IT IS said that some cars find their owners, and it’s certainly true of this super-neat, super-tough VN SS, as owner George Josevski explains.
This article was first published in the April 2020 issue of Street Machine
The rear of COMPSS is a tub-free zone. Those 255/60R15 M/Ts on beadlocks have helped the VN down the quarter in 10.1@135mph, which is still short of the car’s full potential
“I’ve got a very tidy SV5000,” he begins. “It sits nice – really low with a tough engine and lots of detailing. I had it at a big car gathering, enjoying the atmosphere, and a bloke came up to me: ‘I want to buy your car.’ I told him: ‘Sorry mate, not for sale.’ After he persisted for a bit I tried to shut him down: ‘I have a number of other Commodores and I never sell them.’ He came back at me with: ‘You should buy my mate’s VN SS then – it’s the best one around.’
“A few minutes later, I’m heading across the road to check out this VN. True to old mate’s word, it was immaculate.”
Factory colour, factory trim, factory side stripes. In fact, other than the Weld AlumaStar wheels and Alfa Fibreglass bonnet, this VN SS is showroom fresh
George figured that a VN SS would be a nice addition to the collection, so a price was settled upon and the deal was done. It had a 355 stroker by Adicted Performance, a built TH400 and big exhaust.
Initially, George was happy cruising it around as it was. However, it wasn’t long before he yearned to make a few changes. For starters, it kept junking axles, so a nine-inch was in order. That was enough to kick-start a major revamp. “It went from a diff swap into a whole new car!” George says.
Already the owner of a number of boosted race and road cars, George wanted to keep the VN aspirated and Holden-based – old school!
The Holden V8 has been stretched to 383 cubes by Dandy Engines, topped with custom-ported Higgins VN-style heads and the potentially controversial addition of a Ford Cleveland manifold. It’s all good for a stout 733hp
“Frank from Dandy Engines is doing the engine program for my Torana race car; it’s a pretty extensive build,” says George. “I know what they’re capable of and they are great to deal with – such gentlemen. Frank nutted out the whole combo, and even told me what converter and diff gears to run.
“I was looking for maybe 680hp, which I thought was pretty stout for a street engine on 98. But Frank knows what I’m like, and said: ‘If we don’t make over 700, I’m not building an engine for you.’”
After punching the bores out to 4.030, Dandy dropped in a 3.750 COME Racing crank to stretch the capacity out to 383 cubes. Next up, many hours were invested in custom-porting a set of Higgins Racing VN-style alloy heads, topped with – wait for it – a Ford Cleveland intake manifold! Yep, you read right.
Frank explains: “Shaun Lynch Racing took an off-the-shelf Higgins Clevo manifold, cut it in half, welded and redrilled the flanges to match up with the intake ports, then welded the two halves back together.”
The result of all the engine sorcery makes for 8600rpm capability and a very respectable 733hp.
About the only thing retained under here from the original build is the exhaust. Even that’s soon to go; it’s being changed to a twin 3in set-up all the way to the rear
With that much power on tap, one might have thought mini-tubs would have been in order. Nope, a pair of 255 M/T ET Street S/S tyres under stock guards gets the job done. “Unless you’re chasing sixes, there’s really no need for tubs,” says George. “My VL has run deep into the sevens on a 255 tyre, with plans to go even quicker.”
Well-known Melbourne duo Rob and Kris Velkovski did all the wrench work on COMPSS. While waiting for the new engine, they got busy adding the custom two-piece tailshaft, tubular lower control arms, high-tech AFCO shocks, John Lang-built Pro9 diff and big rear sway-bar. They also converted the car to a manual rack, dialled in the suspension and got the shell ready for D&D Smash Repairs.
“Overall, the paint was pretty good,” says George. “D&D fixed up the bars and a few other bits, and painted the boot and engine bay.”
Rob and Kris followed up with gloss black on the underside, before bolting the whole shebang back together.
You’d expect a rollcage, race harnesses and a parachute in a car capable of running sub-10s, but they’re nowhere to be found here. “It’s a street car,” George says matter-of-factly
With the car back on the road, it wasn’t long before the new engine found the limits of the existing gearbox. Heavy Duty Automatics rebuilt it with added robustness, along with an SDE 6000rpm stall converter and full-manual valvebody.
“It’s a high-rpm motor,” says George. “With 4.5 diff gears and a 6000rpm stall, when you drive the thing, you’re just riding the converter. It’s an absolute animal on the street.”
The interior required only minor attention – the driver’s seat was showing its age. As luck would have it, George spotted a NOS seat covering online. “It was an unbelievable find,” he says. “Still in the Holden packaging!”
From there, Rob and Kris nicely integrated the B&M shifter and Racepak dash.
At its first outing at the 2019 Holden Nationals, it pulled a 10.1@135mph with pump 98 in the tank. George is confident that if they wanted to chase it, it’s got a 9.90 at about 137mph in it. “I’m not really going to race it,” he says. “Maybe just at the next Holden Nationals.”
Surprisingly, George calls his ultra-neat yet tough-as-nails SS “conservative”. “I’ve got plenty of race cars if I want to go fast. I just wanted this to be a good, tough, old-school streeter that I could cruise.”
1989 HOLDEN VN SS COMMODORE
Paint: Atlas Grey
Brand: Holden 383
Heads: Higgins VN-style alloy
Intake: Higgins Ford Cleveland
Camshaft: Dandy solid-roller
Crank: COME Racing
Ignition: MSD billet distributor and crank trigger
Oil pump: Melling
Fuel system: Twin Bosch O44
Exhaust: Di Filippo headers, twin 3in, single-tip
Preferred fuel: 98 PULP
Gearbox: TH400 full-manual
Converter: SDE 6000rpm stall
Diff: Pro9 35-spline, 4.5:1 gears, Truetrac
CHASSIS & BRAKES
Springs: Pedders (f & r)
Shocks: Pedders 90/10 (f), AFCO (r)
Brakes: Wilwood calipers
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Weld AlumaStar (f & r)
Rubber: M/T Sportsman S/R (f), M/T ET Street (r)
Rob and Kris Velkovski;
Dandy Engines; D&D
Smash Repairs; SDE Converters; Heavy Duty Automatics
How are you finding our new site design? Tell us in the comments below or send us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Holden 355-powered 1970 HG ute streeter
A decade after selling his HG ute, Scott McPherson got a rare second chance with it. The result is a killer plastic-powered streeter
80-year-old burnout competitor Lorraine 'Nan' Tuckett
At 80 years young, it’s fair to say Lorraine ‘Nan’ Tuckett is a bit of a latecomer to the burnout scene
The Best Car Podcasts
Here's our favourite automotive podcasts, good for COVID-19 isolation and post-lockdown road trips!