EASY 9S

SIN­GLE-CAM RB VL

NZ Performance Car - - Contents - WORDS: JADEN MARTIN PHO­TOS : ADAM CROY

The pusuit of speed can mean diffrent things for dif­fer­ent folk. Some want to watch the nee­dle go off the clock, while oth­ers would rather set lap records at their lo­cal, but, for the bet­ter part of a cen­tury, one thing that has re­mained the prov­ing ground of any­thing fast is the quar­ter-mile. Yep, we’re talk­ing drag rac­ing. It’s helped forge the New Zealand car scene into what it is to­day – namely, su­per-tough street weapons that hit the strip look­ing for any­thing and ev­ery­thing to line up. The quest to run quicker than ever be­fore has de­liv­ered a suc­ces­sion of ever-faster builds over the years. How­ever, one chas­sis has be­come a cult clas­sic among one com­mu­nity and caused con­fu­sion in another, due to parts from a mish­mash of man­u­fac­tures, but, if the Aussie boys are any­thing to go by, it can be built into an ab­so­lute mon­ster.

The chas­sis in ques­tion is the Holden VL Commodore — fa­mous for chop­ping down the straight in sin­gle-digit sec­onds in Aussie and for pro­duc­ing ‘hec­tic doses’ cour­tesy of its 3.0-litre Nis­san-built heart. Hay­den Ma­son bought his first ex­am­ple as a cheap way to have a bit of fun, and it ar­rived with the ‘pin­na­cle of speed’ — the RB20E — which was promptly ripped out in favour of the bigger-ca­pac­ity and torquier RB30E, and, so that it would make all the cor­rect noises, a turbo con­ver­sion soon saw it sport­ing a T04E. That in­car­na­tion of the sin­gle-cammer only made a hand­ful of runs, enough to get him well and truly hooked be­fore he de­cided that the car was far too slow to set any no­table times, so he set about giv­ing it the sprin­kle of good­ness it needed to head to­wards the sin­gle dig­its.

When seek­ing power from a sin­gle-cam RB30, you need not look any fur­ther than what the Aus­tralians are do­ing to get there, and Hay­den says that there is plenty of in­for­ma­tion read­ily avail­able that will take you to the 300kW mark; any­thing fur­ther be­comes a closely guarded se­cret that you have to fig­ure out your­self.

As with many builds, there was a bit of trial and er­ror. So far, it’s been through a cou­ple of head gas­kets and, on one oc­ca­sion, the gud­geon pins broke clean in half. How­ever, through that process, Hay­den man­aged to put to­gether a re­li­able pack­age con­sist­ing of an RB30 block hous­ing CP forged pis­tons and Spool rods, with a CNC­ported head pack­ing a Kelford Cams 284/292-de­gree camshaft and 1mm over­size Man­ley valves sit­ting on top.

As for where the power was go­ing to come from — a hearty sized

snail — Hay­den scrapped the T04E and fit­ted a Gar­rett GT3582R with 6Boost man­i­fold, along with a gag­gle of other good­ies. Now with a power house that had gone far beyond what he had an­tic­i­pated, he wasn’t sold on putting it back into that same shell. “So I started look­ing at LH To­ranas, think­ing of some­thing smaller and lighter, and even con­sid­ered a Gemini,” he says. “I also looked at Rob­bie Ward’s old RX-2 from back in the day … but, ul­ti­mately, I ended up buy­ing another VL in­stead.” Any VL owner will tell you that find­ing a clean shell is near-on im­pos­si­ble, as they’re prone to rust, but Hay­den reck­ons that this one was an ex­cep­tion to the (al­most) rule, so it was painted and the new en­gine was dropped into the bay within days. The plan was to run it as an H-pat­tern man­ual, but he changed his mind at the 11th hour and switched it for a Turbo 350 au­to­matic trans­mis­sion — fit­ted with a man­ual valve body, trans­brake, and 2800 high-stall con­ver­tor for proper launches. And with a strong trans in place, the fac­tory BorgWarner diff was yanked out and a Ford nine-inch fit­ted in its place.

Its first run was some­where in the 14s with a lot of wheel spin, and, at each con­sec­u­tive meet­ing, it went that lit­tle bit faster, fi­nally break­ing into the 10s with a 10.88s, which saw the call for a roll cage to be fit­ted.

“It took about six months be­fore I de­cided to fit the cage, as I wasn’t sure if I wanted to just leave it how it was, be­ing a street car, or put it in … I wanted to keep rac­ing, so it had to be done,” Hay­den re­calls.

C&M Per­for­mance was handed the job of fab­ri­cat­ing and in­stalling a chro­moly ex­am­ple, tak­ing care to keep weight down and work­ing within the car’s shape to en­sure it was strong while re­main­ing suf­fi­ciently hid­den that a pass­ing glance on the street wouldn’t no­tice it.

Though ev­ery­thing was in a con­stant state of de­vel­op­ment, Hay­den

wanted to en­sure it was al­ways road le­gal, as it never spends long off the road: “I like to do some work on it, take it for a run to make sure it’s all good, then move on to the next stage,” he says, “and I’d rather have a car you can still drive on the street than some­thing you can only use at the track … it makes sense to be able to use it all the time.” The switch from street to drag car only sees the 18x8inch DTM Hiro and Goodyear Ea­gles un­bolted and a set of 15x4.5and 15x7-inch steel­ies with 26x4 and 26x10.5 Mickey Thomp­sons put in their place, while the ex­haust is also re­moved in favour of side-exit pipe that feeds out un­der the pas­sen­ger side.

The sus­pen­sion set-up re­mains, as Hay­den de­scribes it, “pretty ba­sic yet prac­ti­cal”. It orig­i­nally ran Dobi low­er­ing springs paired with short­ened shocks, but again, go­ing back to the Aus­tralian win­ning com­bos, the switch to a Ped­ders 90/10 shock meant the car got the boost up front that it needed to hold it there dur­ing launches off the line, and, as guys in Aussie run nines all day on them, they should see Hay­den through the car’s on-strip life.

In part thanks to a re­cent switch to E85, power lev­els are now reach­ing up­wards of the 400 mark — com­ing in at 410kW at the rears, to be ex­act — and, as the car’s best run of 10.3 at 121mph (195kph) was set on the older 300kW set-up run­ning 98 oc­tane, there is plenty in the car now to drop it into the nines. To as­sist with that goal, the diff ra­tio has been changed to 3.25:1 and the older Link Plug and Play re­placed with a Hol­ley elec­tronic fuel in­jec­tion (EFI) unit — co­in­cid­ing with the 1680cc Hol­ley EFI in­jec­tors and in­di­vid­ual coils. The car since went 10.4s at 134mph (216kph), but fur­ther runs were de­layed af­ter the ra­di­a­tor hose snapped off and dumped wa­ter un­der­neath the wheels when it neared the fin­ish line at Mere­mere, which made for a hairy time af­ter it went to­wards the wall and back the other way — go­ing past 90 de­grees — be­fore com­ing straight.

With that kind of speed un­der its belt, we have no doubt that this VL will dip into the nines bracket soon — Hay­den al­ready has the ‘EASY 9S’ plate wait­ing to as­sume the man­tle once it does.

SHOES WHEELS: Street — 18x8-inch DTM Hiro; drag — (F) 15x4.5-inch Steel, (R) 15x7-inch Steel

TYRES: Street — 235/40R18 Goodyear Ea­gle F1; drag — (F) 26x4-15 Mickey Thomp­son ET, (R) 26x10.5-15 Mickey Thomp­son ET Street R EX­TE­RIOR PAINT: Re­sprayed in Voodoo Blue over As­teroid Sil­ver EN­HANCE­MENTS: Fac­tory

DRIVER PRO­FILE DRIVER/OWNER: Hay­den Ma­son AGE: 27 LO­CA­TION: Tau­ranga OC­CU­PA­TION: Me­chanic BUILD TIME: On­go­ing LENGTH OF OWN­ER­SHIP: Seven years

THANKS: Carl and the guys at C&M Per­for­mance for all their help in de­vel­op­ing this car over the years, and my fam­ily and friends, for putting up with my car ob­ses­sion

IN­TE­RIOR SEATS: M&H STEER­ING WHEEL: Fac­tory INSTRUMENTATION: Hol­ley EFI dig­i­tal dash EX­TRA: B&M shifter

PER­FOR­MANCE POWER: 410kW (549hp) BOOST: 26psi FUEL: E85 TUNER: C&M Per­for­mance 0–400M: 10.36s at 121mph (300kW)

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