WE TRULY live in a golden age of horsepower. Today, guys like Mark Andriske can take a ratty HK Kingswood wagon, stuff a 650rwhp small-block into it, and run a mid-nine in the same set-up and tune that he’ll later use to take his kids out for ice cream.
This article was first published in Street Machine's LSX Tuner magazine #09, 2019
Mark had to fine-tune his suspension after some unintentional skids. “I went 10.5 having just bolted the suspension in and running stock settings. I then blew the tyres off, so Gazzard Brothers reached out to help me get it out of the hole. I had to drop and soften the front end up, and stiffen the rear, but we then added 100hp on E85 and it went 1.4 on the 60ft!”
“It’s been a dream in my head to get a nine-second slip since I was a kid,” Mark says. “Before I bought the wagon I’d just sold my LS-powered Chev pick-up, as I’d had a family while I was building it, meaning there was four of us and I had a three-seat cruiser.”
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Mark fixed this by purchasing a ’68 HK Holden Kingswood off a bloke who sounds like an absolute champion.
“I bought it from an hour up the road in Wollongong from a guy who used it as a family cruiser while he rebuilt his Monaro,” Mark explains. “Because it was on club rego, he drove it down to my place and took the plates off so I didn’t have to worry about a permit or a trailer; he was a great guy!”
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“If you step on it, it is an animal,” Mark laughs. “The car is great and exactly what I was after. With two young girls with bikes and the like, and my hate of washing and polishing cars, this whole patina style is really suited to me”
A potential major hurdle in the project was avoided by Mark buying a fairly straight and rot-free car and ignoring any urge to redo the bodywork.
“I haven’t touched the paint or body, as this build’s motto was: ‘If it doesn’t make it faster or safer, it isn’t happening’,” he says. “As it was, the HK had a little rust in the spare wheel well, but it was otherwise a great, solid base. I was dreading pulling the carpet up, but I was pleasantly surprised.”
After initially researching LS1s and LS3s, Mark realised that new supercharged 6.2-litre LSA crate donks were only a handful of clams more expensive. The project turned a corner, however, when he saw a post by Troy Worsley from Warspeed Industries and gave the noted LS engine specialist a buzz.
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While the Steelies Wheel Co 17s are perfect for the street, Mark also has 17x4.5in Weld Full Throttle and 15x8in Weld V Series hoops for the track, wrapped in 26x6 radial M/Ts up front with 255/60 M/T Street SS on the rear
“Troy suggested that if I wanted to add some boost I should put some head studs and valve springs in the LSA, plus check the clearances,” Mark says. “And if I wanted to get the most out of that boost increase then I should put a cam it. While it was apart he also fitted CNC-machined ported heads, new oil pump, did the blower porting, fitted Xspurt 1000cc injectors and more. Troy actually sourced the motor, plus the Haltech Elite 2500 ECU, wiring loom and Racepak dash.”
“It drives really nicely thanks to Adam from MPW,” says Mark. “He set up the stock LSA electronic throttle so 50 per cent on the pedal only moves the throttlebody 25 per cent, but if you stand on it you get the full whack”
The Warspeed Industries bossman wound up fitting 28 per cent overdrive pulleys, Warspeed CNC-ported heads, a Warspeed blower-grind cam, PAC dual valve springs, and new rings and bearings set up to Troy’s specific clearances to remove a common failure point with crate LSAs. A Champ Pans sump and VF Commodore headers clear the aftermarket Rod-Tech independent front end, while Mark cut the original fuel tank to fit an Aeromotive Dual Phantom in-tank pump set-up to feed either 98RON premium unleaded or E85 to the thirsty 6.2-litre.
On corn juice, the 1900-blown 6.2-litre made 650rwhp on the MPW Performance dyno, passing through a transbraked 1800hp-rated Reid-case Powerglide from DTM, a 4000rpm TCE converter, and a Geelong Diffs-built narrowed nine-inch kitted out with 35-spline axles and Truetrac centre. But it took Mark a little while to find the right guys to tune the car.
“It’s a huge deal getting the right people involved,” states Mark. “I was having trouble with the torque converter and Todd Foley reached out via social media. He got his brother Luke to have a look, and then Adam Rogash from MPW Performance called me and told me to bring it in so he could make it work.
“The first time we went down we showed up at 2pm on a Thursday afternoon. He figured out my torque converter wasn’t right for the set-up, then he and Luke found another one in the shop, changed it for me, then tuned it that night, finishing at 10pm!”
The re-trimmed interior was Mark’s way of ensuring his family would happily get in the crusty HK. Impressively, he did the job himself! “I ordered the reproduction seat covers from Winners and thought I’ll just have a crack, so I rebuilt the foam and broken springs, then got to fitting the covers on and, for a cruiser, I think they have come up okay. I’m just a guy in his shed having a crack”
While the body remained untouched, Mark wasn’t going to leave the half-century-old suspension in place with all that power.
“I drove it around the block as a stocker with the 186, and my mate and I realised it was a silly idea to put 800hp in that,” laughs Mark. “My ’53 Chev pick-up had a Jag front end and it drove really nicely, and while I wanted the HK to look like crap, I wanted it to drive like a new car. I did have to fit big brakes and the chassis kit for engineering, but my engineer got it passed without too much hassle.”
On top of the steering rack-equipped Rod-Tech front end that made the LS easier to fit, Mark fitted CalTrac bars and mono-leaf springs out back, and solid bushes. Braking is handled by a VY master and booster, with twin-pot BF Falcon XR8 calipers and 300mm discs up front and HQ drums in the rear.
Once it was signed off by the engineer, Mark took the longroof down to Heathcote for the Holden Nationals, where he wound up stopping the clocks with a ripping 9.67@140mph.
“As soon as it went 9.6 I put it on the trailer and took it home,” Mark says. “I got my nine-second slip in 13 passes, and four of them were aborted runs. I don’t want to ’cage it, so I’ll just use it to cruise with the family now.”
The ability of LS engines to make big power but still be reliable, with lower-maintenance roller cams and good cooling, is one reason Mark chose to tread this path. After all, the car had to be friendly enough for him to take his family out and share the passion.
“Driving the car is simple; it doesn’t get hot and isn’t too wild to cruise thanks to having plenty down low and a 4000rpm converter,” he says. “There’s nothing exotic in my car, plus it’s easy to get parts for. I can get just about anything from my local Holden dealer.”
A 9.6-second classic car that is easy to service and can keep the family happy? Sounds like perfection to us!
1968 HOLDEN HK STATION WAGON
GM Ermine White
Brand: GM Gen IV 6.2-litre LSA
Induction: Eaton TVS1900 supercharger, ported
ECU: Haltech Elite 2500
Heads: CNC-ported LSA
Camshaft: Warspeed blower-spec
Oil system: Melling oil pump, Champ Pans sump
Fuel system: 1000c injectors, Aeromotive Dual Phantom pumps
Cooling: Alloy radiator, BA Falcon thermo fans
Exhaust: Modified VF Holden
Gearbox: Two-speed Powerglide, Reid case, transbrake
Converter: TCE 4000
Diff: 9in, 35-spline axles, Truetrac centre
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: Rod-Tech IFS with Rod-Tech coil-overs
Rear: CalTrac bars, mono-leaf springs
Brakes: BF XR8 discs and calipers, HQ stud pattern (f), HQ drums (r)
Master cylinder: VY Commodore master and booster
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Steelies Wheel Co; 17x7 (f), 17x8 (r)
Rubber: Kumho; 205/55 (f), 245/50 (r)
The wife and my girls; Troy at Warspeed – he is so easy to deal with and understands your needs and wants; my dad – always around to lend a hand when I needed an extra one; Adam Rogash and Luke Foley from MPW Performance for the tune and converter change-over, and their passion; Facebook pages like HK, HT & HG Holden Builds for answering question and giving tips