FEASTING my eyes on Tim Kress’s striking ’64 EH Holden wagon at the Adelaide Auto Expo earlier this year, I was intrigued by the mix of styles on what looked to be a fairly fresh build. Bubble windows; sunroof; flares – oh my!
First published in the July 2021 issue of Street Machine
As it turns out, this wagon has 80s show cred, having been formerly known and shown in Queensland under the name ‘Imperial’.
And, while some owners may have rebuilt it to that spec, Tim decided he could have his cake and eat it too. He set about creating a neat family cruiser with modern appointments to suit his tastes, while also retaining elements of the car’s history.
“I wanted to keep the sunroof, bubble windows, louvre-vented front guards and flares, while also putting my own touches on it,” he says. “Create new history and keep the legacy alive.”
And if that’s not interesting enough, the story of how Tim came to acquire the wagon is quite a tale too. In 2005, the then-16-year-old spied the 186-powered EH in the Trading Post. “Dad drove me to see the car and it was in very rough shape, but I didn’t care; I loved it,” he recalls. “I was sold and my dad was sold.”
Everyone was on board the EH train except for Tim’s mum. She reckoned that a Gemi or newer Commodore would be a safer option for her beloved son. Tim begged and pleaded for a week until finally she cracked and told him to go and buy the car.
A year later, Tim took a call from his old man. Not only had his dad spotted the EH for sale at a local tyre shop, the legend had also bought it for his son. “Tears were shed again!” Tim says. “Excited is an understatement; I was in absolute disbelief. Owning this car was definitely meant to be.”
Tim wasted little time in checking out his new possession, and that’s when he spied a few telltale signs of the car’s previous life. “I got underneath and noticed the chromed diff and the word ‘Imperial’ painted on the fuel tank,” he explains.
With a bit of research and the help of social media, he soon learned that it had been a show car in Queensland in the 80s. “Many people remember the car; one in particular knew the old owner and remembers seeing it in car shows in Queensland,” Tim says. “Another bloke gave me his own copy of one of the magazines it was in!”
Given Tim’s age and lack of funds, a quick budget build was in order, and soon he was piloting the cruiser, making a bunch of sweet teenage memories. The wagon remained a trusty steed for many years, before a lack of shelter saw tinworm rear its ugly head. It was put into storage in 2012, where it sat waiting for the right moment to come along.
“After I asked my girlfriend Bec to marry me in 2016, I decided that I wanted the EH to be our wedding car – I wanted the girl of my dreams to roll up in the car of my dreams,” Tim says. “We had approximately 12 months to do a full restoration. It was a big ask.”
Adelaide Motorsport Fabrication in Wingfield, SA did the heavy lifting on the wagon early in the process. The crew there put in some serious work to turn its frown upside down, and then worked even harder when Tim and Bec’s wedding date was moved forward three months due to a venue stuff-up.
The AdMoFab lads wrenched on a 350ci Chev cratey before shoehorning it, along with a B&M TH700 trans, into the EH’s relatively small engine bay. They enlarged the trans tunnel and added a fresh crossmember, Rod-Tech IFS, four-wheel discs, coil-overs and a customised nine-inch. They also whipped up a custom alloy fuel tank and radiator.
Once the AdMoFab team completed their end of the deal, Tim cracked on with some of the bodywork himself, before handing it over to Langley Motor Body Repairs to finesse the shapes and lay down the Ford Seduce metallic red, coupled with a traditional white roof.
“It was right down to the wire; I was still installing the sunroof the night before the wedding!” Tim says. “To this day, our wedding day was the most memorable with the car. Once I heard and saw the EH coming up the driveway, the emotions were that of joy, accomplishment, happiness and love.”
It’s safe to say that with so many intertwined stories, this EH wagon is now cemented in the Kress family for the long term. “Everything turned out how I had imagined and I was very happy with everyone involved in the build,” Tim says. “I was tempted to sell the EH back in the day, but I am so glad I held on to it. Now I could never let her go. This car has been a huge part of my life; so many memories over the years – heaps of road trips, beach drives, fast-food runs, burnouts, and I slept in the back more times than I can remember!”
With Tim’s young family now in tow, new memories are sure to be made in this wagon.
ISSUE #23 of Custom Vans & Trucks features the Imperial wagon as built by Robert Walker. Photos display the then-Dark Carmine Metallic EH sporting a plethora of chrome appointments, including a 192ci bored six with triple Weber carbs swinging off a Warneford 7in manifold. A lush custom interior of leather and velour covered most surfaces. HiAce buckets, a full console and Quadrasonic audio system were noteworthy cabin mods, while the body mods of flares, guard vents, bubble windows and sunroof remain to this day. Tim also owns the old bonnet that sported a see-through bubble, though the perspex hasn’t stood the test of time. Issue #7 of Supercar magazine also offers a feature, providing a great insight into this EH wagon’s glamorous past.
1964 HOLDEN EH WAGON
Paint: Ford Seduce metallic red, white roof
|Brand:||350ci Chev crate|
|Manifold:||Weiand Street Warrior|
|Fuel system:||PULP; Holley Red electric pump|
|Cooling:||Custom alloy radiator, twin thermo fans|
|Exhaust:||Custom block-hugger headers, twin exhaust, MagnaFlow mufflers|
|Ignition:||MSD Street Fire coil, distributor and leads|
|Converter:||B&M Holeshot 2000rpm|
|Diff:||Ford 9in, Strange centre, 3.50:1 gears, LSD, 31-spline axles|
|SUSPENSION & BRAKES|
|Front:||Rod-Tech IFS, QA1 shocks, coil-overs|
|Rear:||QA1 shocks, leaf springs|
|Steering:||Flaming River tilt column, rack-and-pinion|
|Brakes:||XF Falcon discs and VS Commodore calipers (f), EA Falcon discs and calipers (r)|
|WHEELS & TYRES|
|Rims:||Smoothies with Baby Moon caps; 15×6 (f), 15×8 (r)|
|Rubber:||American Classic; 205/60R15 (f), 235/75R15 (r)|
Andy, Gav and Murph from AdMoFab; Sot from Modified Vehicle Engineering; Daryl from Langley Motor Body Repairs; Adam from AJ Trim; A Class Metal Finishers; my friends and family