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Built to drive: Heath Madgwick’s stunning EH Holden

You’ve never seen an EH like this elite-level, 580hp, 427ci beauty! 

Having the loose fruit in your pocket to buy your dad the car he’s always wanted is something many street machiners would love to do, and Heath Madgwick actually got to do this for his father, Jack. However, the big reveal didn’t quite follow the Hollywood script many might expect.

“My mother and I bought it for my dad as a birthday present surprise, as he’d always dreamed of owning an EH but could never afford one,” Heath says. “We gave him the car on his birthday, and he was over the moon when he laid eyes on it. But he had a bit of a poke around it, took it for a drive and came back a few minutes later and told us he didn’t think much of the car’s driveability; he’d forgotten what a ’64 Holden is like to drive! I took it down to Greg the next day and we had a chat about building it as a real driver.

The Greg that Heath mentions is none other than Greg Maskell of Maskell’s Customs & Classics in Shepparton, the bloke responsible for a flood of killer hand-built cars and restorations.

“The EH was tidy, but Greg and I had ideas on how to make it better, make it fit in with the other cars we have in the family,” Heath says. “Dad actually bought another small-block EH about eight months ago that is pretty impressive, and I have a couple of blown HG Premiers; one has a little 900hp, 434ci SBC, the other has a 427ci LSX stroker making over 1000hp. I also have an 800hp, 548ci big-block in my ute, UP1T.”

With a shed full of heavy hitters like that, you can understand how an HR front end and 192ci red with triples were going to leave Heath and Jack’s mustard decidedly uncut. However, as it turns out, Heath and Greg had more strongly held opinions than Jack on how the car should progress, leaving Jack to come up with the car’s name: NOSAY.

“Dad wanted stuff like green vinyl upholstery, so he ended up having no say in the EH’s build, so that’s what we called it,” laughs Heath. “He loves it now. It was never intended to be this kind of car; as it progressed, it grew into something much nicer than what we originally intended.”

While NOSAY presents as a clean, mild-looking EH sedan at first, the number and scale of the body modifications are truly mind-bending. It starts with a full chassis and a front subframe welded up under the car, providing a solid backbone for the 427ci LS3 V8 up front, with a flat floor and roomier trans tunnel all hand-fabricated by the Maskell’s team.

It isn’t hard to spot that the EH has fabricated wheel tubs to allow the fat, big-inch 17x7in and 18x10in Boyd billets to sit perfectly in the wheelarches, but there are also far more subtle mods employed to sharpen up the sedan’s lines. The bottom edge of each door has been squared off, while the front and rear bumpers were remade using front-bumper corners mated to handmade centre sections that feature a raised top lip.

Every panel on the car has been seam-welded, with the return folds deleted to leave them completely smooth. The bolthole apertures on the front guards were raised, and outer front guard skins were used as inner guard pieces on opposite sides of the engine bay. The exposed section of each B-pillar was narrowed, the front and rear stone trays were made as one-piece items, the fuel-filler cap was hidden behind a tail-light and the inside of the bootlid and bonnet were smoothed off. A one-piece radiator support was also fabricated, and a flat firewall added to tidy up the lines of the engine bay.

Sitting proudly up front is a tough LS3, punched out to 427ci by North Vic Engines thanks to forged Mahle slugs, along with an Eagle 4340 crank and H-beam rods. A Comp Cams custom-grind hydraulic-roller cam provides the chop, with Brodix heads and a sexy Shaun’s Custom Alloy individual-throttlebody intake manifold topping the package. So far it has been good for 580hp on the engine dyno on pump gas, though the Autronic ECU hasn’t had its final tune yet.

Behind the big-inch LS is a McLeod twin-plate clutch connected to a six-speed Tremec T56 Magnum cog-swapper – something different from the usual automatics. “The old fella wanted to go manual, as he just likes them,” says Heath. “It created a lot of dramas fitting the big Tremec in the little Holden body.”

With sweet road manners a primary concern, a Castlemaine Rod Shop steering-rack front end was fitted, wearing Viking coil-overs and Wilwood disc brakes all ’round, while a triangulated four-link holds up the nine-inch diff out back.

However, fitting the hidden air conditioning system proved to throw a spanner in the finely crafted works, as Greg Maskell explains. “To fit an LS into an EH isn’t too bad, but there’s no room for an a/c pump on the front of the motor,” he explains. “My fabricator Dean worked out that we had to mount the engine 40mm lower and 40mm further back in the car, which then meant we had to change the sump, make a whole custom exhaust, change the firewall, gearbox mounting, trans tunnel, the gear shifter – as soon as you change one thing it alters so much more. I often say that if you want to modify the headlights, start at the tail-lights!”

“I talked a lot with Greg, and it was a collaborative process between us of finding solutions to ideas we’d had,” says Heath. “He pulled some big days leading up to Summernats, and I take my hat off to him to get the car there.”

“Pretty much from the end of October I didn’t get a day off, including Christmas Day,” sighs Greg. “We would knock off at 1-2am, then be back at it at 5-6am each day.

The hard graft proved to be worth it, as NOSAY picked up Top Sedan on debut at Summernats 33, and backed that up with Top Sedan at the 2020 Victorian Hot Rod Show a few weeks later.

“We are talking about driving it up to Summernats next year,” says Heath. “It was built to drive – that was the whole focus of the car – and we want to prove this is no trailer queen, so I’d like to drive it the five hours up to Canberra next year.”

Story: Iain Kelly

Photos: Chris Thorogood

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