AS IS the tradition, the mighty Valvoline Street Machine Of The Year trophy must be bestowed upon the winner under a cloud of great secrecy. When voting closed and it was clear that Adelaide’s Matt Morgillo had won for his incredibly tough, 632ci big block-powered PRO HQ Statesman, we had some work to do. Broads had to post the trophy to South Australia, and I had to find an excuse to visit Matt and his dad Vince without them getting suss.
When covering the Statesman for the February 2019 issue, we noticed Matt had an LC Torana GTR XU-1 in the final stages of a factory-fresh restoration. No big-block V8s or Adelaide hubcaps on this one! Social media recently informed us that the Torana was finished and on the road, so we had our ‘in’. First, we contacted the boys at Unique Cars and posited that a Plum Dinger GTR XU-1 would look great in their magazine; then we suggested the same thing to Matt.
Read next: Ben Judd's EH Holden wagon wins SMOTY 2018
The Morgillos’ LC Torana GTR XU-1 has just undergone a full resto and cuts a striking figure on the road
Of course, nothing is ever straightforward. After deftly inventing some hoo-ha about Unique Cars wanting the Statesman side-by-side with the Torana in a photo, Matt told us the Stato was getting a new paintjob! Well, we had to make do, but the upside is that we did get the inside scoop on Matt and Vince’s next project – a pro street HK. If the Statesman is anything to go by, you’ll be seeing these champs back in the pages of Street Machine before too long.
Read next: The Street Machine Of The Year hall of fame
With the photoshoot for the LC Torana in the bag for Unique Cars, photographer Troy and I returned to Matt and Vince’s house to ‘finish off a few shots’. We told the guys to stand near the HK project for a pic or two, then tried to surreptitiously sneak Australia’s largest, heaviest and most awesome perpetual trophy up their driveway
Congratulations Matt, it’s my honour to present to you the Valvoline Street Machine Of The Year trophy for 2019.
MATT: Oh, that’s awesome, man! I’m speechless! It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid. Who would have thought? Wow!
VINCE: Oh yeah! All the hassles we’ve been through; for you to be acknowledged is great.
MATT: It really is unbelievable. I was wondering what the hell you were walking in here with! I’m stoked. I really don’t know what to say. It doesn’t seem real; this seems like a dream. Thanks a lot, Street Machine!
So, the 2019 SMOTY-winning PRO HQ Statesman isn’t here to get a pic with the trophy. Can you let us in on where it is?
MATT: We had some hassles with the paint; there were some cracks coming through. We’ve ended up getting the whole car resprayed; it’s just been done this week and needs to be ready for the Extreme Auto Expo. It’s coming back soon; we’ll assemble it in two weeks and do some extra trim quickly. We had some issues with heat through the floor. We’ll get it done.
Having scored a spot in the Top 60 on debut at Street Machine Summernats 31, Matt and the HQ also had a successful ’Nats this year, with a Top 20 Street placing and winning Top Modified Street
This year has been a busy one for you; plenty of cruising in PRO HQ, but you’ve also found time to do a tidy LC Torana restoration.
MATT: Yeah, a few years ago we bought it, stripped it and got it painted. Then we sat it on stands in the shed and promised we’d get to it when we finished the Statesman. Our mate Walter was the main guy. He put the whole car together for us; I more co-ordinated it.
VINCE: Ha, not like the Statesman; I got sick and tired of pulling the engine in and out of that car. We did it about five or six times I think.
Did you think you were in with a chance of winning SMOTY?
MATT: Yeah, because PRO HQ is running, registered and engineered, and I think people like that. You can drive it anywhere; Hindley Street, Rundle Street. Why not? Some weekends we’ll clock up 300 kays in it.
You and Vince are quite the duo. Whose name should we put on the trophy?
MATT: Dad always says the Statesman is mine because I’ve had it since I was 13 years old, and I always say the Torana is Dad’s. We share everything, man. We’re a team. But yeah, it’s for the Statesman, so...
With PRO HQ off to get a new lick of paint, Matt and Vince’s current HK project had to stand in for our photos. “This one will be more of a clean pro streeter,” Matt said. “The original colour combo: Silver Mink, white roof and burgundy trim. We’re just going to keep that all factory”
You’ve got a $20,000 cheque coming your way thanks to Valvoline. Any hints on where the money’s going?
MATT: I said if I won, I’d take us on a holiday, but next thing we should do is get this HK on the road. Back when we built the Statesman, we learned a lot. This time, we’re going to run a Rod-Tech front end, and it already has a four-link, although we’re cutting that out for a bigger and better one. Then Dad and I have to decide between a small-block blown or small-block screamer with big cubes.
VINCE: I’d like to go blown.
MATT: And I’d like to change gears at 10,000rpm.
VINCE: If you want to go fast, you’ve got the Statesman!
MATT: It’s gonna be better than the Statesman. In another league, bro!
When word of the SMOTY win whipped through the close-knit Morgillo family, mum Lucy (centre) was first in with a big hug for Matt. Sister Bianca (left) didn’t believe her brother over the phone and had to come and look for herself. “I’ve seen the blood, sweat and tears that went into the Statesman. All my hard work!” she said with a wink