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Eight-second 1150hp 1987 Holden VL Calais turbo Series II

By Carly Dale | Photos: Troy Barker, 13 Aug 2019 Features

Eight-second 1150hp 1987 Holden VL Calais turbo Series II

Alex Crisa's Holden VL turbo may look like a lairy show pony, but it has the clout to back it up, with 1150hp and an 8.4-second quarter to its name

ALEX Crisa’s in-your-face VL Calais Turbo first featured in Street Machine Commodores eight years ago, in issue #35. And while some facets of the car – like the blinging Candy Apple Red hue – have stood the test of time, others have since copped considerable alterations. So we reckoned it was about time to have another yarn with Alex.

This article was first published in Street Machine Commodores magazine, 2018

Holden VL Calais sideThe custom Candy Apple Red over Quicksliver is still as clean today as when it was shot around a decade ago. It’s finished off with Rattlesnake black-pearl and ghost flames thanks to Hounslow Crash Repairs 

Since we last spoke to him, Alex’s less-than-subtle, RB25/30-powered VL has really made its mark. Most notable is its 18-month reign as top dog on the SA Street Outlaws Top 20 list (SM, May ’18), thanks to an impressive 8.7-second pass, followed later with a spectacular 8.4. All that was reeled off in full street trim, driven to and from the track!

Read next: 1100hp blown Holden VL Calais

Holden VL Calais rearIt’s been quite the journey from a 10.2-second quarter on 770hp back in 2010. Alex upped the amperage to 805hp soon after, and in turn dipped into the nines with a 9.9-second pass at Heathcote. Twelve months and a few minor tweaks later, another trek to Heathcote saw the car crack a 9.3@150mph before punching a rod through the block later that day.

Watch next: Blown LS-powered Holden VL Calais - video

Holden VL Calais wheelBig 20in Simmons rims are finished off with ‘MR VLT’ branding on the inside dish of the 12in rears and etched into the redwalls thanks to Alex’s mate Harry at Mental Customs & White Wall Tyre Designs and Michael at Sign Colour. Alex bolts on Weld AlumaStars for track duties

“The car sat in the shed for a while after that,” Alex says. “Then I got the itch again; this time I wanted it to be bigger and better. So, I decided to tub the car and get my cousins Fury and Ross from Lonsdale Engine Worx to build the whole motor.”

Read next: Lorenzo Gullotto’s seven-second 1460hp Holden VL Calais

Holden VL Calais frontOn top they’ve added an updated 6boost manifold mated to a Garrett GTX45 turbo, with cool air fed via a GReddy plenum. The RB25 head was ported, with a pair of solid 278 Kelford Cams dropped in, along with beefier intake and exhaust valves. Below, the RB30ET block was packed with custom Argo Race rods and CP forged pistons mated to the stock crank, nestled in a Platinum Racing billet engine cradle. Next, a new fuel cell was plumbed in, feeding the E85 forward via three Bosch 044 pumps down 12mm hardlines.

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Holden VL Calais bonnetIn a bid to get the power to the ground, Alex chopped out the back end to make way for race-spec replacements. His mate Aaron zapped in custom heavy-duty rails along with a chrome-moly four-link, Strange double adjustable coil-overs, new crossmember, chrome-moly fabricated nine-inch housing, Strange billet nine-inch centre, and a Pro9 35-spline full-floater kit.

Inside, the luxurious leather VY SS buckets were given the flick to comply with go-fast track requirements. “I had the Calais dash and a pair of Kirkey race seats trimmed in matching red leather to suit,” Alex says.

Holden VL Calais engine bayThe smoothed lines of the ’bay allow you to focus completely on the mega-powerful RB30 sitting between those rails. Flanking each side are the polished air factories, featuring a Garrett GTX45 turbo that helps the beast to 1150rwhp at 40psi on the track

The newly altered Calais was then debuted at the 2013 VL Turbo Nationals in Adelaide. “While we couldn’t get the car to build boost like we wanted, it was still good, with lots of positive feedback, as well as the usual haters,” Alex laughs.

Holden VL Calais engine bayClinton Faustmann from Faustune soon combatted the boost issue, adding a new wastegate and a re-tune so that Alex could head back out to see what she could really do. “In mid-2014 I was trying for that elusive eight-second pass, which I was told I wouldn’t be able to do. Well I did, running an 8.8 followed by an 8.75 on slicks, with a stripped-out interior,” Alex says proudly.

Holden VL Calais engine bayWith another show looming, Alex and wife Christina sourced those massive custom three-piece, gloss-black 20-inch Simmons wheels to keep the look fresh, but Alex had more than aesthetics on his mind.

“As always, I thought I’d also give the dyno comp a go, but this time I wanted to be the first to crack 1000hp at Extreme Auto Expo.” The Calais punched out 980rwhp on the first pass, with slipping rubber. The rear was then ratcheted tighter, resulting in an 1050rwhp second run and a whopping 1103rwhp on the third. “It blew everyone away,” Alex says. “I was over the moon!”

Holden VL Calais interiorRed leather-swathed Kirkey race seats sit behind the decked-out dash filled with a Racepak IQ3 Street Dash, race-ready switches and a Clarion TV! A B&M Pro Ratchet coupled with a transbrake sorts the shifting, while a MOMO tiller points it straight down the track. A six-point rollcage encases the lot. An oil pressure gauge and shift light sit on the A-pillar, while directly left of the shifter is the red anodised ’chute lever. Three Auto Meter gauges sit above, showing fuel level, trans temp and coolant temp

It was around this time that the SA Street Outlaws Top 20 Facebook page started up. “I decided to cruise out to a Sunday street meet and give the list a crack,” Alex says. “As I’d never raced on radials before or with a full-weight interior, I didn’t know how the car would react, but it ran an 8.7-second pass and went to the top of the list.”

Holden VL Calais interiorThat quickly revealed a weakness – the converter wasn’t quite apples. So Richard from AK Universal Torque Converters Service built a custom 3500rpm converter, and while he was at it, Alex had the Powerglide tricked up by Paul Rogers Performance Transmissions, with a dump valve added.

Further to this round of mods, Danny at DesignWire installed a Haltech Elite 2500 ECU, new MilSpecWiring harness, sensors and a Racepak IQ3 Street Dash. Under the bonnet, a new custom Jonny Tig Industries radiator with an 1800hp-rated intercooler and piping was plumbed in before Clinton again dialled in the tune. “We wound her up a little, making more power and shutting down his old dyno – it was crying ‘Enough!’” Alex laughs.

Holden VL Calais consoleAbove the console are switches for the nitrous, transbrake and fans, while the datalogger label is a reminder for Alex to give it the berries on track. “I run a 70hp shot of nitrous to bring it up on the transbrake, but not on the runs,” he says

As hoped, these latest round of tricks bore fruit. “We PBed every few weeks while driving the car to and from the track, with the quickest being 8.40@163mph in May 2017,” Alex says.

Holden VL Calais gauges“I haven’t bothered about going out racing since, as I’ve just enjoyed cruising with family and friends,” he admits. “Though recently I have done a few little mods and put more boost in, so it will be interesting to see what she runs now; I hope to race again in the next couple of months. A seven-second street-car pass would be the ultimate, especially for a little six-cylinder with a standard crank!”

Holden VL Calais gearstickALEX CRISA
1987 HOLDEN COMMODORE VL CALAIS SERIES II

Paint: Custom Candy Apple Red, Quicksilver, Rattlesnake black pearl

ENGINE
Engine: RBD30ET
Induction: GReddy RB25 intake, GReddy plenum, 90mm throttlebody, Garrett GTX45 turbo, 6boost exhaust manifold
Fuel system: Siemens 2433cc injectors
ECU: Haltech Elite 2500
Head: RB25DET, CNC-ported and polished
Camshaft: Kelford Cams 278, 10mm lift, solid lifters
Conrods: Argo Race
Pistons: CP forged
Crank: Standard RB30
Oil pump: N1, billet gears
Sump: High Energy 8L
Preferred fuel: E85
Fuel system: 3 x Bosch 044, 12mm hardlines
Cooling: Custom Jonny Tig Industries radiator and shroud, race intercooler with all-alloy piping, weld-on clamps; 3000cfm SPAL fan
Exhaust: 4in
Ignition: M&W Ignitions Pro-Drag6, CDI with coil-on-plug
Power: 1150rwhp@40psi (on track)

DRIVELINE
Trans: Powerglide, billet gears, transbrake, dump valve
Converter: Custom AK Universal Torque Converters Service 3500rpm stall
Bellhousing: RB30 with billet flexplate
Tailshaft: Custom 4in one-piece, Mark Williams billet ends
Diff: Chrome-moly fabricated 9in, 3.50:1 gears; Strange billet centre, Pro9 full-floater, 35-spline axles

SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: Pedders Super Low springs, Pedders Sports shocks
Rear: Strange double adjustable coil-overs, four-link
Bushes: Nolathane
Brakes: VL calipers, HSV slotted & drilled discs (f); VL calipers, Pro9 slotted discs (r)
Master cylinder: 1in VL Turbo
Other: Anti-roll bar

INSIDE
Seats: Kirkey race fronts, VY SS rear; in red leather
Steering wheel: MOMO Race
Rollcage: Six-point, weld-in
Instruments: Racepak IQ3 Street Dash, Auto Meter gauges
Shifter: B&M Pro Ratchet
Seatbelts: Five-point RCI Platinum Series harness, VL
Stereo: Clarion 7in flip-out TV, 6in Clarion speakers

WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Simmons three-piece; 20x8.5 (f), 20x12 (r)
Rubber: Nankang; 225/30 (f), 315 /35 (r)

THANKS
Fury & Ross at Lonsdale Engine Worx; Clint at Faustune; Jon at Jonny Tig Industries; AK Universal Torque Converters Service; Danny from DesignWire, Michael at Sign Colour; Harry at Mental Customs & White Wall Tyre Designs; James and the boys at Outlaw Speed Shop; CK Racing Developments; Paul Rogers Performance Transmissions; Nitro Blue Kennels; my brother Frank; brother-in-law Anthony; Arthur; Dom; Fabian; my parents and a few mates – you know who you are; last but not least, my boys Alessio and Lucca and wife Christina for putting up with all the good and the bad and for all the support – love you guys