Jump to content
  • Easily Agitated: Matt's VP Commodore - AGI78


    Take one VP Commodore. Add a turbocharger and a sprinkling of boost.

    The end result is one very agitated reaction.

    Often some of the best project cars happen by mistake. What might have originally been just a freshened-up motor or a quick respray can become a crazy engine conversion or full strip-down concourse car. In the case of Matt Crust’s VPII S-Pack Commodore, you see before you one very different Holden.

    The whole build was just supposed to be a manual conversion; rebuild a motor with a cam, and make it a decent cruiser. Then one day I was browsing eBay and saw a turbo kit (mind you this was halfway through the engine getting built) at a price I couldn’t say no to. So I got it.

    And that was it. What was supposed to be merely a cammed V6 with a stick-shift is now a turbocharged, tyre-frying demon that does little to give away its ruthless potential.


    With a Garrett GT3582R snail taking pride of place in the engine bay and Haltech engine management, Matt’s VP is good for 278kw on 1bar of boost (or 374RWHP on 14.5psi in the old money). A full engine rebuild on a low-mileage motor was always in the works with the conversion to manual, and Matt sensibly went and sourced an ACL Race-series rebuild kit, along with Crow valve and timing gear. The BorgWarner T5 also received some attention, being rebuilt with new bearings, synchros and cryogenically-treated gears. Out the back is a Holden LSD and 3.08:1 gears.

    With the 3800 Buick motor rebuilt and ready to unleash hell, Matt and two of his mates went about putting the engine back in the bay and fitting up the turbo kit and other ancillaries. Comprehensive modifications were made to the fuel system, with 60lbs Siemens injectors, a Turbosmart FPR800 fuel pressure regulator, and Walbro 550hp intank fuel pump. Under-bonnet modifications extend to dual 38mm Turbosmart wastegates, a Turbosmart dual-port BOV, and 600x300mm front-mount air-to-air intercooler. Exhaust gasses are dispelled via a custom 3” exhaust, with a Lukey muffler keeping noise levels civil.

    18-300x199.jpgFor an 18yo car it still looks terrific. The fact it doesn’t have mismatched panels like most cars of this vintage helps, but to most people it looks just like a regular VP. To distance it a little from the crowd Matt put on a Group A bonnet bulge, Senator bootlip spoiler and Calais spats, subtle mods this writer thinks do far more for the car than a wild bodykit ever would. Matt certainly thinks so.

    I’m happy with the result. I think it’s a hard job to do a VN or VP and not make it look bogan, but I think I may have pulled it off.

    For this writer, the intercooler poking out from underneath the front bar says the most about the car, hinting to you what it’s capable of, but not flaunting it like many (often slower) imports you’d normally think of when you’re discussing turbo conversions.

    The 20×8.5” Starcorp wheels do a good job of trying to dwarf the new slotted brakes; 330mm rotors on the front and 315mm on the rear. Joining the party are PBR calipers (twin-piston front, single-piston rear), and they certainly match the engine’s performance when the time comes to slow the whole shebang down. Ride height is achieved by way of ultra-low King Springs, and handling improved with nolathane bushes and an adjustable panhard rod.

    Impressively the car is still fairly driveable (it doesn’t seem to be hamstrung by being a live-axle rear at all), and despite the relatively skinny rubber (Maxxis 225 30R20s front and rear) it still hustles. First gear is useless, but the VP hooks up pretty well in second. By the time we’re getting traction and snatching third, the car is hitting boost very hard and going well beyond the legal speed limit, as the wind noise accompanying the whistling turbo gets louder and louder. It goes a lot harder than your average Commodore, and there’s something devilish about hearing forced-induction noises over the normal Commodore V6 drone.


    The interior is largely untouched, but to help keep Matt and his passengers strapped in under full throttle there are two SAAS racing buckets (along with the SAAS steering wheel, won at CB07 and acting as a big motivator in carrying out the modifications seen above).

    But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Those who have modified cars will appreciate the frustration of having a finished project, and to have problem after painful problem come from nowhere.

    In October 2009 I blew the head gaskets, and that’s where it started. What followed was six months of fault-finding; lifters, valve springs, a reconditioned head.

    And that was it?

    No. Two weeks after the head went back on I put a pushrod through the roller rocker.

    So it was hardly smooth sailing, and it didn’t stop there. It pains Matt to say the gearbox in the car now is not the rebuilt beauty written above, but a standard unit just to get the car on the road again. And while it does the job, “it rattles like a Milo tin full of coins.” You win some and you lose some.

    But if there’s one thing this writer is certain of, no joy comes from selling something as emotive as the car you’ve worked on with your own hands. Matt considered selling the Commodore, but making that even harder is the fact this is his very first car.

    I know most people look at it and wonder why I sank so much money into a VP, and I have wondered at times too. But, I think some of it has to do with it being my first car, and it’s a special attachment most of us have to our first cars, no matter how bad it may have been. At times I wish I did it differently; I have gone through stages wishing I could’ve dropped in an LS1 or a 2J, but at the end of the day, what I have done is what makes it different.

    3BW-199x300.jpgAnd there you have it. Some eight years after initially buying it, the end result is a bit different from what Matt dreamt of. But really, at the end of the day having any car like this can be summed up answering just one question; does it still put a smile on your face when you drive it?

    If it didnt, I wouldn’t have kept spending money on it!”

    Story –  Alex Burchell

    Photos - Joanna Georgiou


    Build-up Thread - http://www.cruisingbrisbane.com/forum/topic/46394-vp-turbo/


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    There are no comments to display.

  • Create New...