SAs a kid at INCE, I loved FC Holdens. A mate’s mum had one and I loved the chug of the six pot motor. Today I realize it was a twisted creeper but when I was six I thought it was cool.
This article on Darren’s FC was first published in the June 2007 issue. Street Machine
I think this FC is pretty cool too, and this time I think many of you will agree. You see Darren Bevan’s ’58 FC Holden is a sleeper, with fuel-injected Holden V8 power under the bonnet. But more than a sleeper, Darren has also created a retrotech masterpiece, combining a standard 1958 FC Holden with the go-gear of a VP V8 Commodore to make it nearly 40 years more modern. Classic character, modern muscle.
You’d imagine a build like this would have been carefully planned but as Darren points out, Kickstart had a dent in installing the EFI 5.0-liter Commodore V8 in this standard-looking classic. Yes, a small dent.
“The clutch slave cylinder went out and I put it in a former mate’s workshop,” says Darren. “While it was there, it mysteriously cut a dent in the rear quarter panel so I went out and bought a VP V8 for $1500 and it went from there.”
Um, how does a guy have to buy another engine because of a dent? Darren just smiles and shrugs. Ah – no excuse!
No stranger to cars — he’s played around with a bunch of modified Holdens and Fords in the past and built an elite-level XR Falcon on the go — he pretty much knows what it takes to put an engine into a car. which was designed for an approx. The third power.
“I called Castleman Rod Shop and bought a chassis kit and front end for the conversion,” he says.
The CRS hardware was relatively easy to install and stretched between the front chassis rails and the rear suspension, providing the extra strength needed for legal registration with the V8. The front cross member, based on the HR Holden unit, replaces the FC’s floppy link pin with rigid ball joints and provides disc brakes.
“Even with the CRS kit, it was work to get it all to fit,” says Darren. “We had to modify it to fit the radiator, and we cut the back off the grill. But it all works very well.”
With 165kW (220hp), the standard EFI V8 offers a good combination of drivability, power and fuel economy, especially in the lightweight FC.
“I was just going to slot the standard engine in but my mate Todd was building an EH Holden and he talked me into putting a cam on. So I opened it up and the engine was all muddled inside – Valley The bottom was about an inch thick.
But every mud motor has a silver lining and in Darren’s case, he decided to refresh the mileage unknown sting.
He didn’t go crazy with the engine, just the block skimmed square and new pistons connected to stock rods and cranks. The heads were shaved a bit to increase compression and after asking the right questions from the Blumenstein brothers at COME Racing in Melbourne, Darren bought a lumpier cam, lifter and Mamcal performance package.
“Sam told me what compression to run. The cam is actually a bigger grind than he suggested,” says Darren, “but I wanted to go a little higher in the idle! It’s got a lot more top end. I’m glad I did.” That I took the engine apart. It’s brand new now, top to bottom.
The car’s wiring – including the harness for the EFI – was almost completely hidden by Shane at Central Coast Batteries.
“I told him I didn’t want to see any wiring in the car and we routed the wiper motor wiring back through the firewall. Then we made solid spark plug lead carriers out of the tube. They were on the sides of the rocker cover. installed. I wanted to hide as many wires as possible and I think we did a great job in that area.”
Darren’s only regret in the engine bay is not being able to hide the throttle cable.
This engine is not on the dyno but in the past Darren has seen a very similar combo in a mate’s Statesman spinning the rollers at 218hp. “That’s my quality,” he says, “and some people think I have something difficult!”
Darren figures his DIY engine rebuild, including machining and COME cam, owes him about $4000 which is a pretty good price. “I’d like to think my money was well spent in the right areas,” he says.
VP Commodore’s TH700 four-speed auto was also serviced, and Sydney Competition Warehouse provided a nine-inch rear axle conversion to replace the FC’s original spaghetti-powered single spinner. In terms of wheels, Darren has kept things subtle, with steelies based on HJ Holden centers with 15-inch rims. They carry HQ Holden hubcaps and conceal Commodore front discs and HQ rear drums.
“I like sleeper-looking cars,” says Darren. “I built a sleeper HK Holden a few years ago. It was blown, and you wouldn’t know it except for Convo Pros. It even had a bench seat and column shift auto.
Contributing to the FC’s sleeper theme, the additional autometer gauges are small and low-mounted, and the stereo isn’t in your face. The shifter is a necessary evil but the original steering wheel and bench seats remain.
“The boot is brushed. We tried to get the same theme and style as the door trim. Dennis Stokes Motor Trimming did it, and custom carpets. He’s done eight or so for me over the years. 10 cars. Another guy who has done a lot for me is my partner Billy. He has a lot of ideas coming out of his head and is always the first person to help.
Darren is not the kind of guy to keep building forever. He wanted to run FC.
“We take it out three or four times a week in the summer,” he says. “Without power steering, it’s just like driving a Commodore.”
CRUISING & BRUISING
Since its completion in August ’06, Darren and his family have traveled several thousand Keys around the home on the NSW Central Coast. FC Smyrnatus went to 20, where Darren qualified for Burnouts and Nostalgia Drags in Sydney.
“Believe it or not, this was my first time racing – ever!” he says with a big smile. “I just had to make a good pass because I had trouble with the new brake linings I put on and in my first qualifier I tripped the beam. So I guessed and dialed in 13.6 but with 13.5@98mph. Breakout happened. I think there’s a few more tenths to it.
1958 FC Holden Special Sedan
the color: Original white and green
engine: Holden VP EFI V8
Heads: Designed for compression
Camera: Come racing
many times: EFI VP
Management: Come memcal
Emissions: Fabricated headers with dual 2.5 inch system
Gearbox: Holden TH700 four speed auto
Tail Shaft: propaganda
Difference: Nine inch, 28 spline axle, 3.5 gears
Slide and stop.
Suspension: HR Holden ball joint front end, lowered king springs, Munro dampers, VP Commodore rack and pinion steering.
brake: PBR/VP V8 front calipers, HQ Holden rear drum, VC Commodore master cylinder
Body: The FC Holden was restored, engine bay and chassis modified to suit the VP V8 driveline.
Wheels: Morton & May Steel 15×6 (f), 15×7 (r)
Tires: 175/55 (f) 225/50 (r)
Aw Racing (03 9571 4204); Castleman Rod Shop (03 5472 2853); Wife Sharon and kids gave me time to work on the car. Cat for hard work and ideas; Theo and the boys from Coastal Smash (02 4389 2393); Hot Rod Fill from Advanced Tuning (02 4388 4099)