What makes Modified Street cars cool is the fact that they are all about stuffing a ridiculous amount of horsepower into a car with an amazingly standard chassis. No wheel tubs, four links or ladder bars for these boys — they have to stick with the factory suspension set-up and are limited to a 29x12.5 rear tyre. When you think that the front runners are putting out at least 1000hp through such a small contact patch, you can understand why these Mod Street cars often put on some fairly spectacular passes!
This article was first published in the June 2007 issue of Street Machine
Nitrous-assisted cars currently hold down the top five spots in the Mod Street Blown ranks but one hard-hitting Queenslander is determined to take out the top spot with his stunning supercharged VL Calais.
Brett Benz’s Calais was originally built for racing by his brother, Jason, and it made big splashes both on the show scene and out at the drag strip. Powered by an aspirated Holden motor, we featured the car in Urban Warfare back in 2000 and it made the cover of one of the last issues of the now-defunct Performance Street Car.
Brett debuted his take on the car at Summernats 20, where it grabbed a shelf-full of tinware, and he now has his sights set on being number one.
“I’ve never really been into cars,” Brett laughs. “I’ve got my own panel business in Warwick but I’ve been into footy — league mostly — all my life. Jason is building a new tube-chassis Monaro and the VL has just been sitting around for a while. I did a few repairs for him and he told me to take the car as payment.
“For some time I’ve been painting the Loy brothers’ Supercharged Outlaw cars as part of a sponsorship deal and they said they’d help me out if I ever needed an engine.
“I’m lucky that I’ve got a great team of guys at my panel shop who were all keen to be involved, so I figured I’d give it a try.”
And give it a try he has. If the phrase ‘show car’ were in the dictionary, I reckon it’d have a shot of Brett’s engine bay to illustrate it. The engine itself is the stuff of drag racers’ dreams, with all the good bits wedged into the 372ci Chev combination.
To help stiffen the chassis, and make the engine and gearbox easier to remove, front and rear engine plates have been fitted. Precise Automatics waved the wand over the two-speed Powerglide and, as with the rest of the car, Brett has taken Chris Loy’s advice and had everything built almost to Supercharged Outlaw specifications.
The gearbox is now fitted with a Vasco input shaft and planetary set, in addition to some other pretty trick gear including a nine-inch blower converter that Brett reckons is super-tight. Naturally, the rear end is a Ford nine-inch with 35-spline axles, 4.1:1 Pro Gears and full spool.
“One of the things I love most about this car is the way it hooks up,” Brett says. “I’ve only done seven passes in it so far but with just 15lb of boost I’ve already run a 9.30@142mph. It goes straight and hard, and on the last pass I ran I reckon the wheels were at least a foot off the ground! It just launches on those little [28x10.5 Mickey Thompson] tyres.”
Suspension modifications to the car have really been minimal — it’s still running with standard springs and shocks in the front and coil-over shocks on the rear.
“The car was very tidy when I got it but I was bored so we stripped it right back and painted it all again. It’s still Tiger Gold Mica but we’ve added Zerelic Pearl to it this time,” Brett says.
“It was a huge rush to get it to Summernats but what a trip! It was awesome just to get it there and actually be able to use it. We had the trip of a lifetime and now that I’m racing, it just keeps getting better. I’m just sneaking up on the tune and the Loy brothers, especially Chris, have been so helpful. The engine is really strong and once I start getting a handle on the car they’ll crank the tune up.”
In contrast to the blow-out list of engine ingredients, Brett’s kept the interior simple and practical: nice seats, steering wheel, easy-to-read gauges and a rollcage. What else do you need to keep you happy? Not a lot when you’re racing, it seems.
“I’ve got the Tin Tops coming up soon, followed by the Shootout. I reckon we’ll run eights at the Tin Tops and then just start winding it up from there. I have no doubt that this can be the quickest Modified Street car in the country. The engine is still very rich, I only turn it to about 7500rpm and it does it so easily. I think when we finally get this engine sorted out it’ll go in my brother’s chassis car so we can see what it’s really capable of.”
For a bloke who’s more into footy than cars, he sounds pretty excited — wonder what he’s like on the sidelines! But has the switch to chasing horsepower caused any problems?
“My girlfriend, Rachael, has been great,” Brett says. “She likes the car but doesn’t really understand the whole deal. She’s been cool though. I bought her a puppy the other day so I think she’s happy now.”
THE trick with supercharged engines is getting everything right in the bottom end. The block is a Dart Little M fitted with a 4340 Scat steel crank and six-inch Carillo conrods. Pistons are JE, with static compression of about 8.5:1 — just perfect for alcohol and 30lb of boost. The cam is a roller Comp Cams item of undisclosed specifications.
Of course, the top end is all first class too: CNC-ported Brodix –11X heads, high-rise Newby blower intake and Mooneyham 8/71 blower with an Enderle Big and Ugly injector hat. Sparks are supplied courtesy of a Supermag IV, with fuel supplied via an Enderle 80A pump.
Spent gases are expelled though a set of Pro Fab custom four into one headers with 2¾in primaries and a four-inch collector. While Brett says it’s still on a soft tune, he’s confident it will easily make 1100–1200hp when they start to wind it up.
HOLDEN VL HOLDEN CALAIS
Colour: Tiger Gold Mica with Zerelic Pearl
Engine: Chev small-block, 372ci
Block: Dart Little M
Crank: 4340 Scat
Cam: Comp Cams roller
Heads: Brodix –11XSP, CNC-ported
Induction: Newby high rise, 8/71 Mooneyham, Enderle Big and Ugly
Ignition: Supermag IV
Fuel pump: Enderle 80A
Internals: Vasco input shaft and planetary set
Diff: Ford nine-inch with 35-spline axles, nodular centre, Pro Gear 4.1:1
Seats: VT Commodore
Stereo: JVC, with DVD player in boot
Wheels: Weld 15 x 3.5 (f) and 15 x 10 (r)
Tyres: MT front runners and 28 x 10.5 MT rear
Loy family, Chris, John and Alex; Pro Fab Customs, Toowoomba; Warwick Panel and Paint Works; Jason Benz, Benz Auto Dismantlers, Warwick; Nicky Davidson, cleaning the car; Warwick Dragway; Peter Slade and all the boys who helped get the car to the Summernats
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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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