This article on Vic's HT wagon was first published in the March 2019 issue of Street Machine
WHAT does it take to get a car built in less than five months? A bunch of good mates sure helps, and so does a deadline that you absolutely, positively can’t miss. For Perth’s Vic Brockman, this HT wagon was meant to be a project that he could tinker on when he was a bit quiet at work, but that’s not really how it turned out.
It’s a pretty mild wheel-and-tyre combo by today’s standards, but the 185s and 235s give the car an 80s vibe and still fill up the guards nicely
I knew nothing of the back-story of this car when I spotted it at Motorvation 33 in January, parked up under a gazebo. It looked pretty tidy with its crisp Ermine White paint, red Premier interior and nicely detailed Holden V8 under the bonnet, but then I started to read the little information board that was placed next to the car and realised how important it was to share Vic’s story.
It started like this: “On 15 August 2018, I was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given a six-month prognosis. My only wish was to build my final car and bring it to Motorvation.”
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Ordinarily, when writing a feature story, I’d ring the owner and have a good old chinwag about what went into building the car, but that wasn’t an option with Vic. The disease has progressed so rapidly that he’s already lost the ability to speak, so with a combination of written notes from Vic and some conversations with his partner Julie-Ann, I’ll do my best to fill you in on the details.
Vic bought the car on 10 March 2018 as a disassembled, uncompleted project. It had all the bits and pieces stuffed into it – or so he was told – but as is often the case, there were quite a few parts that had to be found to complete the car.
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While the wagon is actually an HT, Vic preferred the look of the HK grille and tail-lights
Vic sold a really tidy 1970 Plymouth ’Cuda to fund the project, and as soon as he saw the wagon he knew how he wanted it to look: White with a red Premier interior. The previous owner thought that combination sounded terrible, but as you can see from the photos, it works a treat.
The build started on 2 September 2018, leaving just four-and-a-half months until Motorvation. It was time to get cracking, and Vic knew exactly who to ask for help: his best mate, Dean Kelly.
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With all of the bodywork and paint carried out in Vic’s backyard shed, she sure turned out nice, especially considering the very short build time
“Vic and I have been friends since high school and used to go down to Scarborough beach to watch the burnouts, and built quite a few cars together over the years,” says Dean.
Dean and Vic got the body ready for primer, and then on 8 September, Jason Miles put the word out asking if anyone could help get the body started and ready for paint. “The response was overwhelming, and in two days she was ready for Dean to paint,” Vic says.
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The engine bay is neat as a pin, with the 355 Holden detailed in Rocket Red paint and everything else either black or bare aluminium
With a bit of help from Reece Regan of Real Restorations, the car was painted in Vic’s backyard shed, and as you can see from the pics, it turned out pretty nice straight off the gun. With Motorvation coming up fast, there wasn’t time to colour-sand the paint.
While you’d definitely class the wagon as a bit of a cruiser, it doesn’t hurt to have a few extra ponies under the hood – you know, for safe overtaking and getting out of sticky situations – so the mighty 308 got treated to a Scat stroker crank and forged I-beam rods to take it out to 355 cubes. Ported VN heads with a three-angle valve job help it breathe, and an Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap intake and Demon 650 carb supply the fuel. A shift-kitted Turbo 350 with a 2700rpm stall sends the torque back to a big Salisbury diff, keeping the old girl all-GM.
The trainspotters out there will probably have already picked that it’s actually an HT body fitted with an HK Premier grille and tail-lights. Why? Because Vic thinks they look better – and I tend to agree. The Premier theme is carried through to the interior, with door trims and seats from the luxury Holden installed. The Monaro steering wheel is a neat touch and ties in nicely with the Hurst shifter and trio of Auto Meter gauges mounted just ahead, reminiscent of the HK Monaro’s console-mounted tacho.
The Premier interior adds a bit of luxury, and a Monaro steering wheel gives a hint of muscle car. A trio of Auto Meter gauges and a Hurst shifter are the only deviations from OEM
Finishing the car off is a set of Weld Draglites measuring up at 15x6 and 15x8 and wrapped in 185 and 235 rubber. That might sound small by today’s standards, but it’s a bit of a throwback to Vic’s youth in the 80s when that was a pretty tough combo, especially in Perth, where the cops would be on you in a flash for having wheels over seven inches wide.
Quite a few vinyl cows gave up their lives to cover the inside, with the entire cargo area trimmed as well
Even though a lot of people chipped in to help, especially in the last three weeks, Vic did a ton of work on the car right up until he physically couldn’t do it anymore. “He put in some long days, because he knew he was going to get sick and wouldn’t be able to later on,” Dean says. “He even trimmed the back section of the car and did a really nice job.”
While there were dozens of people that helped out during the build, there were two people that went above and beyond that Vic and Julie-Ann would especially like to thank: “Simon Duncan – without your moral support and assistance, we would not have been able to make it. Whenever I felt like giving up, you would always call, text or even drop by to give me moral support to keep going. Dean Kelly – we have built many cars over our decades of friendship but this one is the most precious of all. When the chips were down you stepped up and made a dying man’s wish come true, and that, my friend, is the true meaning of mateship. I could not have done this without you.”
Vic (on the right) with his best mate Dean Kelly, who helped build the HT. They’ve been building cars together since they were teenagers. You wouldn’t know it from this photo, but Vic’s health is rapidly declining due to motor neurone disease; he has lost the ability to speak and struggles to walk, all in the matter of a few months
What is motor neurone disease (MND)? In a nutshell, it’s a debilitating degenerative disease with no cure, yet. The average life expectancy after diagnosis is 27 months – the doctors gave Vic six months. From the MND Association of WA website: “MND is a progressive neurological condition that attacks the motor neurones (nerves). It is the name given to a group of diseases in which the nerve cells (neurones) controlling the muscles that enable us to move, speak, swallow and breathe undergo degeneration and die.”
Every day in Australia, two people are diagnosed and two people die from MND, and MNDA WA is doing its best to help people like Vic through this very difficult time in their lives. If you think you can help, head to mndawa.asn.au and click on the ‘Donate’ link.
HT HOLDEN PREMIER WAGON
Colour: Ermine White
Intake: Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap
Carb: 650cfm Demon
Heads: Ported VN
Camshaft: Camtech custom-grind
Conrods: Scat I-beam
Pistons: Precision hypereutectic
Oil pump: Melling
Fuel pump: Carter electric
Cooling: Aluminium radiator with Mondeo fans
Exhaust: Twin 2.5in
Gearbox: Turbo 350, Stage 2 shift kit
Diff: Big Salisbury, billet axles, 3.08:1 LSD
Converter: 2700rpm stall
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Springs: Lowered (f), reset leaves (r)
Shocks: Monroe gas
Brakes: HQ disc (f), HQ drums (r)
WHEELS & TYRES
Wheels: Weld Draglite; 15x6 (f), 15x8 (r)
Tyres: Kumho 185/65/15 (f), Nankang 235/60/15 (r)