When you buy a cool car from your brother, what option do you have other than to make it even cooler?
As a young and impressionable teenager, Adam Browne was dropped off at school by his older brother Cory in a tough VH Commodore. No doubt the big skids done up the street outside impressed Adam, along with the other kids, although the principal may not have thought it was as cool as the younger generation did. Over the following 10 years Cory modified the car into a tough pro street-style cruiser with mini tubs, a blown motor and the right stance.
Looking to follow in big brother’s footsteps once out of school, Adam purchased a VK Group A replica. In 2003 he was just about to give the VK a rebuild, when Cory offered him the chance to buy the VH instead. A lot of the hard work had already been done and the price was right, so the deal was sealed and the car became Adam’s.
Build It Better
Though it had a supercharged motor in it when Cory owned it, the blower didn’t come as part of the package, and the reason for the sale was that the engine was stuffed.
First off, Adam decided to get it running with a naturally aspirated 308ci. “It went pretty well and made about 430hp, but I wanted more,” says the power-hungry Adam when asked what spurred on the full engine build.
“Cory still had the supercharger and the pulleys, so I bought those off him. Next step was to get a VN SS (304ci) block and crank. I ordered some custom-made pistons, some steel rods and a Kelford cam. I went for a set of Dash-9 Yella Terra alloy heads, and I wanted something different, something taller than a Max Wedge intake, so I purchased a Come Racing intake without the throttle bodies and gave it to Al’s Blower Drives; he did a great job of making it all work.”
With the custom tall supercharger intake manifold completed, the boxes of parts were dropped to The Cylinder Head Shop to be assembled into a working motor. With ARP studs, Clevite bearings and a whole lot of hard work, the engine was ready to run. Atop it was now the 4/71 supercharger that had come from Cory, and above that now sat a Demon 775cfm carburettor.
The engine was picked up on Christmas Eve 2008, which left Adam just two and a half weeks to get it installed and running in time for the Kumeu Car Show. Thanks to friend Roger Kay and plenty of late nights and long days over the festive season, the car made it to Kumeu, the first time it had been out in public for many years.
Although the car was running, Adam was unhappy with a lot of things, and it would be almost another year before the car was deemed complete, and it returned to the Kumeu Car Show just weeks before this magazine hit the shelves.
Two Years, Two Outings
Why so long between appearances? Quite simply, Adam is a perfectionist. While many people would have been delighted to have the VH in the garage as it was, it was Adam’s dream to own a perfectly finished Pro Streeter, and that’s what he’s now got.
The 4/71 supercharger is smaller than what is often seen in NZV8, but was considered perfect for the car’s comparatively small capacity by Al Shadwick at Al’s Blower Drives, and if the guy who works on superchargers all day long says it’s perfect, we aren’t about to disagree.
With a 1:1 ratio the car creates between 500 and 600 ponies, which is more than enough for a street car. But despite that grunt, Adam has no plans to race the Commodore. “I’d go and find an old race car if I was going to do that,” he reasons. “This is far too nice to stick into the barrier.” He’s right, the car is faultless.
No matter where you look, be it the engine bay, interior or exterior, the finish is perfect. It’s hard to believe the upholstery is stock standard. But with a six-point roll cage, RCI harnesses and a stack of Auto Meter gauges, the rest of the interior is most certainly not.
Those Who Know
As far as the exterior goes, various bits scream for your attention, such as the obvious blower sticking way out of the bonnet, and the not-so-0obvious fitment of VK Group A bumpers and side trims, along with VK Calais lights both front and rear. Only the real Commodore enthusiasts will notice the car is not actually a VK at all, the giveaway being the rear quarter windows.
The custom stainless rear wing that Adam’s dad knocked up is not only a superb piece of work, but a sign Browne Sr doesn’t disapprove as much of the car as he did when it originally entered the family 18 years ago. “At the time, my parents thought Corey was stupid for hacking up such a tidy car, but now they are into it,” Adam says.
Other changes Adam has made since taking ownership of the vehicle are the fuel system and exhaust. Cory originally fitted a custom drop tank, however, Adam removed it to allow the exhausts room to come out the rear. The tank is now a plastic fuel cell, and a host of Dash-10 braided lines feed fuel to the engine via a Barry Grant pump.
If It Ain’t Broke
Two areas of the car that haven’t changed during Adam’s ownership are the wheels and rear tubs. The 15×5 and 15×10-inch Cragar Superlite II rims the car is rolling on were part of the appeal when the Commy was first offered to Adam. Making them fit was the job of Diffs R Us, which shortened a nine-inch diff and modified the wheel tubs as much as possible without requiring removal of the rear seats. A custom four-link now holds the diff in place and is kept in check by coil-over shocks, as is the front end.
There is no denying Adam has created exactly what he set out to achieve with the car, and he’s quick to acknowledge that none of it would have happened were it not for Cory’s help. Although it started with a decent base, everyone agrees that the car now looks better and goes better than it ever has. And that’s exactly what Adam dreamed about all those years ago when his big brother had the coolest car around.
1984 Holden Commodore VH – Specifications
Engine: 304ci (5.0-litre) Holden, 20 thou overbore, 8.7:1 JE pistons, 5.7-inch Eagle H-beam rods, Clevite bearings, ARP stud kit, Dash-9 Yella Terra alloy heads, Yella Terra platinum race rockers, stainless steel Ferrea valves, Torque Power billet rocker covers, COME Racing intake manifold, 775cfm Demon blower carb, GM 4-71 supercharger, 1:1 blower ratio, 112kW NOS plate, custom-made blower plate, BG220 fuel pump, BG regulator, Dash-10 braided fuel lines and fittings, 60-litre drop tank, MSD distributor, MSD BTM ignition, MSD coil, Eagle leads, Genie headers, HPC-coated twin three-inch exhaust, two Flowmaster mufflers, five-inch dump pipes, Griffin alloy radiator, twin 10-inch fans, B&M oil cooler with electronic fan, Moroso catch can, deloomed, custom stainless steel covers
Driveline: GM Turbo 350, full manual valve body, deep alloy sump, 3000rpm stall, 10-inch converter, nine-inch LSD, 3.25:1 ratio, 31-spline axles, custom two-piece driveshaft
Suspension: Bilstein 90/10 coil-over front shocks, custom four-link, 60/40 rear shocks, adjustable panhard rod and sway bar
Brakes: Stock Commodore discs all round
Wheels/tyres: 15×5-and 15×10-inch Cragar Superlite II rims, 26/4.5 and 26/12.5 MT Sportsman Pro tyres
Exterior: Custom rear wing, VK Calais bumpers, VK Calais side trims, VK tail lights, VK headlights, VK Group A front spoiler, black mica paint
Interior: Stock upholstery, RCI harnesses, Momo wheel, B&M Pro Stick shifter, Auto Meter gauges, six-point cage, Rockford head unit, six-inch speakers, Infinity 6×9-inch speakers, two 10-inch subs, two Rockford amplifiers
Performance: Approx 500-600hp (373 – 447kW)
Adam Browne – Owner Profile
Occupation: Car dealer
Previously owned cars: VK Group A replica, Pro Street Commodore ute, Supercharged Chev Silverado, SV5000 Commodore, CL600 Mercedes
Dream car: Lamborghini Murciélago in black
Why the Commodore? Always wanted a Pro Street car
Build time: Five years on and off
Length of ownership: Eight years
Adam thanks: Al’s Blowers, Al’s Mufflers, Diffs R Us, Cory for selling me a cool car to start with, Roger Kay and my fiancée Chelsea for putting up with all the long hours spent working on the car
Words: Todd Wylie Photos: Adam Croy
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