NOT many teenagers can boast a car as cool as a ’56 Chev as their first ride, much less one with big-block power. But that’s exactly how it was for Sydneysider Daniel Basukoski. “Twenty-five years ago, my mates Chris Simpson and Peter Lovering found the Chev and sent it my way,” he recalls. “I fell in love with it.”
First published in the April 2021 issue of Street Machine
With a big-block, TH400, nine-inch and a set of Cragars, it was the quintessential tough streeter of the day, and Dan pounded the Sydney blacktop with it most weekends with a bunch of like-minded mates.
It doesn’t get much cooler for a 19-year-old, but with buddies that were into racing, bad habits started early.
“I got in with the wrong crowd so I started thinking about going racing,” Dan laughs. “The first step was adding a set of mini-tubs. I got sick of the car wandering all over the road, so I grafted an HQ front end on. Then I notched the firewall, so I could make everything fit better.”
So far, so good, but Dan soon upped the ante.
“The turbo scene was pretty exciting back in the early 2000s, and I decided to go twin-turbo,” he says. “I liked the idea of a pump-gas deal and started getting the parts together – Dart block, Crower crank, Brodix –3 heads, solid-roller cam and lots of good parts that Peter Lovering had put on the list.”
By 2010, Dan had the motor together and installed, but he had some major headaches trying to get the ignition system to work with the ECU. “The car would constantly go into limp mode,” he explains. “So I ended up parking it up, buying a house and trying to put it behind me.
“A couple of years later, I got some motivation back. I four-linked the car, but I got the angles wrong and it just didn’t sit right. In the end, I rang Darren Mood at Mood Motorsports to see if we could sort the mess out. Everyone was stepping up and building Pro Mod-style radial cars, and I wanted in on that. I told Darren I wanted to run sixes, and he was up for it.”
The revamped ’56 is an absolute beast, loaded with the best parts and more power than the boys know what to do with at this stage.
Up front, the 572-cube BBC is fitted with twin 94mm Precision turbos and 60mm Precision wastegates. Darren fabricated forward-facing stainless headers, locating the turbos near the back of the headlights.
The motor has essentially stayed the same for the past 10 years, with a wet sump, Dart heads, BME alloy conrods, JE pistons, T&D rockers and a Comp solid-roller cam.
With the change to a more serious competition vibe came a switch to C16 fuel, but no sooner had the boys got the car running than leaded racing fuel was banned. This prompted a switch to methanol and a requirement for 16 injectors – something that the newly fitted BigStuff3 ECU couldn’t handle in its current state.
“I had literally only run one meeting before the fuel ban came in,” says Dan. “It was a big kick in the guts.
“I spoke to Frank Marchese from Dandy Engines. He pointed out that I was running a boost controller, a Boost Leash for the bump box, a Shifnoid for the gearbox and an MSD Power Grid for the ignition. Rather than send the BigStuff back for a new set of drivers, he advised that I get rid of all of that in favour of a FuelTech.
“So after fully rewiring the car for just one meet, I did it all again!”
Naturally, the fuel system needed a big upgrade, which in this case included a Waterman Lil Bertha pump, a bigger regulator, 2500cc Precision injectors and a set of 7000cc Billet Atomizers.
In place of the rear seat is a massive Chiseled Performance 3500hp liquid-to-air intercooler, while the intercooler tank with a Rule pump resides in the boot.
And the ‘wows’ just keep on coming. The level of fabrication work is world class, and the car has had the best of the best thrown at it. Poke your head under the rear end and it looks like a Pro Mod, with a Jerry Bickel diff housing, Mark Williams bolt-through centre, full-floater housing and gun-drilled axles. Menscer shocks hold up both the rear and front ends.
Body-wise, the car is mostly all steel, with full glass and windows that wind up and down. Fibreglass is limited to the front and rear bars and rear bootlid. The paintwork, with burns on the front end from alcohol exhaust fires, just makes this thing even gnarlier.
So far, the Chev has not seen a lot of track time. First time out on 315 radials it headed for the sky on a 1.25-second 60-foot on the back wheels – which then required some repairs after a less-than-graceful landing.
At the recent Sydney Kenda meet, trying to hook up with too much horsepower in one of the heaviest cars at the event on a little 275 tyre was an exercise in futility. The issue was compounded by the 2:1 first-gear ratio in the transmission, which conspired to bomb the tyres too often for Dan’s liking.
“The plan is to go back to 315, as we know we can get the car down the track on them,” he says. “But it will be the heaviest car in the class by far.
“It is what it is. I love the car, but I will never be competitive unless I run on 275s. The best we have seen so far is 5.40@141mph over the eighth on 25psi.
“When I look back, it hasn’t been an easy ride. We have had a number of big setbacks in this build, but when we do finally get to the track, I just love that bonding time with the mates. There is nothing like being at the track with the barbecue running and great buddies around you. What you run doesn’t seem to matter.”
There is clearly a lot the lads are yet to sort with this car, but given the quality and experience of the fabrication shop and Daniel’s commitment to not cutting corners and buying the best, their 6.9 goal is simply a matter of time.
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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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