LUKE Foley’s VH Commodore is powered by the little LS that could. It has done hundreds of passes, thousands of street kilometres and is a really basic set-up that continues to deliver results that belie its specs.
The full-weight Commodore packs an alloy 6.0-litre L98 from a VE Commodore that is pretty much standard save for a set of rods and pistons, yet runs low eights in street trim.
Retaining the factory crank and cylinder heads, it had been boosted by a pair of 62mm Turbonetics turbos since the combo was built for last year’s Drag Challenge using spare parts that Luke had. The combo turned out way better than expected and ended up running a PB of 8.46@164mph.
“The engine would have done over 150 passes since we built it and around 20,000 street kays,” Luke says.
Between driving it home from Red CentreNATS earlier this year after Luke’s tow car was wrecked in an accident with a rogue cow, countless trips out to Calder and cruising around Geelong, and now two Drag Challenges, it’s been through the wringer, yet remains insanely reliable. ispowered changing a good thing just weeks from the event. The basic engine was untouched, with Luke moving to bigger 65/67mm Garrett GTW3884 turbos and a Plazmaman air-toair intercooler and intake manifold.
“My old water-to-air intercooler was useless; by the time I got down the end of the track my intake temps were getting high,” Luke says. “I also went to a Plazmaman intake manifold, redid all of the exhaust manifolds with new turbos and made new ’cooler pipes.”
From there it was onto the rollers at MPW Performance, where Luke and good mate and business partner Adam Rogash tuned the car. On roughly the same boost as before, it made considerably more power, when it wasn’t smoking the tyres and delivering inaccurate readings. The most accurate figure they saw was 720rwkW on fairly moderate boost.
Luke drives the VH everywhere, and true to form he drove his car to and from Adelaide for DC17, some 800-odd kilometres before Before this year’s Drag Challenge Luke decided to step up the combo, and we wondered if he was playing with fire 5.66 at Mildura’s eighth-mile Sunset Strip.
Again, no dramas to report.
On the final day, with cool ambient temps and a sticky track to play on, Luke got the new set-up really working.
“I still left pretty soft off the transbrake because I didn’t know if the track was there or not, then I ramped the power in pretty hard and it felt awesome,” he enthuses. “I got to the 1000-foot mark and it felt quicker than it’s ever been, and I’d had such little sleep the night before after driving to Adelaide from Portland and then going out with the boys, I kind of panicked and got off it! It ended up being a PB of 8.37@155mph!”
According to Luke, that makes it the quickest factory alloy block LS-powered street car in the country. “I lined up to go again, hoping for an 8.20, but it started raining so we had to pack up.”
The next day Luke cruised home to Geelong; the car just keeps on truckin’. the torture test really started. On the way over Luke cracked a rim, but otherwise she purred along with no dramas. For the rest of the week the car averaged 8.50s at the quarter-mile tracks and Luke handed in a
Class: Haltech Radial Blown
Engine: 6.0-litre L98 Turbos: Twin Garrett GTW3884 Transmission: Powerglide Converter: 10.5in TCE 3000rpm stall Diff: 3.25:1 Power: 965rwhp Previous PB: 8.46@164mph Best Drag Challenge Pass: 8.37@155mph
PAUL Mulcahy had planned to front up to Drag Challenge 2017 with the same twin-turbo, supercharged, V6-powered Austin Lancer he campaigned last year, but when his mate Matt wanted to tag along with him and his co-pilot Marcus, that all changed.
“The Austin is only registered to carry two people because of the ’cage, so I said: ‘We have three weeks, so let’s go up the back and pick out a Commodore, throw a motor in it and get it going,’” Paul said.
That’s downplaying things a bit, because the motor in question is a turbocharged 408ci LS that required plenty of work to fit. But Paul is a goer, and no sooner had he dragged the wagon out of the paddock, got it running, washed it and threw some rego on it, he promptly pulled it apart and got stuck into the conversion.
The motor is based on a 6.0-litre LS, and the turbo is a Chinese jobby that Paul was given by his son. The car was cobbled together with a Turbo 350 and nine-inch rear end, and despite frying the converter on the dyno the Friday before Drag Challenge, Paul replaced it with a stocker, jumped in it with his mates, and drove it from Bendigo to Adelaide. How cool is that!
As you’d expect of a three-week build, there were some teething problems, and the stock converter hampered the car’s progress out of the hole, but the VH will have plenty of potential once Paul gets on top of it.
“We’ve had a ball!” Paul enthused in Adelaide on Day Five.
“It’s rained and it’s been that hot – but you meet so many nice people. I’m 52 years old but I still feel like I’m 18!” d k
BOOSTED with what owner – and Drag Challenge firsttimer – Shaun Peatt describes as a “big shiny hairdryer,” this 1993 VQ Series II Holden Statesman was one of about eleventeen GM/Holden LS-something transplants at Drag Challenge this year.
Ballarat local Shaun bought the car 14 years ago and the LS transplant went in around four years ago. The now stroker 383-cube LS1 was built by Ballarat’s Jason Clark Automotive.
The important engine hardware includes forged internals and a billet Turbonetics 76mm breathing into a tall Edelbrock manifold. The engine uses a tuned factory LS management system and has developed 811hp at the treads in the past, but Shaun says his Drag Challenge set-up was around 720hp on 18psi.
The trans is a built TH400 three-speed auto fronted by a TCE 3600rpm converter. Surprisingly, the big Stato carries its factory-spec 3.07 diff, independent rear suspension and driveshafts. “I haven’t broken a driveshaft yet!” says a somewhat surprised Shaun. “But I carried spares!”
Like many, Shaun suffered in the heat on Monday. Worse than that, boost problems lingered all week.
“I could only get about 12 pounds out of it,” he says. “The boost controller didn’t want to play. When we got home, I found a loose wire and now it seems to be working again!”
Elsewhere, the Statesman has laid down a best of 9.5@156mph, but Shaun’s quickest DC17 result was a flat- 10 at 137mph.