Todd Foley's 383-cube 1984 Holden VH Commodore streeter - flashback

Looking back on Todd Foley's smooth VH Commodore streeter when it was running a stout Holden 383ci combo

Holden Vh Commodore 2 Jpg

SUCH is the allure of the LS engine family that Holden-powered Holdens are no longer the street-machining staple they once were. But with Todd Foley’s street-driven VH knocking on the door of a nine-second pass, he’s proving there’s life in the venerable little 308 yet.

This article was first published in the June 2014 issue of Street Machine

Holden VH Commodore

Sure, the engine’s cubic capacity has been stretched somewhat, but there’s no fancy billet crank, big-dollar alloy heads or power-adders to be seen. In fact, with its factory-issue Trimatic slushbox and VL-spec BorgWarner rear, it could be argued that Todd’s machine is fundamentally a pretty mild car. It’s been mini-tubbed to accommodate a modest 255/60/15 drag radial, but aside from adjustable upper rear control arms, the suspension configuration remains entirely stock.

Holden VH Commodore rear

Impressively, Todd has managed to drive the car 100km from his home to Calder Park Raceway, drop the pipes, run a very businesslike 10.1@134mph, and then cruise it home again with a minimum of fuss. With a transbrake, vacuum pump and a couple of engine mods still in the pipeline, the regularly driven streeter looks destined to dip into the single digits.

“I never thought it’d run this fast, but I’m really stoked with how it performs,” Todd says. “My previous car was a VX SS, but eventually I realised that weight is your biggest enemy for racing, so I decided to sell it and buy the VH.”

Holden VH Commodore side

The VH has copped a few subtle body mods, including a shaved fuel filler. The second bonnet with the snorkel scoop is a recent addition, just for the drags

He picked the car up from a mate for the princely sum of $600, having been granted permission from his missus on the grounds that the build would be just a simple engine swap. As you can tell by the gunbarrel-straight bodywork, flawless paint and show-quality engine bay, things ended up going a little further than planned. “It got a bit out of hand,” Todd admits. “I’d had a few cars previously, but hadn’t done a complete job on them and ended up dissatisfied, so I decided to do it properly this time around.”

Holden VH Commodore

Once stripped, the car was shipped off to Todd’s mate Jesse Boothroyd’s house, where it was mini-tubbed before they went to town on the engine bay with some extensive sheet metal work. Then it was off to another mate, Cam Arkel at Cam’s Metal & Speed, who shaved the fuel filler, extended the side-mould strip into the wheelarch, seam-welded the body, fitted an Alfa four-inch reverse-cowl scoop, and generally knocked the tinwork into shape.

Holden VH Commodore bonnet

Todd’s brother Luke (we featured Luke’s VH in SM, Nov 2013) then sank a further 100 hours into the engine bay, with a clear goal in mind. “Even though I planned to race the car, I wanted it to have a Top 60-quality engine bay,” Todd says.

To that end, the engine compartment was smoothed to absolute perfection and adorned with every conceivable piece of billet trickery. A later-model VS brake booster and master cylinder was used, and it too is cloaked in a custom billet cover made by Shaun’s Custom Alloy. The fuel line is plumbed into the engine bay through a hidden bulkhead fitting in the inner guard, and the wiring is seemingly non-existent. Even the Harrop single-plane manifold was painstakingly smoothed and colour-coded.

Holden VH Commodore boot

An Aeromotive A1000 pump feeds fuel from the boot-mounted tank to the engine. “It’s running E85,” Todd says, “and we’re running it really fat – it only gets 140km to a tank!”

The motor itself is a Melway Competition Engines-built 383ci Holden that makes almost 600hp at the crank on E85, but by Todd’s own admission, it’s not a particularly exotic setup. The rotating assembly consists of a COME steel crank and I-beam rods, with forged Probe pistons arriving at an 11.5:1 compression ratio. Heads are hand-ported cast-iron VN items with oversized Ferrea valves, and the Crane solid roller cam provides 0.700in lift. Fuelling is handled by a 1000cfm Holley Ultra carb, fed by an Aeromotive pump.

Holden VH Commodore

Extensive sheet metal work provides a silky smooth environment for the 590hp 383ci Holden, which is fitted with a host of billet dress-up gear

The manualised Trimatic features a 5500rpm Dominator converter, and is anchored to the block via a Torque Power turbo-to-Trimatic pattern adapter. The BorgWarner rear end runs a Strange full spool, 31-spline billet axles and 3.9:1 gears.

Holden VH Commodore engine bay

In contrast with the stunningly refined engine bay, Todd hardly had to lay a finger on the interior. Aside from fitting a fresh moulded carpet, fabricating a drop box so that the B&M shifter could be neatly packaged in the factory console, and fitting a MoTeC dash and datalogger in place of the factory instruments, it’s all original, mint-condition 1980s-issue hardware.

Holden VH Commodore engine bay

“I wanted it very clean and standard inside,” Todd says. “The cable for the datalogger plugs into the cigarette lighter, and during a pass it can record air/fuel ratio, water temp, oil pressure, fuel pressure, volts, speed, G-forces and wheel spin. It’s a very handy tool for racing.”

Despite the car scoring a trophy at the Geelong All Holden Day, just for looking pretty, Todd’s immediate priority is racing.

Holden VH Commodore interior

Stepping inside, you’d swear it was 1984 all over again, were it not for the MoTeC dash and B&M Pro Bandit shifter – and that’s just the way Todd wanted it

“I really want to run a naturally aspirated nine-second pass; I see that as a real achievement,” he says. “There’s still plenty more power to be had from the engine, and we have some other changes planned that should help get the car there.”

Holden VH Commodore interior rear

Todd says he had an unlikely ally during the build. “A close family friend, who is 82, surprised me by paying for the paint and panel work,” he relates. “He said he would have left money in his inheritance, but that he much preferred to see the car finished. Even though he’s in his 80s, he can still hear the car coming from blocks away when we visit him.”

Holden VH Commodore dash

And it hasn’t bothered his wife too much that the original scope and budget of the project blew out considerably. As it turned out, she’d also been squirrelling away some cash, and made a financial contribution to see the project over the line just when funds were beginning to run low.

“Sometimes I think the missus still wishes I was in the shed working on the car and not in the house getting in her way like I am now!”

Holden VH Commodore Todd Foley


Colour: Custom silver

Brand: Holden 383ci stroker
Induction: Harrop single-plane
Carb: Holley 1000cfm Ultra
Heads: VN, hand-ported
Camshaft: Crane solid roller
Conrods: I-beam 4340
Pistons: Probe forged
Crank: COME steel
Fuel system: Aeromotive A1000
Cooling: Race Radiators aluminium, Spal thermo fans
Exhaust: Di Filippo 4-into-1 headers, twin 3in exhaust system, Flowmaster mufflers
Ignition: MSD Blaster coil, Pro-Billet dizzy, MSD 6AL

Gearbox: Trimatic, fully manualised
Converter: 5500rpm Dominator
Diff: BorgWarner, Strange full spool, Strange 31-spline axles, 3.9:1 gears

Springs: Standard six-cylinder, reset (f & r)
Shocks: Pedders 90/10 (f), Pedders 50/50 (r)
Brakes: RDA discs, VL Turbo calipers (f), drums (r)
Master cylinder: VS master cylinder and booster

Rims: Weld V-Series, 15x3.5 (f), 15x8 (r)
Rubber: Hankook 165/80/15 (f), Mickey Thompson drag radials 255/60/15 (r)

Big thanks to my wife Saara and my daughters Zahlia and Layla; Aaron Madex from DTM Transmissions; my brother Luke; Gavin McDonald; Matt O’Connor; Jesse Boothroyd; DK’s Transport; Benny Leit; Tim Harrison; Rian Crabbe; Jon Joly; Scott McCafferty; Nigel Petrie; ETS; Jake Bradley; Hayden Johns; Craig Marshman; Andrew Grima; Daniel Steel; Nick Montalto; Kyle Felsman; James at MCE Engines; Moolap Mufflers; Breakwater Panels; Daniel at Reidspeed; Cam’s Metal & Speed; Lowe Fabrications; Porky; Chris from SRE Geelong; Nathan Roberts; Adelaide Cement; Breakwater Panels; Josh O’Brian


How are you finding our new site design? Tell us in the comments below or send us your thoughts at


Subscribe to Street Machine magazine

Subscribe to Street Machine and save up to 39%
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.



We recommend


paul walker supra

Fast and Furious Supra breaks record at auction

Paul Walker's Toyota Supra from Fast and Furious goes for big money at Barrett-Jackson auction in Las Vegas

a day ago
Jack Houlihan
Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.