NOTHING polarises Aussies quite like the great Ford versus Holden debate, and nine times out of 10, once you’ve figured out which side you’re on, you’re there for life. But there are exceptions to every rule, and Shane Webb is one of the select few who have crossed the great divide. After a lifetime of flying the blue flag, he has sold his soul to the General.
This story on Shane Webb’s 350 Chev-powered HQ Belmont was originally published in the June 2013 issue of Street Machine magazine. This car is set to be auctioned off this Saturday by Lloyds Auctioneers and Valuers on the Gold Coast.
“Until I built the HQ I’d always been a Ford man,” said Shane, owner of Image Trimming. “But 90 percent of my work was Holden and Chev stuff and I’d kind of always had a soft spot for HQs, so I guess in the end it was a case of if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!”
At the time the HQ came to Shane’s attention, he had a clean XR6 Falcon that was serving double duty as a show car and daily driver. He was beginning to tire of the impracticality of that arrangement when a customer mentioned an HQ Belmont he was hoping to find a new home for. Shane took it off his hands, and while Plan A called for a quick tidy up so he could resell it for a profit, the ensuing ground-up rebuild took place at Shane’s shop, and took four years to complete.
The first step in the process was to strip the car down to its undies, and have some basic rust repairs done before it was shipped off to USA1 on the Gold Coast for a few body mods. The factory slots in the HQ bar were filled, with scallops added for Mustang-style driving lights, while the subtle spoiler lip was added under the front. Together with the Plymouth Cuda bonnet scoop, it all makes for a striking facade.
The engine bay sheetmetal also got a seeing-to, with the heater box excised, the firewall cleaned up and all unneeded bumps and holes banished. HQ Monaro front guard louvres were fitted and the body was ironed out and prepped for colour, applied by Big Rigs Paint and Panel.
“Originally I was going to paint the car candy red and trim it in tan, but I struggled to find the exact shade of tan leather I was after and I had trouble finding a painter who was keen to do the candy paint,” said Shane. “Then I saw a silver HK Monaro with a red interior, and that’s what sold the colour combo for me.”
The car was intended to act as a promotional tool for his business, so he pulled out all the stops. “I wanted to make it a total late-model retrofit, which fits with the theme of the car of being old school but with mod cons,” he said. “I fitted up a modified VS Commodore dashboard, but one day I decided it didn’t look right, so I ripped it out. I’d already ’glassed it in too!” In its place went a VT item, modified for the Quey. The front seats were also lifted from a VT, and then converted by Shane to be electrically adjustable. The rear bench is from a WH Statesman, moulded into the custom parcel shelf which has an integrated third brake light.
For the trick-looking custom door cards, Shane started with flat panels, adding the handle inserts from a VT and shaping them from there. Leather is used throughout, with the backs of the seats, headlining and seat bolt covers trimmed in suede.
Shane wanted black-faced gauges with chrome bezels, and eventually found them on eBay. They’re digital, and boast some great functions like a trip computer and speed and rev limiters. There’s also a solid audio system comprising a Clarion 6½in touch-screen DVD, 6½in Vibe splits in all four doors powered by a Vibe four-channel amp, and a pair of 12in subs in a custom boot enclosure, powered by a Vibe monobloc amplifier.
The running gear befits the car’s purpose as a cruiser and show car. It’s a mild, smooth-running 350ci Chev crate engine with a Turbo 350 and Salisbury diff, and Shane tells us it gets along well. “A customer brought a ’57 Chev over from America that had a fresh 350ci crate engine in it,” he said. “He swapped that for a blown big-block, and he needed some trim work done, so we did a deal on the 350. It worked out really well.”
After four years of hard slog the car’s finally finished. It’s only been on the road a few months, but Shane’s cruised it and displayed it at a couple of shows, scoring some tinware for his efforts. “First up I took it to the GM Roundup in September and I got a runner-up Best 70-79 Model trophy, and then a couple of weeks later I scored Best Interior at the Calypso Bay show. It was great to win a trim trophy because that’s what I do, and I built the car to show that off and promote the business, so it was really rewarding.”