Street Machine fashion flashbacks – part two

More streeter fashion trends from way back when


In part one of our streeter fashion flashbacks, we looked at some of the old classic and cringeworthy trends and mods of Street Machine style history. Here’s a heap more fashion highs and lows that’s sure to bring back some memories.

This article was originally published in the August 2013 issue of Street Machine


Those little details that you just had to have, way back when.

90/10 shocks — Need more launch? Low rebound and rear-biased for weight transfer, the 90/10 front shock is a must for those keen on some strip action or who want to look as if they are.

Alloy bolt-in rollcage — An 80s and 90s must-have, ‘monkey bars’ were often found in conjunction with racing harnesses and wildly coloured foam padding.

Bathurst drop tank — Made famous by circuit cars of the 70s and 80s, the drop tank spread its way across all makes and models. Their use on Toranas to fill out an SL/R body kit is timeless.

BF Goodrich Radial T/As — The T/A was the tyre to have and one of the only brands making the big sizes we hungered for.

Bugcatcher — Can’t afford a blower or a tunnel ram? Cut a hole in your bonnet, stick of these on top of your carb and you’re away. Today’s equivalent of this is the shotgun scoop.

Chevy double-hump fuellie heads — In the days before aftermarket heads, factory performance castings were the best option to tickle for maximum flow.

Chevy drop pipes — The correct exhaust angle and chrome tip down behind your back tyres was the perfect complement to your fresh set of tramp rods.

Crane Cams — Whether the rear window sticker was a true indication of the bumpstick fitted we’ll never know but both the stickers and camshafts became iconic.

Cyan blue detailing — Holden probably never dreamt how popular its metallic blue mix from the 70s colour chart would become in later decades or its ability to perfectly complement chrome plating. Many a Holts Dupli-Color touch-up can of this shade found its way onto engines and suspension around the country.

Edelbrock Torker intake manifolds — The first US aftermarket company to take the plunge and cast an intake for the Australian-only 253/308 Holden, their faith Down Under was rewarded with Edelbrock intakes finding their way onto thousands of GM, Ford and Chrysler engines.

Flared guards — Before even realising we could wheel tub, the only way was outwards so fat rubber meant flared guards. A hugely popular modification in the earlier decades, many were tastefully executed whereas some were atrocious.

Ford 2V six-cylinder head — Another highly sought-after factory casting for the Ford non X-flow set, the 2V offered not only better cylinder head design but enabled the use of bolt-on intake manifolds.

Gilmer belt drives — Let’s be honest, no-one fits these because they’re continually throwing V-belts; it’s all about the blower-like whirr that’s a happy by-product of the wide-toothed belts.

Graphics — When the epic murals had died out and the flame jobs had started to be seen as passé, graphics became de rigueur during the 80s and early 90s.

With a set of GTS flutes, HJ air dam, sunroof, 12-slotters, BFGs and a tunnel ram, Colin Bennetts’s EH had it going on!

GTS & GTR flutes — The shark gill-like flutes from GTR Toranas and GTS Monaros made their way onto all manner of more humble Holdens, from FJs up to WBs.

Harness, velour trim and more!

Harness — Even if your car never came within 100km of a racetrack, a four or five-point harness was mandatory.

Hurst Lightning Rods — Inspired by the shifters used on Lenco drag gearboxes, Hurst Lightning Rods were available on the Hurst/Olds factory specials and through speed shops.

A letterbox scoop, Center Lines, big centre-mount aerial and a rear wing gave Owen Webb’s ute plenty of presence

Letterbox scoop — A pure drag race item, the hard-edged letterbox scoop was chosen for its frontal ram air effect and ample height to clear tunnel rams and keep the wallopers happy.

Offset-ground stroker crank — Well before the ease of aftermarket stroker cranks, ingenious engine builders offset-ground cranks to increase the stroke, or jammed Falcon cranks into Holden sixes!

Raised tyre lettering — Back when big sidewalls were king, your tyre brand was worn like a badge of honour. It was made far easier by the fact that they had cool names back then — BF Goodrich Radial T/A, Big Boss Sixty, Mickey Thompson Indy Profile and Bridgestone Steel Belted.

Recaro or Stratos seats with mesh headrests — The epitome of the bucket seat conversion; contoured Recaros with mesh headrests were numero uno and you knew you’d made the big time if you had them fitted in the back as well.

Small-diameter sports steering wheels — An entry-level mod to replace your factory bus tiller and twirled by many aficionados brave enough to use one without power steering. Formuling tillers were amongst the most popular.

Spoilers — Street machines were more heavily influenced by circuit cars and factory muscle than the drag cars, so spoilers and body kits were huge in the 80s. Like flared guards, some left a lot to be desired.

Starfire rods — The lowly Starfire (or Misfire) four-cylinder Holden donk provided something decent to the Holden six fraternity — their conrods are the bees’ knees in a performance Holden. Finding two donor Starfire engines these days is difficult, though.

Three-bar spinners — These tri-spoke centre caps were the ultimate wheel accessory; the deeper the offset, the better they looked!

Tinted headlight covers — Best used in conjunction with a blacked-out grille, tinted headlight covers make a bold statement and add a tough look to anything.

Top loader — Long before Tremec made tough manual ’boxes with plenty of gears available, the gearbox of choice for real men was the Ford top loader.

Tramp rods — How can you not have a soft spot for these speedbump catchers? Designed to help curb axle tramp, function follows form with the glorious chrome and low-slung presence making them the ultimate period accessory.

Tunnel rams — Throw on a tunnel ram and leave the bonnet at home. Skywards induction has always been a massive drawcard and oozes ‘wow’ factor. Easier and cheaper than a supercharger, the tunnel ram still scores plenty of points in the tough stakes.

Firebird front, side pipes, raised-letter Bridgestones, chrome 12-slotters and XB-style scoops in the rear quarters were just the start for Ron Issazadeh’s period-perfect HQ

Trans Am and Monza nosecones — A staple of the custom van scene, these fibreglass wonders found their way onto a handful of street machines, no doubt influenced by one Mr Rockatansky and his black Concorde-fronted XB Interceptor.

Twin downdraught Strombergs on a red six — Ssssssssss-nnnnnnnnnn! You can hear the induction roar of the Holden six fitted with twin Strombergs. A factory performance upgrade for the X2 HD and HR, many aftermarket intakes were available and plenty of carbies at the wreckers meant you could hop-up your red motor with ease.

Velocity stack air cleaners — These foam-topped tubes added necessary inches to your tunnel ram or supercharger combo, and if you really want to reach for the sky they were a perfect base to top with nine-inch paper filters.

Voxson radio and graphic equaliser — Like a mini version of your home hi-fi, a Voxson radio with separate graphic equaliser was the ultimate platform to blast out AC/DC — especially at night when the lights looked really cool.


Cragar S/S’s — Not that they really went away, the humble Cragar five-spoke is returning in volumes as the interest in factory muscle cars and show rods thrusts them into the limelight again.

Murals — After being on ice for 25 years, the humble airbrushed mural has come back with a vengeance in some circles for those chasing the ‘wow’ factor.

US Racers — The humble jellybeans, bumholes, clitoris wheels, slot mags — whatever your call ’em — are being pumped out again to meet the demand of a new generation. All of the old sizes are back, with big-inch versions now available and looking sweet.

Sunken aerials — Preferably in a pair, sunken aerials were a hangover from the 60s custom craze that persisted into the early street machine movement. Now that customs are cool again, so is getting a couple of pieces of exhaust pipe and sinking those antennae into a panel.


Eight-track — When cool tunes for your car were hard work, the eight-track player signalled you as a man of sophistication.

CB radios — “Breaker 1-9 this is the Rubber Duck…” The CB craze spawned a language and scene all its own, and you even needed a licence in the early days. Long gone from the car scene, it still has a welcoming home in the Big Rig and 4WD scenes.

Centre consoles — Need room for your Bon Jovi cassettes and Winnie blues? Before full custom interiors were common, an aftermarket centre console added much needed space to finish off your floorshift or bucket seat conversion.

Crushed velour interiors — A hangover from the panel van heyday, crushed velour was available in heaps of lairy colours. A cheaper alternative to leather it’s far cooler in summer than bog stock vinyl.

Datsun four/five-speeds into early Holdens — Floor shift and some extra gears; what was there not to like? A staple of the early times, finding a donor Datsun is probably the hard part these days though there are many other modern options doing the rounds.

Dual-point distributors — It was how you got a fat spark before electronic conversions and replacements became the norm. Double the cost for parts and double the maintenance.

Formuling steering wheel — Hugely popular back in the day, the trend is swinging back to original muscle car style tillers.

Flip front — These days mainly relegated to drag cars, the flip front was the thing to have to win on show day — and for excellent access for engine maintenance.

Hotdog mufflers — Named for their tubular shape and often red finish, the hotdog was the successor to the rat-trap and guaranteed to make your car blow the decibel meter.

Jag rear — The ultimate rear end in the 80s was a fully chromed Jag IRS. Jammed under anything that moved, but especially Holdens, these days they’re only found under hot rods.

Lucas Mean Mother spot lamps — Aimed more towards the Stone ’Flector set, the Mean Mother emblazoned across the covers gave them some semblance of street cred.

Musical air horns — So tacky they’re cool and great to piss your neighbours off. There was nothing better than switching around the hoses on your mate’s set so when he tried to be the Dukes of Hazzard he sounded more like a whale on heat.

One-tonner stepside conversions — An offshoot of the fibreglass explosion in the 70s, the stepside conversion when done right looks exceptional. But get it wrong and it looks like your HQ has been humped by an F100.

Pink bits — A strangely common practice to paint random parts, bodywork or complete drivelines in pink.

Pump-up shockies — Back in the day you’d go to the servo to pump up your tyres and maybe throw a couple of extra inches in the rear ride height while you were at it.

12-slotters — Thought of as a Ford wheel but available for everything, chrome 12-slotters were once so popular you could buy them in K-Mart!

Shakers — The hallmark of the XY GT, the shaker scoop found its way onto everything, including fours and sixes.

This Jag has it all: flared guards, pop-up sunroofs, a shaker, BFGs and fluffy dice!

Sunroof — Pop-ups, T-tops or rollbacks, a sunroof was über-cool back in the day. Today it’s a complete reversal, with panel beaters facing the nightmare of trying to restore the missing metal.

Tank Fairlane diff — Before diffs could be made to order, these behemoths were robbed of their unusually narrow nine-inch diffs, which were a great fit into most cars of choice.

White aluminium-coated headers — Before hi-temp coatings, white pipes were the rage and many went as far as coating the entire exhaust system.