At the risk of it sounding a bit like a cheesy Dom Toretto line from a Fast & Furious film, Steven Thrift’s EH Holden is all about family. It was built in Steve’s shed with his dad Geoff front and centre, to be enjoyed by Steve, his ever-supportive wife Amanda, and their two kiddos Holly and Marley. The family connection is such that Geoff even owned the EH for a time!
First published in the August 2023 issue of Street Machine
“The car was quite nice when I got it 15 years ago; blue with a white roof, billet wheels, a 186 and a four-speed,” says Steve. “I had the idea of painting the engine bay after pulling the engine out for a tidy-up and got carried away, stripping the whole car for a little rust work and a change of colour.” A familiar tale, indeed.
Steve worked with Geoff to get the car repaired and into primer before the build lost momentum, and the former ended up selling the car to the latter.
“That was about 10 years ago,” says Steve. “Dad got it painted by one of his good mates in a custom Spies Hecker cherry black, mixed by my brother Anthony. After Dad fitted the panels, new bolts, catches and glass, it sat in his shed for another seven years, until I begged him to buy it back so that I could finish it the way I intended all those years ago.”
The deal was done, and the EH returned to Steve’s care. His intentions for the powertrain were a little more ambitious than his dad’s, and some changes needed to be made to the now-painted car to facilitate them. We’re talking mini-tubs, engine, transmission, diff and brake conversions, and a set of custom headers to suit a small-block Chev, which anyone who’s ever dropped a V8 into an early Holden knows is an absolute mission.
Steve purchased a tough small-block Chev and Powerglide from a family friend, Roy Romeo at In Touch Automotive. The 350-cuber runs a steel Crower crank, Lunati rods, Ross flat-top pistons and a Comp Cams solid stick. Heads are polished and ported Dart Sportsman items, topped by an Edelbrock Victor Jr intake manifold and Holley Sniper four-barrel EFI system. The whole shebang is handy for around 500hp.
The nine-inch rear end sports 31-spline billet axles and a 3.7:1 Truetrac centre, and is suspended by factory EH leaf springs aided by Gazzard Brothers traction bars.
The 15×8.5 Street Pro II rear wheels wear 235/60R15 hoops, which necessitated some negotiations with the inner wheelarches. “Dad and I mini-tubbed the car at my place, after a lot of convincing – the car had already been painted!” Steve says.
At the steering end, there’s a modified HR front end featuring Torana rack-and-pinion steering, HK V8 coils and Ultima Nitro shocks. Brakes are Commodore discs and calipers at both ends (VZ front and VS rear), regulated by a VX master cylinder.
“During COVID lockdowns, I sent the car out to have the exhaust and extractors done by Peter at Newcastle Muffler Service; what a helpful bloke who takes pride in what he does,” says Steve. “I just left it all up to him, and he has done a perfect job and didn’t cut the inner guards, which everyone said was impossible. It sounds beautiful.”
Jason at Custom Auto Electrics came out and rewired the EH from front to back, including the Holley Sniper EFI set-up, while Steve handled the plumbing himself with Speedflow fittings and braided lines. Good mates Kane White and Luke Catty were called upon for their help fitting up the engine and driveline, and were more than happy to oblige.
It was a huge push to get the car to Street Machine Summernats 35 this year, with every spare minute dedicated to making sure the deadline was met. Steve wants to thank his dad Geoff, brother-in-law Lyle Cavell and mates Scott Vickery, Stephen Rouse and Phill Cater for helping get it across the line.
“I want to say a special thanks to my wife Amanda and little girls Holly and Marley for being so patient with me and understanding that my dream wasn’t easy,” says Steve. “Leaving the girls inside while I spent so many late nights in the shed trying to get it finished was much appreciated, and now we can enjoy it all together.”
A trip to the drags is on the agenda, and while Steve is confident the EH will end up in the 10s on the motor, he’s more than happy to put it on the bottle to get the job done if he needs to. But above all else, the EH is all about clawing back valuable family time.
“The look on my little girls’ faces when I took them for their first drive was awesome; what a great feeling it was to be cruising with the wife and kids. I’m looking forward to many more cruises and shows, and the girls can’t wait to come to a car show.”
1964 EH HOLDEN
Paint: Custom Spies Hecker Cherry Black
|350ci small-block Chev
|Victor Jr intake manifold, Holley Sniper four-barrel EFI
|Dart Sportsman, ported and polished
|Comp Cams solid-roller
|Holley Sniper in-tank
|Aussie Desert Cooler radiator, twin 12in fans
|Custom headers, twin 3in exhaust, MagnaFlow mufflers
|MSD billet distributor, MSD 6AL, MSD leads, Fireball coil
|9in, Truetrac centre, 31-spline axles, 3.7:1 gears
|SUSPENSION & BRAKES
|HR front end, LX Torana rack, V8 HK Holden springs, Ultima Nitro shocks
|EH Holden leaf springs, Gazzard Brothers traction bars, Rod Shop chassis kit
|VZ Commodore discs with CAE adapters (f), VS Commodore discs (r)
|WHEELS & TYRES
|Street Pro II; 17×4.5 (f), 15×8.5 (r)
|Nankang; 165/70R17 (f), 235/60R15 (r)
My wife Amanda and my girls Holly and Marley for putting up with me; my champion of a dad Geoff Thrift; my brother Anthony for mixing the custom cherry black colour; my brother-in-law Lyle Cavell; my mates Kane White, Luke Catty, Stephen Rouse, Scott Vickery and Scott Meharg; Peter and the boys at Newcastle Muffler Service; Roy Romeo at In Touch Automotive for the engine, gearbox, MSD and Holley Sniper system; Unique Customs for the wheels; Jason at Custom Auto Electrics; Phill Cater for the trim; Luke Dean for the trailer; Scott Meharg for the VX booster set-up; Alien Retro Columns; Driveline Services; Vision Autoglass; Aussie Desert Cooler; Rare Spares; Rocket Industries; Resto Spares; Meguiar’s; Wyong Automatic Transmission Service.