I bought the car off a friend in April 2016 while still a learner driver. At the time I had the intention of leaving it as it was, with a 253ci V8, reverse-cowl bonnet and Center Line wheels.
It was a factory 186/Trimatic car, and as much as I loved how it looked, I eventually – with some persuasion from Dad – decided to go for the original look and take out the old, tired 253 and put the original 186 back in.
The car itself was in very good condition and had been well looked after, with minimal rust, and good paint and interior as well. While the engine was out and I was in the process of giving the 186 a freshen-up, I also decided to give the engine bay a much-needed coat of paint before putting the fresh engine back in.
Underneath was completely stripped back and also had a quick paint-up to suit the rest of the car, along with the standard wheels and hubcaps going back on with some lowering blocks to get the HG sitting where I like.
I was considering adding a cam, intake and carby to the 186 just to make it sound a bit tougher, but recently a customer came into work [VCM Performance] and offered me an ex-sprintcar engine for the car, which I bought.
It’s a 186 that’s out to 198ci with an aftermarket steel crank, rods and pistons. It’s got 11:1 compression and a big hydraulic cam, plenty of headwork and roller rockers, but it still has an original single-barrel carby that’s been heavily modified to be on par with a 500cfm Holley. That means I’ll be able to keep the stock air filter on it, which is important because I want to keep it looking as standard as possible for the moment.
I’ve ordered a converter for it and I’m hoping my standard Trimatic will hang in there for a while. It should make around 250rwhp once it’s in the wagon, but more importantly it should sound great; I don’t plan on racing it or anything.
Beyond that, future plans don’t include very much at this point. I don’t want to go chopping up the car and doing modifications that I can’t go back on, as it’s a very clean and tidy example. It was only finished in October of last year, so I’m pretty keen to just go out and drive it, take it to shows and enjoy the car as-is, cruising around with the family or some mates in the back.
Being that I work at VCM Performance, which is an LS engine specialist, maybe one day I’ll drop in an LS with some boost, but I have another three years of P-plate restrictions to decide which way to go with it!