WHEN Glenn Muller bought a clean Humpy shell off a mate back in 2003, he didn’t set out to build one of the smoothest retrotech conversions you’ve ever seen. And yet here we are.
“I’ve had Monaros and vans, and I started in EH wagons; I love Holdens, but it wasn’t until late in the build that I worked out exactly what this is,” Glenn explains of his early-build 50-2106 (the official code of the FX ute, as opposed to the more well-known 48-215 code of the sedan version). As number 248 off the Pagewood production line in 1951, it represents the very beginning of the long and proud line of Holden utes.
“If I’d known at the time, I would have gone back to original,” Glenn laments, but there’s no shame – this Humpy is far from the antithesis of a restoration. In fact, from the outside you’d never know it’s packing blown L67 power; that is until you see it pull off from the lights. “It raises a few eyebrows, that’s for sure!” Glenn laughs.
Like many projects purchased mid-build, his ‘complete car’ was anything but. “It was rolling on Ford patterns all ’round, which is blasphemy for a start,” Glenn growls indignantly. “Plus it had no interior, an FJ bench and a VR V6 just sorta sat in there.” But the body was well finished, ready for paint and, surprisingly, all metal.
Glenn’s a handy guy on almost any tool; he cut his teeth as a boilermaker, passed a few mechanical courses and even went two years into a spray painting apprenticeship before settling on his chosen vocation as a motor trimmer.
“When I walked into the employment agency 35 years ago and saw the job advertised, I didn’t even know what a motor trimmer was. I just thought they kinda fitted moulds to the sides of cars or something,” Glenn chuckles.
Knocking back a trimmer’s apprenticeship, Glenn eventually gained his ticket through hard, quality work. Fortunately, the two guys he worked for loved custom and resto work respectively, so he was able to learn from both. “When they fell out, I went with the resto guy,” he says, reflecting his own preference.
But skills garnered across the auto industry meant squat when his wife was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. “I had my own health issues as well; I was lucky I was working for myself by then, so I worked when I could.” Of course, this meant working for customers and not on the FX, so the job was farmed out to Elite Fabrications.
“I threw my ideas to Nathan at Elite and we worked through them together. I bought the car in 2003 and wanted to fit an LS1.
It’s engineered for a V8, but I realised there are plenty of V8 FXs around; plenty of V6s, too.” It was late in the build when Glenn came up with the idea of the blown L67 Ecotec V6.
Running a less-is-more approach, Elite prepped the engine bay for the V6, smoothing the firewall and filling all the holes while still retaining the factory lumps and bumps on the inner skins. The battery was relocated under the tray and the brake booster moved up under the dash.
The FX needed electric wiper motors to replace the wobbly vacuum items, and Glenn also fitted a Vintage Air system. “It’s a big dash up under there, but when we started fitting everything up we ran out of room pretty quick!”
We challenge you to spot the body mods; blinkers aside, deviations are limited to a pair of louvres flared into the top of the dash to create a pair of demister vents.
The FX went through a series of painters, all of whom sat on the job too long. Eventually Glenn mustered a few mates and together they sprayed the car the factory Malibu Ivory hue. While it took a few goes to get right, the result speaks for itself.
No such dramas with the interior, though, which Glenn attacked with gusto. The standard FX bench reeks of post-WWII austerity;
it’s plain-jane, plus it was MIA anyway! Glenn whipped up an FJ Special-style seat and door trims that appear stock to the untrained eye, but bring the interior up a level with two-tone trim and square tufting.
The dash received a squirt of Malibu Ivory as well, but there’s so much more.
Integrating a 65-year-old vehicle with current technology is always going to be a challenge, and all gauges not only had to deal with 12-volt electrics, but pulses from the donor VY’s computer system. Glenn got it all working, but not without pain and anguish.
No such technology issues underneath. “FX hubcaps make an FX,” Glenn says of his choice to run the dog-dish hubbies. But FX wheels don’t just bolt onto Commodore brakes. “I took some HZ steelies to Neale Wheels. They put the 14-inch centres inside the 15-inch FX rims and widened them out a bit; seven inches at the front and eight inches at the back.”
When Glenn bought the FX shell back in 2003, he didn’t set out to build a retrotech beauty that could make old men yearn for their youth, then blow them into the weeds – he just knew what he wanted. FX rims and Malibu Ivory paint outside, a blown V6 and air-conditioning inside; it’s this restrained mix of old and new that makes Glenn’s FX Holden a truly beautiful composite and a fitting resurrection of Body 248 out of Pagewood. s
THE FX Holden is nothing without that grille. It was complicated to make back in 1951 and nothing has changed. “It took me years to find the right bloke,” Glenn tells us. “He somehow had the original jigs, so I sent it to him in Brisbane. He took it apart, got it all chromed and welded it back together.” As for the Holden Lion sitting proudly on the bonnet: “It was new old stock. Don’t ask how much it was!”
Appropriate lights can make or break a car, so Glenn was very selective when it came to illumination. He ditched the halogen headlights supplied with the FX.
Aside from being too flat, “they took the originality away; I wanted the domeshape and the yellowish beams that come with original-style lights.”
Paint: Malibu Ivory
Engine: Supercharged L67 Holden V6
Transmission: Turbo 700 Diff: VP Commodore 3.08:1 LSD with 28-spline billet axles
Brakes: VS Commodore calipers with slotted rotors (f), VP Commodore calipers with slotted rotors (r) Springs: 2in lowered King Springs (f), 2in re-set leaves (r) Shocks: Ultima (f & r) Steering: VS Commodore rack-and-pinion with HZ steering arms
Rims: Modified steelies 15x7 (f), 15x8 (r)
Steering wheel: Original Seats: Original retrimmed to FJ Special specs Gauges: Recalibrated originals with digital shift display Shifter: Factory three-on-thetree modified into auto shifter