THE Snowball Effect. It’s the phenomenon responsible for the majority of rides gracing these pages – including Pep Minutolo’s VC Valiant Regal. “I built the entire car all because I lost my cool when I was taking the engine out,” Adelaide-based Pep says. “I was pissed off when I pulled the hurt motor and I damaged the paint in the engine bay. I shut the bonnet and walked away, but realised the damage when I went to fit the new engine.”
This article was first published in the September 2020 issue of Street Machine
Yep, one heated moment sparked the third build for Pep’s tidy VC, a ride that’s been with him for the past 19 years. Having said that, a VC wasn’t his first pick.
“I was going to buy my cousin’s HX Monaro with a hot 308,” Pep says. “My brother dobbed me into Mum, who told my aunty, so it became the typical Italian family politics and I couldn’t buy it.
“But my mate had this VC, so I bought it instead. Back then it had a 318 and was untubbed, running Center Lines, and the interior had a red velour insert. As a 17-year-old, I thought it was awesome!”
“I use the VC for what I built it for – to drive,” Pep says. “I have raced it once and ran an 11.21@124mph on the quarter-mile. I need a bit more time out there to get a better number”
Over the decades, Pep has progressively twiddled and tweaked the VC – as any good street machine enthusiast with spare cash would. “The first build was more or less as I bought it; the second I added a 360ci Chrysler, tubbed it, and it ran nitrous for a while too,” Pep says.
Yet the third time is always a charm, and once Pep started, he just couldn’t stop. “I saw the paint damage and thought I’d fix that; then I saw a few other marks, and then it became a full respray,” he says.
The Valiant copped a thorough going-over; the engine bay was smoothed, the fuel filler was shaved and a fibreglass reverse-cowl scoop was added. Next, the body was doused in striking Glasurit Rouge Lucifer with a finish so silky and deep you could bathe in it. Now that the Regal looked the goods, everything else copped a makeover to match.
The offending donk has been replaced with 414 cubes of Chrysler small-block goodness, topped with a Weiand tunnel ram sporting twin Holley HP 750cfm carbs. Built by the Bergamin Brothers, it’s equipped with Edelbrock Performer heads operated by a healthy Crane F268 bumpstick, while below are Wiseco forged pistons dancing off Scat rods and crank. It’s a strong package that’s good for a proven 606hp at the flywheel and 596ft-lb of torque.
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The big-cube Chrysler small-block nestles in a minimalist bay with a finish you could eat off. By tucking away excess hoses and wires, Pep showcases the tunnel-rammed donk as the main event
The toughness continues on down the line with a Torqueflite 727 trans packing a full-manual, reverse-pattern valvebody and a 4800rpm converter. Rearward, the neddies get to the bitumen thanks to a bulletproof Mark Williams nine-inch floater rear end with a Strange nodular carrier, full spool, perky 4.56:1 gears and tough 35-spline axles.
It’s not all straight-line upgrades though; the VC can equally hold its own through the chicanes thanks to beefed-up torsion bars and sway-bar at the pointy end, reset rear leaves at the back and Koni adjustable shocks all around.
While not immediately apparent, a swag of turn and bounce improvements make Pep’s tough-as-nails VC Regal a streetable family cruiser. Front torsion bar and sway-bar upgrades complement the reset and beefed-up rear leaf springs, while Koni adjustables all ’round help smooth the ride
For extra stopping power, Pep has bolted Wilwood discs and calipers to all four corners, then finished them off with Adelaide hubcaps – aka 15-inch Center Line Auto Drags.
Inside also scored a freshen-up, with new black vinyl covering the seats and door cards. Pep skilfully refurbished the VC V8 tiller before adding Mopar-badged Auto Meter gauges to the dash and a modified B&M Stealth Pro Ratchet shifter. But for Pep, the cherries on top are the child harness anchor points.
“Five years ago, when my wife Lauren was pregnant the first time, I went straight out and bought anchor points for baby seats. People would freak out at seeing a baby seat in the back of a tubbed car back then,” he shrugs.
And Pep has peace of mind while out cruising with the fam knowing the VC is up to spec. “The VC was defected three years ago, so I got it engineered through Sot at MVE,” Pep says. “Now we get out in the car as much as we can. It’s a family car; we have two boys and they are car-mad. Everyone always stares, as it’s a different car with the big scoop and tubs.”
Scratching up that engine bay worked out just fine, eh Pep?
PEP currently has two other builds on the go: an HJ four-door Monaro with a 355ci and four-speed, and an HG Monaro that’s getting a 632 and rear clip.
“It’s a former Street Machine feature car from Feb-Mar 1984 called Mint Fresh,” Pep says of the HG. “I bought it six years ago. I knew some of the history, then learned more from the old Street Machine mags. Everything was gold and green on the car, with a gold tunnel-rammed small-block. Locals in Adelaide know the car; it comes up on the Adelaide & SA Old School Car Scene Facebook page all the time.
“I don’t want to give too much away as to what I’m doing with it,” he continues. “It will be bigger and better – a modern take on an 80s build, as a tribute to its former self. I hope to have it done in a couple of years.”
1967 VC VALIANT REGAL
Paint: Glasurit Rouge Lucifer
Brand: Chrysler 414ci small-block, built by Bergamin Brothers
Induction: Twin Holley HP 750cfm carbs
Manifold: Weiand tunnel-ram
Heads: Edelbrock Performer
Camshaft: Crane F268
Conrods: Scat H-beam forged
Pistons: Wiseco forged
Oiling: Melling high-volume pump, Milodon sump
Fuel system: PULP, MagnaFuel pump
Cooling: Custom alloy radiator with twin SPAL thermo fans
Exhaust: Custom 17/8in extractors, 3in twin system, MagnaFlow mufflers
Ignition: MSD 7AL, MSD Pro Billet dizzy
Trans: Torqueflite 727, full manual, reverse-pattern
Converter: AK Universal Torque Converters Service 4800rpm stall
Tailshaft: 3in single-piece
Diff: Mark Williams floater, Strange nodular carrier, full spool, 4.56:1 gears, 35-spline axles
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: Torsion bar, Koni adjustable shocks, sway-bar
Rear: Reset leaf springs with added leaves, Koni adjustable shocks
Brakes: Wilwood discs and calipers (f & r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Center Line Auto Drag; 15x5 (f), 15x10 (r)
Rubber: Nankang 175/60/15 (f), Mickey Thompson ET Street 325/50/15 (r)
My wife Lauren and kids Pasquale and Vincenzo; Angelo Rullo; Bergamin Brothers Racing; SA Chassis & Suspension Services; Sot at MVE; Elite Street Cars