IN JANUARY 1989, a young Holden mechanic by the name of Todd D’elboux drove a Holden Gemini from Tamworth to Canberra for his second tilt at the Street Machine Summernats. After rubbing shoulders with such legendary cars as Rob Beauchamp’s Calais, Howard Astill’s Rock Solid and Ivan Hans’s Mr Hyde, Todd drove home with trophies for Top Sedan and Top Custom Paint in the Gemini’s boot.
This article was first published in the June 2020 issue of Street Machine
“It was a bit of a shock when they called my name out at the trophy presentation,” Todd recalls. “The real surprise was the cheques for $300 and $500 as well. I almost fell over!”
Fours and rotors are pretty well accepted in Canberra these days – and have even won the Grand Champion sword a time or three – but it was a different story in 1989. “We went in the Supercruise and got bagged all the way,” Todd told SM for the Gemini’s feature story in the June 1989 issue.
Todd wasn’t bothered; he just liked doing things his own way. The TE Gemini dubbed Gizmo was his first car, and was his daily driver until he joined the Tamworth Street Machine Club and started to tinker. “I didn’t have a goal at the start,” he says. “Everyone else in town was playing with V8s. I just wanted a fancy paintjob and to enter a few shows.”
Todd got the paintjob of his dreams, with local painter Alan Wright laying it down to Todd’s design. “There was no spray booth; we did the whole thing in my parents’ garage, wetting the floor down,” he says.
The car’s wild graphics were cutting-edge for the day. Despite being applied in Todd’s parents’ garage, the paintjob won Top Custom Paint at Summernats 2
The rest of the build was mild by today’s standards – stock-bodied, but with trick custom trim by Tamworth local Cameron ‘Mang’ Rayner, a rorty 1600cc mill and detail galore.
Yep, Gizmo still looks as good as he did at ’Nats 2! Billy Baker is the Gemini’s proud owner and has made sure the car’s impressive show record has continued to grow. It’s pictured here at last year’s Classics By The Bay in Portland, Victoria
After Summernats 2, Todd drove the Gemini to every show he could, racking up 18,000km in one year – the car never went on a trailer – before he decided it was time to level up.
“The game had changed, everyone was doing the rotisseries thing, so I pulled it off the road,” says Todd. “I put it up on axle stands and my wife and I scraped back the undercarriage. I smoothed out the floor and the driveline, took the casting marks off the gearbox, diff – all that.”
He also upped the horsepower quotient, too. “I was knocking around in an RX-4 at the time, so I started a rotary swap into the Gemini. I got it mocked up, changed my mind and built a really nice 2.0-litre for it instead. I didn’t want to go down the twin Weber route like everyone else did, so I bought a set-up to fit a 450 four-barrel Holley to it – ex-Group C CDT gear! It pulled like a train; would overtake in top gear.”
Thus equipped, Todd took the car to Sydney for the Four & Rotary Nationals in 1993, where he won Car of Show.
“By that time, I was busy building a house and we had our first child on the way. So I decided to sell it – I was sick of cleaning it anyway!” Todd laughs. “Rick Ludgate bought it in 1994 and kept on showing it – he won a stack more trophies than I ever did.
“Rick sold the car over 10 years ago and I lost track of it for a while. Then I finally signed up to Facebook and the new owner got in contact with me. Turns out that the car is still immaculate and still on the show scene.”
Todd fries the hides at the Gemini Owners Weekend in 1988, back when the car was still 1600cc. When Todd revamped Gizmo, he built a killer 2.0L motor for it, topped with ex-Group C Country Dealer Team induction
Gizmo’s new custodian is 70-year-old Billy Baker in Portland, Victoria. “Dad has had quite a few cool cars over the years, but nothing you’d call a show car,” says Billy’s son Scotty. “Then he got involved in the South East Street Machines Club and decided he wanted something special, and I found Gizmo for him.
“Apart from a stereo and some general servicing, the car is pretty much as it was back in the day,” Scotty continues. “It’s a time capsule.”
Billy has taken the Gemini to shows all over the place, winning trophies at both the South East Street Machines show and Autofest in Mt Gambier. Gizmo even won Car of Show at the Horsham Car & Bike Show in 2018, from a field of over 200 vehicles.
“Dad drives the car around town as much as he can, but if we are going any distance for a show, we tend to trailer it,” says Scotty. “We’d love to get it back to Summernats one day!”
Gizmo’s engine bay had the obligatory chrome and glitz of the era, but the detail was next-level, with the block and head painstakingly smoothed of all casting marks and other nasties. Todd later smoothed the engine bay during the second rebuild
Gizmo’s continued success is gratifying for Todd, and while he never again built a car to that level, he still loves anything with an engine and a set of wheels. Toy-wise, he rides a flash Harley Breakout and helps number-two son with a JDM-style Toyota AE86.
He’s still swinging spanners for a crust, too. “I’m about to clock up my 40th year as a mechanic,” Todd says. “I joined the NSW Ambulance Service in 1989 and have been there ever since. We look after 100 vehicles from the Queensland border down to Scone and across to Glen Innes. It’s a challenge!”