SLEEP­ERS

> IT LOOKS LIKE GRANDPA’S GRO­CERY-GET­TER, BUT THIS HT PACKS A HEFTY LS-SIZED PUNCH

Street Machine - - Contents -

WHEN Ian Wright took own­er­ship of his HT Holden he didn’t have any in­ten­tion to cre­ate the sleeper you see now. He just wanted a nice re­li­able cruiser that his wife could drive, but af­ter hav­ing a few beers with some mates a new plan was hatched that would see the hum­ble HT turn into a real rub­ber-hater.

In place of the fac­tory 186, a throaty LS1 now re­sides in the en­gine bay, while a 4L60E with a 3000rpm stall and a Hilux diff sport­ing 3.58:1 gears send all that ex­tra power through tiny pizza-cut­ter rear tyres. At least he’s still got the fac­tory mud­flaps to catch all the burnt rub­ber!

Ian loves the unas­sum­ing na­ture of the car, go­ing to big lengths to keep its ac­ci­den­tal sleeper sta­tus in place. “Noth­ing has changed on the ex­te­rior of the car and noth­ing gives it away ’til I start it,” he says. “Peo­ple can walk around it for hours and think it’s an orig­i­nal old girl.”

The orig­i­nal­ity of the HT runs deeper than just the ex­te­rior looks; even the wiring and body are as orig­i­nal as pos­si­ble, which was Ian’s goal through­out the build. “I cut the car as lit­tle as pos­si­ble and ev­ery­thing is bolt-in,” he says. “Even the wiring har­ness plugs straight in and out of the fac­tory body loom, so I can take it back to orig­i­nal one day if I want.”

Ian got the car with all the orig­i­nal pa­per­work from the first owner, and says it was “a true grandpa pack”. He ac­tu­ally bought it dur­ing the brief few min­utes that his wife had walked away to look at a garage sale. De­spite the shock she doubt­less ex­pe­ri­enced on her re­turn, she has been fully sup­port­ive through­out the whole project.

Just like the ex­te­rior, the inside hasn’t changed a whole lot ei­ther, with the orig­i­nal brown in­te­rior re­tained right down to the steer­ing wheel. Even the stock col­umn-shifter is used to get the newer 4L60E trans up and bo­ogy­ing. The only real give­away is the cus­tom-made gauge clus­ter hid­ing un­der the dash and the mon­ster tachome­ter sit­ting next to the steer­ing col­umn.

Other ar­eas of the car have re­mained fairly stan­dard as well. Springs are just low­ered King Springs vari­ants of the fac­tory stuff with Ped­ders shocks, while the brakes – rather scar­ily – are still the stan­dard drums up front and Hilux drums in the rear.

Stan­dard LS1 EFI gear is used, and the en­gine is largely stock bar a larger

102mm throt­tle­body, a cus­tom cam and after­mar­ket lifters.

The end goal of hav­ing a fun cruiser was re­tained through­out the LS con­ver­sion, with the car’s us­abil­ity just as im­por­tant as speed for Ian. “Even with the LS1 and stall in it, you can still drive it like a nor­mal car, which is what I wanted,” he says. “I wanted my wife to be able to drive it nor­mally, but have it still be able to shred tyres once you put the foot down.”

Ian and his mates put the car to­gether in just a few months, tak­ing it for its first big voy­age from Queens­land all the way down to Can­berra for Sum­mer­nats. The car didn’t have a sin­gle is­sue, even sip­ping fuel at nine litres per 100km on the big trip. Two years and 15,000km later, Ian’s barely changed a spark­plug.

The gold roof is fac­tory-orig­i­nal as well; af­ter his trip to Sum­mer­nats Ian even got fol­lowed up by a bloke want­ing to buy the car, as it turns out the gold and white is a fairly rare colour combo.

Power-wise, Ian reck­ons the old girl is punch­ing out some­where in the ball­park of 360hp, and he does plan on head­ing to the track one day to prop­erly stretch the car’s legs. He’ll throw some 4.11s into the Hilux rear end, some big­ger meats on the back and a quick-shift­ing auto into the cock­pit, which should see the car crack the low 12s. But im­pres­sive times down the strip are not what this HT is re­ally about.

“It’s never go­ing to be a full race car,” he says. “I’ve had full race cars be­fore, and this time I just wanted a fun cruiser I could share with my wife and kids.

NOTH­ING GIVES IT AWAY ’TIL I START IT. PEO­PLE CAN WALK AROUND IT FOR HOURS AND THINK IT’S AN ORIG­I­NAL OLD GIRL

IN­TE­RIOR: A cus­tom gauge clus­ter is about the only ob­vi­ous non-orig­i­nal ad­di­tion inside (oh, and the fluffy dice, of course!)

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