A staple of the south-east Queensland car scene, Andy McConnell has graduated from tough streeters to pedaling a 10.5 Outlaw ’61 Chev. A gun fabricator, Andy’s handiwork has adorned many past and present SM feature cars including Craig Thompson’s orange LC, Brad Cavanagh’s ITSWAR Commodore, Billy Shelton’s SICKO HQ Monaro and countless others.
‘When I was 12 my Dad took me to the Townsville Drive-In to see Running On Empty’ says Andy. ‘I told him then and there I was going to have a blown ’57 two door but later realised it was never going to happen on apprentice wages. I built this VB Commodore instead which was pretty wild with a 253 and Trimatic (laughs)’. Howard Astill-inspired graphics, Dragways and pink bits are pure early 1990s. An owner built droptank and rollcage were great teeth cutters for honing his fabrication skills.
Next was a HK ute running a 327, ‘glide and 9in combo which Andy ended up trading on this HG sedan. “I gave it a quick tidy and built an all-right 350 for it then ran a tunnel ram and twin plate gas kit for low 11s. It ended up with a blower and was even a cover car for Performance Street Car magazine. I had heaps of fun with it winning plenty of shows and burnout comps but it was possessed – no matter what the engine combo it would always catch fire. That’s when everyone started with the Fireball nickname (laughs).”
‘Wayne Barber (Queensland Chev guru) rang me one day and said “I’ve got a ‘57 sports coupe here for sale.” I was over like a shot trying to cut a deal with the HG but had no luck. I sold the HG in time to buy the ’57 and bought a blower for it on my first trip to the States’. Andy wailed on the teenage dream car for five years even winning a few burnout comps along the way, later selling it to fund his first custom chopper build.
Andy swapped some fab work for a HT Premier wagon running a 161 and Powerglide. A quick Little Beaver paintjob in chassis black with flames had it looking the part while a HQ disc and VN diff conversion mounted 15in pursuit rims with Moon discs. “It was my daily driver for a couple of years then I dropped in a blown and injected 383 small block for Summernats 2005. I blew the Powerglide apart at the ‘Nats so dragged it back home and sold it”.
The HT cruiser was replaced with this neat 1996 Chevy Silverado pickup. Airbags, Little Mick flames and some custom tinwork helped make it a standout while the personally imported 22-inch rims were groundbreaking on the local scene back in 2003. “I couldn’t shake the ’57 obsession so after two years I sold the pickup and bought a ’57 wagon daily which I flat blacked and rolled on 22-inch wires.’
Next Andy swapped his Harley and a VZ SS ute for this 1969 Camaro. “A mate of mine had owned it for years and pumped a lot of money into it but it had really ugly flares”. New quarters, a blower and big wheels changed its identity but a night on the piss had Andy wondering how fast the worlds quickest convertible was. A plan was hatched, the ‘69 was sold and he headed to the States to buy an 1850hp Steve Morris engine.
“I had grand plans to install the Morris Engine into my ’57’ convertible’ says Andy. “I’d been too busy with customer cars so started the hunt for a roller. Anthony McPhan’s ’61 was on eBay. It was built using his ex-SM cover car Belair mounted to the chassis of Al Fountain’s XF ute Hot Cargo”. The Steve Morris engine is currently equipped with an F2 Procharger, a blow-through carb and a big water/air intercooler. Andy has been mostly racing 1/8th mile stuff with a best of 5.1-seconds, but has rolled through to a best of 8.3 at 132mph over the quarter mile. Not bad for a big beast running on pump fuel!
“Once we crack a seven with this package, I’m going to fit a crank-driven F3 Procharger, convert it to EFI and put it on E85. Then we’ll turn up the wick a bit!”