Supercharged and slammed EH Holden panel van

After three decades in a field, this blown, ’bagged EH pano was the talk of Summernats 34

Photographers: Ash Wilson

Since the dawn of Street Machine Summernats in 1988, maniacs have been turning up to the event with ‘Summernats specials’ – wild, usually unroadworthy creations designed with one intent in mind: extracting maximum fun.

The pick of this year’s crop in our estimation was Phil Reid’s windowless EH van, for which he originally paid just $500.

“I got it from a guy in Thirlmere who’d bought it sight-unseen out of Melbourne,” Phil explained. “He’d gone down and picked it up, which is when he realised it was too much for him. My mum’s friend put me onto it, and even though I have another EH van I’m building and wasn’t looking for another project, I wound up buying it.”

As the owner of Creative Signworx and with a penchant for GM-H hardware, Phil figured the sad van could become a driveway attraction for his shop. But then it got towards Summernats 32 time.

“My best mate Colin Benton and I decided to put the good stuff out of my other EH into this one and got it to Summernats 32,” he said. “We did a lot of thrashing to get to that event, but it didn’t get around much because the lack of testing bit us.”

The lads cut the guts out of the field car and grafted an airbagged, notched and four-linked Holden Rodeo rear frame underneath the van, while a custom chassis was whipped up for the front end.

For ’Nats 34, Phil swapped in the extensively modified, airbagged HR front end from his other EH and had the tube supports fabbed up in place of inner guards by Justin Griffin from Griffin Motorsport.

In addition to the van’s super-slammed ride from the air suspension, front drop spindles provide extra lows. Wheels are borrowed five-spoke alloys, which required swapping the diff back to a stock EH banjo item to suit the smaller early-Holden PCD. “The stock diff is a major reason I haven’t given it any beans yet, because the old banjos aren’t made to take punishment,” Phil laughed.

Said punishment comes from a stout, blown 210ci Holden red six, which Phil originally bought from Holden six guru Mark Stewart and has had sitting around so long he can’t remember what is in it.

“This engine came out of Mark’s EK ute, and his son Norm, who I’ve known for years, showed me a photo of him racing it at Castlereagh with triple Webers on it,” Phil said. “It was built for me eight or nine years ago with an 80thou bore in it, semi-flat-top pistons, a mystery cam and conventional Holden head. The blower is a GM 4/71 with a 750 Holley running on 98, as I don’t use the car enough to warrant the upkeep to go E85.”

Phil says the blower manifold is one of the first Jeff Ramsay full billet alloy intakes, while the exhaust is made up of parts Phil had lying around the shed. One significant change between ’Nats appearances was swapping from an auto to an iron-case Supra five-speed manual, as Phil is a fan of changing his own gears.

Another big talking point inside the cabin are the cup-holders, which were made by Phil’s mate Kyle. “He works on elevators, so the chains are from an elevator shaft and the rods are from a Sainty Top Fueller,” he said. “I love them; they’re probably the most photographed part of the car!”

Phil painted the dash in DNA Spilt Blood candy red, while the engine rocks Mazda Soul Red. Eventually, he plans on making some inner guards and doing the engine bay in matching DNA candy. The bench seat is actually an HT Kingswood item from Phil’s first car!

“The door trims and floor pieces were made the Wednesday before Summernats, started by Colin at his place, because the van had particle-board door trims, and we couldn’t have that,” said Phil.

You may be wondering about the FRED plates, and the answer actually comes from the Disney-Pixar movie Cars. “Lightning McQueen has a really rusty fan called Fred who rushes up to him at the start, gets excited and his bumper falls off,” Phil explained. “This car sat in a paddock 30 years, so the whole bottom side of it was rusted out – it’s definitely Fred!”



Paint: Stock white


Brand: Holden 202ci Red six

Induction: Jeff Ramsay billet intake

Carb: Holley 750cfm

Blower: GM 4/71

Gearbox: Toyota Supra 5-speed manual

Diff: Holden banjo

Brakes: 320mm Wilwood discs, twin-piston Wilwood calipers (f), stock drums (r)