FOR most people, their first car was a cheap dunger that lasted a year or so before making way for something flashier. Not so for Brent Wright. This 70s-fresh HZ Kingswood wagon has been with Brent since he got his ticket to ride.
This article was first published in the July 2012 issue of Street Machine
“I bought it from my uncle for $1500 as my first car,” said the Geelong local.
His uncle was the second owner of LOWHZ, though when Brent got the keys it didn’t have the cats’ eye-dislodging ride height.
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“I started off cutting the springs, as you do,” laughed Brent, but super-short coils couldn’t give him the altitude he wanted, so air was required.
“I sourced a kit from Air Ride six or seven years ago and had a bloke install it for me, using Firestone air bags.”
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Unfortunately, the new ride height drew the unwanted attention of some lowlifes who figured they deserved Brent’s car more than him.
“In 2005 it was stolen from me and took three months to get it back,” Brent said.
“When the cops rang and told me they’d found my car I felt like the luckiest bloke in the world – I’d given up on it and had started looking for a new car.
“It was on the other side of Geelong in someone’s driveway under a tarp and they hadn’t touched it – they’d stolen some clothes of mine but that is it.”
Once he had it back in his possession Brent decided to refine the recipe. You won’t impress anyone sitting by the kerb for 15 minutes building enough air pressure to lift your car off the deck, so speed was needed for LOWHZ’s bag set-up.
Brent added a dump valve, an extra tank and a second compressor to the original Air Ride kit to get it to lay-out and rise up quicker than a normal single system.
To get the big girl to lay pan flat on the deck, Brent had to do surprisingly little work to the undercarriage.
“We had to move the shocks outside the control arm, fit drop spindles and notch the rear chassis rails three inches,” he said, but unlike many bagged belly-scrapers, Brent’s car still has its inner guards and hasn’t required a custom trans tunnel or for the body to be lowered over the frame – also known as being body dropped.
That body – as well as the interior – is still all factory-fresh, although once he got it back from the police, he had the car resprayed in the original gold with a bit more metallic thrown in to really shine.
Under the bonnet he’s left the original thong-slapper 253 V8 mostly alone, bar for a small cam, Holley four-barrel carb and manifold. It has the right number of slugs and is both reliable and low-cost, so there’s no need to ditch Holden’s baby V8 in a low’n’slow cruiser.
Brent actually lets his cousin Daniel spend some quality time behind the wheel of LOWHZ as thanks for all the help during its build.
“Daniel helped me out heaps with the car. All his mates have cars to take to shows, but he doesn’t, so he takes it around to shows for me,” said Brent.
Brent’s low-riding example should serve as the poster-child for how cool the big-hipped family trucksters can be.
“I always wanted to keep it looking original,” said Brent. “I just do my own thing – I take a bit from all styles. I’ve had no problems except a few canaries. Well, I actually got pulled up on the first day I had my licence by two cops on horses.”
AIR BAG suspension has become the hot ticket for both show cars and cruisers, thanks to its ability to give a smooth ride and righteous stance. While Brent had to do relatively few mods to his HZ to get it sitting on its sills, not all cars are as easy.
To get their rides to sit like LOWHZ, many minitruckers and kustomisers employ a technique known as “body dropping”. This involves raising the floor of the shell to lower the body over the frame, normally in addition to cutting a large notch into the rear of the chassis rails.
The most extreme disciples in The Church Of Low drop the shell so far there is no sill left and the door becomes the lowest point of the body.
This means, once aired-out, they can “lay door” as the door sits directly on the ground. While that sounds cool, it does present some challenges for anyone bigger than a jockey when it comes to driving, as there is precious little room left under the steering column for legs and feet.
Thanks to different laws in each state regarding the legality of chassis modifications and air bag suspension systems, you need to consult a certifying engineer before picking up the gas-axe.
1978 HOLDEN HZ
Colour: Standard gold
Engine: Holden 253cui V8
Carb: Holley 600 performance four-barrel
Bags: Firestone slam specialty’s
Tanks: Twin 7x34-inch hot dog tanks
Compressors: Twin Viair 400c
Rims: Stock 14x6-inch (f), stock 14x6-inch (r)
Rubber: Sumitomo 195/75 R14
To Mum and Dad for letting me takeover their shed, and to my partner Kelly, all my extended family and friends for the helping me along the way; Shannon at Pro Finish (03) 5248 1878, Tappy; Gauge Works (03) 5277 9296; TDR Engines And Race Parts (03) 5277 1004; Air Ride Aus (03) 9729 5556