Cubic inches rule when it comes to making horsepower without a blower, turbos or nitrous and with 632 cubes Steve Micallef has plenty in his Holden HQ Tonner.
“To be honest the Tonner was supposed to be a burnout car but after I did Drag Challenge with Alon Vella last year I thought, ‘Bugger that!’. I rang my engine builder from Calder on the last day and said, ‘Stop what you’re doing, it’s all changing’.” That’s the kind of effect events like Drag Challenge have on people; the intense racing, the camaraderie and the chance to spend some serious seat time in your ride are addictive as hell.
After doing the trip last year, Steve had a fair idea of what he needed to chew up those long drives, a streetable big block with plenty of power. Built by Kelvin at CDA Engine Reconditioning in Dee Why the big cube big block produces 970hp, which helped push the Holden tray back to an easy 9.42@144mph at Drag Challenge and take out the Mothers Outlaw Aspirated class.
Built with the help of his mate Shaun, who also came along for the ride, the HQ isn’t exactly light at 3720lbs (with driver). Because it was getting built for frying tyres the whole back end is made out of 3mm sheet metal, but it does help put some weight over the rear end so the four-link can plant the tyres.
“I chose to run an 11.5in slick to put me in the Outlaw class so I wouldn’t be competing against my mate Alon,” Steve says. “But next year I think we might go for steeper gears and a Gear Vendors, and maybe some more horsepower.”
As a new combo the guys didn’t have much time to sort things out; they ran a 9.30 in testing at Sydney Dragway and melted the dizzy cap.
“I’m glad it did that,” Steve says. “I thought I better grab some spares so I went to Rocket and brought another six caps for spares. Good thing I did because I melted one every day of Drag Challenge; I haven’t even looked at what the problem is yet.”
Other than that the Tonner ran flawlessly; running on pump 98-octane on the street and using MS109 at the track. “We’d go up five jet sizes at the track and then back it down again for the street,” Steve says. “I loved the driving but to be honest my favourite part was the end. I was just relieved to make it all the way.” And of course, winning Mothers Outlaw Aspirated was quite an achievement too!
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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.
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