IIf you look at peak Holden muscle from the ’80s, HDT’s VK SS Group A – known as the Blue Meanie – is hard to top. Mark Spiteri certainly agrees, which is why his own VK Armament offers HDT originality, massive levels of Holden grunt sound, and a dash of modern luxury.
I was first published. Street Machine 2022 Yearbook
With all the correct stickering and reproduction body kit, the VK is wearing a very crisp version of Formula Blue, the iconic color that HDT sprayed on all the bluemanies in the 80s.
“Growing up in the 80s and 90s when VK and VL Commodores ruled the streets and racetracks was a huge influence for me,” says Mark. “I knew if I was ever going to build a car, it would have to be a VK Commodore.”
When the time finally came for Mark to build his dream machine, he managed to acquire a basic VK sedan as an unfinished project from renowned Sydney street machinist Stephen Sherry. “There have been many imitations of Group A before, but I had a vision to make it different,” he says. “I didn’t just want to make a replica, but the biggest tribute.”
Nothing suits a beefed-up HDT replica like a set of properly white HDT aero alloys. Sized at 19×8 up front and 19×10 at the rear, they wear premium Pirelli P Zero rubber.
Stephen had already started converting the Berlina into an HDT Special, but to do it Mark’s way, the whole project needed to be started all over again. First, the car was sent to Michael Siberras of Street Cred Differentials & Fabrication, who minitubed the car, fixed the rust and fabricated a four-link nine-inch rear end.
While this was going on, Mark set out to find someone to make the donkey, and his vision was clear. “I never thought of doing LS,” he laughs. “These things were Holden V8s, so that was the only engine I wanted for the car.” It was dumped on Damian and Mick by BG Engines, who came to the table with a serious Iron Lion.
The base Holden mill was stroked to 350 cubes with a steel crank, i-beam rods and SRP pistons. Rounding out the bottom end is a solid roller cam built by BG Engines, and the long motor is completed with a pair of Yella Terra cylinder heads.
Mark wasn’t interested in injection and wanted the air cleaner to come out of the bonnet to hint at the grunt he had, so the induction system consisted of a custom billet tunnel ram from BG Engines with an APD of 650cfm. A pair of carburetors are worn. Aeroflow air filters. Drinking PULP 98, the combo made a healthy 629hp at 7400rpm, and 502lb-ft of torque.
Smooth engine bay construction was a major focus, with both Marc and the Image conversion team wanting a very simple and clean space to house the 350 cubic inch lion.
All that power is being sent to the rear via a TKO 600 five-speed manual, so it makes for a pretty larry machine to drive on the road. “Damien warned me it would be like driving a manual with that much power on wet grass, and he’s not wrong!” Mark says. “But I’ve always wanted a manual. The real ones were all manuals. It’s more fun on the road, and drag racing doesn’t really interest me.”
The rest of the build was completed by Michael and Matt Allard of Image Conversions. The guys finished the bodywork, gave the VK a lick of formula blue and put it all together for Mark.
The hand-crafted 70L fuel cell is painted body colour, and the thirsty Holden is fed PULP 98 through beautifully curved hard lines.
“When Mark approached us about completing his project, we knew he had high expectations for VK,” says Michael. “Every Commodore has uneven door gaps and plastics that never quite fit, so we spent a long time modifying panels and gaps to correct these issues.”
Even with Mark’s insistence on keeping the car as close to HDT spec as possible, the Image Conversions team still flexed their custom muscle with a super-smooth engine bay and sheet metal work in the boot. had to bend.
A peek under the VK reveals a fully color-matched belly, and the dual 3in exhaust is quiet enough for street duty – at least until you crack the pedals loud.
To keep said bay nice and tidy, they did the tricky job of hiding both the air conditioning compressor and the Astra power steering pump under the right front guard. “You look in the engine bay and you wouldn’t know it had these things because it looks so basic,” says Mark.
An important aspect of the build for the image conversion crew was constant consultation with an engineer throughout the process to ensure all edits were legal. “We spent six months getting the car road legal, and went through all sorts of steps to get it going,” says Michael. “We built a cover for the air filters, and the AP Racing brakes made sure it had the stopping power it needed.”
Mark was keen to keep the interior as close to HDT spec as possible, with trim work taken care of by Bill Hi-Tone Motor Trimming.
The car was completed for its unveiling at the 2021 Hot Rod & Custom Auto Expo, where it won some silverware for Best Sedan. “The construction process took about five years, but I couldn’t be happier with the results,” enthuses Mark. “It’s everything I dreamed of and more, and I can’t thank the people who have been involved along the way enough.”
Since the VK’s debut, Mark has taken it for the odd cruise, but is waiting until after Street Machine Summernats 35 before he really starts using it. “The goal is to get into the top 60 there, and then once I’ve done that I’ll try to use it a bit more and not be so precious,” he laughs. “We had it at MotorEx this year and it was really special, so I can’t wait to bring it to the ‘Nats.'”
1985 VK Holden Commodore
|Brand:||350ci Holden V8|
|include:||BG Bullet Tunnel Ram|
|Carbohydrates:||APD Bullet 650 CFM|
|Camshaft:||Custom grinding solid roller|
|Crank:||Steel 3.48 inches|
|Oil pump:||Loud voice|
|Emissions:||Dual 3 in|
|Gearbox:||Tremec TKO 600|
|Difference:||9in, Truetrac, 35-spline axle, 4.11:1 gears|
|Suspension and brakes|
|in front:||XYZ coil overs|
|brake:||HSV AP Racing discs and six-piston calipers (f), HSV AP Racing discs and four-piston calipers (r)|
|Master Cylinder:||VT Commodore|
|Wheels and tires|
|codes:||HD Arrow; 19×8 (f), 19×10 (r)|
|Rubber:||Pirelli P Zero; 235/35R19 (f), 285/30R19 (r)|
Matt, Mick, Paul, Burnsy and Frank on the photo exchange; Damien and Mick at BG Engines; Bill on Hy-Tone Motor Trimming; Coarse in Low Fabrications; Mick Sybers in Street Creed; supply of auto waste paint; toast graphics; Uni Group Engineering; PWR Advanced Cooling Technology; my wife Michelle and sons Josh and Liam; Good mates Dave, Steve, Glenn, Sean and Rod.