Damien Horner jammed a humble Holden VY load-lugger full of cutting-edge tech to create this rolling masterpiece
This article on Damien's Holden VY ute was originally published in the May 2015 issue of Street Machine
IF EVER there was a Street Machine feature car that can truly be called a rolling lounge room, surely this is it. From the helm of his blown LS1-powered VY SS ute, in the comfort of heated, four-stage-massage-equipped, leather-trimmed Coulson seats, Damien Horner can kick back and enjoy an audio-visual experience that would rival most home theatres. He can watch a DVD, use his phone to peruse a catalogue of movies and music stored on a hard drive, surf the net or even flick through the latest digital edition of SM! It’s all displayed on the dash-mounted iPad screen, with the sound dispersed through the bone-rattling audio system.
“I’m no computer dork, but I love high-tech gadgets,” Damien says. “I have an amazing home theatre system with a couple of iPads throughout the house that control everything. I found myself wondering if I could have a similar set-up in a car.”
Even if stereo gear isn’t really your thing, you have to appreciate the technology and connectivity that Damien’s kitted FINEVY out with. Using an iPhone or iPad, he’s able to remotely start and shut down the engine, turn the accessories on or off, release the bonnet catch, raise or lower the air suspension, access the media library, lock or unlock the doors, and wind the windows up or down. He can even locate the car via GPS on his phone if he ever happens to forget where he parked it.
“A lot of work went into making the iPad fit in the dash and getting the whole system working, but I didn’t have to go as far as getting custom apps designed; everything was already available,” Damien says. “AccuAir had an app available for the air suspension, and Viper, the company that made my alarm, does a great app as well. I can set up a virtual fence around the car and as soon as it leaves that fence I get a notification. It’s constantly under video surveillance and I can view it at any time on my phone.”
There’s an insane amount of body modifications at play here, with every single panel on the car treated to some sort of customisation. Damien’s desired stance was difficult to achieve but certainly effective – you’d do well to slide a cigarette paper between the sill and terra firma
Gadgets aside, the ute has undergone a series of transformations in its relatively short existence. Purchased brand new by Damien as a work truck, it transitioned to a weekend cruiser a short time later, and then a low 11-second street-and-strip weapon when Damien was bitten by the drag racing bug. After fitting a PWR positive displacement blower, he managed a best time of 11.28@124mph, before turning his attention to the aesthetic side of things, and the ute has been evolving flat-out ever since.
These days it’s a real melting pot of ideas and influences. The airbagged stance, flush-mounted custom LED tail-lights, aggressive body kit, stark white interior and aforementioned in-car entertainment set-up are contemporary style additions, but the tubs, dished billets, beautifully detailed engine bay and stunning blown LS1 mill are typical street machine fare, and given its 500+hp dyno sheets and 11-second timecards, the performance credentials are well established.
Even more evident are its show credentials, and Elite Top 60, Top 20, Top Engine Bay (’86 or later), Top Audio Installation and Top Super-Tech awards at Summernats 28 affirmed that. The list of body mods is exhaustive, and includes the custom front bar, rear bar, Monaro bonnet, GTO side skirts and LED tail-lights; shaved roof moulds, door handles and fuel filler; welded and smoothed engine bay, guards and tray; and flush-mounted windscreen and sunroof. Then of course there’s the suicide doors and the tubs, into which slot 22x12in Showwheels Twisted Trenz 5 rear wheels wearing Pirelli 315/25/22 tyres. To say that achieving the perfect fitment was a bit of a mission is something of an understatement, but after much conjecture, with the ute aired out the chassis sits right where Damien wanted it – firmly on the deck.
Damien wasn’t too keen to divulge the exact combination of parts he used to build the shortened IRS rear end, but suffice to say it required a lot of trial-and-error to get the stance and wheel fitment spot-on
The VY retains the factory IRS suspension configuration, but has been modified using a combination of parts from other models to be significantly shorter than standard, in order to allow for the monstrous dish sported by the big Showwheels. Tubular Suspension Systems ’bags were used front and back, fed by twin 22.7-litre Firestone tanks and four 400C Viar compressors.
With four air compressors, two tanks, two 12in Earthquake subs, four Earthquake amps, four Earthquake capacitors and a slew of Orion 6.5in speakers, there’s not a lot of real estate left for a Kelpie back here
Brakes are PBR 355mm rotors all ’round, clamped by six-piston calipers up front and four pistons on the rear. The anchors are plumbed up to an under-dash pedal box and, just like the rest of the car, are detailed to within an inch of their lives.
The Coulson seats were built up from the original frames using brand new foams, and three-stage heating and four-stage massage hardware was added before they were retrimmed in Arctic White leather
The Arctic White cabin contrasts starkly with the HOK Oriental Kandy Blue duco, which was applied over a Shimrin Silver base and blended from lighter to darker over a charcoal base towards the bottom by Melbourne-based custom paint gurus RacePaint. The cockpit is the focal point of all the entertainment and technology, but with the heated massage chairs, Dakota Digital dash and custom billet and stainless-steel jewellery, it’s a feature all its own.
FINEVY’s trophy-winning engine bay is the product of plenty of lateral thinking, hard yakka, and fistfuls of dollars! Beautifully symmetrical and detailed to absolute perfection
It’s the engine bay, however, that’s the piece de resistance. Damien set his benchmark high, drawing inspiration from none other than Holden’s own EFIJY and aiming to better it in certain aspects. He wanted to keep the whole show as clean as possible, and went to the ends of the earth to make it happen. Wanting to retain the practicality of power steering but keen to be rid of the ungainly Holden belt-driven pump, Damien sourced an Astra electric pump from the wreckers and hid it under the front guard. He then had the factory rack cleaned, polished and painted, and the custom hard lines chromed.
The heads were polished; the sump, block and injectors were painted; a custom strut brace was built from two off-the-shelf items; custom strut tops were fabricated; engine mounts were polished and chromed; a custom billet reducer from the throttlebody to the cold air intake was built – no stone was left unturned in the pursuit of excellence. And that’s on top of all the sheet-metal fabrication that’s turned an unsightly VY engine bay into a thing of wonder and beauty.
“The more work I do to it the more pedantic I become,” Damien admits. “It’s sometimes a burden, as my life seems to revolve around the car with constant thoughts and dreams of more modifications. However, at the end of the day somehow it all seems worth it when you receive a compliment from a stranger or you’re driving home from a show you have just given up your whole weekend for with an award or trophy.”
2002 HOLDEN VY UTE
Colour: HOK Oriental Kandy Blue
Brand: 5.7L LS1
Induction: PWR 1.8L supercharger (10psi), custom intake piping
Heads: Higgins Race Heads, ported and polished
Camshaft: FI-1 232/242
Fuel system: 5L surge tank, Bosch 044 pump, PWR rails, Siemens 60lb injectors
Exhaust: DiFilippo 4-into-1 headers, twin 3in exhaust system, high-flow cats
Cooling: Custom alloy radiator, Meziere electric water pump, PWR intercooler
Gearbox: T56 six-speed manual, Ripshift, NPC clutch
Diff: Harrop centre, 3.9:1 gears
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Springs: TSS Airbags (f & r)
Shocks: Koni shocks (r)
Brakes: PBR 355mm discs, six-piston calipers (f); PBR 355mm discs, four-piston calipers (r)
Seats: Custom electric Coulsons with three-stage heating and four-stage massage
Wheel: Standard, retrimmed
Instruments: Dakota Digital dash, Auto Meter Cobalt gauges
Shifter: Custom Pistol Grip
Stereo: iPad 3 64GB system control, 7in Pioneer touchscreen source unit, 10 Orion 6.5in speakers, two Earthquake 12in subs, two Earthquake 10,000W amps, two Earthquake 2200W amps
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Showwheels Twisted Trenz 5; 20x8.5 (f), 22x12 (r)
Rubber: Falken 245/30/20 (f), Pirelli 315/25/22 (r)
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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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