STREET cars have never been quicker than what we’re seeing today, with six- and seven-second monsters blowing away records. But we’re also seeing people building these incredibly swift pieces of engineering to an Elite level, blurring the lines between street, race and show cars.
This article was first published in the September 2019 issue of Street Machine
“The car is still very new, and with the help of Adam and Luke at MPW Performance, we are still trying to sort out some problems. Sevens are coming soon, as well as full street rego,” says Troy, who is also keen to bring it on Drag Challenge
A great example is this killer twin-turbo ’54 FJ ute owned by Troy David. It has run an 8.2@171mph, but has also taken out Grand Champion at Red CentreNATS, showing just what a well-rounded package the Northern Territory landscaper has built, from quite humble beginnings.
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"I didn't like the look of the tailgate on the FJs," Troy says. "No real reason, apart from preferring the look of them open. The air gap in for the oil coolers for the engine and transmission"
“My late father-in-law, Phil Kerr, found the car in the paper on a Saturday morning,” Troy explains. “An army guy had moved from Victoria to Darwin and had no room to hang on to it. It had a small-block Chev, TH350 auto and a nine-inch, and was just a basic cruising car, as it was a very rough conversion.
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“When I first met Phil he had an FJ ute that was very close to original, and I loved the shape, so that’s how it started off. For the FJ’s first build we fitted a nitrous motor, two-speed Powerglide and four-link rear end in it, then we put a 400-shot of gas on it and it ran 9.0s. But it black-tracked the whole way down the strip, so I pulled the running gear out of the FJ and put it all in an HG Monaro to use it for a cruising car.”
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Vic and Troy at Bo Chassis sorted out the FJ’s bodywork, with Troy admitting it was in “very average” condition when he took over custodianship. A tilt front end plus flat floors and both front and rear firewalls provide a clean style, while the rollcage adds the safety element needed when heading for deep seven-second ETs. The tray has a smooth rollpan, fat wheel tubs, and enough bar work to look like a jungle gym, including the integrated parachute mount that sits where the tailgate would have originally gone.
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“I’ll go through the engine combo before Drag Challenge 2020, possibly with a Noonan billet block,” Troy says. “We saw them at Summernats and I fell in love with them – they’re strong and light so hopefully it would go quicker again. I’m hoping to run a 7.70 or 7.80 with the LSX, so we will see if I need to step up to something like a Noonan”
The Resto Shop in Darwin took over the paint prep, laying down the custom Spies Hecker Fifty Shades Of Grey for a look that throws the FJ’s rotund shape straight back to the conservative 1950s.
Replacing the nitrous small-block Chevy is a 427-cube LSX making herculean grunt. Inside the iron block is a crank and rod combo from Lunati with CP pistons, topped by 15-degree All Pro six-bolt heads wearing high-end shaft-mount T&D rockers.
The E85 fuel is supplied by a cable-driven 1100 Enderle pump, and is changed for methanol when running at the track. There are 16 ID2000 injectors plumbed into the Shaun’s Custom Alloy tunnel ram to squirt the alcoholic fire-maker, with a pair of Accufab 4150 four-barrel throttlebodies handling the charge-air provided by the twin Garrett T51R spooly boys.
Troy wisely updated his ute with a Rod-Tech independent rack-and-pinion front end, connected to a Billet Specialties column. There are also adjustable bracing rods running from the crossmember to the front of the chassis that help secure the front end and safely slow the ute down from over 170mph. Out the back, the 9in hangs off a pair of Strange Engineering Gold Ultra coil-over shocks, with a Rod Andrews parallel four-link and sway-bar locating the third member
An aluminium Moroso pump works with a belt-drive R4 Peterson oil pump to keep the spinning bits oiled, while a Race Radiators core and 16-inch thermo fan keep a lid on temps when cruising. Standard LS1 coil packs and a Haltech ECU handle zapping the fuel and air mix, with spent gasses exiting via a 3.5-inch twin exhaust system.
Troy realised that manually lifting your car is for the birds, so he had V8 Supercar 280mm air jacks fitted, plumbed with Brown & Miller hoses, to make getting the FJ off the ground super-simple. “There are a lot of different ideas in the car, like the air jacks, which were an absolute last-minute addition just before it went into paint,” says Troy. “Now I don’t need to worry about rags on jacks, or chassis stands”
The big-inch LS made 1120rwhp on MPW’s chassis dyno as a fresh combo on approximately 18psi, and Troy hopes there are plenty more ponies hiding inside as he and MPW get a handle on the combo and step things up. “Adam [Rogash of MPW] is keen to put all the boost in it, but we’ll see,” he says.
With MPW’s experience in running seven-second passes, it shouldn’t take long to land Troy’s goal ET. “I can’t thank Adam and Luke [Foley] enough for all the help they have given me,” he says. “They have been absolutely amazing with the effort they put in.”
Behind the seven-litre noise-maker is a Reid-case two-speed Powerglide wearing the same-spec TCE converter that Adam Rogash uses in the ALLSHOW VK Commodore. A 3.5-inch Mark Williams tailshaft links the fabricated nine-inch, also from Mark Williams, which has been filled with all the goodies needed to put over 1100hp to the decks. There is a Truetrac centre, 35-spline full-floater Race Products axles, and a set of 3.5:1 gears from US Gear.
Those gears will likely need to be chopped out in Troy’s quest for seven-second slips, though. “We’ll need to go to a 3.2 ratio to dip well into the sevens,” he says.
While the FJ is a brutally quick machine, the cabin has been trimmed sympathetically to the ute’s mid-50s era. Behind the 12-point rollcage are Kirkey race seats, a Haltech Racepak dash, custom cowhide roll-over dash skin, and a Pro Bandit shifter custom-mounted on a fabricated pedestal
Troy’s FJ took out Grand Champion at Red CentreNATS last year, then backed that up by landing in the Top 20 Elite and being part of the Magnificent Seven in the hunt for Grand Champion at Summernats 32. While many would be happy with that, Troy is already eyeing off another, even crazier build that will be given to one of his daughters, just like the FJ has been.
“I have three daughters, and I said I will build each of them a car, all old-school,” says Troy. “When my first girl Alicia was born, my father-in-law bought an HG Monaro for her first birthday present. I have given the FJ to my six-year-old Rachel, which will suit her well as she is a little wild. My youngest girl, 18-month-old Erin, is the craziest of them all, so I will have to build her one of the fastest true street cars around!”
1954 HOLDEN FJ UTE
Paint: Spies Hecker custom Fifty Shades Of Grey
Brand: LSX 427ci
Induction: Shaun’s Custom Alloy tunnel ram, twin Accufab 4150 throttlebodies
ECU: Haltech Elite 2500
Turbo: Twin Garrett T51R ball-bearing
Heads: All Pro 15-degree six-bolt heads
Oil pump: Peterson R4 belt-drive
Fuel system: Enderle 1100 cable-drive pump, 16 ID2000 injectors
Cooling: Race Radiators, 16in thermo fan
Exhaust: 3.5in system, Knoxville mufflers
Ignition: LS1 coils, Haltech ignition
Gearbox: Reid-case two-speed Powerglide
Diff: Mark Williams 9in, Truetrac centre, Race Products 35-spline full-floater axles, 3.5:1 US Gear final drive
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: RodTech independent rack-and-pinion front end, custom adjustable front-end bracing rods
Rear: Strange Engineering Gold Ultra coil-overs, Rod Andrews parallel four-link, Rod Andrews rear anti-roll bar, triangulated track locator
Brakes: Wilwood discs (f & r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: RC Components Exile S; 17x4.5 (f), beadlocked 15x10 (r)
Rubber: Mickey Thompson; 6/17 (f), 12/15 (r)
Vic Martyn for building the tilt front; Troy at Bo Chassis; Glen for help in keeping it going; Davo for having great ideas to problem-solve; Paul at the Resto Shop for the paint; Jamie for making air-jack lines and brake lines; Chris at A&C Auto Electrics for the wiring; Mick for doing the glass; Morrison Fabrication; Craig at All Car Upholstery; Dale Heiler; Adam and Luke at MPW for tuning the car and their on-going support; my family for understanding my passion