THE last time we saw Happy’s one tonner was when Telfo and Gavin Morrison headed west to pick up Gav’s Pontiac Firebird, a story we covered in SM, Aug ’13 titled ‘Flight of the firebird’. A lot has happened since then, but it’s been a pretty long road.
Happy has owned the car for almost 10 years now, buying it off a tradie when he was working and living up in Newman (Pilbara region of WA). Although it had been a working man’s car, it was no povo pack with a 173 and three-on-the-tree. A 350 had already been slotted in and backed by a Turbo 350, although it still had the stock Salisbury diff in it.
The plan was to just tidy it up as he went along, using it as his daily driver in the process. He got all the little things sorted and then lowered and tubbed the try for a tougher look, but after a year or two realised that the car really needed a birthday: “And eight years later it’s still going,” says Happy. “It got shoved aside and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with it, then a chassis popped up for sale that was already notched and that decided the direction of the build.” Those notches were pretty big, because they had no problems swallowing the 18x15 Intro Retro wheels and giant M/T Sportsman SR tyres.
The other question was whether to build it as a cruiser or go a little bit stupid, and from the photos, you guess which option Happy took. “All my mates kept telling me to build something tough, something stupid that I could drag race because I already had a couple of cars I could drive on the street.” You can’t argue with their logic, and in the end Happy agreed as well. It’ll be a tough car with enough horsepower to haze the tyres at will, but also built so that it will be able to put that horsepower down to the ground and hopefully get into the 8s.
It’s a big call, but Happy’s going to sneak up on it. His old yellow ute ran deep into the 12s, so he’ll take a few steps getting there. There’s already 850hp available and with more boost and more revs, the engine and blower are capable of making up to 1400hp. That should get the job done.
The engine is a 406ci Shafiroff, the shorter stroke is more suited to a boosted application. It’s built tough with a Dart Little M block, Brodix heads, Callies Dragonslayer crank, Oliver rods and JE pistons. The intake is an Edelbrock Super Victor with a 750cfm QFT blow-through carb.
The F-2 Procharger is only set up for 9lb of boost at the moment while they dial the engine in and it’s already made 850hp at just 5900rpm. There’s a 24lb pulley on the shelf and the capacity — and capability — to make 1400hp!
The intake charge is routed through the firewall to this water-to-air intercooler mounted behind the custom-made dash. The radiator is mounted horizontally under the tray which has been punched to allow air to flow through.
A TCI Outlaw shifter controls the gears in the Turbo 400. Not surprisingly, it’s fully-manualised, has a transbrake and the 4000rpm stall on the converter will help the engine get on the noise with no problem.
Happy set up the four-link himself using a kit from Pro9 that included a track locator (the triangular link at the top. The diff is a toug-as-nails 9-inch with 35-spline axles and 3.2 gears from Phil Purser at Final Drive.
The tailshaft is a carbon fibre unit with billet yokes from the Driveshaft Shop. Because of the longer wheelbase on the one tonners, the long tailshafts can be a weak point when you start putting serious power through them. As well as shortening the wheelbase as much as he could — and still fit those stupidly big tyres — the lightweight and super-tough connection between the gearbox and diff should do the job without any dramas.
The custom dash was designed by Happy and then fabricated with the help of the very talented Gareth Lougher. It looks like it’s all business with a bunch of Auto Meter gauges, but there will be an audio-visual system installed, complete with a pop-up TV. That cage isn’t for looks either, it’s been ANDRA certified down to 8.00.
The radiator for the intercooler is mounted behind the cab and the water is circulated using a separate electric pump, just visible in the bottom-left.
Happy’s other HQ, a wellbody ute, is undergoing a heart transplant after his old “fully worked” engine developed a bit of a knock. After pulling it down, they discovered the only thing fully worked about the engine was the price tag! A 434 n/a Shafiroff is in the works.