BUILDING a high-calibre street machine is a massive task; most builders struggle to create one showstopper in their lifetime.
But Anthony Fabris is not your typical street machiner. He has amassed an impressive anthology of significant builds (see more below), and this LS-powered, Barbados Green HQ coupe is his latest.
First published in the February 2021 issue of Street Machine. Photos: Chris Thorogood
“I wanted to build a dedicated driver this time around,” says Anthony. “I’ve always loved the lines of the HQ coupe, so I decided to build one.”
With a string of neat streeters and all-conquering showstoppers to his credit, it only took Anthony and his small group of talented craftsman three years to piece this green meanie together
About six months into the search for a suitable two-door, Gumtree answered the call – an unfinished project in undercoat that was only about half an hour away.
Experience had taught Anthony that the best strategy is to get the driveline and chassis sorted before making anything shiny and pretty. To this end, a brand new, Holden surplus-stock, 6.2-litre LS3 was procured – and promptly torn apart. The heads went to Higgins Race Heads, who gave them a nice CNC-port job before milling their faces to bump compression up to 11:1.
Anthony Dove at High Performance Services (HPS) looked after the rest of the engine build. Mr Dove learnt his craft from none other than Ian Tate, who is still building engines at 82 years of age. Major changes included a more aggressive cam and a Plazmaman intake.
“The LS conversion was very straightforward,” says Anthony. “I’d previously done an LS swap into a WB ute, so I knew everything beforehand. I even wired it myself; I wire all my cars.”
The stripes are not factory-spec vinyl stickers; they’re painted on, with no bump when you run your hand over them
The conversion uses a ’98-02 Camaro sump, which only requires the crossmember to be massaged in one small area to achieve the necessary 15mm clearance. As for the exhaust, there’s custom headers and a twin 2.5-inch system by the Scott Brothers of Geelong. “They do great work,” says Anthony. “It’s full stainless.”
Rather than opt for the six-speed auto Holden used behind the LS3, the coupe runs a beefed-up 4L60E. “The 6L80E’s pan hangs down too far,” says Anthony, “while the 4L60E fits up into the tunnel without any mods. Andrew at AW Transmissions built the ’box with the best of everything, including changing the first and second gear ratios. It’s pretty bulletproof.”
The coupe might not be a genuine GTS, but it does have genuine GTS front guards. They took a lot of hunting to find, as HQ coupe and GTS bits are becoming rarer
Given the LS3’s big cam, the Wilwood brake system was set up without a booster. This requires a bit more effort, but Anthony swears it provides better feel. The lads at VCM Suite and Northern EFI re-tuned the factory ECU to accommodate the engine enhancements and four-speed auto.
“I didn’t want any Ford parts in the car,” says Anthony. “Instead of a nine-inch diff, I carried a six-cylinder banjo housing in my luggage on a trip to the USA and gave it to John at J&S Gear Co in Huntington Beach, California. John’s an Aussie who has lived in the US since the 80s – he’s got an A9X over there. He used the banjo as a template to build a new Chevy 12-bolt.”
The LS transplant is super-clean – understandable, given Anthony had already practised the swap on a WB ute. In a nod to tradition, the enhanced LS3 was dressed in genuine ’67 Camaro tin rocker covers, which Mat Egan painted and pinstriped
The HQ chassis is notorious for tearing around the lower control arm mounts and sagging in the middle. Kent Chassis got it back into shape before building it up. Strength has been added through the crossmember area to stop the dreaded sag.
Not wanting to risk building on someone else’s foundation, Morris at Auto Revival stripped the body back to bare metal – which revealed a pleasant surprise. “The body was mint, other than one very small spot of rust,” says Anthony. “The guy had done a pretty good job.”
Morris file-finished the whole body before laying on the period-correct Barbados Green. Wards Rod & Custom repaired all the moulds, while all the glass is new repro. Unfortunately, Morris wasn’t happy with how the side glass fitted. He spent a couple days grinding them down by hand. He broke a couple of panels along the way before getting two to fit to his satisfaction.
Anthony cannot give Morris enough credit. As well as body and paint, he also had a big hand in the engine bay assembly, along with a host of other important jobs. He should be mighty proud, as this street machine has a certain presence about it.
It’s the little things, like the Bliss billet hinges and très-cool billet bonnet catch, that add class to an already tidy engine bay
While the car was originally an LS – which ran the twin headlight Premier front end – Anthony decided to go one better. “I’ve always liked the Statesman front better,” he says. “I bought a whole car with a mint nosecone. It also had a good radiator support panel, centre console, steering column and a few other bits and pieces, like the standard-bore 308 that I’ve tucked away as spare for the VC Brock.”
Not so easy to find were good grille inserts. Anthony had to buy a few sets to get one good set, which Morris painstakingly hand-painted to original specifications.
What you can see is lots of black leather and houndstooth. What you can’t see is the Vintage Air unit tucked under the dash. Its fitment consumed half the glovebox, with the remaining half now home to the fusebox
While you can buy the repro GTS dash fascia, the gauges themselves are more problematic. Richard (FB Marketplace) fully restored the old gauges and reprinted the fascias like new.
“Coupe bucket seats are hard to come by,” says Anthony. “I found a reasonable set up in Sydney that weren’t stupidly priced, so I drove up and back from Melbourne in a day to pick them up.”
George from Laverton Motor Trimmers re-covered them, along with the rear seat and door trims, in black leather. They incorporated the houndstooth inserts to reinforce the factory-inspired interior styling.
When the finished coupe initially hit the road, it suffered fuel surge issues. The cause was diagnosed as the NOS tank that had been modified to accommodate a swirl pot. Brown Davis supplied a 120-litre fabricated tank with a VE pump, which solved the problem. Anthony didn’t want to draw attention to the alloy drop tank, so it was painted black to make it blend in.
Other than that, the coupe has proved to be an awesome cruiser. Hopefully 2021 will be a better year, allowing this green meanie more time cruising the blacktop – we can only hope!
FABRIS HALL OF FAME
LOOK up ‘Been There, Done That’ on Wikipedia and you’ll find a picture of Anthony Fabris.
His tough-as-nails VL Walky (SM, Jun ’94 & Apr/May ’96) was the first ever Horsepower Hero (Summernats 9, 1995/96) and a burnout legend. He followed that with an EFI 502-powered ’55 Bel Air (SM, Aug ’01) that snagged him a Grand Champion sword (Summernats 14, 2001). His pin-sharp HK Monaro graced Street Machine’s 25th Anniversary cover (Aug ’06), while his stout C10 was featured in the December 2013 issue.
Currently keeping this Quey company in the garage is a VC Brock and a VK Group A with only 40,000 clicks on the clock.
If you’re thinking that’s a mighty impressive list – wait, there’s more! There’s also been several other vehicles in between. With each having the Fabris touch, you can bet none were average.
1972 HOLDEN HQ COUPE
Paint: Barbados Green
Brand: 6.2-litre LS3
Heads: Higgins CNC-ported
Sump: ’98-02 Camaro
Fuel Pump: VE
Cooling: Shaun’s Custom Alloy
Exhaust: Scott Brothers full stainless
Grunt: 550hp (flywheel)
Converter: Dominator 3500rpm stall
Tailshaft: Australian Balancing
Diff: Chev 12-bolt, Truetrac, 3.7:1 gears
CHASSIS & BRAKES
Suspension: Pedders springs, Koni shocks (f & r)
Brakes: Wilwood 320mm rotors, four-piston calipers (f & r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: American Legend Havoc; 17x7 (f), 18x8.5 (r)
Rubber: Falken Ziex (f), BFGoodrich G-Force (r)
Morris (Auto Revival); George (Laverton Motor Trimmers; Anthony Dove (HPS)
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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.
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