YOUNGSTERS — never underestimate the value of a supportive partner when it comes to mucking around with street machines. Just ask Victorian early Holden fan Daryl Angus, who wouldn’t be driving this trend-setting FJ if not for his wife.
“My background is in FC Holdens. I’ve had a bunch of them but a few years ago I decided to sell all my cars to get on with some other things. That was okay for a while, then I got the itch to have a nice car to cruise in again. Annette said: ‘No problem, just so long as it’s an FJ!’ Her dad had one when she was growing up and she just loves them.”
START WITH A GOOD ONE
Daryl’s last FC was a spirited thing, with a Buick V6, TH350 and nine-inch, so a stocker wasn’t going to cut the mustard and a search turned up an ex-show car with a 350 Chev conversion and a gunbarrel-straight body.
“It was a good conversion,” he says. “The previous owner did a great job on the front end — no bump-steer and plenty of steering lock. It was about ready for a rebuild though, so I started saving up my pennies and collecting Nasco accessories for what I had in mind.”
Daryl’s plan was to makeover the FJ in an early hot rod style but the rebuild would go a lot deeper than the whitewalls and red steelies that now adorn the car.
“I even thought about pulling the Chev and putting a Ford Y-block in it for that 1960s Aussie flavour. It would have been cool but it would’ve been a lot of work just for a laugh.”
Instead, Daryl concentrated on the all-important stance factor and turned to Daniel Cassar at Fast Lane Speed Shop to bring the FJ closer to the earth.
“The car had that real 80s stance, jacked-up in the rear,” Daryl says. “The way the car had been built, we couldn’t get it much lower, so Daniel remanufactured the boot floor, the arch over the diff, the transmission tunnel and the rear of the chassis, raising it up as much as eight inches in some sections.”
It was a monster amount of work but it means that the car now sits nice and low over new 15in rims and has plenty of suspension travel, while it also made room for an 80-litre stainless steel fuel tank.
To fit the new rims, Daniel went to Ford-pattern P76 rotors with HZ calipers up front and redrilled HZ drums at the back. The bonus is much better stopping power than the old HR discs could provide.
With the foundations set, Daryl set about getting the cosmetics right, starting with a new paint job in PPG Ego Grey, again applied by Daniel. To get the look right, Daryl set about adding and subtracting exterior details, starting with the indicators.
“FJs never came with indicators from the factory,” he says. “The previous owner had added custom indicators into the bodywork, so we pulled them out and replaced ’em — at the rear we put on a set of FJ Special reflector wings and fitted blinkers inside them, and at the front they are integral with the headlights.”
Daryl also replaced the late-model plastic exterior mirrors with a set of peep mirrors and ditched the B-pillar bolt for the front seatbelts. The final touch was a sprinkling of Nasco goodies, including a bonnet mascot, headlight spears and alloy stone-guards on the rear doors.
IN THE PLEASURE DOME
Inside it’s a similar story, with Daryl ditching the bucket seats, sports steering wheel and modern stereo that had been fitted in favour of a more old-school look.
Adrian at Kool Trim restored the FJ back to its original bench seat glory and trimmed both seats in ’55 Chev style for a custom look. Daryl also wanted to go back to the stock FJ steering wheel, which meant Daniel had to cut and extend the EH steering column and fabricate a billet boss to adapt it to the spindly FJ tiller.
The neatest touch of all is the stereo, which uses an original FJ face but with modern internals so that Darryl has the choice between AM/FM radio or his iPod.
UNDER THE HOOD
The final area of attack was the engine bay, with the 350 redressed in classic hot rod style — ram’s horn headers, no-name finned rocker covers and a trio of Rochester 2G carbs on a Edelbrock manifold. The engine is basically stock, backed by a Turbo 400 and 10-bolt diff.
“It’s just a cruiser but it can get up and boogie when required. It doesn’t get hot in the cabin or overheat — it’s a beauty. People seem to like the theme of the car. A lot of hot rodders tell me they love what we’ve done with it.”