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Craig Dixon – HQ Holden Coupe – TUFHQ

CRAIG Dixon’s TUFHQ had served him well at the track where it had run 11.0@126mph at events like Powercruise. Around two years ago he decided to retire the track-only weapon and give it a comprehensive rebuild. “I wanted to be able to get the family out in it,” says Craig, “I built it more as a cruiser this time around.”

Most people tame things down when returning a track weapon to street duties. Not Craig, he ramped things up with even more grunt. To replace TUFHQ’s old 383 Chev he commissioned Warspeed Racing Sydney to build him an even wilder 414ci SB Chev. Making the most of the extra grunt is a TH400 by Al’s Race Glides and nine-inch by Smithfield diff and gearbox.

Filling out the stretched and mini-tubbed rear wheel arches is 295/30R22 shod 22-inch Intro billets, which are a fair bit wider than the 20s up front. “I don’t like wide tyres on the front,” says Craig. Under the steel bonnet scoop is a smoothed engine bay, flat firewall, welded-in one-piece inner guards, lots of high-polished billet stuff, stainless button head bolts and a trick engine cover from CS Engineering. The boot also came in for the steeled-out, smooth look.

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While all this sounds like pretty tough gear, Craig has added a host of other niceties in keeping with the coupe’s family cruiser future. Such as the HOK Kandy Green body ‘n’ paint by Custom Bodyworks – complete with ghosted SS stripes. Although inspired by the factory Holden Black Watch green, it’s a custom mix. “The colour is unbelievable,” says Craig, “it looks awesome against all the factory chrome – I’m not big on blackouts.”

Inside Rides rolled out the sewing machine and stitched together an eye-catching dark Avocado leather interior, highlighted with suede and perforated leather inserts. Keeping tabs on all vitals is a brace of AutoMeter gauges, while the audio system is linked to Craig’s phone.

“The run to the finish line was a mad dash,” says Craig. “Dad and I only had a week to fit up the car and had to pull a few all-nighters to get it done. He even helped assemble the engine.”

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Rod Hadfield – Fiat Topolino – FIRE CHIEF

ROD Hadfield is a legend in the Australian car community and his latest build is yet another brain-melting block buster. Based on a 1936-1949 Fiat Topolino hardtop, the diminutive Italian coupe has been built around a vintage American LeFrance firetruck theme.

The beginnings of the project required a trip to the US, to track down an original set of 1960’s, 15×16 magnesium Halibrand wheels and the heart of FIRE CHIEF; a gorgeous-looking, LeFrance V12 firetruck engine. “I’ve never seen one of these in a hot rod or car anywhere in the world,” says Rod. “It runs twin dizzys, twin plugs and can run on six or 12 cylinders, it was very advanced for its day. I got in contact with the LeFrance reconditioning section, who went and pulled it out of a vintage firetruck for me.”

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The engine sits in a custom chassis and its wild exhaust system took two months of solid work just on its own! At 527ci the LeFrance V12 is pretty big and required adding 14-inches into the front of the Topolino’s body. Handling all that torque is a bullet-proof ZF six-speed-double-overdrive manual and a very narrow nine-inch with 4.7:1 gears.

FIRE CHIEF is littered with interesting pieces, such as German helmet-shaped air cleaners, five Stromberg 97s atop a custom manifold made from a specially-imported tubing, how engine coolant is added via a look-a-like fire hydrant – it is even equipped with a genuine LeFrance vintage fire extinguisher, still charged! To add that finishing touch to the vintage American fire truck theme, “I asked HOK to mix me the reddest red you can,” says Rod.

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Joe Chetcuti – Chopper – HEAVEN TO HELL ‘N’ BACK

“I’VE called this bike HEAVEN TO HELL ‘N’ BACK , because it’s the story of my life,” says Joe. Divorce is often messy, but in Joe’s case that got dialled up to 11. On top of this was the fire in which Joe lost everything, forcing him to start over from scratch. All of this is portrayed in Matt Egan’s airbrush work, including the rear guard which depicts angel wings guarding over his two kids – who mean the world to Joe.

Although Joe is more used to doing high-end resto and fabrication work on GT Falcons and Holdens, this is not his first bike. Purchased as a roller, Joe has updated and refined virtually every aspect of HEAVEN TO HELL ‘N’ BACK. This included hand-making all the tin work, hiding all the wiring and brake lines, along with blanking out the welds. “I’ve tricked every part of the frame, which now looks like it’s been machined from one, solid chunk,” says Joe.

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Grunt is courtesy of a 124ci S&S engine breathing through a G-Series carby, all hooked to a BDO Primary and five-speed Jim’s gearbox. Rolling stock consists of a 23-inch RC rim up front and an 18-inch out the back wrapped in a 300mm wide tyre.

For maximum impact, Joe mixed a custom HOK blue inspired by GT Falcon Starlight Blue. All the paint is straight off Troy Azzopardi’s and Joe’s gun, none of it has been buffed. “You’ve got to have pride in what you do,” says Joe, “This whole bike is from my heart, which I built as tribute to my kids.”

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Aaron Fitzpatrick – Datsun 1600 – YLD510

MOTOREX fans will be familiar with Aaron’s previous Datsun 510. This giant-slaying orange delight was a Summernats Grand Champion and three-time MotorEx Street Machine Best of Breed runner up. And while his latest machine, YLD510, is freshly-finished for Meguiar’s MotorEx 2016, it was actually started before the orange car. “It was painted HOK Passion Purple and was a roller,” says Aaron. “Then the orange car took over and it got parked.”

Fast forward several years, and Aaron was keen to get the unfinished project up and running again. “Build number two was just meant to use up all the left-over parts from FIVETEN,” says Aaron, “but its turned into much more than that.”

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First thing to be changed was the colour, it now wears a custom HOK Shimrin 2 mix Aaron’s father, Peter has dubbed Clover Plum – which was laid on by Tenterfield’s Hillier Brothers. The 15×4, 15×11 and 275 Mickey Thompson ET Street wheel ‘n’ tyre combo along with the demountable parachute are dead giveaways this car has ¼-mile aspirations. Backing up the race-inspired looks, is a turbocharged FJ20 power plant, which has been built to pump out 750 to 800hp – or enough to push the little Datto deep into the 8s. Driveline includes a Jatco three-speed auto (same as a VL gearbox but without the overdrive), and BorgWarner diff with billet axels and TrueTrack centre. Climbing in through the roll cage you’ll find black leather highlighted with geometric hexagonal stitching, custom alloy centre console, FTO buckets and a MicroTech smart dash with data logging.

“I bought the car when I was 19 off the original owner,” says Aaron, “I’m now 31 and still haven’t driven it!”

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Tony Morphett – Holden FJ Ute

WHEN Tony’s silver ’69 Mustang was unveiled at MotorEx 2014, he vowed to have another project for 2016. True to his word, he’s back with a radical retro-tech FJ ute with full BMW running gear. Although not quite finished, this is a great opportunity to see all of the incredible engineering before it gets hidden by the body. Up front is the V12 and five-speed auto out of BMW 750Li, which has been enhanced via a pair of mirror-image Nelson Racing Engines turbos.

Keeping with the BMW theme, the strut front and independent rear is out of a 2000-model E39 5-series BMW all linked together via a custom-built, 150x75mm perimeter chassis. To fit the body over all of this, required stretching the door openings 150mm, lengthening the guards 75mm, increasing the depth of the sills 50mm and making the whole shooting match some 200mm wider! “Because we made it longer and wider, it looks chopped even though the roof’s standard,” says Tony. “It looks horn!”

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Luke Williams from Creative Custom Cars (CCC) has been the main fabricator on this project and has done an incredible job, as virtually everything has been hand formed. Rather than chop up a pristine Humpy ute, “We started with a complete basket case,” says Tony. “Pretty much only the turret and rear quarter skins were used.”

Tony’s had the idea of putting a V12 into an FJ for many years, along with a soft spot for BMWs since owing Peninsula Wreckers. “It’s been a packaging nightmare, as we wanted to keep the ute looking as traditional as possible,” says Tony, “while making it drive and handle the same as a BMW.”

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Glenn Noonan – 1932 Ford Tudor – 32CDAN

HAVING campaigned one of Australia’s best known EH station wagons for over 10 years (which included taking out Top Wagon at Summernats), Glenn Noonan has upped the ante with this incredible HOK gold ’32 Tudor. “I’ve always liked the appeal of the 32,’ says Glenn. “After attending a few MotorEx shows, one thing led to another and I placed the order for the chassis around seven years ago.”

The aforementioned chassis is from Lilow Auto Tech, which has been outfitted with a Rod Tech polished stainless IFS, triangulated four-bar rear and topped with a purposed-built Deuce Customs body fitted that features smokey tinted glass.

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To add to 32CDAN’s street cred, its healthy 600hp, 400ci Chev sports a howling 6/71 Blower Shop pump and EFI bug-catcher intake. Rounding out the driveline is a full-manual TH400 and Strange nine-inch – which has all been painted in contrasting HOK Bronze.

While 32CDAN is plenty tough, what really stands out is the brighter-than-bright HOK gold hue, superbly applied by Able Smash Repairs. “They’re perfectionists,” says Glenn.

On the inside there’s lots of leather, Dakota Digital Dash, billet everywhere, modified buckets and a hand fabricated centre console. “Other than stitching the interior and the paint, I built the whole rod at home in the garage with a tonne of help from family and friends,” says Glenn. “My son and I have both learnt how to MIG and TIG-weld during the project. Overall it’s been a labour of love, which I’ve built to the best standard I can. I hope people like it.”

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George Papas – 1966 Mustang Coupe – Brandy Kandy

George’s beautiful 1966 Mustang was done ‘n’ dusted and lookin’ a million dollars, when disaster struck. During Sydney’s big storm, the garage roof collapsed in on Brandy Kandy. “The turret was caved right in,” says George, “there wasn’t a straight panel on it.” Understandably he was devastated and inconsolable.

Seeing his pain, his cousin George and Danny from Custom Bodyworks rallied the troops to resurrect the battered Stang. “If it wasn’t for these guys along with Owen Webb, none of this would have happened,” says George. I can’t thank them enough.”

Custom Bodyworks spent, many, many hours ironing out the sheetmetal, before Danny filled his gun with a custom HOK Brandywine and Kandy mix. Powering the slick Mustang is a tough little 347 stroker filled with lots of good bits and topped with 6/71 Mooneyham blower and twin Demon carbs. The blower’s pretty special, having previously seen duty on a very competitive drag car. “Peter Drivas built it and it’s a weapon to drive,” says George, “you ease on the throttle at 60 to 70km/h and it breaks traction for 100 meters!”

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Moving rearwards, there’s an Al’s Raceglides C4 and 9-inch that’s held in place with GTHO leaf springs. While the guards are filled to the max with Continental rubber wrapped around 19×7.5 and 20×10 FR Simmons wheels.

“My cousin George and I spent 16-hours straight bolting in the driveline, without scratching a thing,” says George. “It was nothing for George to work on the car until midnight.”

Inside it’s mostly concourse with a few subtle mods like; B&M shifter, retractable belts and factory-looking Auto Meter gauges. The undercarriage is nicely detailed, but nothing stupid, as George is a firm believer in, it’s not worth owning if you can’t drive it.

It was a massive job to resurrect Brandy Kandy, but well worth it given the car’s history. It’s only done 24,000 miles, is a rare factory 302 car and spent two and half years in a New York police compound after being used in an armed hold up. How could you not restore such a car?

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