EVEN if you’re not into first-gen­er­a­tion Com­modores, you prob­a­bly know they never came with a bench-seat op­tion. But Craig Mor­row’s has one, to go along with the swag of awards he took home at Sum­mer­nats 31, in­clud­ing out­right Tuff Street Cham­pion.

Craig’s mini-tubbed 1050hp VH, known as ST1NKY, wowed pun­ters in Canberra thanks to the way he in­te­grated orig­i­nal SL/E styling el­e­ments (like the cool sin­gle-spoke tiller), along with mods from dif­fer­ent eras, all sit­ting on a drag-ready en­gi­neer­ing plat­form. And he’ll get the neck­beards cry­ing with rage when they hear he started with a gen­uine 308 VH SL/E!

“I’ve al­ways been a one-eyed Holden man,” Craig says. “I love the SL/E Com­modores and any­thing from the 80s. I pur­chased this car from ebay in 2014 for $2300. While it needed a full re­build, it is a gen­uine five-litre SL/E.”

What be­came a finely de­tailed Top 60 Elite-level show­piece ac­tu­ally started with the goal of eight-sec­ond times­lips, and was never meant to end up tak­ing home tro­phies at Australia’s top car show.

“Orig­i­nally we didn’t want to go too cus­tom; we just wanted to go fast. I also wanted to drive it to my wedding, but we only missed that dead­line by about two years,” Craig laughs.

“Af­ter my daugh­ter and I got it home we stripped the car and cut the rear out, then sent it off to Nathan Lloyd at Fab­ri­ca­tion Tech­niques to build a four-link rear to fit the 15x10 Weld Mag­num wheels and 325/50 M&H Race­mas­ter tyres.”

A rear end that beefy was needed to han­dle the near-1100hp blown LS that was des­tined for the VH, built by John Pilla at Pow­er­house En­gines. The block is an RHS 4.125-inch-bore al­loy Ls3-style unit, taken to 427ci thanks to forged JE pis­tons and a Cal­lies Dragon­slayer four-inch crank, joined by 6.125-inch Cal­lies Ultra I-beam rods.

Based off the LS3 rec­tan­gle-port for­mat, the heads are Mast Mo­tor­sport’s 12° Black La­bel 280cc cast­ings, jammed full of good gear like 2.2-inch ti­ta­nium in­take valves and 1.6-inch In­conel ex­haust valves, T&D 1.8-ra­tio shaft-mounted rock­ers, and dual PAC valve springs, pushed around by Morel tie-bar lifters and a 234°/254° Mast cam. Mast also supplied a full ARE dry-sump oil sys­tem, in­clud­ing four-stage oil pump and al­loy pan, with a Peter­son tank hold­ing the black gold.

That A-grade hard­ware is needed to hold 11psi worth of hurt from the huge four-litre Whip­ple PD blower. The charge-air is in­gested through


ONE of the big­gest talk­ing points at the VH’S un­veil­ing was the amaz­ing work on the in­te­rior, which pays trib­ute to the iconic SL/E but in­cludes wild touches like the bench seat and B&M shifter mounted in the cus­tom dash.

Craig ex­plains how it all came to be. “I have to thank Paul at Cus­tom­ized Auto Trim­mers in Shep­par­ton for the job he did on ST1NKY,” he be­gins. “I wanted a sixseater car for my wedding, so I de­cided to put in a bench seat from an HR Holden. I spent 50 hours mod­i­fy­ing just the frame to fit the VH and changed to ribbed carmine velour from an SL/X to match the straight lines of the Com­modore I had in mind, in­stead of the SL/E’S flat velour.

“I then mod­i­fied the gear­box tun­nel so it was smooth, and I repo­si­tioned the hand­brake to in­side the right-hand sill us­ing a Lokar ca­ble set-up. With no con­sole, the dash was re­con­fig­ured to ac­com­mo­date the B&M Quick­sil­ver shifter with re­verse pattern, so I built a cus­tom dash, and the top of the pas­sen­ger side was cov­ered with vinyl pad­ding for en­gi­neer­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“I pur­chased a Hal­tech IQ3 dash to run my gauges. Start­ing with the IQ3’S shape, I de­signed the bin­na­cle to com­ple­ment the in­stru­ments, and I in­cluded the trans­brake tog­gle switches. While fab­ri­cat­ing the dash I in­cor­po­rated the para­chute pull lever close to the steer­ing wheel for easy ac­cess, and made cut-outs for the rollcage.

“I added the black trim to mimic the orig­i­nal SL/E dash panel, and re­tained the orig­i­nal steer­ing wheel, though we de­signed an in­sert to carry the trans­brake but­ton. I also used the orig­i­nal VH brake pedal arm with a fluted rub­ber pedal that mim­ics the VE elec­tronic ac­cel­er­a­tor pedal.

“I hand­made the two-per­son rear seat from ply­wood to leave the tubs ex­posed. Then, with the par­cel shelf look­ing out of place, I cut it all out to start fresh, putting in for­ward-fac­ing speak­ers, repo­si­tion­ing the seat­belts, and adding a large SL/E sym­bol Cnc-ma­chined out of MDF, with Cnc-ma­chined Per­spex let­ter­ing that Lilow Auto Tech had to cut twice, as I scratched the first set fit­ting them. This panel was needed to in­cor­po­rate ac­cess to the anti-roll bar for ad­just­ments.

“The roof panel, floors and sill panels were de­signed to smooth out the bumpy fac­tory Com­modore de­sign. The SL/E sym­bols in the scuff plates were Cnc­ma­chined by Lilow Auto Tech, while Ge­off Sut­ton from Yar­roweyah Panels painted them black and cleared them nicely, in­clud­ing the in­ner door han­dle sets.”

a 102mm bil­let elec­tronic throt­tle from Yella Terra, com­pressed, and then cooled by a wa­ter-to-air sys­tem that uses a cus­tom Pwr-made heat ex­changer liv­ing out the front of the car, next to the cus­tom PWR al­loy ra­di­a­tor.

So far the combo has made 1045hp and 870lb-ft on the Pow­er­house en­gine dyno, run­ning 11.8psi of boost. Craig had Fab­ri­ca­tion Tech­niques build a road-le­gal ex­haust sys­tem us­ing two-inch four-into-one head­ers, run­ning into a twin three­inch sys­tem that uses four Hooker muf­flers to get the big LS un­der 90db.

Ja­son at Burko Trans­mis­sions put to­gether a three-speed TH400 us­ing a Reid case and bell­hous­ing, Vasco in­put shaft, B&M pan, Hughes Pro Brake, and stuffed with TCI hard­ware, while the con­verter is a TCE 4600rpm unit.

Race Prod­ucts in Syd­ney supplied the 3.5-inch sheet-metal hous­ing, with 35-spline full-float­ing hubs and cus­tom axles. The nine-inch Strange HD al­loy cen­tre uses a Strange S-trac car­rier, Mo­tive 3.50 gearset and Strange moly yoke cen­tre, built by Shawn Car­roll in Shep­par­ton. It has been mounted us­ing Pro9 four-link brack­ets that Nathan from Fab­ri­ca­tion Tech­niques in­stalled.

“The diff uses Wil­wood disc brakes and in­ter­nal hand­brake, with Pro9 dou­ble-ad­justable AFCO shocks and both up­per and lower sus­pen­sion arms and brack­etry,” says Craig. “Pro9 also supplied some sexy blue bil­let anti-roll bars, which Nathan fit­ted be­tween the boot and tubs. He then added moly tube to hold the Deist para­chute and steeled out the boot and wheel tubs.”

Fab­ri­ca­tion Tech­niques also fit­ted chas­sis con­nec­tors to keep the twist down, be­fore the trans tun­nel was lifted up and the floor mod­i­fied to al­low a quar­tet of muf­flers to keep the LS’S bark within EPA rules. Nathan also got the job of de­sign­ing and mak­ing the six-point moly ’cage, which in­cludes taxi and in­tru­sion bars, be­fore he made the whole ex­haust sys­tem from head­ers to tailpipes.

The VH shell then had a date with lo­cal soda-blasters, who did the external body panels in soda and then sand-blasted the un­der­car­riage, en­gine bay and boot to en­sure no rust could re­main hid­den. Craig then set about fit­ting the driv­e­train us­ing Tuff Mounts en­gine and ’box mounts, and fin­ish­ing the en­gine bay to per­fec­tion.

The VH was then trial-as­sem­bled to en­sure no cutting or fab work had to oc­cur af­ter the shell was painted. Craig took this time to re­wire the car with mate Ross Bell, be­fore it was loaded on the trailer to have the Hal­tech ECU tuned by Ja­son at Tun­nel Vi­sion in Mel­bourne.

Craig reck­ons he got the tune bang-on. “Even though the car can blow the tyres off most of the time, Ja­son got a good tune in it and it starts mint ev­ery time.”

From there ST1NKY went home to be stripped, be­fore it was

taken to Greg Maskell at Maskell’s Cus­toms & Clas­sics to be coated in paint many would con­sider far too nice for a race car!

“Greg and the boys painted the un­der­car­riage in KBS black, so I can drive her and not worry about too much dam­age,” Craig says. “PPG came to the party with its straight black and white tin­ter, and a cus­tom red mix for the in­te­rior.”

In­ter­est­ingly, while the two-tone black roof looks like it was al­ways meant to be there, Craig had orig­i­nally wanted some­thing dif­fer­ent again. “I wanted the shell a re­ally clean white, but the painted black roof was my sec­ond op­tion. Orig­i­nally I wanted an authen­tic vinyl roof, but the trim moulds were im­pos­si­ble to find.

“Greg then de­liv­ered her home in the sec­ond week of Novem­ber. With the Sum­mer­nats de­but only six weeks away, we worked ev­ery day on her, and with some help from Pe­ter Clarke to fin­ish the en­closed trailer and my son Corey, we got the car fin­ished the day we were leav­ing for Sum­mer­nats.”

ST1NKY caused a huge stir at ’Nats 31, start­ing with its turn as one of the cars fea­tured in the Megiuar’s Great Un­veil on the Fri­day night. Along with plac­ing in the Top 60 Elite, Craig’s VH went on to take out Best Pro Tuff and Tuff Street Cham­pion.

There were many hours of work in the en­gine bay. “I mod­i­fied the right­hand en­gine bay skirt to ac­cept the dry-sump tank; then we fab­ri­cated the cross­mem­ber mount for the ra­di­a­tor and in­ter­cooler,” Craig ex­plains. “The fire­wall was cut to ac­cept the in­take for the blower, and the whole en­gine bay was welded for a smooth fin­ish”

Be­hind the 17x4.5in Weld Mag­num front wheels are Wil­wood four-pot disc brakes. They’re hung off a Castle­maine Rod Shop mount­ing kit, con­nect­ing to the cus­tom Pro9 Macpher­son struts that use a dou­blead­justable AFCO shock and AFCO spring, topped with Tuff Mounts cov­ers. At the bot­tom they tie to the VL Com­modore man­ual steer­ing rack via a Mcdon­ald Bros tube K-frame us­ing fac­tory bot­tom balljoints and rose-joints

“When we first got the seat it had some rusted springs, so we cut them out, but this was a mis­take be­cause you can’t buy new springs,” Craig says. “So I had to buy two more seats to just get enough springs to fin­ish the seat!”


Now the car is done, Craig is itch­ing to stretch its legs. “I will def­i­nitely take it to Calder af­ter Mo­torex,” he says. “I’ve been driv­ing it and I have to pull my­self back a bit, as just getting used to the power has taken a bit of time. It drives re­ally straight and nicely, but it turns the tyres in any gear. If it wasn’t scary it wouldn’t have been worth all the money!”

“The air­box is made from fi­bre­glass and we mod­i­fied the Alfa Fi­bre­glass re­ver­sec­owl bon­net to bring air in from the rear of the scoop,” Craig says. “Af­ter many hours this was achieved, but the bon­net gaps were too wide, so Pe­ter Clarke and I widened the bon­net 8mm and length­ened it 7mm to help Maskell’s achieve the 5mm gaps they wanted”

E85 juice is held in an After­mar­ket In­dus­tries 75L tank fit­ted with three Wal­bro 460 pumps. They push the ethanol down Aeroflow hard­lines to Bosch 1650cc in­jec­tors sit­ting in the Whip­ple fuel rails. The fuel load is con­trolled by a Hal­tech Elite 2500, and ig­nited by GM coils us­ing MSD 8mm leads

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