Darryl Jorgensen’s HDT VC Replica doesn’t just look tough. With a heavily worked 308 under the hood, it screams it
Ah, you’ve got to love the ’80s. A time of brown business suits, brown curtains, extensive facial hair and some of the worst TV shows ever seen. It was also a time when Holden dominated Ford hands down. Sorry Ford fans, but there’s no denying it, the ’80s did you no favours. Falcons were shaped like square boxes, and to top it off, the V8 was dropped from the model line-up completely.
Holden, on the other hand, had Peter ‘Perfect’ Brock creating amazing inventions like the Polarizer. Okay, so maybe that was a big flop too, but apart from that Holden well and truly cemented its name as an indisputable force on the roads and tracks of Australia and New Zealand.
The fact that 20-something-year-old (almost 30 ” we know the truth) Darryl Jorgensen has decided to build a 1981 VC HDT (Holden Dealer Team) replica goes to show that 1980s Holdens have developed a cult following. Sure, most ’80s Holden fans opt for VKs and VLs, but the VC was really where the Commodore success began. Brocky owned HDT at the time, and built the HDT vehicles to a spec that he himself wanted, with a little guidance from 50 Holden dealers across Australia who would on-sell the vehicles.
Darryl’s VC isn’t a genuine HDT car and he’s more than happy about that. “If it were a genuine car I couldn’t modify it, it would be too valuable,” he claims. He’s correct, too, with a bargain genuine HDT VC these days going for in excess of A$50,000 (a smidgen over NZ$60k).
Darryl purchased the car two years ago, and luckily for him the HDT body kit had already been fitted. The impressive wheel flares that distinguish the HDT cars are reminiscent of those found on A9X Toranas, and the way Brocky raided the GM parts bin when building the HDT cars, chances are that’s exactly where they came from. Darryl’s car isn’t a 100 per cent replica externally, and isn’t even close internally, unless perhaps to one of the 12 HDT VCs that came with a factory roll cage. The skin sports a few different graphics to the real deal, but only the trained eye would know the difference.
Engine-wise the car packs one very stout 308, put together by Darryl himself along with help from friends and family. The engine was based on a Trimatic block as opposed to a later four-speed block, as the Trimatics are notably stronger in construction. After the block was decked and bored 40-thou it was fitted with a modified and lightened crank supported by ACL bearings. Attached to this are shot-peened A9L rods with ACL race pistons that give a compression ratio of 10.5:1. During the build Darryl decided only the best equipment would find its way into the motor, since he notoriously lacks any form of mechanical sympathy.
Because the car will see both circuit and strip work, as well as a lot of street miles, a VN Group A sump and oil pickup have been fitted and the oiling system has been modified. Felpro gaskets are now secured between the block and injected 304 heads thanks to ARP studs. The heads themselves were chosen for their high flow rates have been ported even further and fitted with Manley three-piece valve springs. Manley was also the brand chosen for the roller rockers and one-piece chromoly push rods and guide plates. During the head work the stud size was enlarged for an even more secure fit, and the spring cavities widened to accommodate the large valve springs.
The original HDT cars were limited to running cast extractors and Chev Silverado air cleaners (GM parts bin specials, remember). Darryl’s, on the other hand, can breath easy thanks to Procoated Pacemaker headers and dual mandrel bent 2.5-to-three-inch pipes that flow into a Flowmaster muffler. The intake side of the motor is just as impressive, with a Torque Power dual plane high-rise intake manifold being home for a 750cfm Quickfuel billet carb. She’s a thirsty engine setup, but thanks to a comprehensive fuel system that starts from a 65-litre custom drop tank, its thirst is well and truly quenched. Being a clever all-round mechanic/engineer, Darryl knocked the alloy tank up himself. A Holley Blue fuel pump draws liquid from the tank’s internal surge tank through Earl’s fittings, while a Holley regulator tells the pump when enough is enough. Darryl stuck with MSD products when it came time to sort out an equally tough ignition system. Before dropping the engine into the bay, Darryl spent a lot of time ensuring the bay itself was up to scratch. All unused holes have been welded over, the strut towers have been seam welded and the whole lot was painted in Palais White to match the exterior.
Fast Moving, Fast Shifting
Despite the Trimatic block, there was no way a three-speed auto would find its way behind the motor. Instead, Darryl chose to fit a W57 Toyota Supra box with a Castlemaine Rod Shop bellhousing. He knows the torque will push the Supra box to its limits, but so far it’s held up to the task. Further down the driveline is a custom two-piece driveshaft built to NZV8 touring car specs. Because Holden didn’t change its rear sub-frame bolt pattern for many years, a later model VP Commodore sub-frame could be slotted under the VC. The LSD that came with it has been shimmed tighter than standard for obvious reasons.
The handy part about bolting in the newer rear end was that it came complete with disc brakes. So to make sure the front could stop equally well, cross-drilled rotors have been installed with Bendix pads. A one-inch PBR master cylinder ensures there’s enough pedal pressure to haul the approximately 1400kg car to a halt.
No Creature Comforts
The genuine HDT VCs were based on the luxury SL/R variant of the Commodore and were very highly specced for their time. But Darryl’s has been stripped out to just the essentials, obviously with a focus more on performance than comfort.
A pair of late-model Nissan seats replace the standard velour pews, and adding to the modernised look are custom white-faced gauges and carbon fibre panelling. With a four-point roll cage in the rear the back seats are long gone, although a decision was made to keep the stereo for the drive to the race track and back.
Style And Stance
That modern look has been carried on to the exterior stance. Monroe gas shocks were fitted in the rear along with Pedders super-low springs, while Monroe inserts on the front shocks are matched up with King springs. The result is a low yet driveable combination that handles superbly. The custom alloy camber plates up front and heavy-duty sway bars no doubt play their part, too.
The 16-inch Simmons two-piece rims suit the vehicle perfectly. They are in keeping with the car’s character, not to mention boosting its tough-looking stance.
After 18 months in the build the car has just hit the streets, and it will very shortly reach both the drag strip and the circuit. Darryl wanted a car that would be good in all areas and that is exactly what he now has. But you only need to look at what he listed as his dream car to know he’s far from finished.
Darryl Jorgensen – Owner details
Age: Not telling
Occupation: Automotive service manager
Previously owned Cars: LJ GTR Torana, 1990 Ford Sierra Cosworth, many fast Jappas
Dream car: 1981 VC Commodore twin turboed, manual and street legal ” oh yeah baby
Why the VC: Wanted big Aussie muscle
Build time: 18 months
Length of ownership: Two years
Darryl thanks: First of all my father Allan and brother William for all the late nights and hard work spent in the garage drinking beers, oh, and building a killer engine. Adrian at Franklin cams, Scott Campbell at Fast Parts, Morice McMillan at Elite oils (07 847 0638), Graham at Carr Engine Recos, Taylor Automotive, Wayne at Archer Engineering, Tim at Pro Coat, my bosses Tim and Warwick at Halbro Forklifts for untold time and products used on the car that they unwillingly paid for (thanks guys), and all the boys who lent a hand for their hard work and their wives for letting them out, Nick, Craig, Brad, Adam, Derek, and anyone else I may have forgotten, you know who you are. And finally my partner Angela for all her support and late dinners in the garage
1981 Holden Commodore VC – Specifications
Engine: 308ci (5047cc), Trimatic 308 block, block decked and bored 40 thou, shot peened A9L rods, 10.5:1 compression, ACL race pistons, ACL race big end bearings, modified and lightened crank, ARP head studs, ARP main stud kit, ARP rod bolts, 304 Group A sump and pick-up, high-volume oil pump, JP adjustable timing gear, JP double row timing chain, Felpro race gaskets, Franklin Cams solid cam, Romac racing damper, Gilmer belt drive system, 304 injected heads, Manley three-piece race springs, Manley retainers and keepers, Manley roller rockers, ARP rocker studs, Manley one-piece chromoly pushrods and guide plates, Torque Power dual plane high rise manifold, 750cfm Quickfuel billet carb, half-inch phenolic carb spacer, K&N filter, Earls dual feed fuel line, 65-litre alloy drop tank, Holley blue fuel pump, Holley fuel reg, MSD 6AL ignition controller, MSD billet distributor, MSD Blaster 2 coil, MSD firewall plug, Moroso racing leads, Pacemaker headers, dual mandrel bent 2.5-to-three-inch exhaust Flowmaster muffler, triple-core V8 radiator, dual fans, Samco hoses
Driveline: W57 Supra gearbox, CRS bell housing, Redline shockproof oil, billet steel flywheel, 1800kg pressure plate, five-puck full ceramic paddle plate clutch, ARP flywheel bolts, ARP clutch plate bolts, VP rear diff, modified LSD, 28-spline axles, custom two-piece driveshaft
Suspension: Monroe gas rear shocks, Monroe gas inserts front, Pedders rear springs, King springs 350-pound coil-over front springs, custom built alloy camber plates, heavy-duty sway bar, Whiteline alloy strut bar
Brakes: Cross-drilled and slotted rotors, Bendix ultimate pads, PBR one-inch master cylinder
Wheels/Tyres: 16-inch Simmons V5 two-piece rims, 225/50R16 front, 255/50R16 rear tyres
Exterior: Group A racing kit, flared guards, rear spoiler
Interior: Nissan 200SX front seats, Momo steering wheel and shifter, Auto Meter electric oil and water gauges, four-point roll cage, white dials, Pioneer head unit, Pioneer speakers
Performance: Estimated 450hp (336kW) at 6000rpm (7000rpm rev limit), yet to be dynoed
Words: Todd Wylie Photos: Adam Croy