WhichCar
Powered by
  • WheelsWheels
  • MOTORMOTOR
  • 4X4 Australia4X4 Australia
  • Street MachineStreet Machine
  • Trade Unique CarsTrade Unique Cars

Turbo LS1-powered Holden VH Commodore SS Group 2

By Boris Viskovic, 20 Jan 2021 Features

Turbocharged LS1-powered Holden VH Commodore SS Group 2

Andrew Canicais knew precisely how to fix the blown-up 355 in his VH SS – with a turbocharged LS1, of course!

ANDREW Canicais is a pretty young bloke, still in his late 20s, but has had a pretty impressive list of cars already, including a couple of VN SS Commodores, a VZ Maloo and a VY GTS dubbed PRO GTS that was airbagged and ran 10-second quarters. But he was keen to get into something with a steel bumper, which is where this VH SS Commodore comes in.

This article was first published in Street Machine's 2020 Yearbook. Photos: Jordan Leist

Holden VH Commodore

“It’s pretty much how I bought it, but it had a 355 Holden stroker that was completely rooted – the cam was snapped in three, the block was split and all sorts of shit,” Andrew says. “I’ve always had LS engines, so I’ve gathered stuff here and there and just wanted to get it running, because I’d sold my daily driver to get it. So I just slapped together a carbied LS and dailied it for six or seven months.

“I had another VH I was doing that was tubbed, and I was going to do a single-turbo set-up for it, but I ended up selling it to a mate and kept the turbo manifolds and all that. I thought: ‘Stuff it,’ and I pulled the motor out of the SS, shaved the bay and put the turbo kit on, and it escalated from there.”

Read next: Holden 355 stroker-powered 1983 VH Commodore SS Group III

Holden VH Commodore side

The stance on the car is spot-on, with the 15x8 Welds and 235 ET Streets tucked in nicely at the rear while the front sits on 17in wheels

Andrew admits he wasn’t planning on going with the full Shaun’s Custom Alloy intake; it was just supposed to be a quick update to get it up and running with a blow-through carby set-up, but things just kept going. “I wanted something a little bit more reliable and all under the bonnet, because when I had a filter hanging out the bonnet, I just kept getting death stares everywhere I went,” he says.

Jeff Johnson at Streetbuilt hooked Andrew up with the intake and Holley EFI set-up, and he reckons he’ll never look back. Shaun’s Custom Alloy also provided the rocker covers and 80L fuel cell, while Plazmaman got the nod for the 102mm throttlebody and intercooler.

Holden VH Commodore front

Andrew didn’t skimp on the boost hardware either, choosing KillaBoost turbo manifolds, a 76mm BorgWarner turbo and 60mm Turbosmart external gate that exits just ahead of the front tyre. The four-inch exhaust system dumps in front of the diff, which you’d think would make for a pretty noisy ride, but apparently not. “Funnily enough, it doesn’t sound like a turbo LS car,” Andrew reckons. “You wouldn’t even know it’s got a turbo; you wouldn’t even know it’s an LS, to be honest. It’s got a real deep note and doesn’t sound like a cray boat!”

Read next: 1200rwhp turbo LS-powered VH SS Commodore 

Holden VH Commodore rear

The car looks as tough from the rear as anywhere, and while the parachute hasn’t been tested yet, the 700hp at the tyres should result in 9sec passes

Andrew and his mate Ryan spent about a week and a half smoothing the engine bay. “We got rid of everything on the firewall except for the master cylinder,” Andrew says. “I bought a polished master cylinder, and it looked good with all the other polished stuff, but it didn’t stand out enough in my opinion. So Ryan jumped on the computer and Photoshopped a few different ideas – like white base with a black lid; black base with a white lid – but I liked the all-white option.”

Read next: LS3-powered 1983 VH Commodore SL/E - ST1NKY

Holden VH Commodore boot

All the pipework was handled by Paul at Grgich Performance using stainless steel that was then ground back smooth and polished to perfection. Paul also did the brake, fuel and transmission lines, and wired the Holley ECU along with the rest of the car.

The next item on the list was a new set of Welds – skinny 17s on the front and 15x8s on the rear with lots of dish. That, of course, meant that the diff needed to be narrowed to suit the backspacing.

Holden VH Commodore wheel

With the driveline now complete, it was time to send it to Streetbuilt to be tuned on the hub dyno. “I told Jeff: ‘I don’t want to push this thing. If it makes 550hp, I’m happy with that; I’m stoked. I just want it for the looks and a little bit of go.’ He goes: ‘Nup, I’ll get more than that.’ At 14psi, it made 705hp and shattered the diff into a million pieces!”

That resulted in another call to John Ricca from Race Parts Melbourne – who supplied all the parts for the car – to get a Strange centre for the nine-inch.

Holden VH Commodore engine bay

The donk is a stock LS1 that came out of a VY Calais with 250,000km on it. It’s got decent head bolts, cam and LS7 lifters in it, but the big improvement is the 76mm BorgWarner turbo

Although future plans for the car have been put on hold while he builds his new home, Andrew has a dream: “I’ve always wanted an eight-second street car [Geez, remember when an 11-second car was an animal?], but at the moment it torches tyres at 100km/h and scares the shit out me, so it’s still a fun car. If it hooks up, Jeff reckons it should go mid-nines.”

Holden VH Commodore interior

Andrew had the Kirkey race seats retrimmed in the factory SS material by Instyle Custom Trim in Melbourne. The Holley dash, B&M Stealth Pro Ratchet shifter and rollcage let you know this is no stock SS

Andrew did manage to get the car down the track just after we spoke, his only full pass resulted in a 10.0, so the potential is there. You gotta admit, that’s a pretty good result: a car you can jump in and cruise any day of the week with the potential to run deep into the nines.

ANDREW CANICAIS
HOLDEN VH COMMODORE SS GROUP 2

Paint: Alabaster White

DONK
Type: LS1
Inlet: Shaun’s Custom Alloy
Induction: Plazmaman 102mm throttlebody, 1250cc injectors
Turbo: BorgWarner 76mm
Heads: Standard 241
Valves: Standard
Cam: Custom-grind
Pistons: Standard
Crank: Standard
Conrods: Standard
Fuel pump: Twin Walbro 460
Radiator: Brown’s radiator, Spal 3000cfm fan
Exhaust: KillaBoost manifolds, single 4in, MagnaFlow mufflers, Turbosmart 60mm external gate
Ignition: LS1 coils, MSD leads

SHIFT
Trans: Hughes T400, transbrake, reverse-pattern
Converter: TCE 3200rpm stall
Diff: Strange 9in, 31-spline Moser axles

BENEATH
Front: Koni adjustable coil-overs
Rear: King Springs SSSL
Steering: VL manual rack
Brakes: 340mm (f), 280mm (r)

ROLLING STOCK
Rims: Weld AlumaStar 17in (f), Weld RT Series single-beadlock 15in
Rubber: Mickey Thompson Sportsman 26x6x17 (f), Mickey Thompson ET Street 235/60/15 (r)

THANKS
My best mate Ryan for all the help; my partner Steph for letting me spend the money and time on it; my brother Daniel for letting me store the car and use the hoist; my parents for always letting me take up room in their garage; the boys at Grgich Performance for the attention to detail; Jeff Johnson at Streetbuilt for the perfect tune; John Ricca at Race Parts Melbourne for the quickest parts in Oz; Rob Salvador at House of Power for building a tough little LS1; Phil Purser for all the help and knowledge; Richard at Instyle Custom Trim; and Tim Hill for smoothing and polishing the pipework