Sam’s concept got more serious during that five-year build. He wanted – and got – the retro tough look, making sure his street machine would always be a true EH. At first he figured he’d do it with mini tubs, eight-inch wide rear wheels and a hot six-cylinder donk. He’d had an EH like that before, an ex-Appendix J car with its race engine and triple Webers.

Steve Sarkis upped the ante. A few weeks into preparation for the mini tubs, he told Sam to go further – full tubs and a V8. Why piss around with a gun car when you can have a rocket instead?

“So yeah,” Sam laughs, “the concept did change a little bit.”

He started with a bare shell, shipped from WA without a single bolt attached or hanging panel in place. Clean as he could find. He added the best panels he could get, fixed some rust and went from there.

One of the secrets to the EH’s success is the amount of original stuff in it, although it’s no resto job.

“A lot of the EH parts that have gone into it are new-old stock from around the country,” reckons Sam. “Everything – taillight lenses, strips, a full set of grille bars, anything I could get my hands on. There’s been a lot of 40-year-old stuff coming out of Holden boxes in the last 12 months.

“The guards I bought off a bloke in Brisbane. He drove them down to Newcastle in the back of his car because he didn’t want to get them marked, and they still had the GM-H stickers and were matt black. The purists are gunna hate me for that.

“The best saying I’ve ever heard is that anyone can restore a car but it takes a real man to cut one up.”

Living by that saying, he modified a Nasco console to fit the three dash gauges, including a genuine Premier clock, and he ripped out the glovebox to fit an aluminium one full of aircraft circuit breakers to replace the original fuses.

He built a new floor to allow for the exhaust he wanted, and also fixed up things he didn’t like about EHs – little things that help make an Elite car, like fitting captive nuts for the seatbelts instead of the original set-up that bolted right through the B-pillar.

Paul Sant’s 355ci motor should have an easy 500-550hp, he reckons. It’s a driveable engine, too, not a grumpy one, and is reliable with its roller cam, triple valve springs, high-volume oil pump and twin thermos fanning a Mick’s Metalcraft radiator.

Paul worked on the VN heads for good flow while retaining the standard valves above the stroked 5.0-litre.

Sam and mate Mick Neilson spent two months building the exhaust, which was two years in the planning. It’s a 4-1 system with 1.75in primaries, three-inch collector and 2.5in twin pipes, all mandrel bent. The big mufflers, which often look so wrong on old cars, suit H Bomb beautifully.

Another modern touch is the carbon-fibre battery box in the boot, hand-made from flat pieces joined by resin. It’s no veneer, just carbon-fibre. The lid is from nine individual pieces and took a heap of work. But then, what didn’t?

Ninety per cent of the car is Sam’s work, but the rest of it includes massive commitments from mates he can’t thank enough. The last couple of months were a mad rush of midnight shifts as they pitched in to get H Bomb done in time for Sam and Lauren’s wedding – which was the Holden’s debut and Lauren’s first ride. It grabbed plenty of attention but Lauren didn’t mind in the slightest, and come Summernats she was peeved her work kept her away.

“She’s been ringing me up every five minutes,” said Sam as we chatted at ’Nats. “I said we’d got a Street Machine shoot and she’s like, ‘What?!’

“And with mates likes these,” he says, nodding towards the crew swarming over the Holden with polishing cloths as the photographer gets set up, “there’s lots of help.”

Now Sam has his ultimate EH. “You can’t wipe the smile off my face every time I drive it. It’s got heaps and heaps of nuts, enough to scare the crap out of yourself, and on the other hand you can just cruise around and have an absolute blast. I’m looking forward to cruisin’ with my wife and hopefully having a few people admire it.”

Mate, we’re lining up already.


EH Holdens are Sam Rayner’s great weakness. He can’t help himself. “I just love ’em. Can’t get enough of ’em,” he admits. “It’s just the awesome ’60s shape, nice and boxy. They look tough if they’re done properly. Even if I see a stocker one coming down the road I just love it. They definitely got it right.”

Wander into his house and his passion hits you in the face – he’s got EH stuff everywhere. There’s a couple of pictures of EHs in every room. He’s got everything from an August 1963 Wheels magazine with an EH on the cover to a collection of new-old stock like 179 badges sitting around in boxes. All the old brochures. An old tin sign. EH stuff everywhere.

The centrepiece is the couch, made from a dead EH’s boot. That project took a couple of months out of H Bomb’s build time.

Judging by this collection, you’d think there must be EH stuff all over the country just waiting to be claimed by someone.

“No, there’s not,” Sam says. “You’ve got to stand at swap-meet gates at five in the morning with torches. I’ve travelled most of the states collecting stuff. I’m in the right place at the right time sometimes, and then other stuff you see someone else carrying out the gates.

“My mates and relatives are unreal. If they see something they’ll grab it for me and I’ll fix them up for it. They know I want it.”

Sam & Lauren Rayner
1964 EH Holden

Colour:DuPont Sideshow Blue, white pearl roof
Engine:355ci Holden
Heads:VN, ported
Carbs:Barry Grant 750 Sports Claw
Pistons:Keith Black
Gearbox:Manualised TH350
Tailshaft:3.5in thick-wall Hardy Spicer
Diff:31-spline nine-inch, 4.11:1
Front end:HR on dropped stub axles
Steering:LH Torana, collapsible
Springs:Lovells (f), custom (r)
Shocks:Pedders 90/10 (f), Monroe gas pump-ups (r)
Brakes:DBA discs and HZ calipers (f), HQ drums (r)
Wheels:American Racing Torque Thrust II, 15×6 (f), 15×10 (r)
Trim:Maroon leather
Steering wheel:HK Monaro, pearled
Instruments:Pro Comp
Shifter:B&M Pro-Ratchet