WE CHATTED with chirpy Sue Wales at this year’s Chryslers On The Murray in Wodonga, where she debuted ‘Johnny’, her tidy 1970 VG Valiant ute. Her love for the stout 383-cube, Simmons-shod ute was quickly evident, and she was full of praise for her hubby Tim for his seven years of hard yakka building it.
This article was first published in the June 2020 issue of Street Machine
What’s the story behind the VG?
Tim bought a Kawasaki Green VG rolling shell to tidy up as a work ute, but I quickly claimed it and asked him to do it up for me. He’s done restorations for everyone else, so it was my turn. But I was part of the ute build too, including choosing the colour and motor and getting my hands dirty here and there – it has all allowed me to bond with the car.
Did you have an idea of what you wanted?
I love the factory feel, so that meant that Tim had to remove the tray-floor skin to panel-beat out the years of dents from being a work ute. He then added stock-looking mini-tubs. He’s done such a good job on the tubs that people do a double-take – it looks amazing.
It’s definitely not Kawasaki Green anymore!
Now it’s PPG AU Falcon Sandstorm. The paint came up so nice, though Tim did spray it twice as he wasn’t happy with how the metallic sat the first time – he’s a perfectionist! The entire build was done in our back shed: fabricated chassis connectors, reinforced front rails, tubs, modified floorpan, all of the panel and paint, driveline assembly and the wiring. I’m so thankful for Tim’s hard work.
And Johnny has a decent donk, too.
We talked about running a 340ci, but couldn’t find one. Tim already had the 383ci Magnum big-block with 440 heads and 750 DP Holley, so we used that with a Renagate sequential-shifting Ford Top Loader. It sits sweet in the engine bay and almost looks factory.
Why the name Johnny?
I have my two boys: Johnny, and Ted, my 4WD. The names stem from Johnnie Walker scotch and TED [Tooheys Extra Dry] beer. And our VH Charger is called Betty – cars need to have names!
How was Chryslers On The Murray?
It was amazing! So many told us of their VG ute stories; it really sparked something for a lot of people. Everyone appreciated that it’s a backyard build too. After COTM, we finally took Johnny for a good drive. I had been worried that he’d be a pig with the big-block, but he drives beautifully. And it’s awesome to smash through the gears with the sequential shifter!
Once Johnny is run in and has done a few shows, we’ll go drag racing. We did Mopar Mayhem last year in our VH Valiant Charger, and I had a ball. Who says you can’t rev a standard 265ci to 5500rpm? So now I want to have a go in the ute. I s’pose I need to let Tim race, but if he breaks it then he’s in trouble! I can’t wait to see what times Johnny will do.
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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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