AT EIGHTEEN years old, Huss Ayache cut his teeth on this VL Commodore BT1 turbo – and with a want for big power came a steep learning curve on how to get it. Now, another 18 years later, he has developed the know-how and gathered the right people around him to build this ex-police chaser into a hardcore (yet classy) potential-eight-second weapon.
First published in the January 2021 issue of Street Machine. Photos: Chris Thorogood
With over 1000hp on tap, this VL has only just touched on what it can do. “We didn’t expect to run a nine on its first trip out; we just went to the track to set up suspension,” Huss says. “The car ran a 9.0@155mph on low boost with 31psi – we couldn’t believe it! That mile-per-hour should be an 8.7 or quicker, and it’s tuned to 50psi.”
That’s a far cry from the factory 150kW example that Huss secured almost two decades ago – back when the sleek VL Commodores were easy to come by and didn’t require a massive bank loan to acquire a decent example. “I wanted a yellow BT1 and couldn’t find one; they were asking around $12,000-$13,000 for banged-up ones,” Huss says. “Then this one came up not far from me for $7600.” It was sporting a fairly fresh lick of white paint, so purchasing it was a no-brainer for Huss.
As you can imagine, a fresh-faced teenager with the keys to a turbo car saw shit get fairly lively, and fast. “When I first got the BT1, my mate and I turned the boost right up. Within a month, I’d hurt the motor,” Huss admits. “We then rebuilt the RB30 in my parents’ driveway – my mate’s a mechanic.”
Quick to learn from his mistake, Huss had the VL professionally tuned to a decent 190kW (254hp) the second time around, which sufficed for a couple of years. Next, a few more mods, including an updated ECU, saw the Commodore hit up to 300kW (402hp). Eventually Huss compiled a proven and consistent a nine-second quarter-pounder – before selling off the RB30 and ’box thanks to an offer too good to refuse.
“I decided to sell it and do something different; I thought about a V8 twin turbo or a turbo twin-cam RB26/30,” Huss says.
Obviously, he chose the latter. And, as happens with the majority of builds featured in Street Machine, the project soon took on a life of its own. “The build was taking too long and I was getting bored; I started getting ideas,” he laughs. Those ideas included an upgrade to that fearsome GTX45 Garrett spooly and the heavy-breathing Hypertune Series 2 intake.
Danny Bresciani from Initial D Racing is the bloke responsible for the stout force-fed Nissan six bolted between the towers. In preparation for big numbers at the track, Danny has specced some appropriately tough kit – we’re talking CP-Carrillo slugs and rods, custom-ground cams and Supertech valves. A FuelTech FT550 ECU controls the Hypertune 102mm throttlebody and those thirsty 2200cc Bosch injectors, fed a diet of E85 thanks to a pair of MagnaFuel 625 pumps.
Evacuating the multitude of spent gases is a 6boost Pro Mod-style turbo manifold with a whopping four-inch custom exhaust from the turbo through to the rear bumper. All up, the hard-hitting combo is good for 820kW (1100hp) at the treads.
Backing up the monster is a seriously stout driveline, from the Reid-cased Powerglide packed with billet gears and transbrake to the TCE 5500rpm stall and shortened Strange nine-inch filled with an Eaton Truetrac, 3.5s and 35-spline Altra 9 axles.
All of the bouncy and stopping parts have been equally bolstered to cop the abuse. McDonald Brothers shipped out double-adjustable front coil-overs, while the rear runs AFCO Big Gun X double-adjustable coil-overs mated to King Springs. Trusty Wilwood discs do the anchor work when the ’chute isn’t hung out.
Under all four corners sit sinister drag-spec Weld alloys: tall and thin 17x4in fronts, with short and fat 15x8.5in beadlocked rears wrapped in 255s filling out the untubbed guards.
While the BT1 was already sporting Scheel seats, upping the ante to an eight-second weapon left Huss with little option but to ditch them. “Con at CKT Custom Trim suggested removing the Scheels altogether rather than swapping seats each time I raced, as that would wreck them.” So, Huss had Con swathe Kirkey race seats and a VL rear in Group A material teamed with grey velour. The wrapped rollcage, along with the retention of most of the original 1988 interior parts and fitment, offers a factory, race-ready appearance. That said, there’s certainly no sense that this the cockpit of a potential eight-second street car.
“My goal is to race it in full street set-up,” Huss declares. “I drove the VL to Calder and home with the nine-second pass, and I plan to do that again when I run an eight.”
1988 HOLDEN VL COMMODORE BT1
Paint: Custom white and grey mix
Brand: Nissan RB26/30 3.0L
Turbo: Garrett GTX45
Wastegate: Turbosmart 60mm
Intake: Hypertune Series 2 manifold, Hypertune 102mm throttlebody
Fuel system: Bosch 2200cc injectors
ECU: FuelTech FT550, two-step
Conrods & pistons: CP-Carrillo
Oil pump: Nitto, ASR sump
Fuel system: MagnaFuel 625 pumps, E85
Cooling: Shaun’s Custom Alloy radiator, Spal fan, PWR intercooler
Exhaust: 6boost Pro Mod-style extractors, 4in exhaust turbo-back
Ignition: R35 coils
Trans: Reid case, Powerglide, transbrake
Converter: TCE 5500rpm
Tailshaft: GJ Drivelines Race Series, 2000hp-rated
Diff: 9in Strange housing, Strange nodular iron centre, Eaton Truetrac, 3.50:1 gears, 35-spline Altra 9 axles
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: McDonald Brothers springs, Viking double-adjustable coil-overs
Rear: AFCO Big Gun X double-adjustable coil-overs, King Springs
Brakes: Wilwood; six-piston calipers (f), four-piston calipers (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood 1in
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Weld V-Series 17x4 (f), Weld Vitesse 15x8.5 (r)
Rubber: M/T Sportsman S/R 26/6.00 (f), M/T ET Street R 255/60 (r)
My family; my brother Khaled; my wife Stefanie; Danny Bresciani at Initial D Racing; Andrew and Con at Preston Automatics & Differentials; Jamie at Full Flight Engineering; Con at CKT Custom Trim; Nathaniel at FuelTech; Arthur at Tuners Edge; John at Race Parts Melbourne; Jesse at Victorian Towing Services; Antonio at Autobarn Epping; Dave Minutolo for the wiring; McDonald Brothers
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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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