Old-fashioned aesthetics merge with a red-hot engine and



Old-fashioned aesthetics merge with a red-hot engine and
Old-fashioned aesthetics merge with
a red-hot engine and modern build
quality in this classic Oz street machine
FTER a five-year build, Shane Harvey’s mega-tough HZ ute,
GRUNTA, stunned the crowd with its pin-sharp panels and
traditional stance when it was unveiled at Street Machine
Summernats 28. “I really like old-school cars,” Shane says.
“I love my 10x14s; I’ve had these same mags for more than
25 years. I’m not into the bigger wheels – 22-inch rims
remind me of the prams we had in the 50s.”
It’s not only the wheels and fat tyres that hark back to the 1970s and 80s.
The grille is a tribute to the show van era; the vintage SAAS tiller is a perfect
match for the GTS dash; the engine runs a tunnel ram and two sets of points;
the extractors dump into hot dog mufflers; there are three pedals on the floor
instead of the usual two. On the other hand, there’s nothing old-fashioned
about the subtly sharpened swage lines and panel edges, remote-operated
suicide doors, adjustable airbag suspension and big-dollar Top 20 finish.
The ute started life in 1978 as a light blue 253 V8 auto with bucket seats
and a GTS dash, and that’s how Shane bought it, bog stock and rust-free,
out of the Trading Post 10 years ago. He paid $1200, prompting mirth from
his mates who said he’d spent too much. If only they knew what was to come!
The dash is still stock, but not much else.
Shane was already no stranger to car building and the Elite Hall, with his
radical 4WD Valiant ute winning Top Exhibition at Summernats 9 and 11.
Over the next three years, he turned the thong-slapping HZ into a proper
308-powered street machine, its flared guards sitting low over Shane’s
trademark American Racing Indy 10x14-inch jellybean mags. He slotted a
four-speed Top Loader manual gearbox behind a Dellow bellhousing and
upgraded the interior with SS Commodore buckets.
Finished in dark blue metallic acrylic – so he could paint it at home – with
light blue ghost flames, ROK308 was a well-known street-class show car
before Shane bit the bullet five years ago “to take it to the next level”.
This time around, the car was largely built in the Kingpins Kustom Paint
workshop in Newcastle, NSW, owned by Shane’s stepson Daniel Slater.
Shane’s other son Luke Harvey also works there.
Though the body might look standard, it is anything but. “All the front panels
Long-gone are the days
of cutting a hole in the
bonnet with a hacksaw to
make room for blowers and
tunnel rams. Shane’s ute
takes things further - note
the absence of any frame to
keep the bonnet rigid. Two
other bonnets were cut and
shut to form a second inner
skin instead, which acts as
a brace. Hinges are from
Ringbrothers in the USA.
An SAAS steering wheel and original
Holden GTS dash were as cool
as cucumbers back in the day, so
Shane was in no mood to mess with
perfection. SS Commodore buckets
from an earlier build were refinished
in black leather with red stitching,
with the treatment extending to
the stock crash pad, centre console
and door trims. It’s a timeless look,
which will prove practical when the
ute returns to street duties after its
time on the show circuit
– the nosecone, inner and outer guards, the wiper grille – are welded
up, with the guards welded to the pillars,” Shane says. “It’s all one piece.”
The tailgate has also been permanently closed and the fuel filler to the
120-litre drop tank relocated behind the hinged rear numberplate. Peter
Lamb was responsible for much of the bodywork, including sharpening
the edges along the swage lines and at the tops and bottoms of the
panels. The flares were redone to accommodate a ride height 1.5 inches
lower due to the airbags, and the side sills lowered 30mm to hide chassis
rails normally visible on this model and to make the ute look even lower.
The suicide doors are Daniel’s handiwork, using modified Commodore
latches and operated remotely or via a small flush button near each
side mirror, while three stock bonnets were sacrificed in building the
frameless double-skinned hood rising on Ringbrothers billet hinges.
Daniel spread the high-gloss PPG Lexus Kustom Red jam on the outer
panels, with a contrasting satin finish added underneath and in the
smoothed lightly tubbed tray. A subtle orange pinstripe separates the
two paints. Luke painted the engine, gearbox, diff and other underbody
components to match.
Shane is particularly proud of the grille. “It took me 116 hours to make,”
he says. “I was inspired by Steve Ellis’s XX308, my favourite panel van of
the 70s. Vanrat was the same; they were awesome cars back then. The
bottom is a Statesman with two Statesman top sections, filed and glued
together. A bloke at Summernats thought it was made from billet alloy!”
By contrast, the interior is relatively sedate. The SS Commodore
seats from the earlier build were re-upholstered in black leather with red
stitching by Todd at Eastside Kustom Trim, who continued the theme on
the door trims, console and crash pad. A few people suggested building
a custom one-off dash, but Shane wasn’t having a bar of that, any more
than he’d consider billet for the steering wheel and column.
The car sits low at rest – just 20mm off the ground – on airbags
and stainless-steel control arms supplied as a kit by James at Tubular
Suspension and fitted by Kingpins, but rides at a road-legal 100mm. It
The front end has been welded
into one piece for maximum
smoothness, with the doublelength HX Statesman grille, twin
headlights and bumperettes.
Other mods include the flared
guards, extended sills, hidden
fuel filler, shaved door handles
and locks, a filled tailgate, a
smoothed scuttle panel and
suicide doors
The driveline is pure 80s – a Top
Up front, the smoothed
factory crossmember has been
augmented by tubular A-arms,
airbags and P76 rotors to help
squeeze the fat front rubber in
under the flared guards. Lots
of body-colour detail work and
chromed swaybars were the
duck’s nuts back in the day – and
look pretty good in 2015. Out back
is an airbagged four-link, also
beautifully detailed
Loader, tunnel-rammed 308 and 9in
, my favourite panel van of the 70s
The grille was inspired by Steve Ellis’s XX308
can be raised as high as 150mm for getting on and off trailers during its short
life as an elite show car, after which it will resume street duties.
The ’bagged and highly detailed four-link rear is all Kingpins’ work. Leyland
P76 rotors from Hoppers Stoppers gripped by WB calipers reduce the track
up front by 16mm each side; with 10-inch-wide rims, you need all the help you
can get tucking those massive 265 hoops under the guards. The nine-inch diff
was upgraded to allow discs at all four corners.
Shane resisted the temptation to fit a small-block Chev crate motor as so
many others do, preferring to give his old 308 a birthday with a spruce-up and
COME 355 stroker kit bought from a mate. A Redline tunnel ram was found on
eBay and is topped by a pair of 600cfm Holleys. “It starts easy,” Shane says.
“They’re Holleys; you never have any trouble if you buy them new and they’re
so cheap, why would you fix the old ones? The distributor is a dual-points
Mallory; I’ve run them on all my cars and never had a hassle. I’m not into the
electronic thing.”
Unusually for an elite car, Shane’s ute also runs the stock factory heater,
which explains the two extra braided lines running from the water pump back
to the heater box, which has been welded and smoothed as part of the firewall.
Cars like this don’t come cheap, even with family help. “There’s over $20,000
in chrome alone,” Shane says. He also admits to a total build cost of around
“half a house”.
With Summernats 28 looming, there was still much to be done and it looked
as if the deadline was about to be missed. Shane’s father Reg was very unwell
in hospital in the weeks before Christmas but was determined to live long
enough to see the ute finally painted, or at least photos of it on a computer
screen. “He just wanted to see it finished,” Shane says. “He waited two days
to see it painted, then 10 minutes after that he stopped breathing.
“Luke had promised him we’d have it at Summernats and that pushed us to
finish it. We might not have made it otherwise. For the last week, the lights were
never turned off at Kingpins, and Todd installed the trim on New Year’s Eve, the
day before we left for Canberra.
“Getting a car unveiled in the Elite Hall was the dream, so winning Top Ute
and making the Top 20 was a big bonus. And making the front cover of Street
Machine – I’ve got every issue – is awesome.” s
Colour: PPG Lexus Kustom Red,
by Kingpins Kustom Paint
Type: Holden 308 V8
Capacity: 355ci
Builder: Owner
Crankshaft: COME Racing
Rods: COME Racing
Pistons & rings: COME Racing
Cam & lifters: Crane
Heads: Holden 308
Carburettors: Two 600cfm
Tunnel ram: Redline
Ignition: Mallory twin-point
Type: Ford Top Loader
Diff: Ford nine-inch
Welded and smoothed inner guards
are virtually compulsory in elite
circles and this engine bay is as
clean as any. Menace is added
by the towering Redline inlet
manifold, which Tony from G&T
Metal Polishing put 250 hours’ work
into alone! Two additional braided
lines run from the water pump, just
behind the Aussie Desert Cooler
alloy radiator, to the heater box at
rear. The box has been welded into
the firewall for a distinctive look
Flared jeans and flared guards
were a big deal in Oz in the
70s and 80s. This was before
mini-tubs and shortened diffs
were commonplace, so it was
necessary to keep rubber within
the bodywork of the vehicle. And
besides, flares look cool when
jam-packed with fat rubber!
GRUNTA continues the tradition
Front: Tubular Suspension A-arms
and airbags; Pedders shocks
Rear: Kingpins four-link, airbags,
Pedders shocks
Wheels: American Racing Indy
with custom centres; 10x14 (f & r)
Tyres: 265/50-14 (f & r)
Brakes: Girloc calipers on P76
rotors (f); Girloc calipers on DBA
rotors, (r); Commodore master
Daniel, Luke, Kieran, Brendon,
Nathan and Winston at Kingpins;
Todd at Eastside Kustom Trim;
Tony at Custom Metal Polishing;
Summernats crew – Daniel, Kieran,
Tony, Riley, Andrew and Joel. In
memory of my father, Reg Harvey