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Top 20 hero street machines - flashback

By Craig Parker, 07 Jun 2017 Features

holden hq terminator 1896

Some cars just stick in the mind; here's a selection of some of the best ground-breaking streeters that featured throughout the first 25 years of Street Machine

As part of our 25th Anniversary celebrations, we indulged our readers with a trip down memory lane to revisit a small selection of some of the most bad-arsed, ball-busting, tyre-frying streeters that ever graced the pages of SM

This article on our top 20 hero cars was originally published in the August 2006 issue of Street Machine

SINCE its inception, Street Machine has held an enviable position as Australia’s premier modified car mag. As such we’ve had the privilege of featuring the cream of Aussie and overseas street machines. Of all the genres, it’s the in-your-face wow-factor cars that garner the most interest. They’ve always got the biggest crowds around them at shows and they have that sought-after effect of leaving dropped jaws in their wake as they rumble on by.

Subtle they ain’t; for these cars’ crafters, over-the-top is a starting point rather than an end goal. When these guys decide to hit the loud pedal and cut loose, it’s a case of move it or lose it.

Some cars just stick in the mind; here's a selection of some of the best ground-breaking streeters that featured throughout the first 25 years of Street Machine.

1948 FX Holden


1948 FX Holden
October/November 1993

Ken Nielson is no stranger to Street Machine. While his name is on the rego papers of this sweet but striking FX he’s also the brains and brawn behind Gary Beardsley’s amazing Retro Tech FX (December 1999). Many wow-factor cars turn out a bit average when it comes to build quality but Ken’s Weber-equipped, small block-powered knock-out is class the whole way. Underneath you’ll find a custom strut front end, rack and pinion steering and big brakes. Best of all, it’s a genuine driver that’s racked up plenty of highway miles.

Ford Roadster

1934 Ford Roadster
December 2001

Chris Palazzo’s sinister black ’34 Roadster is arguably the toughest hot rod ever built on Aussie turf. Every square inch of this car is drool-worthy and it incorporates the absolute best of everything. How about a 1000hp full-house blown and injected 392 Hemi, lewd zoomies, drop-dead gorgeous body, mile-deep black paint, killer rake, Halibrand spindle-mounted front wheels, cow-hide interior and — the Holy Grail of hot rodding — a genuine Halibrand quick-change rear end?

Holden LX Torana

1976 Holden LX Torana
June 1986

When Ron Beauchamp rolled his LX Torana into the Summer Nationals judging hall way back in 1986, he single-handedly reset the benchmark for all who followed. The highly detailed Torrie brained everyone and won the first of Ron’s four consecutive Grand Champion gongs. At the time of its debut, this 10-second, Enderle-injected Pro Streeter served as Ron’s daily transport to and from work — wheelie bars and all!

invader holden hz panel van

04: INVADER 2001
1977 Holden HZ panel van
December 1981/January 1982

At the height of the panel van craze, the ‘more is better’ motto ruled supreme. And few vans came close to featuring as many modifications or gimmicks as Greg Mercer’s Invader 2001. During the nine months the HZ spent at Kustom Image’s Parramatta workshop, every body panel was heavily modified and anything that could be unbolted was chromed. The interior sprouted wall-to-wall shag-pile, a full custom dash, crushed velour everywhere, a huge LED array and TV!

Gallery: The true story of Invader 2001

1969 Ford Mustang fastback

1969 Mustang Fastback
October/November 1983

Built by Doug Hawkin back in the early 80s, this wild Mustang is still cruising Sydney’s highways and byways. Apart from the blindingly obvious mile-high rear wing, deep front spoiler, A9X-style bonnet scoop and extra-wide rear track, the yellow fastback’s most notable feature was its 468ci big-block Chev. Nope, that’s not a misprint — after the Mustang’s mega-dollar 428 Ford mill shat itself, Doug dropped in a Crower-injected rat motor that was set back some four inches thanks to a recessed firewall.

1967 Chevy

1967 Chevy II
December 1989

You simply run out of superlatives when attempting to convey how seriously nasty Norm Infanti’s Chevy II truly is. Everything is automotive porn, from the body rake to how the bigs ’n’ littlies fill the wheelarches and the look and quality of the hardware hanging out of the bonnet — if only all Pro Streeters were this well proportioned. Norm still owns and drives the beast (it’s road legal in British Columbia) and it now sports a monster Thunder Road Top Fuel-style carbon fibre injector hat.

1957 Chevy II

1957 Chevrolet
August 2001

FAT 57 was Mark Jones’s tribute to the real star of that celebrated Aussie movie, Running on Empty — Rebel’s black and blown ’57 Chev. As good as FAT 57 was, Mark decided to give his award-winning black brute a comprehensive ground-up rebuild with the intent of snagging the country’s top show awards. And didn’t it do the job? Now orange, the blown 427-powered Shoebox picked up two of the biggest gongs around, namely Summernats Top Judged and Street Machine of the Year!

Feature: The Street Machine Of The Year hall of fame

Terminator Holden HQ Monaro

1971 Holden HQ GTS Monaro
April/May 1986

Messing with the fine lines of Holden’s gorgeous two-door HQ usually ends in disaster. However, Mick Curren managed to get it right. His addition of a towering blown 350 Chev, along with a set of tasteful flares filled to bursting point with some of the fattest rubber around, turned this beauty into just about the meanest son of a bitch ever featured within the pages of Street Machine.

Full Feature: Blown HQ Terminator Monaro

Holden HJ ute

1977 Holden HJ ute
June 1988

To some, blowers are just passé. For them, the personification of brute horsepower is a set of race-bred, staggered, mechanical fuel-injection stacks sprouting from the top of a high-compression, high-revving rat motor — a big-block Chev to the uninitiated. Wayne Pagel was definitely thinking this way when he set about the four week (!) tart-up of this ex-Brisbane Council ute. Normally it’s a hard ask to make a white car look tough but this ute pulls it off magnificently thanks to pumped rear guards, generous rake, bigs ’n’ littlies tyre combo and that gleaming, injected rat.

Ford Falcon XA GT

1973 Ford XA GT coupe
June 1990

Take one mid 70s Falcon coupe, fill those buxom hind quarters chock full of fat rubber, drop the nose in the weeds, then transplant a fire-breathing, sky-scraping metal mountain between the front rails (a stonking BDS-blown 351 Clevo in this case) and you’re on your way to Pro Street Nirvana. Sydney bricklayer Rodney Neal understood how the formula worked, as witnessed by his awesome yellow XA GT coupe — an instant star.

Holden LC Torana

1970 XU-1 LC Torana
October/November 1991

Nutso LC/LJ Toranas are commonplace these days but back in the early 90s, Phil Rillotta’s Torrie with its 14in-wide rear meats and 1000hp blown and injected Roedeck 350 must have seemed like it was from outer space. Unlike many so-called Pro Streeters, this rapid road weapon actually saw a fair amount of road use, not to mention several legendary runs down Adelaide International Dragway’s quarter-mile strip.

Holden HQ Monaro

1971 HQ Holden Monaro
April 2001

There are plenty of tough feature-packed cars around, so why is it that some stay glued in your mind, while others simply fade away? Al ‘Bundy’ Lucas’s HQ coupe is definitely not one of the latter. Creating a legend is all about getting the proportions, stance and overall look just right — a few of the qualities this purple beast has in spades. The methanol-burning, injected 520-cube big-block shows you just enough to let you know it exists, while the tyre fit and body rake are dead right. No wonder the aggressive-looking coupe won SMOTY by a landslide.

Holden HQ one tonner

1971 HQ one-tonner
March 2001

One-tonners are as Australian as football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars. One of the finest examples to lay a set of blacks would have to be Silvio Muscat’s yellow terror. At the pointy end of this immaculate ride is a methanol-slurping blown and injected 454 that’s good for a crackling 800hp. Watching Silvio cruise by, instantly frying the fat BF Goodrich TAs with just a blip of the throttle, was a sight to behold.

Full Feature: Silvio's big-block HQ one tonner

Ford XD Falcon

1980 Ford XD Falcon
September 1992

Glistening chrome combined with gleaming red paint — is there any better combination in the automotive world? As if that 800-horse Clevo — detailed and polished to perfection — wasn’t enough, George Salmas then upped the ante by adding a classy LTD interior and matching front sheet-metal. Yep, this sexy yet wicked Falcon is devilish enough to get anyone’s blood pumping.

Holden HQ ute

1972 Holden HQ Ute
July/August 1988

Alan Cooper certainly subscribes to the ‘if one is good, two must be better’ philosophy. His radical twin-engined ute, dubbed Blo Bak, went through a few incarnations before becoming the inaugural SMOTY winner in 1988. Up front lives a Holden 253, while sitting prominently in the middle of the tray is a blown 350 Chev. Drive from the Holden engine is fed into the front snout of the Chev. From there, the combined grunt makes its way to the independent rear-end via a TH425 — basically a transaxle version of the classic TH400, as used in early 70s 500-cube, front-wheel-drive Cadillacs.

Ford XT GT Falcon

1969 Ford XT GT Falcon
July/August 1988

These days Mark Dall’acqua is better known for his burnout prowess behind the wheel of his 351 Cleveland-powered Escort. However, in his early days he punted a red-hot XT (SM, Sept 1997) and later this solid-gold XT GT. Like the rest of his weapons, this ballistic streeter relied on Cleveland power for motivation, in this case a Hampton-blown, SVO NASCAR Clevo stroked to 372 cubes. Mark and both his GTs earned enviable reputations — not to mention an illicit dollar or two — prowling Sydney’s mean streets.

Dodge Challenger

1970 Dodge Challenger
July/August 1995

You could be forgiven for thinking Kevin Monk’s insane, tube-framed, steel-bodied Dodge Challenger is a US-built Pro Streeter but you’d be wrong. While many of the components, including the Alson Pro-link chassis, were US-sourced, this rude red rocket is 100 per cent Aussie built. Backing up that aggressive ground-scraping stance is a 1000hp, 426-cube Hemi which just happens to be the same mill that propelled Don Carlton and his legendary Plymouth to a swag of Pro-Stock wins back in the 70s.

Ford Model T

1919 Ford Model T coupe
June 1998

This radical all-steel Model T took prolific car builder Rod Hadfield 27 years to piece together and it’s jam-packed with so many highlights that it’s hard to know where to start. Not only does Grandma Duck (as he calls it) sport the most outrageous twin supercharger set-up you’ve ever seen, complete with twin Hilborn-style EFI, but it’s all mounted atop a rare and highly collectable Boss 429! Underneath is a fully detailed tubular Funny Car-style chassis and Halibrand quick-change diff. There’s gold plating everywhere, while the interior is highlighted with diamond-tuft red leather upholstery sporting more than 400 hand-sewn buttons, and plenty of mahogany.

Full Feature: Rod Hadfield's twin supercharged Model T

Ford XY Falcon ute

197 Ford XY Falcon ute
November 2001

Ford’S XW/XY range featured one of the toughest-looking body shapes to ever roll off the Broadmeadows production line. Craige Wood’s bad-arse ute took things up a notch or three with the addition of a pair of fat Mickey Thompson meats wrapped around mega-dish 15x14 Cragar Superlights, matching tabs, ground-scraping stance, slick silver livery and a pair of bonnet-bursting Predator carbs on top of a healthy 429 big-block. This menacing ride looks like it’s doing 100km/h just sitting there.

Ford Galaxie hardtop

1964 Ford Galaxie hardtop
September 1994

Built to be as loud and proud as can be, Dennis Lang’s ’64 Galaxie is definitely no shrinking violet. With a blown big-block 460 under the hood and a smoothed and shaved body measuring in at a glorious 5.4 metres, this Aussie-built American land yacht would have to be in contention as one the biggest Pro Streeters ever constructed! Featuring virtually no chrome, the Gal was 100 per cent drivable as well as being superbly detailed from top to bottom — which probably had something to do with it snagging the Grand Champion sword at Summernats 8. 

Full Feature: Dennis's 1964 Galaxie hardtop