Twin-turbo 2011 Holden VE SS-V ute sleeper

Chris Cutajar's VE ute may blend into traffic, but it hides a 1500hp secret


You’d be forgiven for thinking that Chris Cutajar’s VE SS-V ute is just another burbling, workaday load hauler, but underneath the unassuming exterior lies over 1500rwhp of force-fed mayhem.

This article was first published in the October 2020 issue of Street Machine

You’re also probably thinking that simply popping the bonnet would reveal all the secrets to this colossal oomph. But while you will find a non-standard LS donk and some fancy hardware in place of the original L77, the real party piece lives deep within the bowels of the ute, in the form of two rear-mounted hairdryers.

Chris got his hands on the brand-new VE ute in 2011, and after detonating the standard driveline a number of times, he turned to LS gurus MPW Performance to sort him out with something more stable. “I did a lot of research and asked around, and those guys were the best option by far,” he says.

MPW tasked the specialists at Powerhouse Engines with building a killer donk for Chris’s machine. They started off with a Dart LS Next block, fitting it with a Callies DragonSlayer crank, Oliver rods, custom JE pistons, and a bumpstick with specs reading 246/[email protected] and 114 degrees lobe separation. The bottom end is sealed up with a pair of Higgins CID heads, topped with a Wilson billet LS7 intake manifold using 2200cc injectors to keep the thing happily fed with E85. Up behind the monster mill is a BTE Top Sportsman Powerglide with a 4500rpm TCE converter, running back to a standard IRS rear end with an upgraded centre.

The engine package was initially fitted with an F-1R ProCharger, but turbos always seemed to be in the back of Chris’s mind. “I did the ProCharger because I wanted something a bit different to a single turbo,” he says. When the blower belt snapped and took a bonnet with it, MPW’s Adam Rogash put his foot down and told Chris to stop screwing around and just throw some turbos on it. “I dropped it off at MPW and told Adam I wanted 600rwkW [805hp],” Chris says. “He told me to leave it with him and he’d sort it out.”

Up behind the diff now is a pair of BorgWarner SXE369 turbos, blowing through drool-worthy three-inch piping all the way to the front of the car. Initially Chris wasn’t even aware that MPW had mounted the turbos under the tub, but once he found out, he loved it. “It was good to do something different, and Adam had always wanted to screw around with rear-mount turbos,” he says.

Power-wise, the car has made some staggering numbers. On the hub dyno in the Haltech Horsepower Heroes contest at Street Machine Summernats earlier in the year, it punched out 1525hp at 6900rpm on 25psi, earning Chris second in the boosted V8 class and third overall. “That was pretty cool to finish up that high, and for it to be an MPW one-two-three [in class] was great,” he says.

Sadly, Chris hasn’t had the chance to race the car since the hairdryers were installed, but when COVID isn’t getting in the way, he makes sure the ute gets its fair share of street duties. “It’s great; I cruise it all the time and take it to work at least once a week,” he says. “I love the sleeper factor. People hear the noise but then open the bonnet and still have to keep looking for the turbos!”

Future plans include running a nine- or even an eight-second pass, and a potential swing at Drag Challenge. But for now, Chris just intends to enjoy his incognito silver bullet on the street. “It’s a proper street car,” he asserts. “The missus drives it as well, and it’s fine under 3000rpm – but it’ll also fry the tyres at 110km/h!”


Paint:Original Nitrate Silver
Brand:440ci Dart LS Next
Induction:Wilson billet LS7
Turbos:BorgWarner SXE369
Heads:Higgins CID
Camshaft:246/[email protected], 114 lobe separation
Pistons:JE Custom
Crank:Callies DragonSlayer
Oil pump:Melling
Fuel system:Three Bosch 044 pumps, 2200cc injectors
Exhaust:Custom 3in
Ignition:Standard coils, custom leads
Gearbox:BTE Top Sportsman Powerglide
Converter:TCE 4500rpm
Diff:Standard IRS, 3.45:1 gears, Wavetrac centre
Shocks & springs:Viking coil-overs
Rims:HSVi Fluxus 20×8 (f & r)
Rubber:Kinforest; 245/35R20 (f), 255/35R20 (r)

Adam Rogash and the team at MPW – I just paid the bills and these guys made it all happen so all credit goes to them; John Pilla at Powerhouse Engines for a killer motor; Chris McDonald at McDonald Brothers Racing for the suspension set-up; Jason at Tuff Mounts; Luke and Richard at Haltech; Mum and Dad for their help and support during the build; all my friends for the advice and help; my partner Victoria for her support and telling me not to give up when I’d had enough.