IT TAKES guts to chop into an expensive late-model car, though maybe not as many as taking a grinder to a traditional old-school rig. But, when it comes to the early girl versus plastic fantastic debate, Victorian Mark Attard has a foot in both camps.
This article was first published in Street Machine's LSX Tuner #9, 2019
He was brought up on old-school street machines, and he’s now putting those traditional skills and style into his millennial-era HSV VE Maloo.
“I’ve had a few cars,” Mark explains. “When I was about 16, I went for spin in an XA Falcon GT. It was a low-11s car, and I was hooked! I love my old-school cars, but the Maloo was never meant to be like this!”
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The Maloo actually started off as a daily driver, bought as a late-model second-hander that was driven to work, and yet it didn’t stay standard for long.
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“It had an LS3 that we twin-turbocharged,” Mark explains. “But the motor got hurt so in went a ProCharged 427, and then that broke so things got serious. It was just supposed to be a tidy up, but you know how it happens: a few drinks in the garage with the boys and now we have this! It just gets out of control.”
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Those VF GTS brakes are gigantic six-pot units, and fitting these whopper stoppers to the earlier VE wasn’t quite a bolt-on. The stock IRS is soon to be replaced with a live axle, even though the 9.9in diff is capable of handling the grunt as they do duty in HSV’s blown VFs and Chevy Camaro ZL1s
Being involved with plenty of cool old-school cars, Mark has an eye for traditional street machine detailing, so he knew what had to be done to make the Maloo a standout, but it took some convincing before he was willing to go all out.
The good thing about modifying a late-model car is you can source plenty of easy ways to get a killer stance. Mark’s VE rocks a set of adjustable XYZ coil-over struts hidden behind black 22x9in Simmons FR wheels
“My mate Adam Pritchard is my painter, and he talked me into it,” says Mark. “I was happy to give it a blow-over in the original colour to simply tidy it up, but he started showing me colour swatches. I was saying, ‘Nah, I don’t want to go that crazy,’ and he kept baiting me with, ‘Trust me, it will look awesome!’”
The result is the lovely fizzy orange you see on the pages before you. But before it was squirted on, Mark got in and tidied up the ute’s bodywork, especially in the engine bay. For one thing, the VE architecture has open skirts in the engine bay, missing the full steel strut towers of earlier cars. Mark saw this as an ideal opportunity to smooth the engine bay and had Geoff at Street Tech Fabrications sheet-out these for a cleaner appearance, just like the good ol’ days.
The radiator’s cowl has also been hidden; the brake lines have been relocated out of sight; John at JSR High Performance Auto Electrics hid most of the engine bay electrics in the cabin, tucked behind the seats. Adam then did the body prep and paint, which took a total of five months.
When sorting out the engine bay, the lads left plenty of clearance for Darcy Stafford at KillaBoost Manifolds to package the huge single 88mm Comp Turbo snail and plumbing. It’s pushing compressed air into an iron Dart LS Next block built up by Ali’s Race Engines, swinging a Callies DragonSlayer crank, Oliver rods, Diamond pistons, and a boost-friendly Lil John’s Motorsports cam.
The Brodix BR7 heads were prepared by Nathan Higgins, with boost swallowed by a Plazmaman intake and intercooler, and a 102mm Nick Williams throttlebody. Engine management is handled by a Haltech ECU, with two Holley fuel pumps feeding the eight Precision 2250cc injectors a diet of E85. Right now, all that is worth 1150hp at the treads on 20psi boost.
It’s amazing how much a smooth engine bay can lift a car’s appeal. Steeled-out strut towers and radiator cowl, combined with hidden wiring, make for three traditional mods well applied to the Maloo. The power steering pump is gone, too, replaced by an Astra electric pump working the stock Holden steering rack
Copping the grunt is a classic TH400 three-speed auto transmission, built by Hasty Auto-Trans to handle far more grunt than the stock six-speed auto could cop, and more driveable than the OE-spec Tremec manual. The torque convertor is a TCE unit, while a PWR cooler helps manage transmission temperatures.
For now the Maloo retains its standard multi-link independent rear suspension layout that was a feature of Holden’s VE platform, but the Maloo-spec parts were shelved in favour of the huge 9.9-inch VF GTS diff centre. Mark knows the IRS geometry is not the best for keeping a car with the sort of power his makes going straight, so it will likely be replaced with a nine-inch later on.
“I finished the car the night before Summernats,” laughs Mark. “All my life, I’ve read the stories in Street Machine about people rushing to get the car completed and it happened to me too! The water pump shat itself at 1.30am while I was loading the car onto the trailer. I thought: ‘That’s it; our dreams are over.’ And then I remembered I had a spare water pump sitting here, so we got to Summernats.”
A long way from old Kingswood ute vinyl floors and bench seats, the VE HSV interior was a pretty nice place to be from new. Mark opted for orange diamond stitching to bring the outside in, with a contemporary flair. Jarrod at Incharge Automotive Enhancements is the man who knitted the jumpers
It was a good trip, too, with Mark’s ute being invited into the Top 60 Elite Hall and being awarded Top Super Tech. But there was one drawback to being lined up with all the shiny cars: it didn’t get to the dyno as planned.
“The plan was to run it in the Summernats Horsepower Heroes, but it ended up doing well in judging, so we’ll do it next year instead,” he says. “I plan to turn it up soon and it should provide about 1500hp at the tyres.”
A massively powerful V8 stuffed into a clean, slicked Holden ute package, just like the way they’ve been built for 30 years and more!
2008 HSV VE MALOO R8
Brand: Dart LS Next cast iron
Turbo: 88mm Comp Turbo
Heads: Higgins-prepped Brodix BR7
Intake: Plazmaman manifold, Nick Williams 102mm throttlebody
Camshaft: Lil John’s Motorsports
Crank: Callies DragonSlayer
Oil pump: Melling
Fuel system: Twin Holley pumps, 2250cc Precision injectors
Cooling: PWR with Spal fans
Exhaust: KillaBoost manifold
Ignition: Haltech coils
Gearbox: Modified TH400 auto
Converter: TCE 4500rpm
Diff: HSV VF GTS 9.9in
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: XYZ coil-overs
Rear: XYZ coil-overs
Brakes: HSV VF GTS six-pot calipers & discs (f), HSV VF GTS four-pot (r)
Master cylinder: Lowe Fabrications billet
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Simmons FR 22x9in (f & r)
Rubber: 255/30/22 (f & r)
To my beautiful wife Alison and my three kids Aden, Clarissa and Lexis for letting me live out my dreams; Ali at Ali’s Race Engines; Luke at Hasty Auto-Trans; Adam Pritchard for the metal magic; John at JSR High Performance Auto Electrical for the wiring; Jarrod at Incharge Automotive for the trim; Frank at Allsparks Automotive for the tune and support through the build; Andrew at Werribee Brake & Clutch for all the brake lines; Darcy at KillaBoost for the turbo kit; Geoff at Street Tech for the fab work; John Ricca and Michael at Race Parts Melbourne; Adrian and Richard at VPW; and a special thank you to Michael Camilleri for helping me build this car from start to finish