80s-built stepside HQ One-Tonner

Lost in the archives for three decades, it is finally time for Steve Goslett’s wild stepside HQ One Tonner to shine

Photographers: Gartside

GETTING your ride photographed for Street Machine is a pretty big thrill for most car owners, and so it was for a young printer named Steve Goslett when he was approached at Street Machine Summernats 3. His HQ Tonner packed all the good fruit from that era, with the fat stepside tray, raked stance and a stout red 308, so it was a natural fit for the mag.

First published in the October 2021 issue of Street Machine

Around 1992, journo Dave Morley penned the feature and faxed it in, but it never ran in the magazine. Whether by quirk of the universe or plain bad luck, poor Steve never saw his creation in print, despite working in the business himself!

“I remember being approached at Summernats for the photoshoot,” Steve says. “A couple of years later a fella rang me up to do the story, but then I never heard any more.

“We took the Tonner to Summernats ’til number 6, when it got too crazy. Someone threw a bunger in the back on Northbourne Avenue, and that was too much for us.”

Purchased in 1983 from a neighbour, Steve’s Tonner lasted four years before scoring a ground-up rebuild that involved a whole new cab and sheet metal, including the GTS fluted guards, fibreglass front bumper and HZ Stato front. The biggest talking point though was the Trick Pick-Ups stepside tray, which was paired with a custom rear bar and HZ Tonner tail-lights.

The original red six was hucked in favour of an HG’s 308 iron lion wearing rad 80s speed parts including Yella Terra heads, Waggott cam, Hurricane headers, Mallory ignition, and a Holley 650 double-pumper up top. Behind the five-oh was a TH400, while the heavy-duty Bedford diff that Steve’s neighbour had fitted to suit his fencing business was swapped out for an LSD 10-bolt.

While the brakes were basically left alone, Steve fitted upgraded sway-bars, Selby coil springs in the front and pano leaf springs with one-inch lowering blocks out back, in conjunction with a set of Monroe gas shocks. Wheels were the classic 14×7 and 14×8 gold-and-chrome Strikers, wrapped in BF Goodrich tyres.

The interior was as far removed from a brickie’s taxi as you could find. Shane Bridge Interiors covered the HQ Statesman pews in velour, while a polished Bond rollbar, custom centre console, HJ GTS dash, Dominion four-point harnesses, Formuling tiller and a thumping Yamaha stereo rounded out the cabin upgrades.

The whole build was done at Steve’s parents’ suburban garage in Kurnell, Sydney, with plenty of help from his mates, including James Hammon’s Brittany Blue acrylic paintjob. “I told my folks it would be a few months, but it ended up being two years,” Steve laughs.

“I took influence from the car in [ripper 1980 Aussie flick] The Chain Reaction, as it also had a Trick Pick-Up bed on it. We had to open up the rear guards to fit the tyres, made mounts for the tail-lights and had a mate build the bumper off photos.”

The good news is that, although he didn’t get the feature in Street Machine back then, Steve has managed to hang on to the Tonner to this day! “It’s sitting here in the garage and it looks the same; it even has the same tyres on it!” he laughs.

“There were a lot of tough cars in Kurnell back then, and I have a lot of great memories with the Tonner at Summernats, taking it to shows and drive-ins.

“I was looking to enter Summernats 30, but I couldn’t get there as it has done a head gasket, so I have a 327 Chev here to go in to keep an 80s vibe.”

For those that are curious about Dave Morley’s original, unpublished story on Steve’s HQ, here it is! Ah, the simplicity of fax machines.