We spotted Taner Dede’s VH Commodore at Motorvation 37 and were instantly impressed by the panel and paint – not to mention the tough-sounding engine. The reverse-cowl bonnet was a pretty big hint that something was going on underneath, and the distinct mechanical whine had us thinking it wasn’t boosted by exhaust gases.
First published in the September 2023 issue of Street Machine. Photos: Jordan Leist
Taner lives on the west coast these days, but he grew up in Melbourne and was pretty heavily involved in the car scene there, starting off with a hand-me-down VB Commodore from his parents before getting obsessed with VL Turbos. But what he always wanted was a VH SL/E, and after moving to Perth, he found one for sale. “I knew the sickness would start again, so after buying it, I’ve spent the past five years getting it into the condition it’s in now,” he says.
As it turns out, the car is actually a VB SL/E 310 Pack that had already been given a VH facelift before Taner purchased it. He did briefly consider converting it back, but he’s always loved the look. “I was never going to keep it stock and original and worry about resale value, and I knew I was going to go pretty wild with it, so I kept it as a VH,” he explains.
While Taner had pretty big plans for the car, it wasn’t exactly grandpa-spec when he got it. “It came with a 355 stroker, which was a reasonably stout package; I think it ripped about 420hp at the rears when I first got it,” he says. “The paintjob was super rough, it was a bit rusty, and the trim was a bit worse for wear, but it had a stout driveline and was a half-decent cruiser.”
“There’s nothing quite like popping the bonnet at any car meet and people see it’s a 355 with a Harrop blower – then they look at it in a different light”
Taner’s initial idea was to give it a basic freshen-up and a closed-door respray, but that’s not quite what ended up happening. “I went in for a paintjob quote at All Quality Panel & Paint and got talking to the owner, Francesco. He convinced me that if I was going to do it, I should do it right and do it once,” he says. “I got it all booked in and put in a deposit, and then Francesco said, ‘I’m looking for an apprentice.’ I said, ‘You know what, mate? I’m looking for a career change, and I might be the right bloke for you.’ I don’t think either of us have looked back.”
It’s clear Taner’s got a talent for this stuff, but none of it has come from his previous careers. “I went to uni for a solid seven years, got a Masters of Architecture and was an architect for some time, but I felt sitting in an office wasn’t really my thing,” he says. “So I went on to become a personal trainer, but that sort of fizzled out, because it’s a saturated market. After that, it was a series of jobs selling your soul to make money, and it got to a point where I needed to find a job that was something I always wanted to do – and the only thing I’ve ever really been into my whole life is cars. Being a bit of an OCD person, the only thing I could think of doing was painting cars.”
Initially Taner planned to repaint the car in the same metallic green that it wore when he bought it: “It looked beautiful. I was in love with it, but after I started working with All Quality, we started messing around with custom paints. Francesco painted his jet ski in a House of Kolor Root Beer, and I thought it looked epic and wouldn’t mind having something that looked somewhat original and stock but as soon as the sun hits it, it looks special. Also, that way the car would be all mine with the new driveline and colour change.”
While Taner admits an LS would have been an easy and reliable way to make power, he’s stayed with a 355 Holden, although it’s a completely new combo. “There’s nothing quite like popping the bonnet at any car meet and people see it’s a 355 with a Harrop blower on there – then they look at it in a different light,” he says. “The torque on the Holden motors is just on another page altogether; it really is impressive. At the end of the day, you can go for something that’s bang-for-buck cheaper, but I’ve always been in love with 355 motors and you don’t see many supercharged. It was the responsible but irresponsible choice.”
The inspiration for the blown motor came from where all great ideas are found these days, YouTube. “About four years ago, I saw the Sam’s Performance dyno-tuning video when Harrop first released the supercharger set-up. As soon as I saw it, I had to have one, and I actually contacted Sam’s Performance to enquire about getting a motor built,” Taner says. “They said they had the motor from the video there, still ready to go. I offered to buy it from them, but they took a while to get back to me, and in the meantime I saw a set-up that was built by ProFlo with a side-mount supercharger for sale.”
Taner bought the motor, but sold the side-mount blower and put the money towards the Harrop 2650. That was the easy bit. Going from a carby-fed naturally aspirated motor to the blown EFI set-up meant a lot of extra work had to be done. Dan at Elite Automotive helped out immensely, as did Shannon at Tune Corp, who sorted out the MoTeC and tune-up. AllFast took care of the trans and converter, while Final Drive built a heavy-duty driveshaft to mate up to the already beefed-up VL Turbo diff.
Interior-wise, it’s a bit of a mix-and-match affair. “The door trims are off a VK, while the seats are VB and the dash is from a VH,” Taner says. “I had the hoodlining retrimmed in suede, and I’ve sprayed the dash and console myself to match.” Since he wasn’t keen on having to repair the original gauges all the time, Taner plumped for Auto Meter gear instead, integrating them into the stock instrument cluster. “I spent a bit of time getting it right, with a lot of help from my good mate Marc, who was involved with 99 per cent of the build,” he says. “If there’s one thing I hate about cars, it’s the wiring, and Marc is just a nut with that – he loves it.”
All in all, Taner is pretty happy with how the Commodore’s turned out, although he feels there’s still room for improvement in the power department: “I might put a couple more psi in it, but even now, the way it drives on the street is a little bit silly with the torque the 355 puts out,” he says. “There’s pretty much no traction at any speed.” That sounds just about perfect to us!
1979 HOLDEN VB COMMODORE SL/E
Paint: Baslac custom Root Beer
|Type:||355ci Holden V8|
|Inlet:||Harrop with Yella Terra intercooler|
|Heads:||Cast-iron VN, ported and flowed|
|Cooling:||Holden three-core radiator with 16in Spal fan|
|Exhaust:||Manta four-into-ones, 1¾in primaries, twin 3in|
|Ignition:||Aeroflow XPRO coils|
|’Box:||AllFast Turbo 400|
|Converter:||AllFast 3500rpm stall|
|Diff:||Shortened VL Turbo, 3.5:1 gears, billet axles|
|Front:||King Ultra Low springs, Pedders shocks|
|Rear:||Custom King Ultra Low springs, Pedders shocks|
|Brakes:||VT discs with twin-piston calipers (f), VL Turbo (r)|
|Rims:||Weld Star RT; 15×4 (f), 15×8 (r)|
|Rubber:||Maxxis 165/80R15 (f), Outlaw Drag Street Radial 255/60R15 (r)|
First and foremost, my partner Elsa for putting up with the build; my mate Marc at Tuff St Customs; Dan at Elite Automotive; Shannon at Tune Corp; Marc, Logan and the rest of the boys at All Quality Panel & Paint; my boss Francesco for letting me prep and spray the car at the shop; Tim at Better Performance Products; James aka English aka Pom for getting the car detailed for the photoshoot; the dogs Blue and Molly for keeping me company and watching me prep the bloody car every night for months in the garage.