FX-FJ Holdens were popular on Australian drag strips in the 60s. The quest for the fastest Humpy led to stinking hot grey motors until the red motor arrived. But that wasn’t enough for some — they put V8s in the old girls. The fad reached its zenith with Wild Bill Smith’s Funny Car, still the quickest FX-FJ ever.
This article was originally published in the July 2007 issue of Street Machine magazine
JOE Pirotta bought his FX for $50 in 1965 and soon added a 292 Customline V8. Built to drive, it was inevitable he’d race it, but as times improved to mid-13s, it became a handful on the street. Joe’s collaborator, Charlie Caruana, then bought a 289 Ford to replace the 292. Twin Carters were replaced first with quad Webers, then injection for a 13.00 best. The street ’n’ stripper was sold in ’68 for a race-only Cortina but Joe maintains it was his favourite car.
HIS first race car — a side-valve Model A bucket — was getting beaten, so Ben Gatt needed more go. He found an FX at the wreckers for $10 and talked his brother Joe into donating his streeter’s 332 Ford donk. They bored it to 365ci and added all the fruit. The front remained standard, except for Vanguard springs; the rear got a set of tramp rods. ‘Aborigine’ debuted with 16s in Aug ’68 and improved to 12.73, before it was sold in Jan ’71 for an Anglia.
PHIL Olive had no racing experience when he bought Reg Hinsby’s street ’n’ strip 179 FX in 1968. He earned his spurs with it before beginning a full race conversion, lightening the body, bracing the sills and fitting a rollcage. He fitted the blown and injected 302 Chev from the Neville Alder Kombi van with a Torqueflite, and ‘Red Devil’ worked from humble 13s to a 9.35@148mph, before retiring in ’78.
ROB Martin, Ray Miles and Peter Wileman’s FX was the progenitor of one of the sport’s greatest cars. They gutted the body, mounting it over a 1950 Prefect chassis with a 327 Chev set back through the firewall. ‘Shaker’ debuted at Calder’s opening drag event in April ’68 and rapidly improved to an 11.45@114mph best. It was retired in Nov ’69. In purple flake paint, the car convinced GMH execs to hand over a new HK Monaro for the team to convert into the famous ‘Shaker’ Funny Car.
BILL and Dianne Smith’s FJ Funny Car lit up the Australian drag scene from 1984–86. Weldwell Engineering built the chassis and they made their own body, which weighed 250lb. After a false start in 1984 with an injected motor, in 1986 they moved to a blown 350 Chev and the car ran a 7.99 almost straight away. A blown big-block eased the speed up to 177mph. Smith broke the car up in 1986 after winning Modified at the ’85 Grand Finals, and is these days campaigned by Randall Mohr in Nostalgia competition.
GARTH Bell’s FJ ute was constructed in the early 90s. Rod Andrews built the chassis, keeping the ’cage within the ute’s standard lines, and it won Best Presented at the ’93 Grand Finals and Best Engineered at the ’94 Nationals. Its best times were 9.4s at 141mph with its initial 477 Chev, going to 9.31@145mph with a Buick Pro Stock engine. Bell sold the car in ’96, but eventually got it back with a blown 20B rotary powerplant (SM Feb ’05). He sold the car to Darren Mood to fund his Dart Attack gasser.
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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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