Taste is a funny thing. What’s revered in one part of the world, can be reviled in another. But there is no right or wrong, it’s all completely subjective.
Travelling around the planet with Speedhunters has made me more aware of this than I probably ever would have otherwise. It’s pretty amazing how different countries and cultures interpret what makes a great build and how different two of the same car can ultimately turn out, depending on where they are built.
I think there are few better examples of a region which best encapsulates this than Australia. Everything they do is amongst the best in the world, regardless of which automotive sub-genre it belongs to. If it’s JDM, pro touring, muscle or whatever, you can bet your ass on it that there’s an example of each that is up there with the best builds on the planet. From a car culture point of view, they do one thing that is pretty much exclusive to Australia and not something you would expect to see anywhere else; their own domestic muscle cars.
It took me a long time to get my head around the huge tucked rim style of the retro Holden Commodores and Ford Falcons that dominate the Australian car scene, and to be honest, I still struggle with it. I don’t really get it. But that doesn’t matter a damn, because this isn’t a style that’s for me. It might not be a style for you either, but it is something that’s extremely desirable amongst a lot of the Australian car community.
The Holden and Ford divide is maybe one of the most famous rivalries in the world; you’re either red or blue and nothing in between. For most, their choice was passed down (enforced by?) by their parents or an earlier generation of family. If your father was a Holden fan, there’s a pretty strong chance that you’re going to be one too. The Commodores and Falcons represent decades of Australian motorsport history, much like the Mantas and Escorts, the M3s and 190Es, and the Mustangs and Camaros do for the rest of the world. That in itself is simple enough to understand as to why they’re so passionate about them.
How they build them, however, isn’t something that we’re used to outside of Australia. The recipe is simple: clean and understated bodywork, excellent workmanship, mountains of power (that comes from a source which is loyal to the brand), relatively low and tucking the largest and widest wheels the car can. They’ve a very distinct way of going about it, and Anthony Saf’s ’85 Holden Commodore VK is maybe one of the best examples in Australia.
To start with, the craftsmanship is simply a wonder to behold, regardless of how you interpret the overall aesthetic. Every nut and bolt, inside and out, looks brand new. The Galaxy Grey paint is flawless and the lights, panels and trims are perfect. They should be I suppose, seeing as the car had just been unveiled at Fitted Friday a few days previous, following an intense 10-week build.
Power, in this case, comes from a GM LSA, a 6.2-litre supercharged V8 that’s found in quite a few HSV (Holden Special Vehicles) applications. In completely stock form they produce somewhere over 550hp. They’re not a particularly good looking engine, which is why I’m assuming that a custom engine cover was fabricated, to ensure continuity of the smooth theme throughout the car. The engine cover perfectly interacts with the modified bonnet too.
The interior too has been cleverly reimagined. Four short seats have been used, front and rear, with a centre console that extends all the way rearwards. Immaculate isn’t the word to describe how good the interior is; it’s a fully modified space that looks like it could be completely stock. Brilliant.
The wheels will maybe be the most divisive part of the car for the average non-Australian, purely for their size over anything else. It’s not just a case of bolting them up either, the rear has been tubbed to accommodate the 22×10-inch Trofeo Forged wheels. The rears feature an interesting combined concave and dished finished, while the narrower 20×8-inch fronts emphasise the directional twist.
It’s an immaculate car, and from what I’ve been told by people who know a lot more about this scene than I do, it’s maybe one of the best ever.
When I’m faced with something that doesn’t immediately attract me, I find myself trying to identify aspects that I can relate to or respect. Fortunately, there’s a lot in here that deserves respect for either its execution or the idea in the first place. I might never get it, but then again it doesn’t matter. Because so many people do.