CAN you imagine how good it would be if your grandparents had kept their chrome-bumper purchases from the 60s and 70s? For a lucky few, this dream is a reality, and Dan McAuley is among them.
“Mum vividly remembers their family going to Adelaide’s John H Ellers Holden in 1968 to buy a brand-new HK Kingswood wagon; a 186S with a three-on-the-tree,” Dan says of his grandparents Bill and Nevis Newbury’s purchase. It was Nevis who most often steered the family truckster, which she promptly named Sadie. “If you mentioned Sadie everyone knew that you were talking about the wagon,” Dan says.
Sadie diligently became a useful hauler shared amongst the family, creating her own history in the process. This included heading to Leigh Creek in remote SA, where the HK became a bush-basher with lifted suspension, bigger tyres and driving lights. Later, she was stolen and then recovered. “Uncle Wayne then took ownership to fix her up, yet it never happened,” Dan explains. “I was after a project and really wanted Sadie, so I pestered him until he finally gave in at Christmas ’06.”
After ingesting a bunch of episodes of Chip Foose’s Overhaulin’ show, Dan had the inspiration he needed. “I love the stock look with modern features and big wheels, like it could’ve rolled off the factory floor like that,” he says.
While the emotional ties were still there, Dan had to admit the wagon really wasn’t in the best shape after the years of mistreatment. “Let’s just say I needed to fix a few holes in the car. I think Dad and Uncle Wayne had come at it with a cold chisel!”
Between tinworm and dents, Dan ended up replacing all of the doors, tailgate, parts of the front and rear guards, and most of the floor. “I think the bonnet and roof were the best bits of the car,” he laughs.
One redeeming feature was that the motor and ’box were long gone, providing a clean slate for what was next. “I wanted a Chev, and as HKs had a V8 option it wasn’t too hard to slot in,” Dan says. “Also the dollar was at 98 cents US, so I bought a crate engine [from the States].” D&J Machine/ Tuff Dawg Engines in Arizona bolted together the 383-cube package topped with an 850cfm Quick Fuel Street-Q carb on an Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap manifold. Below are ProComp heads, a COMP Cam, and Scat rods and crank.
“I was really nervous on its first dyno run at Specialty Tuning Marion, as I’d seen horror stories on Facebook of crate engines having huge failures,” Dan says. Thankfully, he wasn’t inflicted with that pain, instead getting a
respectable 319rwhp and 442lb-ft of torque. Behind is a Stage II TH350 ’box, which had a few initial technical issues, now fixed thanks to Dave at DRW Transmissions. Up the back is an eight-inch diff with Currie 28-spline axles, 3.55:1 gears and a girdle plate, narrowed to fit 18x9 Showwheels under the stock rear guards.
Dan’s rounded off the look with a two-and-a-half-inch drop, adding a thicker rear leaf spring to stop axle tramp. Poking their heads out from behind the open spokes are Wilwood 320mm rotors with DynaPro fourpiston calipers.
Outside is the original Pyrmont Green hue, topped with a white roof; a classic colour scheme that works well with the modern touch provided by the wheels. Adam and the team at Southern Classics & Customs laid the paint on, after fixing the defects created by a previous shop – an all-toocommon issue. And the pastel green goodness continues within, thanks to Winner Products, who shipped in custom-made vinyl to match the factory grain and colour and swathed the buckets, bench, door trims and rear compartment with it.
“For me, the car represents a big part of my childhood,” Dan says.
“Unfortunately, my grandparents both passed away before I was able to finish the car.”
Yet once the eight-year build was complete, Dan took his mum Sheralee, aunties Denene and Trish, and uncle Wayne for a spin. “To see the excitement on their faces as the emotions and memories came flooding back made it all worth the effort,” he says. “Now I can make more fun family memories, and maybe one day when I’m too old to drive it, I might just pass it on.” s
Colour: Pyrmont Green with white roof
Engine: Chevrolet 383ci crate motor Intake: Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap Induction: Quick Fuel Street-Q Series 850cfm Heads: ProComp Cam: Comp Pistons: Flat-top Rods: Scat Crank: Scat Oil pump: High Performance Sump: High Energy Fuel: PULP Fuel pump: Holley HP mechanical Cooling: Aussie Desert Cooler, AU thermos Exhaust: Pacemaker headers, 2.5in stainless system with Muscle Car mufflers Ignition: MSD Street Fire electronic distributor, MSD 9mm leads Output: 319rwhp and 442lb-ft
Gearbox: TH350, TransGo Stage II shift kit Converter: 2500 stall Diff: Shortened 9in, Currie 28-spline axles, 3.55:1 gears and girdle plate Tailshaft: HQ yoke, Ford cup
Front suspension: Pedders 2.5in-lowered springs, Pedders Sport shocks Rear suspension: 2.5in-lowered reset leaf springs with added thicker leaf, Pedders Sport shocks Steering: Stock, rebuilt Brakes: Wilwood 320mm rotors with DynaPro four-piston calipers (f & r) Master cylinder: Holden V8
Wheels: Showwheels Streeter polished; 18x7 (f), 18x9 (r) Tyres: 225/45 R18 (f), 255/40 R18 (r)
Seats: HK Steering wheel: HK Mods: Vintage Air Trim: Two-tone green vinyl trimmed by Winner Products Instruments: GTS dash with Auto Meter tacho and shift light Shifter: B&M Quicksilver modified Carpet: Plush-pile green Stereo: Pioneer head unit, Sony 7in splits (f), Sony 6x9 splits, 10in sub box, amp (r)
Dad and uncle Wayne for their help; my mates Dale, Troy, Brock, Wayno and Millsy for giving me a hand; Dave at DRW Transmissions for his advice and help; Specialty Tuning Marion for tune-up; Adam and his team at Southern Classics & Customs for their amazing work; HK-HT-HG Owners Car Club of SA for help putting the car together and technical advice; Simon from HKTG Restoration Parts for hard-toget components and knowledge