Blown LS-powered VS Commodore ute

What started as a fill-in car for Shane D’Amato has turned into one gnarly, 675hp tyre-fryer

Photographers: Shawn McCann

Looking at it now, it’s hard to believe that Shane D’Amato initially thought of his VS ute as a mere stop-gap machine. “I traded an engine for it; it’d had a new rear quarter put on that was in primer, and all I was going to do was paint it and then sell it off,” says the Victorian. “But then I got inspired after Summernats one year and decided to pull my VH apart, so I put the LS into the VS as a fill-in while I built the VH. Ten years later, it’s still here!”

First published in the November 2022 issue of Street Machine

Shane took care of the entire build himself, and while the ute has gone through a few different LS combos and looks over the years, the basic purpose of the car has always stayed the same. “I wanted a burnout car that was still useable rather than just a dedicated skid car,” Shane says. “That’s why it runs EFI and E85 rather than mechanical injection and methanol like most of the other burnout guys.”

While it was an aspirated car for a long time, the VS now rocks a 403-cube iron-block LS built by Randall Mortier at Headzup Performance Engines. It’s stuffed full of goodies including a Callies 8ccw crank, Oliver rods and CP pistons. Finishing off the bottom end is a lumpy Warspeed stick, all clamped in by a pair of CNC-machined Higgins heads.

The shiny part of the package is what we really want to talk about, though. Both the billet 6/71 blower and intake manifold are from The Blower Shop, topped by an Enderle Big & Ugly hat. The EFI trickery comes courtesy of a Joe Blo kit using a whopping 16 Raceworks 1000cc injectors, with spark from GM coils and brains from a Haltech Elite 950 ECU.

The whole deal made a comfortable 675rwhp on the Chev’s Performance Centre dyno, cranking through the manualised Turbo 400 ’box and 3200rpm converter to the tune of 14psi.

“The difference between this blown set-up and the aspirated stuff I used to run is night and day; it’s a completely different car now,” says Shane. “With the aspirated stuff, you always felt like you were wringing its neck on the pad, whereas with the blower I’m doing the same stuff while only using 30-40 per cent throttle.”

Completing the driveline is a shortened version of the original VS BorgWarner diff, which employs the factory Commodore four-link. It sits under a mild tub job that Shane gave the ute to fit the massive 20×10 Simmons FR20 rear wheels wearing 275/30 rubber.

While the near-700rwhp blown LS sticking out of the front is a wild thing, the colour is arguably the most lairy aspect of Shane’s machine. “First it was black, and then it was a deep brown for a long time, but around two years ago we decided to change the colour to the yellow,” he says. “It’s a Renault Liquid Yellow with a few layers of pearl. I just saw the colour on a Renault one day and thought it was nice, so here we are.”

The ute has been rocking both the colour and the blower for the past two years, having done plenty of burnout events and a few miles on the street in between. “I actually enjoy doing powerskid stuff more than going around in circles on the pad; we just don’t have a lot of straight-line skid stuff down here,” Shane says. “I’ve done a lot of events in it and travelled all over the country over the years, and the car came sixth outright in the Burnout Masters at Summernats one year back when it was still aspirated, which isn’t an easy thing to do.”

As for racing, Shane did give the ute a belt down the strip when it was aspirated, and ran a best of 10.6. “I haven’t had a chance to run it with the blower yet, but I would like to do it just to see what it would run,” he says. “It’s not really the point of the car though, so getting it to hook up would probably be a big issue!”

More recently, Shane took out the Burnout Kings top gong at Heathcote Park Raceway earlier this year, and is hoping to get back into the Masters for Summernats in a few months’ time. “Between now and Summernats, I’m planning to do LOO5ENATS, Summernats Slam and maybe one or two others,” he says. “And with the weather getting a bit nicer, I’ll probably get it out and cruise a bit more as well.”


Paint:PPG Renault Liquid Yellow
Brand:LS 403ci
Induction:The Blower Shop
ECU:Haltech Elite 950
Blower:Blower Shop 6/71
Heads:Higgins CNC
Crank:Callies 8ccw
Oil pump:Melling
Fuel system:1000cc injectors, twin fuel pumps
Cooling:VL Turbo radiator, thermo fans
Exhaust:Pacemaker headers, 3in system
Ignition:GM coils, MSD leads
Gearbox:Tranzco TH400
Converter:TCE 3200rpm
Diff:BorgWarner, 31-spline axles, 3.08:1 gears
Front:King Springs, Monroe shocks
Rear:Viking springs and adjustable shocks
Brakes:VT discs (f), standard VS (r)
Master cylinder:VT Commodore
Rims:Simmons FR20; 20×8.5 (f), 20×10 (r)
Rubber:225/35R20 (f), 275/30R20 (r)