Top 20 Street Machine covers part one: 1980s

We take a look back at 20 of the coolest covers in Street Machine history. Here's our top six from the 1980s

Photographers: Street Machine Archives

August/September 1981

IN 1981, SM’s founding editor, the late Geoff Paradise, was given the nod to launch a new title from the ashes of Van Wheels, so the Street Machine logo was initially added to the existing Van Wheels masthead to exploit buyer familiarity.

John Strachan’s legendary ‘Alley Cat’ HJ Holden panel van was our first cover star. At this stage the van was still running an Ivan Walker-built tunnel-rammed 308, but it would soon score a complete rebuild including a switch to Jaguar V12 power.

The street machine element of the new mag was sorted via a feature on Dave Ryan’s Pontiac GTO.

The two mastheads would switch cover prominence from the second issue, before the Van Wheels name was dropped altogether in
June/July ’82 and Street Machine forged ahead as a standalone entity.

August/September 1982

THIS issue was just the second solely Street Machine-titled offering, and what an absolutely stunning cover, with the late John Pudarich’s PRO1 HJ Monaro torching the hides. Geoff Paradise rated it as one of his favourite magazine covers ever, and we emulated it nearly 35 years later with our July 2017 issue, as you’ll see later in this yarn.

Sadly, John passed away in a surfing accident before this issue was released, and the car was eventually lost to time.

Chryslers were making the odd appearance by this stage, and Gary Baker’s 360-powered Centura was one of the best. Also making an impact was Marino Gregoric’s chopped FE sedan, which he still owns today

August/September 1984

WHO could forget the famous Chris Christou burnout cover for our third-birthday issue! Chris’s HO775 was a genuine XY GT that copped a hiding in the burnout comps of the 1980s and later featured in Bridgestone’s ‘Real Men Smoke Eagers’ ad campaign. Our feature on Chris’s XY ended with him stating that he planned to keep the car forever, and, true to his word, the Falcon still takes pride of place in the Christou shed.

Bob Ljubic’s beautiful FC Holden shared the cover, and some of the other cars in this issue (Wayne Topp’s bright yellow, big-block Chev-powered Mk1 Cortina; Charlie Abela’s triple-Webered 265 AP6 Valiant) were proof that the street machine scene was going from strength to strength.

Interestingly, editor Paradise bet the Wheels editor that if this SM issue outsold their offering, they had to swap offices; Paro ended up with a room with a view.

April/May 1986

ONE of Australia’s most lauded street machines, Mick Curren’s HQ Monaro, graced this cover and became an instant legend. The car’s bright red paint, fat slot mags under flared guards and extensively chromed and detailed blown 308 were – and for many still are – the things dreams are made of, and the ‘Terminator’ cover line branded the car for life.

Also in this issue, our giveaway XC Falcon Castrol Coupe was well under construction, with Ford guru Mick Webb screwing together a tough 351 Cleveland for the occasion, while Chic Henry wrapped up the build story of the Yella Terra ‘Five Buck Streeter’ raffle HK Monaro that was won by an 18-year-old Steve Wilson at the ’86 Nats.

After big-mouthed Jaguar nut Gary Walker offered to take on any V8 pundits in an earlier Your Stuff letter, the ‘Jag Challenge’ was made official this issue. However, when it came to crunch-time against big Barry Birt in his Hume Performance Monaro, ol’ Gary and his twin-turbo V12 Jag were no-shows.

June 1986

‘THE Best!’ cover line was in reference to Rob Beauchamp’s all-conquering Top Street Machine Overall gong at the seventh Street Machine Nationals held that Easter. His LX Torana build became the stuff of legend and was the forerunner to his VL Calais unveiled at the first Summernats held over the New Year period of ’87/’88.

The June ’86 issue was one of our most important, as it heralded a new wave of pro street builds where race cars and elite-level show cars merged. Check the feature car line-up: Rob’s LX; Wayne Pagel’s GAS69 HT Monaro; Janet Hough’s stunning yellow ’66 Mustang fastback; Marty Brennan’s chopped white MADNES Holden ute; Kevin Monk’s Dodge Daytona. Lord have mercy!

April/May 1988

THE Predator carbs front and centre on Ivan Hans’s ‘Mr Hyde’ LJ Torana set the tone for this bumper 164-page issue. The stellar line-up was headlined by Ivan’s LJ feature, backed by Rob Beauchamp’s VL Calais, Owen Webb’s ‘Wild Thing’ Falcon and the blown 460-powered XY GT of brothers Craig and Troy Mainprize.

We also had an in-depth chat with Rod and Carol Hadfield of the Castlemaine Rod Shop – not a single grey hair, Rod – and were given a first-hand look into the rebuild of Alan Cooper’s BLOBAK ute, with a trusty 253 now mounted up front to complement the blown 350 in the tray (Alan went on to win SMOTY that year).

Our ‘One HO To Go’ giveaway XF Falcon was nearing the end of its makeover, scoring some retrimmed Recaros and MOMO sports twirler to go with its Monza Red paint.

Read more:

Top 20 Street Machine covers part two: 1990s

Top 20 Street Machine covers part three: 2000s