ictorian paint and panel guy Craig McKenzie has been making a name for himself of late by saving old show cars from neglect and giving the a fresh lease on life. The lord’s work, we reckon.
For starters, Craig and his wife Kristie restored the Auto Salon starring Green Ghost Nissan 200SX and also owned the SQIZME Hyundia S Coupe for a time.
And more recently, Craig treated the ex-DItch Jones HR ute dubbed 1FATHR to a makeover that landed him on the cover of SM last issue.
Now, Craig has taken on one of the most-famous cars in street machining history – Alan Cooper’s BLOBAK2 Holden ute, winner of the very first Street Machine of the Year in 1988.
So far, Craig only has the chassis to start with. The body, as far as we know, remains in Alice Springs.
The ute burst onto the scene as BLOBAK – an evil black HQ ute with plenty of body mods and a blown small block Chev mounted amidships. It nabbed cover of the December 1986/January 1987 issue of Performance Street Car and created a stir wherever it went.
Nevertheless, Alan wanted more and the car was soon stripped for a massive makeover, which was featured in the April/May 1988 issue of Street Machine. The plan? To re-engineer the car, complete with a 253 Holden V8 in engine bay.
Why the extra motor? We’ve heard of a few reasons, including using the 253 to power the alternator and other accessories – and act as the starter motor for the donk out back. But the big one, perhaps, was to some much-needed extra weight to the nose to prevent the car pulling wheelstands everytime Alan stood on the gas.
The guy that helped Alan make all this work was a mechanical engineer named Fred Burgermeister (that’s him on the left and Alan on the right, pictured below). Fred got the front-wheel drive Cadillac front end to successfully serve as the basis for BLOBAK’s rear suspension and transaxle. The chassis was beefed with four extra crossmember, stepped in at the rear and fully boxed.
The Caddy rear end supplemented with a Dodge-based torsion bar set-up. Fred nutted out the adaptors, engine mounts and a thousand other details needed to mate the blown small block Chev to the Caddy’s TH425 auto.
The 253 up the front of the car was connected to the rear via a gutted Trimatic, through which ran a custom-made driveshaft that was bolted directly to the back of the thonglsapper’s crank. The drive was then sent to the front of the Chev’s crank via a custom tailshaft.
The finished product was featured in the July/August 1988 issue of SM, complete with wild paint and graphics, massive 15x11in steel rims out back, a full re-trim and a conversion to LPG for both donks.
That was just in time to make it eligible for the first-ever SMOTY award, up against the likes of Rob Beauchamp’s VL Calais, Dave Johnson’s Jigsaw FJ, George Anthony’s XB sedan and Mark Sgaravizzi’s infamous XD. And guess what? BLOBAK Two brained them all to win the first-ever Street Machine of the Year gong – including $10,000 thanks to Cheviot wheels.
BLOBAK 2 ended up scoring three SM covers (two regular mags and a special) and the car appeared extensively in other media, including on TV.
Sometime after that, the mid-engine chassis was removed and the car put back to a front-engine configuration with silver paint. The car was sold and it took on a new life as the Silver Ghost.
The chassis went back to live with Fred Burgermeister, where it has remained until Fred passed away. Looking very much the worse for wear, the chassis was sold at auction in 2018.
Since then, the new owner David Burke gave the chassis a significant tidy up, before putting it back on the market earlier this year.
Craig has a power of work ahead of him. Besides finding a body – be it the original or not – he’ll need a 500ci Caddy transaxle and much more.
And the body? The last time we laid eyes on it was at Red CentreNATS 4, in Alice Springs. Again, it was not looking its best, but we’ve seen worse things saved!
And, there will be a heap of decisions to be made. Should he aim to take the car back to as close as possible to its BLOBAK2 form? Or maybe meld the orignal BLOBAK style with the later iteration, as we saw in the restoration of John Ziegler’s iconic ute. Or maybe Craig will opt to give the ute a new spin.
Whichever way he goes, you can bet we’ll keep you updated.