Street Machine

HELLFIRE Club

HELLFIRE CLUB

- STORY DAMION SMY PHOTOS CHRIS THOROGOOD

Dom Trimboli’s living out his childhood dreams in his killer VS Clubby

THIS VS CLUBSPORT’S RELATIVELY SEDATE EXTERIOR HIDES 740HP WORTH OF TURBOCHARG­ED FIRE AND BRIMSTONE

THEY say nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Dom Trimboli had grown up around decent streeters, and one of them, a white VS Clubsport, had caught his eye before he was even old enough to drive. “One day, I’m going to own that car,” he boldly told his school mates. Fast-forward to age 19 and Dom was living the dream with his very own VS Clubby – a Series II auto finished in Cherry Black – but deep down he still lusted after the white Clubsport that had roamed his neighbourh­ood just a few years earlier. “I’d become mates with the owner, so one day I just joked, ‘I’ll swap ya,’” Dom says. “I was completely shocked when he goes, “Yeah, all right!”

It was a straight swap: Cherry Black auto for Heron White manual. A genuine 1996 VS Series II Clubsport (build number 1069), Dom’s newly acquired white weapon came with the standard 185kw (248hp)/400nm (295lb-ft) injected 304, IRS, and a few rare factory options including those well-bolstered Devenish leather seats and the marble applique around the shifter. Even now, the standard airbag wheel, Clubsport door trims and even the standard 30W Eurovox cassette (!) player are all in place in what deceptivel­y appears to be a lightly warmed stock sedan.

Cruising in the Clubby as a 19-year-old, Dom says the car was as low and loud as it could be. Problem was, a 248hp V8 car isn’t exactly P-plate approved, and Dom was quickly pulled off the road by the local highway patrol. Now, it’s unlikely when introducin­g a power-to-weight legal limit for young drivers that lawmakers expected what Dom did next.

“In the time I had no licence, I ended up buying

an built 308 for it,” Dom explains. “Then one of my brother’s friends had a Vortech blower set-up to suit a 308, so I bought that off him and I couldn’t put it on quick enough!” Despite not being able to drive it on the street, Dom could still take the now-supercharg­ed Clubby down the quarter, setting a 12.20@117mph. Not bad for running a manual gearbox, either – until the T5 and the stock diff let go.

Having the car off the road was an opportunit­y for Dom to fix a few other things, too. The engine bay was cleaned up, presentati­on-wise – it didn’t match the immaculate exterior – and with the engine out and a new, stronger driveline coming in the form of a one-piece tailshaft with a nine-inch and Strange 3.5:1 centre, why not send more power down the line?

“Pretty much with a 308, no one touches them. You’ve got your people who play with them, but it’s just too easy to put an LS in now, and I didn’t want that. I wanted to make a decent amount of power with a 355, just to be different,” Dom says. “I spoke to Vince at Super Street and said, ‘Look, I want to build a 355 with the Vortech.’ So we put a little blown combo together. But then he turned around out of the blue and said, ‘Why don’t we go a decent single turbo on this thing?’”

By ‘decent’, Vince meant a Garrett GT42, with the 355 designed to cop 18psi. A turbo Clubsport? “To be honest, I always wanted to go turbo with it, but I never understood and

ONE DAY I JUST JOKED, “I’LL SWAP YA.” I WAS COMPLETELY SHOCKED WHEN HE GOES, “YEAH, ALL RIGHT!”

never really knew much about them,” Dom says. Now was as good a time as ever to take the plunge: Dom sold the Vortech and had a mate make custom turbo manifolds for the new set-up, with a 92mm throttlebo­dy and huge 2200cc injectors that demand three Walbro fuel pumps. Strong internals include JE pistons, Scat H-beam rods and a COME Racing billet crank. The mill is topped by COME Racing alloy heads.

“From then it all snowballed,” Dom says. “We intended on making a certain amount of power, and then I thought the standard IRS couldn’t handle the 308 – it used to break cradles and stuff like that. So I sent the car away, got it tubbed, converted it from manual and put a Powerglide in it. Then fully ’caged it, parachute – one thing after another. It wasn’t meant to get as far out as it did!”

Sitting on Weld Racing wheels – those tubs taken up by fat 12-inch Mickey Thompsons, with 17-inch front-runners – the Clubby sits lower on its four-link rear, with Strange coilovers and Pedders up front.

To hide the Clubby’s new weaponry, a fourinch reverse cowl was added to the bonnet; even then, there is only around 15mm between the cowl and the throttlebo­dy. “The car was never meant to come out looking like a pro streeter; I wanted to keep it looking standard, but you can’t have both worlds,” Dom says.

That wild engine bay sits in contrast to the relatively restrained cabin and exterior, but the Holden V8 is the heart and soul of the car. It was time for the relatively subtle-looking VS sedan’s first quarter-mile run.

“It was making 576hp, and Bill from Garage Worx said to me, ‘This car should go 9.70, maybe a little but quicker, on that much power and how much the car weighs,’” Dom says. “We took it to Heathcote, straight off the trailer, didn’t touch a thing and it went 9.70@140mph! We were rapt!”

There’s more in it, too: Dom wants to get into the eights with the car, now tuned to 737rwhp on 16.5psi, while there’s plans to upgrade the current suspension with Viking fully adjustable coil-overs front and rear.

Not bad for a still road-registered Clubby that already had cachet as an HSV – and a car that Dom dreamed of as a schoolboy. His one-yearold son, Cruz, loves nothing more than sitting in the baby seat and going for a weekend spin in Dad’s labour of love. “If I don’t end up building another car, this is going to end up being my son’s car I reckon,” says Dom. “Or if I have more than one kid, I don’t know – I’m going to have to split the car or build another one!” We hear there’s a Cherry Black Clubby that may be the perfect base…

NO ONE TOUCHES 308s THESE DAYS. IT’S JUST TOO EASY TO PUT AN LS IN NOW, AND I DIDN’T WANT THAT

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 ??  ?? ENGINE: Immaculate­ly presented, the 355 is force-fed by that huge Garrett GT42 turbo for 737rwhp and – so far – a 9.70sec quarter. It would’ve been easier to go an LS, but Dom wanted to do something a little different
Dom wanted the factory Heron White Clubby to look as stock as possible, with body mods limited to the reverse cowl on the bonnet. The bodykit, front grille and spoiler are as per factory
ENGINE: Immaculate­ly presented, the 355 is force-fed by that huge Garrett GT42 turbo for 737rwhp and – so far – a 9.70sec quarter. It would’ve been easier to go an LS, but Dom wanted to do something a little different Dom wanted the factory Heron White Clubby to look as stock as possible, with body mods limited to the reverse cowl on the bonnet. The bodykit, front grille and spoiler are as per factory
 ??  ?? ABOVE: The four-link rear, 9in diff and raised trans tunnel are neatly presented and packaged so that the diff doesn’t touch the floorpan. There’s no space for the trans cooler up front, so it lives back here too
ABOVE: The four-link rear, 9in diff and raised trans tunnel are neatly presented and packaged so that the diff doesn’t touch the floorpan. There’s no space for the trans cooler up front, so it lives back here too
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 ??  ?? Tubbed to house those fat Mickey Thompsons, and with the factory Clubby’s IRS set-up in the bin, the car sits beautifull­y. The rear venetian is a throwback to Dom’s teenage days, and also serves as a distractio­n from the six-point rollcage
Tubbed to house those fat Mickey Thompsons, and with the factory Clubby’s IRS set-up in the bin, the car sits beautifull­y. The rear venetian is a throwback to Dom’s teenage days, and also serves as a distractio­n from the six-point rollcage

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