EN­TER SANDBARRA

Street Machine - - Contents - STORY BORIS VISKOVIC PHO­TOS JOR­DAN LEIST

Be­lieve in some­thing. Even if it means putting a mod­ern Ford mo­tor into a clas­sic Holden

THE re­ac­tion to Chris Dicker’s HZ ute could best be de­scribed as po­lar­is­ing. With the bon­net shut, most peo­ple would just see a pretty tidy Sand­man ute, then they’d prob­a­bly fig­ure out that the Sand­man stripes seem to morph into an XW GT stripe at the front of the car. With the bon­net up, the light­bulb mo­ment hap­pens a bit more quickly, as peo­ple can clearly see that the straight-six en­gine is most def­i­nitely not a 202!

Chris cov­ered the build on his FG Holden Ute Face­book page, with some posts gar­ner­ing hun­dreds of com­ments. “There’s been some pretty nasty stuff, but most peo­ple are cool with it,” Chris says. “I’d say about two-thirds of the peo­ple like it, most peo­ple are okay with it, 10 per cent love it, but some peo­ple hate it. Com­ments like: ‘Burn it with fire. Why have you done that? The bloke should be strung up.’ Just pure vi­o­lence!”

It is funny how worked up peo­ple get when some­one uses a non-orig­i­nal en­gine in a car. In some scenes it’s not an is­sue at all – hot rod­ders have been do­ing it for years – and let’s face it, all en­gines are ba­si­cally the same, it’s just the name on the rocker cover that changes. Chris has an­other way you can look at it: “Some peo­ple can’t seem to get it through their heads that this is ac­tu­ally an Aus­tralian-built and de­signed Ford en­gine in an Aus­tralian-built Holden – it’s not an LS. You just can’t preach to them; I just let them go.” What would be re­ally in­ter­est­ing is to see how many of the de­trac­tors are run­ning around with Ford Top Load­ers and nine-inch diffs in their Hold­ens!

But that’s enough about the haters, the real ques­tion is: Why would you? “It started out as a project to do with my young bloke,” Chris ex­plains. “It was rusty enough that we were go­ing to chuck a cou­ple of patch pan­els on it, blow a bit of white paint on, turbo LS – it was partly in­spired by the ‘Farm Ute’ [of John Di

Mauro] that was run­ning around over east. It mor­phed into a bit of a tick-the-box-and-sendthe-stuff project, and I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t go­ing to im­press any­one; it wasn’t go­ing to im­press me.

“We were just muck­ing around one night, Will and James [Chris’s sons] and I, the whole #bar­rathe­world thing. I went down to the lo­cal taxi place and there were four Barra en­gines sit­ting on the ground, so I grabbed one, took it back to the shed, pulled the old 202 out and tried to sit it in there. The sump wouldn’t fit, but I knew it’d go in.”

Af­ter ring­ing a few peo­ple and not get­ting much sup­port for his idea, Chris rang Wal­lis­ton Wreck­ers and picked up an FG turbo mo­tor with about 70,000km on the clock and a ZF sixspeed auto gear­box. He was com­mit­ted now, es­pe­cially af­ter cre­at­ing the Face­book page that went live in Oc­to­ber 2016. With the car mak­ing its de­but at the WA Hot Rod & Street Ma­chine Spec­tac­u­lar in June 2018, the project took a lit­tle over 18 months, and be­cause he likes to keep him­self ex­tra busy, Chris also started up a new busi­ness – Dicker’s Speed Shoppe – so the car has be­come a bit of a rolling bill­board for that.

Al­though Chris was re­plac­ing a six for an­other six, there was still quite a bit of work to get the en­gine to fit, mostly to do with mod­i­fy­ing the sump, but also to en­sure that the whole en­gine stayed un­der the bon­net. “The main is­sue is, the oil pump is driven off the front of the crank and the oil pump pick-up comes di­rectly down be­hind the bal­ancer with a ¾-inch tube, then goes all the way to the rear of the sump. It sticks down from the bot­tom of the block a long way,” Chris says. This cre­ated all sorts of

SOME PEO­PLE HATE IT. COM­MENTS LIKE: “BURN IT WITH FIRE. THE BLOKE SHOULD BE STRUNG UP.” JUST PURE VI­O­LENCE!

headaches with steer­ing clear­ance, so Chris came up with a so­lu­tion to make the pick-up take a 90-de­gree turn to­wards the side of the block. He also swapped out the steer­ing box for a To­rana rack-and-pin­ion.

To mount the en­gine, Chris used a set of Tuff Mounts, and while there isn’t an of­fi­cial offthe-shelf kit, they dubbed the parts sup­plied a ‘Bar­ra­hore’ kit. “They sent me Ford mounts for the en­gine side and Holden for the other and said: ‘You can work it out.’ I had to re­tain the crankshaft cen­tre height to make sure ev­ery­thing lined up with the driv­e­line,” says Chris.

The en­gine was still in pretty good nick, but it copped a bit of a freshen-up with new bil­let oil pump gears and stud kit from Atomic, as well as some fresh valve springs, new tim­ing chain, new ten­sioner and new gas­kets for good mea­sure.

With all of these late-model, com­put­er­con­trolled en­gines, you’ve got to make sure you get all the wiring right, es­pe­cially when it comes to the gear­box, oth­er­wise you ain’t go­ing any­where. There’s no point chang­ing some­thing just for the sake of it, so Chris even used the fac­tory shifter and con­sole, so he can ei­ther let the ’box do all the work or flick the shifter across and bang through the six gears man­u­ally.

The rest of the in­te­rior is pretty much GTS spec in the fac­tory Chamois colour to tie in nicely with the Sa­van­nah Ivory Beige ex­te­rior paint, with the only change be­ing a boost gauge in place of the clock. It’s even got a/c and a heater tucked up be­hind the glove­box, which is only about three inches deep now, but had the added ben­e­fit of re­mov­ing the blower mo­tor from the en­gine bay.

What sets this car apart is that Chris had a vi­sion from early on, even get­ting ren­der­ings drawn up to try out dif­fer­ent con­cepts. The end re­sult be­ing so close to those ini­tial draw­ings shows how com­mit­ted Chris was to com­ing up with a theme and stick­ing to it through­out the build.

“Suncity Signs & Graph­ics up in Ger­ald­ton did all of the ren­der­ings and the de­sign of the logo and stripes,” Chris says. “I know Shane

[the owner] through Peter El­lis who bought my HQ [cover car of SM, Aug ’07] and he has an HZ ute, and in­stead of ‘Sand­man’ on his tail­gate he’s got ‘Sign­man’.”

This got Chris think­ing, so he spoke to Shane about the ideas he had rat­tling around his head, and af­ter be­ing sworn to se­crecy, Suncity de­vel­oped the ren­der­ings and Sandbarra stripes and logo. “We went back and for­wards, try­ing things like a black vinyl roof, blacked-out win­dow frames, mir­rors and door han­dles – all sorts of con­cepts so we could say: ‘No, don’t like that.’” That trial-and-er­ror process is much eas­ier and much less ex­pen­sive on a com­puter than it is in real life, and the rea­son the car ended up look­ing just like the fi­nal ren­der­ing.

Chris ad­mits he could have gone a lot wilder – maybe a lower stance, fat­ter wheels, a bunch more boost – but this car has been built as a re­li­able and le­gal cruiser for the street, with Chris con­sult­ing an en­gi­neer for the en­tirety of the build process.

“I wasn’t try­ing to ap­peal to 18-year-olds with pim­ples; I’m ap­peal­ing to what I like,” Chris says. “I can just jump in this, with air con­di­tion­ing and a six-speed, and drive it ev­ery day of the week.”

It might sound like Chris is get­ting old, but if he keeps turn­ing out cool cars like this, bring it on!

Apart from the Barra en­gine, the other thing peo­ple lose their minds about is the sin­gle GTS flute on the right-hand guard, which, Chris ex­plains with a sly grin, is on the hot side of the en­gine

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