ADELAIDE’S reputation for cheeses and churches is turned on its head every March, with arts festivals and an inner-city Supercars round transforming SA’s sleepy capital into a vibrant entertainment hub. So, uh, what do you do when it’s still November? Go to the 2019 Fuchs Adelaide Auto Expo, of course!
The Expo isn’t just one car show; it’s several, along with a couple of cruises, all rolled into a single weekend. As the former owner of Emtech Automotive, Expo promotor Geof Tartoosie attended hundreds of shows around the country, so he knows what makes a good one.
His Expo has grown exponentially over the last 13 years and now incorporates Extreme Auto Expo – SA’s premier indoor car show; Adelaide’s reborn Hot Rod show; the Aussie and Muscle Car Cruise on Friday; and the American-centric Zippel Cruise on Saturday night.
With several elite vehicles attending from interstate, the 2019 event not only brought the best to SA but brought the best out of the state’s rev-heads, too. Just check out the physics-defying straightness of Loui Vasso’s’ black VE Valiant ute, the overt tuffness of Daniel Munro’s Powertune-sponsored Torana or the stance and fitment of Vinh Nguyen’s Subaru WRX by Spike’s Auto.
Of course, the local machine of the moment was in attendance; Matt Morgillo’s 2019 SMOTY-winning, 632-cube Holden HQ Statesman. Matt did the state proud, with the coveted trophy on display in SA for only the second time in the award’s 32-year history.
It’s probably impossible to pick a favourite car across all the elements of the event, in fact a top 10 is difficult enough, so we put together a baker’s dozen of the street’nest, elite’nest rides inside the Extreme Auto Expo hall.
Holden HQ Statesman ‘PRO HQ’
Owner: Matthew Morgillo
This tough, Pro-Street combination of big cubes and big hoops packed into a vinyl-topped HQ long-wheelbase has been wowing crowds since Summernats 31, where it landed in the Top 60.
This has really been Matt’s year, with the Statesman returning in January to snatch Top Modified Street and a spot in Top 20 Street at Summernats 32. In February, PRO HQ graced the cover of Street Machine, further whetting the public’s appetite for the big unit.
Reigning SMOTY winner PRO HQ pulled in a couple of decent trophies at Extreme, including Tuff St Top Innovation and, appropriately enough, Tuff St Fat Ass
Matt installed 632 cubes up front and a pair of the widest V-Series Weldies down the back – not for drags, burnouts or power events, but to handle the hardest pursuit possible; real-world cruise duties. You guys related to that, shortlisted it for SMOTY, then voted it number one. Well done.
Chrysler VE Valiant Wayfarer ute
Owners: Loui, Eileen and Mia Vasso
Loui Vasso bought this VE Valiant ute over 22 years ago and had it in the build for 13 years. In that time, the beige, slant-six, three-speed manual Wayfarer has undergone an extreme transformation, although in some ways it’s not as different as you’d think.
Gone is the slant, and in its place a 360ci V8 tuned by the Bergamin brothers. The beige is long -gone too, with the bulk of the panelwork handled by Loui at home, before Tony Surace at Elite Paint & Panel laid on the blackest black you’ve seen. Loui was keen to preserve the history of the ute, ensuring all factory mouldings survived the resto.
Unbelievably, carpets aside, the interior is untouched, revealing its 52-year-old material and the original radio. This combination of restoration and reverence scored Loui the Best Ute/Pick Up at the Expo against some very stiff competition.
Plymouth Belvedere ‘MIAMI’
Owner: Miami Mameledzija
Mopar man Venice Mameledzija has a penchant for Pentastars, having owned a heap over the years, but none are quite like this pro-street Belvedere.
The car came in from Queensland many moons ago with colour and interior intact but needing a heap of work to hit SA roads. It never quite passed the pits until Venice got hold of it and finished it off on behalf of the car’s new owner, his infant daughter, Miami.
It’s now been on the road three years (which is generous of Miami), but Venice feels it needs an upgrade and has the Bergamins building a 700hp stroker as we speak. When it’s time for Miami to do her Ls, she’s going to be doing it in style, but for now, “We just whack the baby seat in there and we go,” Venice says.
Holden LJ Torana GTR
Owner: Chris Haddon
We caught up with Chris and his wife Kerry at Red Centre Nats 5 when their orange XU1-style GTR rumbled casually up to the Alice Springs sign during a photoshoot.
Owned by Chris for the last 15 years, it started out with a stout 202 running triples before it was upgraded to 383ci stroker power about 18 months ago. It’s topped by a Pro Systems 850cm carby and single plane Dart manifold and heads, and Chris stuffed it full of Speed Pro forged pistons and a Scat crank and rods for dual duties of cruising with the odd quarter mile in mind.
The manualised, reverse-pattern Turbo 350 runs a relatively lofty 4000rpm stally, while Zagari Engineering helped out with the mini tubs and nine-inch. All these tasty ingredients helped the Indy Orange LJ win Best Engineered – Street Machine at the Expo.
Holden HJ Sandman van ‘GRIMACE’
Owner: Ross Almond
Two-and-a-half years ago, Ross Almond rolled his tired Sandman into Adam van der Linden’s workshop, Southern Classics and Customs, in honour of his birthday. “It had side windows and was running a 253 auto,” Adam says, “but it was a factory Royal Plum 308 car with all the original gear, including four engine blocks and plenty of extra stuff not good enough to use.”
Adam and his team filled in the offending windows and got the Sandman’s vast panels perfect, while Jason Riding at Lonsdale Autoshop rebuilt the engine as a 355ci stroker. Adam admits the V8 is a bit choked up, hidden under the original Rochester carburettor and standard factory manifold as it is, but presents as it did brand -new. Optioned with aircon and power steering, and wearing correctly date-stamped everything, this unique panel van landed Top Body – Street Elite. Well done, Southern Classics and Customs.
Pace 427 Alumina Shelby Cobra Replica ‘ALLYV8R’
Owner: Scott Bormann
We didn’t do a stocktake to see if there was more than one kit car at the Expo, but whatever, Scott Bormann’s ALLYV8R deserved the trophy for Best Kit Car even if there had been a thousand.
With a hand-made body gas-welded by Mark Nugent at Nugent Coachbuilders and fitted to a full aluminium semi-monocoque chassis by ABSOLUTE PACE, it presents as a fresh take on the AC Cobra replica theme.
Up front sits a 575hp supercharged LSA lifted from a Gen-F HSV, backed by a Tremec TR6060 six-speeder, hauled up by Brembo brakes and kept on the tarmac by a fully independent, race car-style pushrod suspension system.
Classic Smiths instruments and a woodgrain wheel juxtapose the tech in the engine bay, as do the classic Halibrand knock-offs, complete with plenty of sidewall. Just imagine driving it.
Holden HR Ute ‘HRUTE 6’
Owner: Craig McKenzie
Ditch Jones debuted his HR ute way back at the first Street Machine Nationals, gradually modifying the Aussie workhorse into a rolling piece of art. It hit the cover of the April 2007 edition of Street Machine magazine, featuring hundreds of body mods, some mild and some wild.
Ditch always resisted the urge to whack a V8 in the HR’s engine bay, instead sticking with straight six power – in this case, a worked 202 with 4/71 blower and 700cfm Holley.
After some time away from the show circuit, new owner Craig McKenzie has brought the unique HR ute back into the public eye, grabbing a Top 10 Elite at Summernats 32 and again at Red Centre Nats 5, adding a 2nd Place Elite, plus a pile of other tinware before the Extreme Auto Expo weekend was out.
Chrysler KB Centura
Owner: Charlie Beatty
For those that like their street machines a little different, feast your eyes on Charlie Beatty’s 1975 Centura. We featured the car back in February 2018, where the chlorophyll Chrysler’s luxurious layering of Planet Green paint with an Organic Kandy overlay saw it veritably pop from the page.
Offsetting the gregarious exterior is a restrained Camel vinyl interior by Adam at AJ Trim. Attention was given to the switchgear, dials and carpets, all being markedly improved on what was supplied from the factory.
Craig built the 265ci Hemi at home, boring it 60 thou and fitting it with forged pistons, a ported head, custom solid camshaft and ICE ignition, before hanging a trio of 48mm DCOE Webers off the side. And he kept it all clean and tidy too; enough for Best Engine Bay – Street Machine at the Expo.
1937 Ford ‘Slamback’ (BLWN 37)
Owner: Paul Caccamo
On US Route 127, deep in the heart of Ohio, there lay an innocuous workshop. Minimal in signage and with the odd stray chassis parked out front, it’s impossible to tell that therein lay the magic of Oze Rods Shop.
Paul Caccomo’s BLWN 37 Ford uses their ‘Slamback’ body, on a modified Oze Rods Shop 1937 chassis. Built by Southern Rod & Custom in Shepparton, Victoria, the Slamback runs an LS2 with Harrop blower, trusty GM 4L65E trans, a nine inch and sizeable 18x8 and 20x10 Intros.
The colour, stance and proportions get your attention, but the workmanship takes it to the next level. This was recognised with a Super Six award at MotorEx and ratified at the Expo, with four Elite 1st Place trophies, two runners-up awards, the Best Hot trophy and, of course, Elite 1st Place outright.
1938 Fordson E38W van ‘Speedbox’
Owner: Jack Zee
When Jack and Keith Zee wanted to pay homage to their father’s long-gone Fordson van, they started by grabbing one similar, then went crazy creating their vision.
The result is ‘Speedbox’, a modern representation of the Fordson E38W, if built as a new car today. Okay, so maybe the one-off Ian Splatt wheels and blown, EFI injected, 383ci Chev are a bit of a stretch, but the incredible body work truly brings the old van into the 21st century.
Outside, original metal is confined to sections of the top and bottom quarters only, while inside, every surface has been hand-formed aside from the seats and carpets. Although it makes for a loud ride, it also helped Speedbox garner a Gold Award for interior at MotorEx and more importantly, win the 2019 Superstars Grand Master award.
1939 Ford Roadster ‘KOOL 39’
Owner: Steve Braggs
An LS1, 4L60E trans and nine-inch motivates Steve Braggs’ KOOL 39 in the right direction, while Air Ride AccuAir suspension ensures it nestles tightly over the big Boyd Coddingtons underneath.
The unique, Coast to Coast body is drowning in paint thick enough to coat Dearborn itself, so it’s no surprise the Ford Roadster received Elite 3rd Place and Elite Runner Up Best Paint.
Add to this a Top 10, Pre ’48 Champion Overall and Show N Shine Top Hot Rod at last year’s Springnats Autofest and it’s clear that KOOL 39 is a winning machine.
When show duties are over, Steve will enjoy air conditioning, power windows and a removable roof for the ultimate in zero-blind-spot technology, but before then, he’s received the official call up – KOOL39 has a date with MotorEx!
1957 Chevrolet hardtop ‘JOEBLO’
Owner: Joe Panzarino
Boris covered off Joe Panzarino’s ‘Joeblo’ ’57 Chev hardtop in the May 2019 edition of Street Machine. It’s the seventh ’57 Joe has owned, but the first to start with a brand-new shell from Real Deal Steel. Joe bought the car already painted, but untubbed, giving Joe Napoli at Nap’s Tuff Street Customs a conniption when he was tasked with tubbing the shell without destroying the beautiful duco.
Nap’s Tuff Street Customs also slammed it as low as possible without bags, handling the chassis, four-link, brake lines, fuel system and the tuff, 377ci SBC running gear. Sucking e85 through a Joe Blo Speed Shop EFI set up installed in an Enderle Bird Catcher hat, the 6/71-blown V8 is good for 900 horses, resulting in a Street Machine nomination for MotorEx and Elite 4th Place at the Expo.
1997 Ford XH Falcon ute
Owner: Mark Boxer
We wrote up Boxer ’s XH Falcon ute in the December issue of Street Machine, detailing how Mark dashed his own dream of creating a tidy six-cylinder streeter when he went full Barra-tard.
Atomic Performance Products supplied a semi-grout filled Barra block, head, crank, rods and cam, with those half-dozen cylinders forced fed on a diet of e85 via an enormous Garrett GT47/88 turbo and 12 injectors.
MV Automatics built a reverse-pattern TH400 with trans-brake and TCE billet 5500rpm high-stall, so that Boxer can cut the quarter like a demon, but he’s elected to shy away from turning a wheel in anger. It’s up for sale as a fresh race car, but thanks to the detail in the build, looks just as good in the Expo’s main hall as it will look staging at the strip.
1. Aaron Lennon's HT Kingswood is a classic Adelaide streeter, combining factory-style paint and brightwork with a set of Centrelines and plenty of horsepower. 620hp to be precise, from a 422-cube smal block Chev.
2. The interior is a cracker, blending GTS goodies with some subtle custom touches.
2. This Eliminator tribute was especially invited to celebrate 50 years of ZZ Top, the band with the beards (except the guy without the beard, whose name is Frank Beard). The Eliminator received Elite 5th Place and Elite Runner Up Best Body at the Expo.
3. The Morgillos are on a roll, with Matt’s Statesman winning SMOTY and Vince’s recently restored Plum Dinger LC Torana GTR XU1 earning the Expo judges’ respect for Best Theme/Display.
4. Gary McRae’s VR Senator runs an owner-built, 750hp, 454ci LSX we featured in June 2019’s Mill of the Month. Almost as impressive are the widened factory Senator rear alloys. Tuff as!
5. New for the Adelaide Auto Expo for 2019 was a ‘barn-find’ auction, officiated by Mason Gray Strange.
6. There was plenty of action outside the pavilion with a show and shine, a muscle car cruise on the Friday night and Grant Zippel’s 250th American car cruise on the Saturday night. What an achievement!
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Street Machine is the bible of Aussie modified auto culture, celebrating wild muscle cars, customs and hot rods – and the incredible humans who create them.
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