Sounds Of Power: This Is Australia

When Speedhunters Editor-in-Chief, Pedey, contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in joining the team, I couldn’t say ‘obviously’ fast enough. I’ve been devouring the photos and words posted on these pages for years, so the opportunity to contribute was never going to be passed up.


Straight away, I began to think of story ideas. Our car culture in Australia is extremely rich and diverse – where to start?


It clicked pretty quickly – Powercruise was being held the following weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park – the home of World Time Attack Challenge, and only a short drive from home. Time to charge the camera batteries!


Powercruise is now onto its 54th iteration, being held several times a year across Australia (and more recently New Zealand and the US). Entry, for the most part, is restricted to street registered cars and the major events typically run for three to four days.


So please, come in for a closer look at some of the cars and on-track activities that make Powercruise such an interesting cross-section of the Australian car scene!

Chariots Of Choice

Are you still with me? Great! Next I’d like to introduce you to a few familiar archetypes of Australian car culture that may not be so familiar to the international Speedhunters audience. Exhibit A: the humble Holden Commodore.


The Commodore is one of very few cars both designed and built locally, and you can find them serving as police cars, taxis and family sedans around the nation. Holden – a subsidiary of General Motors – sells the cars in a huge range of specifications, and all performance models have some variant of GM’s LS series V8 under the bonnet.  As such, they are a popular base for modification. Note also the Chevrolet grille installed on the above car, a strange yet fairly common nod to Holden’s GM roots.


An interesting exception to the V8 solution is the VL Turbo model of the late ’80s, which featured from factory a 3.0-litre RB30ET inline-six unit from Nissan.


The Commodore does get a bad rap for its handling dynamics and relative lack of refinement, but the owners are an extremely passionate bunch who won’t hesitate to invest both time and money to build their perfect Commy.


Moving along to our next exhibit: the utility, or ute as it’s more commonly known in this part of the world.


The story of the ute’s creation was that an Australian farmer asked Ford to make him a car that was nice enough to take his wife to church in on Sunday, but could then haul pigs to market on Monday.


Ford’s response was to develop the ‘coupe utility’ based on a passenger car chassis but with a tray back. And the rest, as they say, is history.


The formula has been reinterpreted slightly by Australia’s car enthusiasts over the years. Those pigs are going to get to market really, really quickly…


As an added bonus, the tray serves as a handy spot to mount a turbo and radiator if you’re squeezed for space under the bonnet.


Just like our Kiwi neighbours, us Aussies also have a love affair with the rotary engine.


The epitrochoid crew was out in force, and this completely stock looking – but rotary repowered – Mazda 808 caught my attention as being rather out of place at a Powercruise event.


Hmm, something tells me we might be being fooled…


Models such as the ’70s RX-3 are now highly coveted and command prices in line with their popularity. However, this hasn’t dampened the desire to modify them. I’ll be publishing a Spotlight on my favourite old school rotary from the event, so stay tuned for that.


The Skyline has always been readily available in Australia, for which we’re rather fortunate. Although not always supported by Nissan Australia, plenty of R32, R33 and R34 variants found their ways onto our shores and are still a popular choice for modification and racing. In fact, I think I spotted every model from the R31 through to R35 represented on the day.


Tracing the Nissan lineage back further obviously brings you to Datsun, which helped forge the way for Japanese brands in Australia. The 1600 is arguably the best known Datto, and it’s good to see examples being treated to love and usage to this day. My dad owned one back in the day, and he fondly recounts tearing the straight exhaust off over bumps because it was so damn low! I guess not much has changed in that regard.


The theme that unites all makes and models at Powercruise is that there is no such thing as too much power. It gave me a laugh to think of what the original engineers and designers would think of their little Japanese utility rolling on huge Simmons rims and pushing out all that horsepower.

What To Do With All That Power?

The main attraction for owner/drivers at Powercruise is the titular cruise sessions, where cars are released onto the circuit en masse. As could be expected, controlled chaos ensues!


In the litigious and safety-obsessed world we live in, I was really surprised to see the cars head out onto the track loaded with helmet-less passengers.


Unsurprisingly, what results is a ton of ad-hoc drag races and general hoonery. Anyone got a spare passenger seat for the next event?


On the topic of drag races, a more formal knock-out competition heated up the main straight as purpose-built quarter mile machines were pitched against modern street weapons.


For the record, a stock-looking R35 GT-R put a lot of serious machinery to shame. It’s hard to stop progress…


A Powerskid competition, in which the competitors must light up the rears for the longest distance possible without using the brakes, rounded out the main circuit activities. It might sound easy, but in practice it can be exceptionally sketchy – especially when you’re trying to wrestle a big old Holden or Ford that wasn’t exactly originally destined for this kind of work.


This session was by far the crowd favourite and the MC was doing a great job of hyping the crowd, but at the same time not afraid to dish out some harsh words to those who failed to put on a show!


The programme also included a round of the Just Car Insurance Figure-8 Drift Comp.


This is a grassroots series which sees purpose-built drift pigs battle against street-registered, but equally capable cars.


I really have a thing for the handsomely simple lines on the Toyota KE70 series, and this one looked especially tough with deeply concave wheels filling the flared guards. The paint was great too, for a drift car!


Who wore it better?


Hmm, I think we’ve found a winner in this Holden Monaro GTS – one of Australia’s first stabs at building a home-grown muscle car.


Across the whole event the positive vibes were flowing freely and a relatively relaxed approach to the event’s management meant that the usual stress of a race weekend seemed to be largely absent. All car types are embraced (I even saw a Mini!) and the spectator access was easily the best I’ve ever seen at a motorsport event.


It’s a cliche, but Powercruise is all about boys enjoying their toys!


Hopefully I was able to convey some of the mad fun that is Powercruise, as it’s one event that really embodies the Australian love of cars. It’s about packing your pride and joy full of mates, and actually being able to make the most of it thanks to the safe and legal racetrack environment.

If you’re an Aussie with something interesting in your garage (or if you have a passenger seat to offer at the next Powercruise!) please feel free to contact me at my email below, I’d love to hear from you.

Blake Jones
Instagram: blaketjones

Cutting Room Floor


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Its nice to see some coverage of Australia. Hopefully we will get to see some more Holdens and Fords!!!


That 66 fastback on steelies tho...


All hail to the Bogun within. But the "Yeah mate can I have the largest diameter Simmons wheel ya got and the rears with a 4" dish" has all the class of a Bali Stag do.


FraserinFinland Bogan* But yes I hate gigantic Simmons on old school cars.


I cannot express how stoked I am to see a VL bagging it up as the cover photo on speedhunters!


I'm guessing you're a Holden man? There aren't many Fords pictured there.
Its cool having an Australian story on Speedhunters. I'm an Aussie myself, and though I'd prefer a stock looking V8 ute to a boganfied Commodore, its exciting seeing this story here. Would we be able to have a feature article on a HSV GTS Maloo? (for those who don't live in Australia, the Maloo is literally a Chevy-powered utility vehicle - picture below)


Hey Bud, i might be able to hook you up with a ride at power cruise powerplay in may...


Thanks mate! Shoot me an email closer to the event:


So many awful wheel choices going on in this post


Finally some aussie content  (hopefully its regular)

I knew the comment section was going to be filled up with people rubbishing wheel choice but it's just the way aussie are bigger is better; bigger wheels, insane horse power and huge smoke.

if you do coverage on any big burnout competitions the core speedhunters audience are  going to turn their noses up at purpose built burn out cars with $50,000+ engines with there only purpose being making smoke and burning bumpers.

Love the pics.


BenPopham1 Exactly what I was thinking.. So many spoilt RX-3s :'(

It's like if Pimp My Ride was in Australia...


GregFentonHNHS One word...



Struggling ve
Atrisk xr
Blown ve
Reload vf
rouge/unload ve 

search for them on you tube it's just ridiculous


Fantastic story and great pics Blake, congrats on joining the team, they are lucky to have you! I look forward to seeing more of your fine work! Now back to the German cars buddy!


Haha you know me... there's only so long I can last without some Porsche goodness!


BenPopham1 The land that time & taste forgot that's for sure... It's like some car-culture evolutionary backwater, starved of normal trends and subjected to nothing but Holden vs. Ford V8 wars; resulting in Bogan Donk. 

In all my travels, Straya is the only place where working-class badge envy rules - Chev badges on Holden, Benz badges on Ssangyong, Benz front-clips on Hi-Lux, rebel flags on Falcon, Lexus badges on Corolla & Hi-Ace. Sad.


Christmas has come real early this time round ay! can't wait for more Aussie posts!!


where are the blown big block engine bay photos, your failing me and the Australian public dude


first of all, congratulations!!! awesome to see and aussie on here, and i will have my 13B turbo powered RX5 (no simmons) and next years event, your more than welcome to come for a ride/skid/drift!!! awesome write up mate and i would love to see a spotlight on the black 66 on steelies and the xp drifter, i think people would drove them!!!


Thanks mate! Shoot me an email with some pics of your Rx-5!


@Kuroneko "Bogan Donk" -  nailed it. Just too massive on the wheel front. I don't mind big rims but rubber band tyres some run these days are ridiculous.


HELL YEAH now the world can truly see Aussie car culture and how badass it can be. Blake congratulaations on become a new member of the Speedhunters team and i Hope to see more of the articles posted in the future.   STRAYA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Haha cheers mate! Love the enthusiasm.


that event looks absolutely awesome!


Nice 1st take man welcome....




yewwww aussie input to speedhunters. cant wait to see what we show the rest of the car culture around the world


Corrie Gillett yes the xp would be so good to see a feature or at least a spotlight on!!




GregFentonHNHS Not sure if I count as core audience but I'm all for more coverage on burnout machines. 
That's part of the reason I want to visit Aus. That and skateparks, you've got some awesome ones.


The beaches go alright too ;)



can't wait to see whats going on in Australia... all of those UTE Holdens.... 

Hope to read you soon!




I dig the strangeness of other countries and the sameness as well. Big motors, small cars, always a different spin. I see it like this, if we all did it the same, ascetically and functionality wise, there would be no need for sites like this or others I regularly read.

Nice first post, keep them coming from your part of the world, awesome new view point.


Glad you enjoyed it!


DaveT GregFentonHNHS I'm actually a New Zealander but I just love the aussie car scene


GregFentonHNHS That VE is the funniest thing I've seen all day.


TylerHorne I agree, it looks mean.




I want a Monaro GTS :(, or a Manta.

Pete the perfect pilot

Hurry up with the old school rotarys..... Please!


If theres one thing aussies do better than anyone else its how to rip a propper skid!!


Could you be more of a wanker? I hope youre not a yank with statements like that...


Awesome coverage! - I think you need to get yourself to WA in april for some coverage of Motul Racewars 2016 - don't know where else you can see cars having 800m rolling runs (legally) ....


Thanks for the tip!


Dasha Not a great deal to be fair.


The Aussie car scene is much more impressive and expansive than "Ford vs Holden" would suggest. I hope the coverage reflects that. I like coming to Speedhunters to get away from automotive equivalent of the "redneck Gaza Strip".


Good to see some Aussie coverage, its almost time for Aussie muscle cars to get some love from Speedhunters. Being from NZ there are few options if you want to get into the muscle car scene on a budget, so hopefully us folk don't get priced out any time soon.


Go to any event similar to PC and yeh, its kinda the same thing.. this is Australia, we do OTT V8 sedans better than anywhere else and people are proud of it. Go back a few decades and yeh it was red vs blue. No different to the US with chev vs ford vs chrysler though??
Nowdays, the aussie car scene has much much more to offer and SH needs to get amongst it!!

Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

Even the police get into things at Powercruise. My sweetest pic from last years event.


smithadamb  Yep, totally not interested in more domestic v8s. About as exciting as eating hamburgers.


Smiggins smithadamb  I agree....I started to think this post was going to be a full on boganfest of Commodores, utes, Fords and V8's(and it is), a few Mazda's and Datto's thrown in doesn't really show the diversity here......a follow up post with some different cars might help, but unfortunately PC is mostly boganville and while I don't dislike these cars AT ALL, we do do other things well!


There's plenty more to come from the Australian car scene, patience my friend!


loslogo You sound like a sloppy fart.....we do plenty good here!


MatthewBortot Bet he is, or some squid with too much hate on the brain. Lets all follow trends of the world as he says we must. Bogan Donk is a bit right, but that's more of a wog/leb influence.


If only those tacky five spoke rims on everything were 2 inches smaller.


I'm so very glad some Australian muscle has finally graced SH buuut this was mostly Holden based. Where are the Falcons?


The Holdens far outnumbered Fords on the day. Plus I count at least two Falcons in the article!


Lachys114 They didn't take any photos of Ford Falcons because there is a real movement by General Motors and the automotive industry against the Falcon, Speedhunters is part of the illuminati and this is just proof they are in with Holden owners to wipe the Ford Falcon from Australian history. It isn't fair is it, the AU Falcon could have been so much more *sobs* 
Either that or they didn't take any photos of them. Just chill otherwise you will end up like the P76 owners showing people the size of their boot at a car meet.


Put MASSIVE shit wheels on, Add stupid side decals, Paint some stupid color and put a blower/scoop on  =  Australian car culture in one sentence.


Every modifying approach can be stereotyped: JDM, muscle, drift... when you put your preconceived attitudes aside there's a lot to be enjoyed about these cars - trick fabrication, awesome wire tucks, skillful airbrushing etc.


ae70 One poorly constructed sentence, but ok. Kinda correct, but very narrow minded.


Emptypie I'm no Simmons lover, but I'm no hater either, but something that really grabs my goat is how people hate on Aussies for running Aussie wheels on a lot of the cars here.....why the fuck shouldn't we!?!?! No JDMyo fanboi's sook about the Japanese running almost exclusively Japanese branded wheels, do they?


NIce work Blake, great first post!!


Cheers Matt!


Awesome coverage.

Bring on Power Play in May!!


There is just too much passion and skill in Australia for the car industry to die. The ability to refine, modify and design will make a come-back. But've got to be mad????

"The Commodore does get a bad rap for its handling dynamics and relative lack of refinement" 
The commodore has been since 78' and is still one of the best handling and steering sedans on the planet!
To beat it takes a very expensive (read not taxi spec) BMW. Sure the engines and transmissions are well short, but handling and steering.... AWESOME!!


Emptypie The way things are going. Theyre only going to get bigger lol


Spaghetti Smiggins smithadamb  Power Cruise is an event in my eyes for those who build big hp show cars that cant get away with driving them on the streets. And unfortunately the majority of them are blown methanol v8s eg. MRGRPA.


@duncan im actually surprised there is not one photo of any of the MONSTR Clothing cars.




Spaghetti MatthewBortot  Not true. Its a 50/50 split. MRGRPA , CUTSIK , 05 GP3 , JSTWCH are all owned by blonde hair blue eyed aussies.


FraserinFinland  That is thanks to Tempe Tyres buying Simmons Australia and seeing dollar signs.


TonyCundalini You're correct! Must be all that 'Radial Tuned Suspension', polarizers, and fake aero bits & dummy vents. Obviously all so successful, they've been adopted by car makers the world over. and have made the Commodore the best selling export ever.


FraserinFinland Lachys114 you do realise both the commodore and falcon have been given time-of-deaths?


Powercruise is attended almost specifically by tasteless bogans who wouldn't know what a good handling car was if it carved them up on the way to the apex. Hang on, what's an apex??
The import "scene" in Australia is as big, if not bigger than this. 
This is only a small part of the australian car scene.


Spaghetti Emptypie  I think what people are stroking your goat as with any car scene/fashion/religion is where people are initially emulating something and it gets taken WAaay to far from what was originally intended. The Aussie Donk Simmons style has become an artistic interpretation of what was an engineering idea.


Chris 'Haffy' Hafner didn't the police start pulling over people to control cars they brought to the track, even when those where transported on a trailer? Read something about that last year. So those two lads up there might just takes notes for later...


TonyCundalini Are you actually serious?
The Commodore, disregarding VE and VF, is an absolute joke. The VB will crack a windscreen if you corner hard. The chassis is so floppy that if you tow a heavy boat the back doors have a chance of opening. Even the IRS models of VS etc are laughable.

If you drove a good handling car you'd know the difference.


Dude Commodores are not good handling cars by any means. The older ones handle like poo amd even the new ve/vf leave much to be desired in the handling department. How do I know? I own a VE SV6 commy as a daily and whilst it is a very practical, comfortable and a somewhat fun car to be in its heavy as and doesn't handle near as well as most jap cars. The a family saloon with a bit of poke, not a sports car.


I agree Gary, you might've misread my comment on their handling dynamics - it wasn't intended to be positive!


LSX15.... that'll piss em off ;)


FraserinFinland Like the Japanese running Work Meisters/SSr Professors or TE37's perhaps, or Europeans on BBS or OZ....same same.I get your point though.


scibO That's why I said "influence"


Acc Chris 'Haffy' Hafner


I think you might be confused with Summernats Acc - the Police hang around Powercruise but have never setup Defect stations as far as I'm aware. I've attended the last 6 or 7 events and driven to and from without issues.


Awesome post Blake. Hopefully some Summernats coverage will make it on to Speedhunters? I also have a pretty slow VL Turbo I could take you for a spin in.

Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

Actually these blokes who I reckon are Sydney's best coppers, quote "Have car mags from the last few months littered all over the police station coffee table" actually appreciate everyone's effort at these events. Sydney about 5 years ago had a problem with 'hoons' and absolute dickheads who called themselves 'enthusiasts', but events like this and the local Wednesday night drags at the drag strip at the creek have stopped a majority of the stupid idiots absolutely destroying the scene. To add to the above comments, a quote from a New South Wales Highway Patrol member "There's no need for defect stations and over patrolling at these events, these are not the people who endanger the public"


Ahaha thanks your comment is quiet funny and enlightened my day! I should have expressed my opinion in a different manner, I more wanted to point out the rivalry between the Holden and Ford fanboys. I honestly think it was great coverage and I do understand that it is possible that Blake didn't take any photos of the Falcons.


Yeah I do!


Wish i went to powercruise this year, hopefully next year ill be able to :D great article best thing to read in class at school

92 Barra turbos...again.


This is only a small part of the australian car scene. thanks
Signature: i like play games


loslogo you need to get out more. Aussie car culture is alive and well


'Straya...Fk yea!

Great to see some Aussie content. Would have been great to see a write up on the Jamboree too.

Hope to see a Cavallinos article some day.




Was out for a club run and the number of different clubs we came across was astonishing - Early Commodores, GT Falcons, Jags, MGs, EVOs, Silvias, VW Golfs, Porsches to name just a few. 

Then there is a drag scence that keeps going from strength to strength. Dominated by early Holdens, Fords, rotors and newer cars like the Pro Compact and Outlaw classes.

More recently we've seen Cars and Coffee type events boom. I love them for their diversity - where else can you see a split window Kombi next to an Aventador?!

I'm sure I've missed a heap of things but the Australian scene is alive and well.

Go Australia!


Lachys114 There was a FPV F6 in there... Such a great engine.


So many haters on here making huge generalisations.
I only skimmed the comments to see what the rest of the world thought of Powercruise, but it was all taken up by haters and others who think their particular make and model was left out on purpose.

I was looking forward to some comments about the massive trend of personalised plates on almost all the cars (even the GRANNI sleeper).

Keep up the good work Blake the Aussie car scene and it's enthusiasts still have a bit of a way to go before they can be called accepting, but work like this will always help.



Why no falcon introduction though. Especially the XY and the XA, they ware true legends


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