Trevor Smith’s Holden Statesman has been in his family for years. it never used to look like this
When I was about nine or 10, my dad bought a ’55 Chevrolet. Fitted with a blue flame six and three-speed transmission, it was an ugly pale pastel green, bottom-of-the-line no chrome model that to my immature eyes looked a lot like a hideous checker taxi cab. The blue flame got a hammering everywhere that thing went, and when it died it was replaced with a 283ci V8. That started the ball rolling. There followed paint job after paint job, mag wheels, various automatic transmissions, a 12-bolt, then a nine-inch, Bel Air chrome, and a succession of red-hot tunnel rammed 350s that pushed it into the 13s. It was his baby, hell, we weren’t even allowed to drive it until our own cars were faster! One day, after 20-odd years and out of the blue, a bloke turned up and drove it away, and I’ve always wished we’d hung onto it; I was sorta attached to that car after all that time.
Big Trevor Smith knows that feeling. He’s somewhat attached to his ’75 Holden Statesman; it has been in the family a long, long time. “It was mint, metallic brown with a vinyl roof. My uncle owned it, then a friend, then it became my dad’s car that he babied. It spent its whole life at 50kph. When I was given the keys I thought I’d give the thing the hurry up it needed. I took it to Terry’s Chassis Shoppe and got him to tub the rear so I could cruise the streets, and did that for a year or so.”
The New Statesman
Hanging around Terry Bowden’s shop has proved to be a hazard to one’s liver and cause an increase in a certain Aussie brewery’s profits. But it has also been responsible for many cars morphing from street machine to race car. It didn’t take too much ear twisting. Trevor’s grinning as he says, “I took it to the drags once and it turned into this!”
With a normally aspirated small block Chev the Statesman weighed into F/TS, and this was after being fitted with fibreglass panels everywhere but the rear quarters and roof. With the addition of nitrous the FF-classed toy ran a best of 9.3 at 142mph.
After quite a few years of index racing in the big yellow whale, Trev knows how to play the game, and he’s decided to stay in Top Street, launching an attack on the relatively soft BB/TS record. The land yacht used to compete with a back half chassis with the original Holden three-quarter front chassis, but once Trevor got serious about attacking the double B index, he knew it was time for Terry to put a new frame under the rest of dad’s old body shell. The new frame is the usual fastidious Chassis Shoppe product. Built to SFI specifications it snakes its way under and through the car, providing a rigid platform that can turn truck-loads of torque into insanely brutal acceleration while providing a safe haven for big Trev’s bulk should something go pear-shaped. To get the power to the big wrinkle wall slicks there is a traditional four-link and coil-over shock rear suspension, with a 32mm sway bar added to the mix to prevent the twisting up, left-front-higher-than-everything-else leap that four-link cars so often perform.
Double adjustable Konis were the shocks used for softening up the bumps and helping dial in the launch, while up front Strange Engineering struts give the front wheels a place to hang out. Going fast is what this beast is all about, but so that it’ll do it more than once the team added Wilwood four-pot callipers to provide stopping action up front, while Ford items are out back. There are also two huge parachutes to pull the behemoth back down to a speed the brakes might actually function at.
They’ve been around for almost 30 years but Weld Superlites still look great, and Trev has “fat and skinny” Goodyears mounted on his. There’s a nine-inch diff between the fat ’uns; it features all your standard drag racing modifications ” back brace, spool big axles. It’s the same diff as used before with a taller gear in it.
Trev didn’t want to be learning how to dial in a clutch while re-learning how to drive, so the transmission chosen was a trusty old two-speed Powerglide, but it ain’t much like the one in yer old Impala, Jack. Transmission Specialties claims to build automatics that can take anything you care to throw at them. Accordingly there are no GM parts in the thing at all, but there’s a trans brake, part of the full manual valve body. They also supplied the torque converter that can flash up to 5800 stall speed, which would no doubt be smack in the middle of the yellow monster’s power-producing range.
Papakura Engine Specialists were chosen to build the motorvation for this BB record attack. Murray Smith is not only an excellent engine builder, but part of the current record-holding team. This unit’s 540ci capacity comes by way of a Big M tall deck cast iron block and a 4340 crank. The pistons are CP items hung on the end of Brooks rods. AFR aluminium heads flow like the Mississippi in flood, even more so with a bloody great wind-moving machine forcing the air/fuel mixture through ’em. The 20 per cent overdriven, hi-helix retro-fit supercharger is a Littlefield item, while on top of that there is an old school Enderle injection system. A Mallory Supermag lights the super-compressed mixture, while zoomies big enough to pass tennis balls dump the burned methanol out, adding to the heady aroma of incinerated rubber.
It’s Big, It’s Yellow And It Can Fly. No It Is Not Big Bird
It’s hard not to notice a huge, screaming yellow Statesman, especially one with AutoArt-sprayed wild graphics and a rear wing that could be used to house a family of four who own their own helicopter. And only the blind or incredibly stupid could fail to see the blower hanging out of the bonnet. But notice where the engine is placed? Normally the 14-71-size supercharger requires a huge hole in the base of the windscreen, but old yella has the motor far enough forward to make this hole minimal.
The mag has been relocated to the front, so there’s a cut-out in the fuel tank to accommodate it; it’s how all these components get packaged that makes all the difference.
Inside the car there’s the same clean, minimalist approach, with one carbon fibre seat, a handful of Auto Meter gauges, a go pedal, a whoa pedal, a steering wheel for Trev to hang on to and a Quarterstick shifter with which to make the appropriate changes. ¨Which leads us nicely to Trev’s first experience driving his refurbished whale. Only those who have done it can truly know the trepidation one feels when you’re about to put the hammer down on the sort of thrill only bucket-loads of money can buy.
Testosterone and adrenaline are pumping; every sense is wound up to the nth degree. Even on a fat and safe tune-up the car easily has more than twice as much power as it did before. With no wheelie bars fitted, Trev waited for the green light before giving it half a foot-full. It left okay, “but not as hard as I was expecting,” Trevor said, grinning, “and when I pushed the shifter into top it went mental, revs through the roof and everything. Next time out a harder launch, and same thing, the car went mental. Took a while to think about it. The Yanks told us this gearbox had a reverse pattern valve body and it didn’t. It’s stupid shit like that that trips you up. I’m lucky we didn’t blow anything up. That sorted we went out again, and although I shut off at three-quarter track and automatically pulled the chute, it still ran an 8.90 at 120mph [193kph]. I’m looking forward to getting back into it.” ¨And I’m looking forward to seeing it, Trev.
With a projected weight somewhere around 1400kg and 2000 horsies? I can hardly wait!
Trevor Smith – Owner Profile
Build time: Changes made over a four-year period
TREVOR thanks: Terry at Terry’s Chassis Shoppe, Murray at Papakura Engine Specialists, Peter at P&I Pascoe, Brett at Barry’s Tyres and Mechanical, Shaun at Warren Fowlers Quarries, HPC Coatings, Darryl at Breaker Services; his crew, Alan, Brett and Barry; all the staff at B&T Earthmoving who made this happen, “my wife Davina and my little man for putting up with me and the car,” Rod Harvey, Harry Dart, and Mark Bardsley
1975 Holden Statesman – Specifcations
Engine: 540ci (8849cc) big block Chevrolet, Dart Big M block, steel main caps, Crower 4340 crank, CP pistons, Brooks billet rods, AFR heads CNC ported, T&D rocker shafts, Littlefield 14-71 high-helix retro supercharger, Enderle injection, Mallory Supermag ignition with PSI rev limiter, 21×2-inch zoomies
Driveline: Transmission Specialties Powerglide, 5800 converter, nine-inch Ford diff
Suspension: Four-link and Koni adjustable coil-over shocks, Strange struts and A-arms
Wheels/Tyres: Weld Superlite rims, Goodyear front runners, Goodyear Eagle slicks — 16×32-inch
Exterior: Steel roof and rear quarter panels, everything else fibreglass, Frank Bogaart graphics
Interior: Carbon fibre seat, Auto Meter gauges
Chassis: Terry’s Chassis Shoppe
Performance: 8.46 at 153mph with more to come! Approx 2000hp (1490kW)
Words: Trevor Tynan Photos: Adam Croy