KING OF THE MOUNTAIN
VK BROCK WITH ATTITUDE
Not that you’d know it now, but, back a bit — more than a decade ago, in fact — Dale Williams was a rotary fan. Actually, he was more than just a fan; his cars were well known the length and breadth of the country, both for the abuse they received on the burnout pad and the awards they won in the show hall. At any given stage, Dale’s overpowered RX 323 could only ever be found with melted rubber dripping off the back of it, and his candy-coated RX-3 was always polished to perfection. However, that all changed when Dale moved his attention back to the racetrack. It turned out that, thanks to his years of karting as a kid, he wasn’t a half-bad pedaller, either, working his way through open wheels and into production-class racing before stepping his racing up a gear to the NZV8s, in which he campaigned a Falcon. But that all came to a sudden end at the Hamilton street race, when a major accident left Dale with a little less racing ‘motorvation’. Although Dale stepped aside from cars for a few years, there was still petrol running through his veins and a desire to own, once again, something in which he could have a bit of fun. That fun came in the form of a VK Commodore, purchased with a 308 and Celica five-speed. It wasn’t long before Dale was up to his old antics and having a blast doing it. As a panel beater by trade, looking at the lessthan-perfect finish on the car started to agitate Dale. So, just a few months into his ownership, the VK had its panels massaged to perfection. While the panel side was done at home, it was good friend and PPG employee Luke Cosford who was given the task of spraying the car, using a spray booth borrowed from Austin Autobody. With Dale having grown up in the 1980s watching Bathurst and the like, there was only ever one colour the car would be and that’s the familiar — to VK fans, at least — Formula Blue. Fortunately for the budget, when Dale purchased the car, it had already been equipped with an SS bodykit, albeit badly fitted. The finishing touch to the paint job was a set of Brock graphics, created by signwriter friend Clint at Headcase Designs. Any Commodore lover will know that when you’ve got a Formula Blue VK, there’s only one wheel choice and that’s a set of three-piece gold Simmons FRs. However, for Dale at the time, the price was far too high, so he tried out a few other options. While they worked OK, they weren’t the ultimate, so when local Simmons Wheels supplier Heads Racing Supplies announced that it could offer a budget-friendly, one-piece option, Dale couldn’t get to local tyre retailer Cooper Tyres quickly enough. Measuring in at 20x8.5 and 20x9.5 inches, and wrapped in 225/35R20 and 245/30R20 tyres, the
THE SIZE OF THE WHEELS MEANT THE REAR GUARDS NEEDED PUMPING. WITH THE CAR RECENTLY PAINTED, THIS WAS A DAUNTING TASK
size of the wheels meant the rear guards needed to be pumped to accommodate them. Obviously, with the car recently painted, this was a daunting task. However, with his years of experience and plenty of patience, Dale managed it successfully. What made the task harder was Dale’s commitment to a proper ride height — and, by ‘proper’, we mean slammed. This stance was achieved thanks to Iain Wilson at Autolign, who came up with the perfect combination of Bilstein shocks and Dobi springs to complement the previously fitted Whiteline sway bars and adjustable Panhard rod. Dale, his wife Wendy, and son Troy cruised around with the car in this state for a few years, getting out and about in it almost every weekend, turning heads wherever they went. Dale wasn’t afraid to drive it hard, going so far as entering it in grasskhanas and partaking in the odd garage skid. Of course, the near-stock 308 soon became a bit of a bore, so the family started to look for alternatives. Wanting to keep everything under the hood, the thought of an LS engine began to appeal more and more, especially when combined with a turbocharger or two. That potential to add boost easily in the future was all Dale needed to make the decision, and, before long, the old running gear
was being hauled out and a VX SS–sourced LS1 dropped off to ProTune Automotive. Rather than just installing the stock engine, the ProTune team was commissioned to add a Kelford cam, heavyduty valve springs, and the parts needed to make it all work. Meanwhile, a set of off-the-shelf LS1-VK headers was ordered and dropped to HPC for coating, and a Roadrunner custom starter motor was ordered. However, as more people are learning, the conversion isn’t quite as simple as it first appears, with the starter motor being on the wrong side and the VK power-steering rack fouling the engine. Part of the solution in this case was to transplant a VN front K-frame to which off-the-shelf mounts were fitted. This allowed the engine to be dropped in the hole essentially fabrication-free — well, it would have been if it hadn’t been for Dale and Wendy’s desire to clean up the engine bay first. Holes were welded up and ground smooth, and a custom wiring loom created by friend Ryan Darrah to leave the engine bay as clean as possible, before Luke was called back to spray it all in the garage. Similar treatment was given to the engine, with as many components as possible painted or anodized black. The result is one of our favourite engine bays to date, with the engine seemingly floating in the bay. Attached to the rear of the spotless LS1 is a T56 six-speed manual box, which was fitted with strengthened internals before Dale got his hands on it. This was paired with an Exedy clutch, complete with hydraulic release bearing, which required a VL pedal box and master cylinder to be fitted. Later-model parts were also used down the rear in the form of a VN LSD centre, which Steelie Gears affixed to the VK’s housing along with shot-peened VN axles. The finishing touches to the diff were a VN disc and caliper set-up, along with a bunch of Nolathane bushes. Any carb–to–EFI conversion requires a serious fuel system rethink, and this one was no different. Dale opted to have mate, Sean Card, fabricate a drop tank, which now works in conjunction with a returnless Bosch 040 fuel pump and Aeroflow regulator combination. The final step to the conversion was running the car
up on the dyno at ProTune, where it was tuned to an impressive 410hp at the tre treads. Not only is that good power in a car that weighs as little as the VK, but it’s reliablere power that will tolerate all that Dale thr throws at it — among other torture tests, thosethos challenges will include burnout comps and,and all going well, maybe even a blast up Rod Millen’sMillen driveway. Before that happens, a pair of pe period-correct race seats will replace the current Recaros. However, with dogs and a kid in the back,back the rest of the interior is set to remain as is, allowingallow the whole family to enjoy the car, stress-free. Dale has owned showsho cars, and, despite how good the VK looks, he’s determined to make sure it never becomesbecom so precious that it can’t be enjoyed by all. WithW a big-power LS up front, manual box in hand,hand and the perfect looks to match, the car may well become not only his most fun ride yet butbu perhaps the most famous, toot — impressivei i stufft for a largely shed-built and comparatively low-budget machine.