AT THE ripe young age of 17, Zac Luk was already the proud owner of two VK Commodores. He’d found a mint one-owner six-banger, complete with sunvisor, and had plans to slot in a V8. But then he came across the one gracing these pages.
“This one came up and it was perfect, so I convinced Mum and Dad to let me buy it,” Zac says. “It was a 308 car, but I took the motor out and sold it.”
First published in the July 2021 issue of Street Machine
That might seem like a strange decision, but Zac had a plan. The motor out of ACCUSED, a VN that had graced the cover of Street Commodores, came up for sale, and Zac jumped on it. “I was going to do a 355 package with the original motor – I was never keen on an LS swap – and then this one came up but with a blower. A no-brainer for a young, dumb kid, really.”
The VT roller motor already had all the fruit, stroked out to 355 cubes with a Harrop crank and topped with a COME Racing twin-throttlebody intake. It also sported forged internals and that all-important Vortech V-2 S-Trim blower.
“The motor was pretty dirty when I got it, so every day after work I’d be in the workshop polishing it like a mirror,” Zac says. “I pulled it down to go over everything and got the blower serviced, and then spent a million dollars on anodised fittings and hose.”
One of the really neat tricks in the engine bay is the braided hose from the firewall that hides the engine wiring, which was carried out by Amain at A&I Auto Electrical. It might cost a bit more than a few rolls of electrical tape, but it sure does look trick.
With the car almost finished, the heat suddenly turned way up – literally – when it got caught in a factory fire. “I was on my way to work on a Saturday morning and I saw the smoke and thought, ‘Unlucky for those guys,’” Zac recalls. “Then I got the call at 8am that I needed to get to the workshop.”
At the time of the fire, the car was pretty much complete. The engine bay had been smoothed but was still in primer, and the original paint and interior was so good that Zac was going to leave it alone.
“After the heartbreak of the fire, and basically falling out of love with the car, my partner Kayla convinced me and reminded me how much I loved it, and, well, it snowballed from there,” Zac says. “It took me a while to start the build again after sorting out what I needed, but I was super-lucky, as it was mainly blistered paint and melted trim.”
For the new paintjob, Zac wanted to stick with something close to the factory Almond colour, but it’s been tweaked a bit so it’s not as bland; he’s dubbed the colour ‘Nanna’ Cream.
The majority of the build was performed at Nathan Quadrio’s workshop, Quads Mods. “We didn’t intend for the car to become as showy as it is really, but Nath just went above and beyond with the build and made it the pretty beast it is,” Zac says. “Nathan did 95 per cent of the build, both pre- and post-fire, and he would come to me with an idea and I’d just be like, ‘Yes! Let’s do it.’ We would just bounce ideas off each other and somehow Nathan understood what I meant and made my visions happen.”
The interior had also copped a bit of damage, but rather than just restore it, Zac added a few more of his own touches. “The dash was slightly melted and the driver’s seat had slight charring, so a full custom re-trim was in order there. I loved the Calais style and stitching, so I worked with Cam at CJ Trim Co and he came up with a more modern approach and style. We also incorporated the body colour into the stitching, and the suede – well, that’s just classy, simple and cool.”
Zac wanted to keep the appearance of a stock car both inside and out, so he went to great pains to keep the big intercooler hidden and avoid cutting the bumper. That meant the trans cooler went to the back and a fuel cell was fitted in the boot along with the battery. The interior did get a few upgrades from stock, with a full set of Auto Meter Pro Comp gauges replacing the stock dash and a B&M shifter cleverly integrated into the original console. To finish it off, Zac was lucky enough to score a re-issue of a Momo HDT steering wheel from Roman Auto-tek.
“I wanted it to look stock as a rock, nice and simple. It keeps the police away,” Zac says. Of course, all that sleight of hand goes straight out the window once he hits the key and the 480 horses find their way to the rear wheels. It might look nanna-spec, but it sure doesn’t sound like it!
The final touch was to get Finest 1 Detailing to work their magic on the paint. “When I first saw it after the boys had it, the love was well and truly back. It looked the same car I originally had before the build,” Zac says. “They really got the paint popping, and at first glance I thought they had got it resprayed!”
Zac’s had more than his fair share of ups and downs, and while the original plan may have been an engine swap that took three months, it ended up taking almost five years of actual build time over nine years: “I had some issues with tuners and getting the car running, but then Mike at WA Performance got her running like a dream. The car’s angry when it needs to be but drives like a fuel-guzzling daily the rest of the time.”
Sounds just about perfect.
HOLDEN VK COMMODORE
|Inlet:||COME Racing twin-throttlebody|
|Blower:||Vortech V-2 S-Trim|
|Heads:||VN ported and polished|
|Radiator:||Custom PWR radiator, single thermo|
|Exhaust:||Pacemaker headers, dual 3in stainless exhaust|
|Gearbox:||Turbo 350, Stage 3 shift kit|
|Diff:||9in, 3.9:1 gears, 31-spline billet axles|
|Front:||King Super Low springs, Monroe GT shocks|
|Rear:||King Super Low springs, Monroe GT shocks|
|Brakes:||Slotted discs (f & r)|
|Rims:||14in stockies and caps (f & r)|
|Rubber:||Maxtrek Maximus 185/75R14 (f), BFGoodrich T/A 225/60R14 (r)|
Nathan at Quads Mods for the majority of the work; Harris at Finest 1 Detailing for getting the paint popping; Amain at A&I Auto Electrical for the full custom wiring job; Cam at CJ Trim Co for the amazing interior; Jayden at Rev Up Auto for the custom fab work; all the painters for their hard work; Mum and Dad for the cheap board and garage spot; my partner Kayla for the support throughout the build and putting up with all my whining
Got a car that looks mild, but goes wild? Send pics, car details and contact details to: Sleepers, Street Machine, Locked Bag 12, Oakleigh, Vic 3166. Or email: [email protected].