IF WORLD-renowned Alien artist HR Giger had applied his vision to an engine build, the result might have looked like Bluey Hill’s latest Holden donk for his famed stepside HJ One Tonner (SM, Sep ’88). A beautiful melding of both hard-edged and organic industrial design, it has an almost biomechanical look that Giger was famous for.
This article was first published in the October 2019 issue of Street Machine
The stepside bed was a popular aftermarket addition of the 70s and 80s, and was a must-have for Bluey after he fell in love with the Tonner that Steve Bisley drove in the classic Aussie flick The Chain Reaction. V5 Simmons rims were shod in 225/50 and whopping 345/35 Pirelli P7 rubber to make best use of the race-inspired suspension
But the delicious visuals are just a by-product of what this build is truly about: glorious horsepower from one of our most iconic local engines.
Full feature: Bluey Hill's legendary HJ One Tonner
Bluey’s Torque Power-blocked 308 is a wild bit of gear and has been ably screwed together by Aaron Hambridge and his team at Advanced Performance Machining. “Bluey actually had us prep a factory block a couple of years ago when we were about to start assembling it, but at the last minute decided to go with the Torque Power block,” Aaron says. “It was a smart decision too, as the stock block would have fallen apart”
Aaron Hambridge from Advanced Performance Machining is the man responsible for the build, and the final link in the chain of Bluey’s 25-year engine odyssey. “I’ve known Bluey since I was a kid – my dad Steve did the machine work on the original 308 in the HJ – and you wouldn’t meet a nicer, more genuine bloke,” Aaron says. “And what a fan of the Holden V8! There was no way his build was going to be for any other kind of motor.”
The menacing, polished four-port injector hat is a welcome change to the modern-day carbonfibre choices, and ties in beautifully with Bluey’s love for old-school muscle
Interestingly, Bluey chose to stick with the General’s 308 cubes for this new motor – yes, it retains the factory bore and stroke – but it’s based around an aftermarket Torque Power block and Velasco 3.062-inch billet crank. Four-inch Arias forged pistons and Oliver billet I-beam conrods sort the short assembly, while a Camtech solid-roller camshaft forms the basis of the valvetrain. Crower roller lifters and Jet Engineering pushrods activate Yella Terra Platinum shaft-mounted rockers, located on Yella Terra –9 alloy heads.
Watch next: Toothy's 9000rpm HQ One-Tonner on the dyno
The attention to detail and industrial look to Bluey’s donk is a beautiful by-product of the build, with many of the ancillaries, including the oil pan, valve covers and intake manifold custom-built by Bluey or sourced through local fabricators
The towering inferno begins with a custom billet tunnel-ram intake, topped by a Mike Kuhl 6/71 supercharger fed via a Hilborn injector hat. A diet of methanol is supplied by a matching Hilborn pump, and the oiling side is sorted thanks to a Moroso three-stage dry-sump pump. A Vertex magneto handles the spark, while custom headers will help to nestle the mill back into the engine bay of Bluey’s Tonner.
The oil pan, valve covers, timing cover, magneto/fuel pump drive and intake manifold are all custom billet or fabricated parts that Bluey has either made himself or sourced for the build.
The 308 cranked out 1023hp and 780lb-ft on Aaron’s engine dyno, which is more than ample for Bluey’s plans. And in true Bluey form, it will be backed by a six-speed manual transmission, in keeping with the Doug Nash cogger theme of the original build.
“We recently posted a video of the dyno run on our Advanced Performance Machining Facebook page,” Aaron says. “The views and comments have blitzed all of our other posts, including blown Hemis with more than double the horsepower. There’s still plenty of love out there for the good ol’ 308.”
This Giger-esque tower of power is just the ticket to reanimate Bluey’s beloved Tonner after a 25-year hibernation. Meeen & Grumpy, indeed!
If you've blown out 40 candles, there’s a good chance you’ll remember the name Bluey Hill, and an even bigger chance you’ll remember his stepside HJ One Tonner dubbed Meeen & Grumpy.
Bluey’s tan metallic Tonner graced our pages (and poster!) back in September 1988 and earned instant-legend status with its mix of road and race styling in a time when mega-tubs and cheese-cutter frontrunners were the order of the day.
Recaro bucket seats, an alloy half-’cage and a tiny SAAS twirler were period-perfect interior appointments, while a polished Hurst shifter was tied to a Doug Nash five-speed ’box – an exotic bit of gear for 1988
Yep, the HJ was one of those rare builds that successfully mixed genres without looking like a dog’s breakfast. The blown and injected L34-based 308 was pure pro street, while the custom street machine paint, panel and interior mixed it with factory muscle GTS cues, underpinned by race-inspired suspension, wide Simmons rims, fat rubber and a Doug Nash five-speed.
Built in a time before stroker cranks were commonplace, the stock-capacity 308 Holden donk used a mix of L34 and Harrop internals before being topped with a GM 6/71 blower and Hilborn mechanical fuel injection. A BDS scoop, deleted inner guards and extensive alloy polishing and chrome work melded to create engine-bay perfection
Topped with extensive chrome and paint detailing, Bluey’s Tonner had all bases covered and was a serious stiffy-maker for both road- and show-goers alike.
But like many high-end street machines, sometimes perfection isn’t enough, and it wasn’t long before Bluey got itchy feet and felt the need to step things up with the HJ. Well, that was more than two decades ago, but Bluey’s build is finally on the home stretch.