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THE CHEVROLET WAY
Glen Southern’s 1966 Chevrolet Impala

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Summernats 29 entrant Glen Southern bought this Impala a bit over seven years ago. He drove it around for a couple of years and loved it. Back then it had a 427 with a Turbo 400 and Glen said it was a nice old thing. He used it regularly, taking the kids to tennis and on longer weekend drives, but eventually he decided the car deserved a bit of treatment and so the long upgrade process began.

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“I loved the car and decided to do it up so I took it to Melbourne and it stayed there for three years with almost nothing happening on it. I couldn’t get the guy started on it so I pulled it out of that shop. A mate recommended Carmine from C.A.D. Custom and the rest is history. “The motor was built for it six years ago and it’s a 540ci big block Chev that makes about 700hp. It’s a little bit underdone so I can street drive it on the street and run it on pump fuel. I wanted it as a really nice driver, not just something to look at so it’s got air conditioning and power steering and all that good stuff.

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“I wanted it to look tough. My family picked the colour and the build is all about it being an old school look. Chrome bumpers, simple and tough.” Summernats 29 is the first place to see Glen’s incredible Impala as the covers come off the hottest builds in the country! The Great Meguiar’s Uncover is a major highlight.

 

REAL STEEL RACER
Shane Bugeja’s 1972 Datsun 1200

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One of the most famous rotary-powered drag cars in history, the bright red Steidel Racing 1200 Coupe was originally built on the tiny island of Puerto Rico where it went as quick as 7.34sec to claim the title of world’s quickest Datsun. In 2006 it made its way to Australia for the first time, racing at the Brisbane Jamboree and winning the Pro Compact class before returning to Puerto Rico.

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There it remained until years later when Sydney rotary guru Steve Dimech from SDR Motorsport purchased the car and made it his own including a colour change to white. In the years that followed it went as quick as 7.2sec over the quarter mile before being sold to long-time customer and current owner, Shane Bugeja.

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Shane is no stranger to rotary engines or drag racing but for his new project he wanted to step things up in terms of quality, fit and finish. The most recent rebuild of this speedy Datsun began by completely stripping the vehicle to a bare shell and chassis before replacing all of the made-for-racing fibreglass parts with pin-straight steel components. Doors, guards and more were replaced with genuine Datsun items in steel, with headlights and taillights refitted to complete the more original look. The car was beginning to look less like a race car for the first time in many years but there was still one thing left to change… the colour.

 

CUTTING UP CLASSICS
Steve Chaplin’s Mazda RX-3

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Despite having owned this incredible Mazda coupe for more than eleven years, Steve Chaplin only drove it for the first time just a couple of months ago! Steve says that it’s been a long time coming but that the original plan never involved unveiling a fully-fledged show car. “It was never wasn’t meant to be this full on. I originally wanted a drag car but now it’s more like a street car that I’ll also race at the drags that became a show car!”

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Although looking nothing like its current state, Steve’s originally purchased his genuine RX-3 was for just $4000 – a price that would see similar classic Mazdas snatched up these days quicker than you can blink! Looking at it now though that may well have been the least expensive part of the process with the finished product a work of rolling art. “I bought a 13BT crate motor for it from Mazda. They only had a couple left and Joe from RotorMaster bought the other one. We started it up to make sure it was right and then immediately pulled it apart to bridgeport it and rebuild it.”

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Steve said that the goal is to run 8.50 seconds over the quarter mile when it’s done and when you see the size of the turbo you won’t have any doubt of the possibilities. No doubt there will be some drag slicks jammed under the tubbed rear end in the future but when the covers come off ANGRY3 for the first time at Summernats 29, fans will see a set of custom billets on board.

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MINT MONARO
Joel Lambert’s HG Monaro GTS

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With its 900hp small block fired up and enough coats of retina-searing custom pearl paint to make it visible from space, Joel Lambert’s HG GTS will be almost impossible to miss once the covers are removed on Friday night at Summernats 29.

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Built to be a genuine street car with full rego, Joel’s HG is packing a serious Nelson Chev V8 under the bonnet complete with a single 1050 carby and a little nitrous for good measure. And while the finished product will look simpler than most Monaros on the street, the amount of custom fabrication in this build has to be seen to be believed.

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Darran and Steve from Street’n’Strip Kustom Exhaust & Fabrication have been putting the hours in to finish the beast off in time for its big debut at the Great Meguiar’s Uncover, 7:30pm Friday the 8th of January, only at the Summernats!

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GROUP 3 GREAT
Mario’s VH Commodore Group III

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Sydney car builder and longtime Summernats entrant and exhibitor Damien Lowe typically has his hands full of his own builds in the lead-up to the event but this year he’s up to his neck in someone else’s Commodore parts! Entrusted with completing the build of Sydney Holden fan, Mario, Damien has taken an already tidy VH Commodore Group III replica and turned it into something more than worthy of being unveiled at the biggest car show of the year, Summernats 29.

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The silky smooth body has been covered top to bottom in a factory shade that will keep the purists happy, but the colour and detail doesn’t stop on the body. There’s detail on this build that has to be seen to be believed including the smooth engine bay and gleaming undercarriage. And while the trend these days is to repower aging Commodores with newer Chevy muscle, Mario’s VH rumbles with a Holden heart, doing its bit for automotive patriotism.

 

SIKEST AT SUMMERNATS
Craig Craft’s Holden Ute

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It takes a lot to make a Holden ute stand out from the crowd but when the Summernats crowd gets its first look at Craig Craft’s incredible machine this Friday night, eyes are sure to be bugging out of heads! It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Craig who says that he only got to drive it three times before the motor called it quits.

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“I’ve owned the ute for about three and a half years and when I bought it, it was a complete car ready to go with a blown small block. I drove it three times before it snapped a valve and destroyed the motor. It just sat there for six months and I didn’t look at it.

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“When I started to modify it, all I wanted to do was put a cage in it, put a motor in it and skid it. That got a bit out of hand though. I said to Paul at Pro Flo that I want the best tray in the country. They’ve done the tray, the cage and the firewall while Travis at Killer Fabrications has done the four link, track locator, sway bar, tail shaft, diff and engine plate.

“Mick Brasher had an engine for sale and I grabbed it. It had all the fruit and at 1200hp it is a fairly low maintenance burnout engine. I sent the car to Phil at Fuelworx who had already done some work on my purple VL Commodore to have the engine fitted but in the end he’s looked after the entire build and managed all the details for me. I love the work he’s done on the ute and I can’t wait to show the Summernats crowd on Friday night.”

 

ELITE STREETER
Grant Connor’s XR Falcon

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With a Mazda RX-2, Nissan 200SX and a ’36 Plymouth occupying space in Grant Connor’s shed over the years, it was anyone’s guess what would end up as his next project. And while his latest automotive love was only ever supposed to be a knockabout streeter, steel bumper fans are in for a treat come Friday night when the covers come off Grant’s amazing XR Falcon.

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“I’ve had my XR since about 2011. It was a street driven car back then with a tough engine. To be honest I only took it in to Des and the boys at Knights Customs so they could roll the guards to clear a set of wheels I had on it that were scrubbing. Two years later it’s turned into this. It’s amazing. I love it!

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“The boys have put a lot of hours in and it’s been a good experience. The best thing was having somebody as good as Des in your hometown without having to send it to a major city. I’ve had work done on cars remotely before and it hasn’t always gone to plan so I’m lucky in that sense.

Experienced fabricator and car builder, Des Knight, said Grant’s vision for the car has evolved over the years. “I’ve known Grant for ages as a local car guy. He’s always had nice cars and he came and saw us about two years ago to roll the rear guards cos he had these 20in wheels that were rubbing. We fixed that and then he came back because he was thinking about a paintjob. It became clear he wanted to go to the next level… so that’s what we did. It’s now on even bigger wheels too! The build is a street elite style. It’s basically Grant’s take on what would be the ultimate street car.” Falcon fans should be prepared for a mix of masterful engineering and custom touches in billet and paint that are outside the norm in a sea of GTs.

 

1962 PONTIAC LAURENTIAN
Dennis and Luke Dean

Talk about dare to be different! This is a somewhat rare body shape here in Australia. When was the last time you saw a 1962 Pontiac Laurentian, nonetheless one built to this standard? The long ‘n’ low, House of Kolor Black beauty made it into the Great Meguiar’s Uncover by the skin of its teeth. The slammed sedan was still in primer a mere only two weeks before the Meguiar’s girls slid back the silk covers. It was a massive effort by the crew from Real Steel Restorations, who put in a mammoth 920-plus hours in the preceding 14 days to finish, paint and assemble the car. One weary crew member jokingly commented the paint was still drying as it was rolled into the Meguiar’s Top 60 Hall.

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Although it looks essentially stock, nothing could be further from the truth. Thanks to a mountain of fabrication work, it’s now slicker and smoother than any Laurentian has any right to. Almost every panel has been made from scratch, while the radically-modified bumpers have been smoothed and tucked into the body. Even the turret and pillars have been pie-cut and pulled in, so that they blend into the flush-fitting glass. Real Steel really went to town with their in-house CNC ability, custom machining numerous one-off billet pieces. A standout is the long, side mouldings which incorporate the incredibly-fine, rib-like detail that appears in the wheels.

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Inside the smoothed and completely re-sculpted engine bay resides a beautifully detailed, Harrop-blown LS-X engine, while it’s wall-to-wall leather in the cockpit, which now sports a modern Commodore dash. Out in the sun, the HOK Red Metajuls in the black base coat really makes the paint pop, “It’s almost an entirely different colour,” says Naz, the Pontiac’s painter.

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