Building A Summernats Champion

24. January 2014 10:42 by Rare Spares in   //  Tags: ,   //   Comments (0)

If you are interested in cars, there is no doubt you have at one stage or another wished you could have purchased your favourite older model car from the factory when it was released and kept it in your garage in great condition. For Henry Parry, this dream was a reality.

Henry’s mother had purchased a 1961 FB Holden brand new nearly half a century ago. The vehicle has been retained in the family, garaged and only driven on the odd occasion.  As a result, the car was already a rare, unmodified, pristine example of how the FB came from the factory all those years ago.

About two years ago, Henry felt that it was time to give the FB a freshen up, but really felt the car deserved a high quality build. Car shows were a perfect location to network for a potential builder and before long he got talking to Laurie Starling. Laurie owns The Chop Shop, specialising in restoring street machine and hot rod era vehicles and before they knew it, plans were being made. Henry also met with Danny Makdessi from Custom Bodyworks who would later play a pivotal role in the Summernats Grand Champion campaign.

The build started with a full strip down, before the chassis and body were sand blasted twice. Being garaged since new, the body and chassis were in great condition and there was very little rust. A new floor plan was created and welded in place.

The engine selected for the build needed a more modern variant still within the Holden umbrella. The obvious choice was the Chevrolet LS1 5.7 litre fuel injected engine, mated to a 4L60E 4 speed automatic gearbox out of a Commodore. A new four link rear setup was installed and the ever faithful Ford 9” differential fitted. 

Suspension comprised of further custom work before some modern coil overs were fitted to give the FB a nice height and allow for dramatically improved handling. Harrop provided the calipers, rotors and pads to give the FB a huge increase in braking power compared to standard.

The final stages of refit needed some sourcing of hard to find parts. This is where Rare Spares assisted, providing tail lights lenses, external door handles, scuff plates and a complete rubber seal kit.

After the majority of the build was complete, it was time for Danny Makdessi to work his magic on the panels and paint. A beautiful Kandy Red was chosen and really suits the car.

The interior responsibilities were in the capable hands of Darren from Stitched Up Trim who provided a one off custom interior for the car.

The finishing touches on the car were put together 18 months after the build began. The car then debuted at Motorex 2013. It won ‘Top Design Execution’ award which was great for all involved and it gave the team some motivation to take the car to Summernats and enter the Grand Champion competition.

Sadly, Henry has recently run into ill health so he asked Danny Makdessi to drive the car on his behalf at Summernats.

The car was well received by the huge crowds; it drove smoothly in the grass driving events, was part of the Supercruise on Saturday evening and was then selected as a top ten vehicle.

It was not until Sunday afternoon the team received the amazing news that they had won the prestigious Summernats Grand Champion award for 2014, a coveted prize only a select few will ever win.

"It is overwhelming, it really is. It is hard to take in the fact we have won this award. It is a great reward to all of the car builders who have put in so much time to put the car together and Henry will be so happy when he hears the news.”  says Danny Makdessi.