IT takes a determined man to chase the Project Car Snowball down the hill. You think you’re just repairing the rust in the battery tray, which leads to a multi-year saga as the project is more completely redone than you expected. Scott McPherson must have a particularly hyperactive determination gland. He went through the process twice on his immaculate HG ute!
First published in the April 2021 issue. Street Machine
The ute came into Scott’s possession as a roller, painted white and rolling on centrelines. “I stripped it down and repainted it myself in the shed at home,” says Scott. “I had the car for about three years, but I sold it to build something else. I used to build and sell cars. I wasn’t going to hold onto a car for long during the day.
Scott says Stewart likely provided the inspiration for the ute’s retina-smashing livery. “When it was first built, my brother had an orange ute that was similar, and I think the orange paint probably came from that. We decided that black and orange worked well. Will, because black is the new chrome.Photos: Chris Thorogood
But it looks like HG wasn’t done with Scott. Ten years after selling the ute, the garage door technician meets his new owner at a speedway meet. “I asked if he still had it and if he would consider selling it,” he explains. “He replied that it was in his shed with no motor or box and a dent in the driver’s door, so I made an appointment to look at it. A mate and I went, and as soon as I saw him sitting on the hoist, I knew I had to bring him back.”
Once Ute returned to Scott’s shed, he intended to simply collect a fresh donkey and ‘box for the commercial’ and call it ‘done’. But almost immediately, he found himself no longer chasing a snowball – he was practically buried in an avalanche of a project.
“I found some rust bubbles in the paint, the doors needed fixing and the chrome was rusting, so before I knew it, I stripped the ute down to a bare shell, and it was the second time. Turned into full erection.” He laughs. “When I got the car back from the sandblaster I did some rust repairs and body mods.”
While the trays include squared off wheel tubs, these are just aesthetic covers that hide the mini tubs underneath. Scott smoothed the engine bay in the first HG build, but he went further on the rebuild, replacing the firewall for a smoother finish and hiding the wiper motor under the dash.
VPW’s 15×4 and 15×8.5 Street Pros give the ute a classic hard streeter look, though Stewart tried to steer Scott in the other direction. “My brother wanted to put AlumaStars on it, but I wasn’t a fan. I was trying to get away from chrome, even though it has chrome bumpers,” says Scott.
“Then I started to lose interest in it, so I stopped working on it, and that’s when my brother Stewart said he’d do the body work for me,” says Scott. “So Stuart came down and took it to his garage in Shepparton.”
Once the ute was straight from the center line on the Nullarbor, Andrew from Tatura Panels took over the paint job. While the ute was first white, then green, Scott decided to shake things up for this build and went straight with a Baslac orange tinter for a finish brighter than the afternoon sun.
“I was supposed to go pick it up after I painted it and bring it home to finish, but that didn’t happen,” says Scott. “Next thing you know, my brother re-trimmed it, built the wiring and fuel system, and built the motor and transmission!”
Stewart put together a hard plastics 308 to 355, Holley HP 750 DP four-barrel and Harrop single-plane manifold air and fuel into VN EFI heads that were CNC-ported by Pro-Port. Custom SRP slugs, skate H-beam rods and a modified skate crank hold the bottom end together, with a high-energy sump and modified oil system keeping it alive and adding a comp flat tappet cam.
Scott explains, “I have the ICE ignition sitting around waiting to go, but my brother is building a new house and selling his old one, so he has to fit it and tune the car. There’s no time to do,” explains Scott. “Right now it’s running a lot downhill, then tilting up, so I don’t run it much. It just messes up the plug, so I don’t run it hard. Stewart has the same thing. There’s a LH with the K combo but a smaller cam, and it did the 10.6, so I’d expect it to do something similar once it’s tuned.”
Custom extractors from Gonzo, ICE ignition and an alloy radiator line out the engine bay for a classic look, while a 4500rpm Dominator converter spins the manual, transbrake Powerglide sitting under the floor. Stewart installed a custom tailshaft from Peter Smith at A1 Automotive to connect to the nine-inch rear.
The ute is a cruiser rather than a racer, so Scott opted for a front bench seat instead of a bucket. The original gauges are backed up by Autometer oil pressure and temp dials, while the B&M Pro Ratchet shifter opts for gears.
“It was only meant to be a cruiser and a straighter,” Scott sighed. “My brother is right about it, while I’m kind of out of it. He still builds engines for himself and all his mates. I go back to Shepparton as often as I can to give him a hand.” Went to collect, but since Stuart got it, it’s only been three months since he got it back. I have to keep it or my brother will kill me! It looks great, and all Shepparton. Coming from a small shed, from brothers who are self-educated. It’s very special to me and I can’t thank my brother enough.
It’s always handy to have some help chasing that snowball!
1970 Holden HG UTE
paint: Basil orange
Brand: Holden 355ci
include: Herop single plane
Carburetor: Holy HP 750 DP
Heads: VN EFI
Camshaft: Comp flat tappet
Conrods: Skate H Beam
Piston: Custom SRP
Oil system: standard; High Energy Sump
Fuel System: Edelbrock fuel pump
Cooling: Aluminum radiator
Emissions: Custom made
Gearbox: Powerglide, transbrake, manualized
Converter: Dominator 4500rpm
Difference: 9in, 31-spline billet axle
Suspension and brakes
in front: Standard springs, padder shocks
Back: The springs under the leaves, the shocks of the padder
brake: HQ Disc Brake (f), HQ Drum Brake (r)
Master Cylinder: Original
Wheels and tires
password: VPW Street Pro; 15×4 (f), 15×8.5 (r)
Rubber: Sonar 165/80R15 (f), BFGoodrich 275/60R15 (r)
My brother Stewart built the entire car himself except for the paint and trim. All my colleagues who were involved in the first and second builds. My 11-year-old nephew Aidan for helping sand the engine bay and helping his dad build the engine.