Slam a FB ute into an FB van and you might end up with something like this.
This article on Mario’s FB van originally appeared in the January 2012 issue. Street Machine
What’s a guy to do when he’s spent 30 years building most of the cars on his wish list and topped them all off with one of the wildest ’59 Cadillacs in the universe.
For Mario Colalillo, the answer was to go back to his roots and build a custom FB Holden.
“When we were 17, we built cars like this,” he says. “Everything on that car was scavenged or stuff my mates had and didn’t want. All we bought from the Rockets were peep-view mirrors and dynamite! The economy the way it is, People are saying they can’t afford to make a hot rod but to me this is a hot rod.
Of course, the one thing Mario didn’t have when he was 17 was a partner called Jane Winfield. Mario brought American custom paint gurus to Australia to paint in 2010 Wild Kid But Jean Sauzel was also keen to take on some classic Austrian sheet metal.
“Jane asked me if I had anything to cut him,” says Mario. “I had an FB ute in stock and I’d cut the roof off a wrecked FB van with the idea of one day making one of these into a kitty sedan delivery, so the raw material was there. I’d already given the caddy to Jane. Was busy getting ready to paint but also keen to do FB and next minute I got two projects at once!
To help start building FB, Ryan Carter created the concept for our April 2010 Expression Session.
Suitably impressed, Mario spends his weekend preparing UT for surgery to create a frame to brace the body and prevent it from collapsing when he cuts through the roof. .
The actual roof graft and cut took place at one of Jane’s metalworking classes, hosted by TJ from Camden County Customs in Sydney’s west. We covered the proceedings in 2010. SM Hot Rod AnnualAs Little Mick, TJ, Justin Hills and many other Aussie customers helped with the haircut. “It was an electrifying few days,” says Mario.
With that, it’s time for Mario to get back into Wild Cad full steam, to make sure he’s ready to debut at MotorEx 2010 and then head off on his US show tour. Wayne was not forgotten, though; Mario entrusted a couple of up and coming architects from Sydney to keep the FB project from bubbling up.
Trudy Camilleri finished welding the roof top before handing it off to Nathan Cooper of Cooper Customs, who finished the body work and shot the car into high fill. The guys at Twisted Metal installed a set of airbags to correct the stance and Mario sat on a set of 13in Hustler rims that he salvaged from wreckers.
The FB debuted in this form at MotorEx 2010. Street Machine Stand — not a bad effort, considering it all happened while the Cadillac was being painted and assembled!
“The plan for this car was that it would always be a simple driver for my wife, Catriona, so the paint was going to be plain,” Mario says. Again, Jane had other ideas!
“Catriona had a tough black FB van as her work car but we sold it to pay for the Cadillac to be shipped to the US. So Jane asked us to pay for the stripped van. should be painted on.Jane with a flight back to Australia for PPG’s Masters of Custom event (SmOctober ’11) The Winfield Fade-Away Paint offer above the Winfield Shop was too good to pass up.
Just as the paint job went a little wilder than Mario’s original plan, other areas of the build were also altered by the Expression Session.
“Ryan’s drawing is very smooth and that’s how Jane would love it,” says Mario. “But I wanted to keep the character of the car a little bit more, so we left the door handles, the scratch plates and the fuel filler. We also left the spare wheel door in there — mounting them in a French or single-piece bar. I like to fit in but it’s nice to remove the spare tire.
The driveline fits the vision with nothing more than an original 138 sideplate six, three-on-the-tree box and a banjo duff.
“Grey motors are cool,” insisted Mario. “Sure, you could put a Commodore V6 in it but that takes away from the authenticity.” It keeps it simple and under control. That’s the whole point of these cars. Doing something good on a budget. The car will still be Catriona’s daily, it will be haying for her, and earning her keep.
“Even my son Andy was giving me a hard time getting around with the early Holden but now he loves it! People think you have to start with an American but we have a lot of cool body styles here. .Jane loves them — we’re sending out a FB dash to put it on Merc in the States. People like Paul Kelly and the late John Katsani have been pushing the Aussie custom thing for years and people are catching on. Getting started. I guess if you’re itching to build a custom, just pull an old Holden out of the paddock and don’t be afraid to chop it up!