Sometimes less is more. Josh Uddenberg’s HQ Holden is a perfect example
Being born in the mid-’80s, Josh Uddenberg grew up in a time when the Japanese econo-box was the vehicle of choice for the bulk of the population. So it’s not too surprising that when he got a little more into cars than many of his peers, it was the Jappas he took a shine to.
As the years went on, Josh added his personal touch to a variety of cars, each successive one boasting more power and style than the previous. What he longed for, however, was a car that would not only be comfortable and stylish to cruise in with the lads, but which could easily destroy a tyre or two as the need arose.
Boys Will Be Boys
Sure, looking back a later model vehicle might have ended up as the cheaper option, but at the time Josh didn’t want to go all out; as long as the car had enough power and enough style he was happy. What he found was a 1974 HQ Holden sedan powered by a trusty six-cylinder 202ci motor. While that was fine at the time, it took just six months for the desire for more power to rear its ugly and expensive head. After he’d scoured wreckers and wasted hour upon hour on Trade Me, an engine came up that was too good to turn down. It seems a 2006 HSV Commodore had come to an untimely demise, but still had a healthy 5.7-litre LS1 engine, loom and computer. “The thought of installing an LS1 hadn’t really crossed my mind until then, but I knew it would be perfect for the car,” Josh now says. Lucky for him the owner still had almost everything required for the transplant into the older body.
Little did Josh know that as the engine installation was a bit more fiddly than anticipated, and his business takes up plenty of time, it would be another six months of playing round trying to get the combination together before any real progress was made. “All I wanted to do was hear it fire into life; it was my first V8, so I couldn’t wait,” Josh says. “I decided to take it to Speedsource in Warkworth as I know Kent, the owner. All I asked was that he let me know before it was fired up for the first time so I could come down to hear it. A few days later I was down in Auckland getting a new tattoo and I got a phone call. It was Kent. He didn’t say anything, just had the car revving in the background, laughed then hung up. My jaw dropped. I couldn’t wait to get back home but I was half way through the tattoo sitting.”
Body Work Time
With the LS1 all sorted, Josh couldn’t wait to drive the old girl. The only problem was that the body was in somewhat of a state, so it was sent off to Kaz from Kaz’s Kustoms to have a spruce-up. The car now wears a few custom touches that at first glance go unnoticed ” that is, of course, unless you’re a true HQ enthusiast. The most obvious change to the vehicle’s metalwork is the deletion of all door handles and key locks. Entry is now by small push buttons on the top edge of each door, while the boot is popped from inside the car. It’s amazing what a difference this makes to the side profile of the vehicle, which is clean, smooth and more modern looking.
The more observant Holden fan would no doubt next notice the custom vents that have been pressed into the front guards. Many people would mistake the vents for those found on HT Monaros, but the know-it-alls out there will soon realise the difference. Another even more subtle touch has been made to the C-pillars around the back end of the doors. Plenty of time was taken to reshape the rain gutters for a more contmporary look. Despite being a fiddly job, the workmanship is so well done you would be hard-pressed to know the car didn’t leave the factory this way.
Once Kaz had finished with the bodywork, the car was sent to Andy at Advanced Auto Refinishers to have a glossy new coat of charcoal grey paint applied. Before the engine bay was squirted it too received a bit of metal work, most of it from a welder that was used to fill in unused holes to provide a smooth look.
The old girl’s interior wasn’t in too bad a shape when Josh picked it up, so he decided to keep the original trim except for the carpets, which have been replaced, and spend his money elsewhere. With the late-model injected motor now sitting between the strut towers, the original gauge cluster was redundant. Instead of butchering a good dash pad to fit the late-model cluster, a horde of Capital Instruments gauges were fitted to a custom panel. A Sony stereo with Kicker and EarthQuake speakers was wired in at the same time and, just for good measure, a skull gear knob found its way onto the shifter.
Hit The Road
By this time the car was ready to hit the streets, except the wheels it was on didn’t quite fit the bill. After a bit of Trade Me searching, a set of 18×9-inch Advanti Phantics were sourced complete with 235/40 rubber, the rears of which have no doubt been replaced a few times.
With the new rims the car’s ride height wasn’t doing it justice. That’s nothing some custom springs and Koni shortened shocks couldn’t fix, however. While working on the suspension, every single bush was replaced with brand-new items. It’s a job that cost a few dollars, but it was well and truly worth the cost and effort for the increase in ride quality.
Just when it looked as if Josh had the car he had been dreaming of for years, he decided to test the waters by offering it for sale. While he didn’t really want to part with the HQ, Josh received an offer that was too good to refuse.
So though he’d only driven it for a few months, the car is now but a memory for Josh. One thing’s for sure: the V8 bug has well and truly bitten, and you can bet the next car will be even more impressive than this one.
Josh Uddenberg – Owner Profile
Occupation: Self employed
Previously owned Cars: Too many to list, mostly Jappas
Dream car: 1934 Ford pick-up rat rod
Why the HQ? Bought it as a skid car and it grew from there
Build time: Two years
Length of ownership: 2.5 years
Josh thanks: Kent and the crew at Speedsource (021 439 668), Kaz at Kaz’s Kustoms (021 721 437), Andy at Advanced Auto Refinishers (021 102 4540), Brad at Brake Co, his mum and dad for picking up parts and sorting things when he couldn’t, his partner Karis for putting everything else on the back burner, and everyone else who had a hand in building the car.
1974 HQ Holden – Specifications
Engine: 2006 LS1 5.7-litre V8, custom fuel lines, custom surge tank, twin fuel pumps, custom headers, three-inch mandrel bent exhaust, Forza Flow muffler, HQ V8 radiator, HQ V8 trans cooler, LS1 Corvette ECU, de-loomed engine bay
Driveline: TH350 automatic transmission, four-spider LSD, 3.55:1 ratio
Suspension: Koni shortened shocks, Nolathane bushes throughout
Brakes: PBR front callipers, slotted rotors
Wheels/Tyres: 18×9-inch Advanti Phantic wheels, 235/40R18 tyres
Exterior: Fully shaved, custom charcoal paint
Interior: Momo steering wheel, skull gear knob, Capital Instruments gauges, Sony head unit, Kicker speakers
Performance: 210kW at the wheels
Story: Todd Wylie Photos: Adam Croy