Lloyd McLeod's slick L98 Holden VK Calais shows what you can achieve with a little help from your friends
This article on Lloyd's VK Calais was originally published in the 2015 issue of Street Machine LSX Tuner magazine
LLOYD McLeod’s first car was this VK Calais when he was 17 years old. “I was actually late to my own 21st birthday party because I was doing an injected 5.0-litre swap,” the 25-year-old Melbournian says. He wouldn’t be late these days, though, as the Iron Lion has been replaced by a 348kW six-litre L98.
When Lloyd bought the VK it was just a six-cylinder and was his daily
It’s housed in a super-slick smoothed engine bay, matched by the glassy jet-black paint on the ’85-vintage shell. The show-worthy finish is astounding for two reasons: Firstly, the VK was built in a mere six weeks of after-hours work and, secondly, JAILB8 is a skid car.
“The car was built in an extreme time crunch between the Tread Cemetery and Easter Car Mania events,” Lloyd explains.
“When I was 20 I put the injected 5.0L in it, which I built myself. It had a mild cam, big comp, a T5 manual and I cruised around in it. When I was 23 I pulled it off the road, put a big high-rise in it and started doing events” Lloyd says
“It got a test skid at 12:55am on the day of ECM, and it was on the trailer at 1am.
"During the week leading up to ECM I was working my day job, working to 1am on the car, plus all through weekends, and then getting up at 4am to go back to my day job.”
Lloyd credits his mates with giving him the push to take his beloved VK and turn it into a serious burnout machine that’ll rack up plenty of road miles around Australia soon enough.
Lloyd reckons it was all smooth sailing during the build, apart from a small issue. “The first time I did a skid the battery terminal came off, but other than that it was all pretty smooth
“Shane ‘GHETTO’ D’Amato is a good mate and he pushed me to get the air cleaner out from under the bonnet and to come to events. I did and it just took off from there; I have a ball at skid comps!
“The VK was a five-litre for a long time and I’d been building LS motors for customers for a while. I had done a couple of combos for other people and been experimenting with L98s, but I’d always put my car on the back-burner.
A custom radiator is assisted by AU Ford thermo fans, while Pacemaker extractors join a custom three-inch exhaust down to Hooker mufflers. Lloyd hid the coil packs under the dash, using custom MSD leads to send spark into the L98
“Then the right time came up, after Tread Cemetery, and then it was all hands on deck. We had Tread Cemetery on the Saturday and the car was a bare shell on the Sunday. Everyone came on board and helped out massively. I’d just started working for Adam Rogash at MPW and he let me use the engine room at work.”
Just before we to print, Lloyd and Shane took GHETTO and JAILB8 up to Heathcote to see what they’d do. “Today was awesome!” Lloyd enthuses. “We got a best of 10.6@134mph in JAILB8, then turned around, put skid rims on it, and blew the tyres off them!”
That room was put to good use building up a tough Gen IV to Lloyd’s precise specs. Despite his relatively tender age, he’d amassed enough smarts to screw together a solid skid combo that makes good, reliable power, and it all started with a stock L98 bottom-end.
Clevite bearings and Hastings rings were added and specially set-up, before fly-cuts were made in the pistons to allow for a special MPW-grind cam that Lloyd and Adam worked out.
“I designed the cam with my boss,” Lloyd says. “I said I wanted to try something different and make some room in the motor, and he backed me when others doubted us. This one is a bit left-field, but it makes these big manifolds work.”
JAILB8 consumes E85, supplied from a boot-mounted fuel cell to a surge tank via a Holley lift pump, then through to the engine with a Bosch 044 push-pump. The corn syrup is downed by Holley injectors set up in the tunnel ram
Up top, Lloyd tickled the heads to get the compression up to 11.5:1, while Lunati tie-bar lifters, KAP pushrods and PAC double valve springs got the nod for their longevity. The blacked-out mill is topped off with a Holley tunnel ram that’s equipped with E85-sucking injectors and twin Aeroflow 1000cfm throttlebody set-ups.
“I like to make use of what I’ve got,” Lloyd says. “I believe that The General gives you everything you need to use in the motor, but you just need to know how to modify them. The stock rotating assembly is fine; it’s all in the bearing clearances, the ring gap and making the cam work with the intake manifold.
“You can’t turn these engines over 7000rpm otherwise the rods turn to cheese. You need to dig holes in the pistons and you need to make room, and you can make great power under 7000rpm.”
Behind the grumpy ‘six-point-oh’ is a 5800rpm Dominator torque converter and a manualised Turbo 400 auto, with a shortened BorgWarner BTR78 diff down the back. The Borgie has been filled with 31-spline axles and a full spool to ensure that two turn and two burn.
While most of the attention around burnout cars goes to the motor, Lloyd ensured the rest of the package retains a tough street flavour. Tony Leist poured big hours into smoothing the entire shell, including that slicked out engine bay, before he laid down the PPG Jet Black that’s no doubt going to cop a flogging once the belts start hitting it.
Lloyd takes a pragmatic approach to the impending destruction. “The car, for us, isn’t a possession or worth heaps. It’s our lifestyle and a chance to get everyone together. If we’re not putting someone’s car together we’re away at events together.”
He also loves the communal spirit in the burnout scene. “As far as the camaraderie goes, it’s second-to-none. If someone has a breakage you just grab a spanner and get in to fix it. We’re on the phone to all the guys like Lynchy and Brasher and we share all the information between each other.
“We’ve got a good calendar coming up, from Tropical Meltdown in Cairns, to AspoNats, Tread Cemetery, PCM and the usual Victorian events leading up to Summernats. I love doing the interstate events and talking to people; the more interstate, the more cool people I meet.”
Hopefully he doesn’t run late for any more parties in the future!
HOLDEN VK CALAIS
Type: GM L98 Gen IV
Capacity: 364ci (6.0L)
Intake: Holley tunnel ram
Throttles: Twin 1000cfm Aeroflow
Cam: Custom MPW
Comp ratio: 11.5:1
ECU: Flash-tuned GM PCM
Box: Turbo 400
Diff: BorgWarner, 31-spline axles, spool centre
Convertor: Dominator 5800rpm
Brakes: VT Commodore (f)
Rims: HSV VX GTS; 19x8 (f), 19x8 (r)
Rubber: 245/30 (f), 245/30 (r)