WhichCar
Powered by
  • WheelsWheels
  • MOTORMOTOR
  • 4X4 Australia4X4 Australia
  • Street MachineStreet Machine
  • Trade Unique CarsTrade Unique Cars

Bare-metal LSX-powered 1968 Holden HK ute

By Iain Kelly | Photos: Chris Thorogood, 09 Feb 2019 Features

Bare-metal LSX-powered Holden HK ute

Daryl O'Sullivan's Holden HK Kingswood is already a pro touring masterpiece and it's still under construction

This article on Daryl's HK ute was first published in the November 2018 issue of Street Machine

CHUCKING fat laps of your local cruise spot is a rite of passage for gearheads all over the world, and it was this experience that led to the creation of Daryl O’Sullivan’s amazing HK Kingswood ute.

Holden HK ute“When I was young I always knew I would have an HK ute one day, but not to this extent – it was never meant to go this far,” Daryl says. “I still can’t get over how good it

The LSX-fed two-door commercial has been smoothed and shaved, packing awesome sheet-metal work and engineering like air conditioning, a full chassis and all power accessories under the fresh metal skin. The Kingswood’s new tarmac-hugging, slick finish is thanks to Chris Wells and the team at BMV Engineering on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, though the story of Daryl’s ute starts many years before.

Read next: Bare-metal blown LSX-powered Holden HT Kingswood

Holden HK uteThe diff is a Strange Engineering 9in with 35-spline full-floater axles and a 3.7:1 final drive. This ratio will give snappy performance with the heavy-duty Tremec T56 Magnum six-speed manual, which has been paired to a twin-plate clutch from Direct Clutch. “I’ve always had manual cars,” Daryl says. “I’ve never been much on the auto gearboxes as I feel you’re a bit more in touch with the car with a manual”

“I grew up in a country town called Tumut,” says Daryl. “Everyone used to cut laps on a Friday night, which is what we did back then, and that street scene is what inspired me. The plan was to have a new car wrapped in an old shell, so when Chris and I planned the HK, it was always going to have all the mod cons like air con, power windows, central locking, power steering, an LS powerplant – and it was also going to be manual.”

Read next: Procharged 1968 Holden HK Belmont ute streeter

Holden HK uteThe HK is actually the first car Daryl ever carried the keys to, though it was a long courtship before he was able to call it his own. “I bought it when I was 15 from Wagga Wagga, NSW,” he says. “The former owner ran a petrol station near my house and I used to drive past it on the highway for six or seven years, and I’d say: ‘That’s a nice ute.’ One day it had a ‘for sale’ sign on it, so we pulled in, had a look, and put a deposit on it! It was my daily driver ’til I bought another car.”

Read next: Tray-mount turbocharged big-block Holden HJ ute

Holden HK uteChris and Daryl used a mix of models to enhance the style of the HK, with HG Brougham headlights and top grille, and HT Monaro guard and bonnet vents. The front beaver panel is smoothed, and the front bumper has been shaved and tucked in tighter than stock

While most utes bought from country areas of Australia are more knocked-about than a Syrian taxi, Daryl reckons his HK was a pretty good thing. “It wasn’t in that bad condition,” he says. “It was sky blue with a 186 and everything seemed to be there. My cousin sold me a 192ci six out of his HR, which I put in, but once I bought a daily driver ute, I put the HK in the shed and started planning the build.”

Watch next: Twin-turbo small-block Holden HT ute

Holden HK uteAfter languishing in country NSW for a few trips around the calendar, the ute was brought up to Daryl’s new home in Mackay, Queensland, where he finally started building it into the HK of his dreams. It didn’t all go to plan, however.

“The first two shops I went to were a waste of time and money, so I was ready to put it back in the shed and forget about it when I came across BMV Engineering on Facebook,” says Daryl. “I gave Chris a call to have a chat about it and he was keen to take it on. Over the next few weeks it was put on a truck and sent on its way to BMV, where Chris and the boys came up with a plan and then got stuck into it.”

Holden HK uteDaryl chose big hoops for the HK in the shape of Intro V-Rods spanning 19x8.5 up front and 20x12 out back, wrapped in Pirelli 255/30 on the turning end and Continental 325/25 on the burning end

While it looks like a nicely restored, though slammed, first-generation Kingswood, plenty of BMV’s metal magic has been cleverly hidden. The sills have been extended through the bottom of the front guards, the tailgate has been welded up with a full-width wagon rear bumper bar recessed into the body, the cowl vents have been filled and a full sheet-metal floor added. Custom narrow chassis rails have been fitted that extend through to the Y-frame, which has also been welded to the body. The engine bay is smoothed off, a custom fuel tank and filler are packed under a door in the tray floor beside custom wheel tubs, and the door quarter-glass has been removed.

Holden HK ute“I wanted all the modern stuff wrapped in an old shell, as we didn’t want to take away from the HK’s style – just tweak it a bit to make it stand out from all the rest,” Daryl explains.

The AccuAir air suspension works with a custom front end, while the old horse-and-cart leaf springs were turfed in favour of a triangulated four-link. “The front end was an off-the-shelf unit, but Chris ended up modifying it to suit air suspension,” Daryl says. “The four-link is a McDonald Brothers unit that has been tweaked to fit the new narrower rear chassis rails, which now run all the way to the front and tie to the Y-frame.”

Holden HK uteHK utes came with short split bumpers mounted on each rear corner, but ABADHK now sports a full-length bumper off a wagon that has been shaved smooth and tucked in tight. BMV also welded the tailgate shut for an extra-smooth look

That strength is definitely needed, as the old red sixes the ute had previously sported are long gone, in favour of a 620hp LSX376 crate motor that should have no problems roasting those 20x12 Intro V-Rod rear wheels!

Holden HK ute undersideThis doesn’t look like any stock HK Kingswood undercarriage, with a modified Southern Chassis Works front end holding up the LSX V8. A Holley Retro-fit sump clears the front-mounted rack and crossmember, while the custom exhaust is a work of art  

“I had a VE Maloo with a Harrop supercharger on it, and it used to go like a cut snake, so that definitely influenced my choice to go LS,” Daryl explains. “They’re cheap engines and they make easy power. This engine made 550rwhp on the dyno, and you couldn’t get an engine built to make that sort of power for what I paid for the brand-new crate motor.”

Holden HK ute undersideThough it is hard to spot the epic custom two-inch headers that look like tossed spaghetti, you’d have to be harder of sight than Ray Charles to miss the epic Harrop Hurricane individual-throttlebody intake manifold up top. Despite the LSX’s healthy power output, Daryl is already considering pulling the new motor apart to take advantage of the lungs the ITBs lend the 6.2-litre.

“Once it goes off to get painted we’ll pull the motor and do the heads and cam, and get it breathing a bit more to make use of the intake manifold,” he says. “It’s at North Coast Custom Trim right now and he’s done the console and trimmed the VE GTS seats, so it’s ready for the billet dash and gauges, then everything is done bar paint. I’m looking at Mazda Soul Red, which will work with a black interior and billet highlights to tie it all together.”

Holden HK ute engine bay“It is just an LSX376, but with LSX454 rocker covers on it,” laughs Daryl. “The HK was meant to have a stroked L98, but the engine builder wasn’t up to scratch so I went with an LSX crate motor. With the brake booster and air con under the dash it was going to be too tight to put the coil packs under there too, so Chris came up with the idea of the engine bay covers to hide them” came out”

We reckon Daryl should take it for a fat lap of Tumut once he’s done to show everyone just how good a servo ute can be!

Holden HK ute engine bayDARYL O’SULLIVAN
1968 HOLDEN HK UTE

Paint: None

ENGINE
Brand: GM Performance LSX376
Capacity: 376ci
Intake: Harrop Hurricane ITB
Pistons: Forged aluminium
Crank: 4340 forged steel
Rods: 4340 forged steel
Compression ratio: 11.0:1
Heads: Stock six-bolt LSX-LS7
Cam: LSX hydraulic-roller, 236°/246°
ECU: GM Siemens E38
Fuel system: 1000cc injectors, Aeromotive pump, custom tank
Oil system: Holley Retro-fit sump
Radiator: Aussie Desert Cooler Burnout King
Exhaust: Custom 2in extractors, twin 3in system, Magnaflow mufflers

TRANSMISSION
Gearbox: Tremec T56 Magnum six-speed manual
Clutch: Direct Clutch twin-plate
Diff: Strange Engineering 9in, 35-spline full-floater axles, 3.7:1 final drive

SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: Slam Specialties bellows airbag, QA1 shocks
Rear: ShockWave air struts
Chassis: Tubbed rear, custom rear chassis rails, McDonald Brothers triangulated four-link, tube front control arms, steering rack conversion, Billet Works steering column, Y-frame modified and welded to the body, AccuAir ENDO-CVT air suspension, AccuAir e-Level height management
Brakes: Wilwood four-piston calipers and discs (f & r)

WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Intro V-rod; 19x8.5 (f), 20x12 (r)
Rubber: Pirelli 255/30 (f) Continental 325/25 (r)