DAmeen ‘Chubby’ Loo’s VB Commodore is an icon on the Commodore scene, just like Block himself. Not only did the car take out best street overall at Summer Nets 21, it also completed the Sydney to Perth journey for Motorsport in 2009. VB is currently stripped of its jock for a complete rebuild, which will include the use of Chubby’s. New independent front suspension among many other advanced features.
For now, let’s check out this feature. street machine, March 2008 and we’ll get to the story of this epic cross-country cruise over the next few days.
It’s been a long time coming but I finally got there! says a proud Damian Lowe as he sits in the shade a few meters from his VB Commodore sedan. Today is Sunday and his car is an invite-only PPG Supreme Display. Yesterday, Damian Bullsey took home a prize he’s been targeting for nearly a decade: Smyrna’s Best Overall Street.
An hour later Damian had finished loading the boot and back seat of his trophy-winning Commodore and was driving it home to Sydney, as he had done for dozens of shows over eight years — Smyrnatus, Candos, Moravia, Dabo, raksha — what is from. Ever since the Toreador went red paint. If there’s a better example of ‘road’ going before ‘machine’, we’d like to see it.
“My old man got me into the Commodores,” Damien says. “He had a VB SL/E in the ’80s and put a VK kit on it. Yella Terra heads, Supra Five Speed, Simmons, Holley – all the usual 1980s mods. He traded it in for a VL HDT. In Group A, then traded it to a VR Senator. What a mistake! Anyway, now he has a VH Group III. He loves his Brook Commodores.
But Damian didn’t pick up anything for his build. Despite its trophy-winning looks, it started out as a base-model Commodore he found in a car yard. “It was a complete poverty pack,” he says of the six-cylinder 1979 VB. “But it had the option of a 202 instead of the standard 173, and intermittent wipers! I paid three and a half for it; it was clean and I drove it like that for about four years.”
Damian then began a decade-long transformation from Factory Standard to Best Overall Street, Top Engine Bay, Sponsor’s Choice, Top Retrotech and PPG Supreme Finalist in the Street Machine Summer Nets 21.
The stock six was turfed for a carb-fed V8, backed by an M21 four-speed. Carby didn’t last long, however, as Damian was an early flag-waiver for EFI conversions. He bought a complete top-end from another early Commodore’s EFI Commodore engine that was being sold as an unfinished project. Although he only wanted the late model engine bits at the time, he later regretted not buying the whole car.
“The bloke tried to run it with an aftermarket computer,” he says, “but he couldn’t fix it. I turfed it and put a standard Delco on it, wiring a bloke made in Melbourne. Using the harness. I had read about the EFI in Street Heat and I wanted it.
“After the injection ran, I think I started going nuts on it. The M21 four-speed ran for about three weeks with the EFI sounding, then I got the T5. I put some VN SS wheels on, lowered it, Painted it, then a retrim, then some MOMO wheels, then another paint job, which is the paint on the car today.”
So that means the paint the Smyrnatus judges saw – and what you see now – is about a decade old. Not bad! Except that’s not quite true. Over the years, along with the streamlined passenger door lock, de-badging, comp-style filler cap and padded air vents, Damien quietly admits to an accident or two.
Happy with the general concept of the car as shown at Summernats over the years, Damien knew what was needed to get a good score with the Summernats judges. So the car was taken off the road during 2007 while it underwent a lot of work to streamline its engine and engine and change its interior.
“There’s a lot of flat sheet in the engine bay,” he explains. “The radiator is off – it installs from below – and we’ve boxed out the back of the headlights. Also, we’ve put the brakes under the dash.
Damian’s partner, Matt Sims, specializes in this kind of work through his business Hi-Tech Modifications and did most of the engine layout and design. The Holden Alloy EFI intake manifold has been extruded-honed and a Corvette TPI-spec throttle body with twin 58mm throttles is installed at the front of the intake. “I wanted a center intake and air cleaner for balance,” says Damian. “Underneath it all, the engine is the same red 308 he installed all those years ago but with a few interesting bits like the Yella Terra rockers.” and an upgraded cam.Visually, the block has been detuned, the rocker and engine wear have been smoothed out and the intake manifold has been sprayed in chrome paint by Newcastle Custom Color.
The T5 gearbox is also from the 90’s but has been rebuilt by Mallwood in Qld. “It fitted one of its centre-mounted throwout bearings like a T56. That means there’s no slave cylinder hanging off the side,” explains Damien. The rear axle is a classic Aussie BorgWarner from the VL and the skin It will have a set of 3.9:1 gears in place of the 3.45s.The brakes behind those 19×8 Intro Ram wheels are VT-VX HSV spec PBRs and Damien has coil-over struts, Bilstein dampers, lowered rear springs and two fat sway bars. Raid the wholesale suspension catalog for.
The interior is impressive. Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t immediately recognize Dash. It was lifted from a wrecked Subaru WRX and then extended to span the space between the Commodore’s A pillars. Standing front and center are the Dakota digital instruments and hidden behind the handcrafted center console is a Nissan heater box.
The front seats are a combination of VB bases and modified VT backs with the fixed rear seat styled to mimic the Sydney Department of Interior fronts. The door trims are also VT-based — Damian says — with a lot of imagination, cutting, glue and filler involved. Overhead, the headlining is solid under a smooth-trimmed suede. The finishing touch to Damien’s biggest makeover of the Commodore yet was a stainless steel grill that he built with his own hands.
So will he aim even higher and build a car for the elite class? “I’m not sure about that,” he says. “Going from Hero to Zero is going to be tough, and I really enjoy driving it at all the shows. I couldn’t do that with an Elite car.