Easter long weekend 1975: Tony Ross and his buddies Glenn Halliday and Graham Rawlie head out of Adelaide in Tony’s pin-sharp FC Holden, DREAM ON. Their destination? The inaugural Street Machine Nationals hosted by the ’55-’56-’57 Chevrolet Club of NSW in Griffith. Little did they know that the FC would finish the event with a bunch of trophies, including the big one: Top Overall Street Machine!
First published in the August 2022 issue of Street Machine
“We had very few aspirations; for us it was more of a great road trip,” Tony recalls. “I remember having a lot of fun in the driving events; I won the go-to-whoa and was very happy to finish second to a Mini Cooper S in the slalom. I also won Top Sedan and Best Standard Paint, but I was in total shock that out of 117 entrants, I was awarded Top Overall Street Machine, which came with an amazing three-foot-tall trophy!”
The best part of the story is that, after passing the car on to his brother in the late 70s and then losing track of it, Tony was reunited with his beloved FC eight years ago, and has since treated it to an immaculate resto. As you can see from the photos, it looks sharper than it ever did.
We had a chat with Tony to get the full lowdown on the car’s history and its incredible rebirth.
Give us a rundown on the FC’s original 1975 specs.
Painted Arctic White, it ran a 192 Holden red motor with triple 45mm Dellortos, a 12-port head, 104 Waggott cam and a Vertex magneto – good enough for a 14.1 at Adelaide International Raceway! I fitted an LJ XU-1 Torana dash with Smiths and Stewart Warner gauges, plus Austin 1800 buckets, custom door trims, a Pioneer eight-track, HR disc front end, Aussie four-speed and 14×8 Aunger mags.
We did a big road trip on the way home from Griffith, including a stop at Sydney’s Drag Racing Supplies (they sponsored the Nationals trophy) and Lynx Engineering.
Lynx were the Australian Dellorto importer and spent half a day on the dyno dialling in the triple carbs while we drank beer in the pub next door! They said it was the second-best six they’d ever dynoed, only 5hp behind a tough 265 Chrysler Hemi.
Did you handle the build yourself?
I had a lot of help, mostly from my dad and some mates. The look on Dad’s face was priceless when I told him the FC had won Top Street Machine! I rebuilt the car for 1976, but unfortunately I blew the motor two days before the second Nationals.
Was that it for the FC?
I did rebuild the motor, but after seeing Terry Westmorland’s black, 283 Chev-powered FC at the SA Hot Rod & Street Machine Spectacular, I now also wanted a V8. I even bought a tough 350 Chev from my neighbour, Cary McCarthy – unfortunately the Road Traffic Board rejected my request [to fit it].
Dejected, I pushed the FC into the corner. In 1978, I fitted a mild 186 and sold off the 192, along with lot of the good parts, to help fund the purchase of McCarthy’s highly modified Bathurst 327 HK Monaro, which was even quicker after the killer 350 was fitted. I gave the FC to my brother in 1978 and told him to keep it in the family.
In March 2014 – one divorce later – I was having a drink with a lady called Stacey in a bar in Camperdown in western Victoria. She mentioned the FC was her favourite car. I told her I used to own one; however, by the look she gave me, I don’t think she believed me. This got me thinking, could I track down my old FC?
Was it still in the family?
My brother and I hadn’t spoken for years, but I knew he sold it to Sam Vizgaudis in ’88, as Sam used to drop by for the occasional visit, leaving black marks whenever he left. Sam and I lost contact over the years. When I went looking, I was lucky there was only one Vizgaudis in the phone book, which turned out to be Sam’s son, who put me in touch. I rang Sam: “Where the hell is my FC?” To my surprise, he told me my brother had bought it back. Said brother and I agreed on a price and DREAM ON returned home in April 2014 – 36 years after leaving!
What condition was it in?
Many things had been changed over the years; it was hard to believe it was still the same car. While complete and still in surprisingly good condition, it needed a full resto. As a petrolhead, you never forget your first car. For me, this was not about restoring the FC; more about recreating a piece of history that I originally built nearly 50 years ago.
What was the hardest part to find?
Everything! I drove all over Victoria, attending lots of swap meets trying to find things like the Volvo diff, Austin 1800 seats (which I got at Gawler Motor Wreckers), Aunger Trojans, Vertex magneto, and 12-inch Maxrob deep-dish steering wheel.
These steering wheels are nearly impossible to find because one was used on the Mad Max Interceptor. The FC came with a boot-load of parts, including several spare doors, plus the cardboard show sign I originally made in ’74. Still, I spent over a year wheeling and dealing to put together a good set of body moulds. I also got AA Vinney’s Metal Polishers to re-chrome the bars, overriders and loads of other parts.
So you got stuck straight into the rebuild?
I started doing a few things, like buying a fabricated stainless fuel tank from M&C Dean Fabrication in Queensland and replacing a broken boot spring with help from local FC owner Steve Johnson. At a 2016 birthday party for local music legend and hot rodder, Buggo King, I had a chance meeting with Mark Fry from Custom Chassis Panel & Paint in Mount Gambier. Mark had built several hot rods for Buggo, as well as a V8 FC windowless panel van.
Was Mark keen to be involved in the build?
No! He prefers building hot rods, so it took some convincing for him to take on the project. Also, there was a three-year waiting list. Come early 2020, the car had been stripped to a bare shell, blasted by Lowndes Abrasive Blasting and delivered to Mark, along with boxes and boxes of parts. Waiting for Mark was the best decision, because he understood and appreciated what I was trying to do. It also gave me time to track down some of the really rare parts. Mark’s proper old-school – he does everything: body, paint, mechanical, brakes, even wiring! The body and paint are sensational, and he built the FC to drive low at 100mm legal ride height. As for the ribbed firewall he came up with, that blew me away!”
What about trim?
Mark’s son Taylor runs Squizzy’s Upholstery. I gave Taylor four bare seat frames, new door cards and some pictures of the FC’s original 70s trim and asked him to recreate it. Taylor’s work was also exceptional – these two guys make dreams happen!
Any mechanical differences from the car’s old incarnation?
I went with a Tremec T5 this time. Chris Milton Engine Developments built the 186 bored out to 192, which runs a Yella Terra alloy head, adjustable roller rockers, roller cam, Carrillo rods and forged pistons. I spent hours removing the casting marks and extra webbing from the Redline intake manifold to make it look like the Warneford I ran back in the 70s. Ken’s Exhaust made the custom extractors and exhaust, and welded in a chassis-strengthening kit.
When was the rebuild completed?
Mark helped me finish off the car and we drove it out of his workshop in May last year. My old shooting buddy, Tom Yates, rode shotgun to the servo for its first tank of fuel. I’m so happy with how it turned out – except for maybe not being able to get the Dellortos working properly [see more below]. I cannot thank everyone involved enough. I’ll never forget Mark’s wonderful words of wisdom: “Save all your money, buy lots of petrol and drive the FC everywhere!”
In 1992 Dellorto stopped making the DHLA sidedraught carbs that featured in DREAM ON’s original incarnation. After a three-year search, Tony eventually sourced a set from Italy, which are the carbies you see in these photos. However, he’s never been happy with them. Following MotorEx, Tony took them to motor racing legend and old-school carburettor tuning specialist Serge DeLuca in Adelaide. Serge discovered they were not a matched set and the machine work carried out overseas had stuffed them – they were throwaways. To get Tony mobile, Serge loaned him a set of 45 DCOE Webers.
“As soon as the engine fired, the car sounded different – in a really great way,” says Tony. “Since then, another set of Dellortos surfaced in Sydney. Hopefully by the time you read this, Serge will have rebuilt and fitted them.”
Once that happens, DREAM ON’s stove-hot six will once again scream like it did in the 70s.
1959 FC HOLDEN
|192 Holden six-cylinder
|Yella Terra aluminium
|Triple 45mm DLHA Dellorto sidedraught carbs
|BA XR6 Falcon Tremec T5
|Volvo 144 BorgWarner Dana 30, 4.11:1 gears, Detroit Locker
|Stubtech spindles, 4in-lowered leaf springs, Koni adjustable shocks (f
|HR discs (f & r)
|Aunger Trojan 14×8 (f & r)
|Bridgestone Eager 245/50HR14 (f & r)
Custom Chassis Panel & Paint; Squizzy’s Upholstery; AA Vinney’s Metal Polishers; Chris Milton Engine Developments; Serge DeLuca; Lowndes Abrasive Blasting; M&C Dean Fabrication; Whitty Engineering; Steve’s Custom Metal Polishing; Ken’s Exhaust; GaugeWorks; Gawler Motor Wreckers; Trident Tyre Centre; South East Windscreens; Xpress Signs; Aussie Desert Cooler; The Rod Shop; Craig Carrison Racing Engines