AT THE risk of making this sound like another ‘it got out of hand’ build story, Adrian Hunt’s plan for his tidy HG ute was going to be “just an LS swap” and – like a lot of good ideas – it came together over a few sherbets.
This article was first published in Street Machine's LSX Tuner magazine #9, 2019
“We were sitting at the wet mess at work talking cars and having a few beers, and my workmate was telling me about the old Holden ute he had in his backyard which he might sell,” says Adrian. “So, on my next break, I made the call to go have a look. We hopped into my uncle PJ’s HK Monaro and cruised down to Scarborough to check it out. Without much hesitation we bought it for five grand, registered, running and in good enough condition to cruise around in for a few years.”
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And that’s precisely what Adrian did, enjoying the smooth power of the mighty 186 for a while. Well, okay, it might have been smooth, but it was definitely lacking in the power department.
“I was a bit over holding up traffic every time I drove it, so I loaded it onto my trailer and took it down to my mate’s shop where we were going to do a quick LS swap and a second-hand nine-inch diff conversion,” says Adrian.
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The plan was to have it running in a month or two… but everyone knew that wasn’t really going to happen. While the car had been repainted by the previous owner in “Taxi White”, as Adrian called it, he wanted something with a bit more pop. With the help of Benson Pountney and a swag of colour chips, he eventually decided on XW Ford Diamond White. If you’re thinking it looks sort of blue, you’re right. Diamond White has a definite blue tinge to it, but there’s also a bunch of pearl that’s been thrown in the mix to give it a more contemporary look.
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While Benson got busy with the panel and paint, Adrian flew back to work and got busy ordering the parts he needed: a Gazzard Bros split mono-leaf and slider set up for the rear and a Siggz Street Rods tubular IFS with coil-overs and rack-and-pinion steering for the business end.
“They’re a bolt-in set-up and it gives you a lot more room in the engine bay getting rid of the steering box and you have a lot less dramas with headers and sump clearance,” says Adrian. “Usually you have dramas trying to run a drag link through the sump. With the old steering wheel, it’s pretty good and quite nice to drive.”
With the body and paint sorted, the car sat for about six months while Adrian figured out which way he wanted to go with the engine combo. He eventually made the decision to go with an aspirated LS combo… but, as you can see from the photos, that plan kind of changed.
“I got some time off work and took the ute to Dom and Tony Mazzitelli at Audio Image in Wangara,” relates Adrian. “Dom started the full rewire, setting up a Racepak digital display in the factory dash cluster and MSD ignition. We dropped in the LS3 motor after Tony installed a high-pressure oil pump and a camshaft upgrade, but I just wasn’t set on the NA combo.
“With the help of Wayne Smith at Performance Carb Tuning, we chose to go with a blow-through CSU carburettor, a BorgWarner S475 turbo, and a Tial 50mm wastegate running E85 fuel.”
Adrian didn’t stuff around with the rest of the driveline, either, putting in a Paul Rogers-built Powerglide with a TCE converter and a nine-inch diff from Phil Purser at Final Drive Engineering. It’s been filled with a Truetrac centre, 3.25 gears and 35-spline billet axles for a bulletproof combo that should handle the HG’s 832rwhp with ease. Yep, that’s why we love the LS so much. A stock bottom-end motor with a VCM #16 camshaft and 13psi of boost making over 800 at the treads? That’s nuts!
While the internals are mostly untouched, everything on the outside of the engine has seen hours of work put into the fabrication and detailing to create one of the cleanest engine bays you’ll ever see. It’s not a show-spec engine bay, where it looks like the motor doesn’t run – hell, even the coil packs are on show – but the all-black finish on the motor combined with the polished pipework gives it a super-clean look. A lot of credit goes to Steve Lundy at Lundy Race Fabrications, who built the turbo manifolds, intake and exhaust pipes, a full chassis-strengthening kit, and finished off the rest of the fabrication on the car.
The interior is another exercise in understated simplicity, with Adrian choosing a very minimalist look.
“I wanted to keep the interior as basic as I could so I started collecting bits and pieces for the dash, which included a factory heater and radio blank insert panel and a factory GTS steering wheel,” says Adrian. “Tyson Cumming made new black door cards and retrimmed the interior and hood-lining. I installed Simpson harnesses over the bench seat, but I will eventually have to use race seats and a cage when I race the car.”
With the amount of power the car is making, and with Streetbuilt Racing and Performance Carb Tuning in his corner, the car should go deep into the nines. Not bad for ‘just an LS swap’.
HG HOLDEN UTE
Diamond White Pearl
Inlet: Edelbrock Victor Jr.
Carb: CSU blow-through
Turbo: BorgWarner S475
Cam: VCM 16
Radiator: Alloy with Spal fan
Exhaust: 4in dump with 3.4in single system
Ignition: MSD 6LS-2
’Box: Paul Rogers Powerglide
Diff: 9in, 35-spline billet axles, Truetrac, 3.25:1 gears
Front end: Siggz Street Rods tubular IFS
Rear end: Gazzard Bros mono-leaf with sliders
Shocks: QA1 coil-over (f), QA1 adjustable (r)
Brakes: Cross-drilled discs (f), drums (r)
Rims: Weld AlumaStar 15x3.5 (f), custom Chev Rallye 15x9 (r)
Rubber: M/T Sportsman S/R 24x5.00R15 (f), M/T ET Street 275/50R15 (r)
My uncle PJ for all the help with the car; Benson Pountney for the panel and paint; Steve Lundy from Lundy Race Fabrication for all the late nights he put into helping me with the build; Wayne Smith from Performance Carb Tuning; Jeff Johnson from Streetbuilt Racing; Dom and Tony Mazzitelli from Audio Image; Johnny Ielati for the awesome detail and letting me use the workshop for the shoot; Adam and the team at Cronic Customs for their help with the parts I needed