AS WE enter Matt Morgillo’s innocuous suburban garage, he explains his vision: “Big tubs, big engine; I’ve been picturing it since was a kid.
Under a car cover before us the embodiment of this vision, the very definition of the pro street style. Matt’s cloaked HQ Statesman takes up a commanding proportion of the available space. He peels back the cover to reveal the custom PPG silver duco and perfect gaps, features that appear so at odds with the cluttered walls framing it, full of vintage Coke bottles, model cars and oil paraphernalia. This car is the culmination of more than a decade of spannering, with two colours, several motors and plenty of downtime in between.
“This was my first car, Matt explains. “It was pretty original when I got it; although it had been set up for a big-block, it was never finished. Sometimes those projects are fraught with danger, but the Statesman was pretty straightforward. “I did it all up myself; it was a pretty tough car, Matt continues. “All the usual stuff: 255s, deep dishes, nine-inch and a 450hp 308. I was 18 or 19 driving around like that!”
The tough combo lasted a few years, and although it was never Matt’s daily, it copped plenty of battle scars. “Some lady came out from a side street and took me out, he says, gesturing to the Statesman’s original but damaged Taormina Aqua nosecone hanging on the wall. “Dad wanted to keep it, but hate that colour, man!” he winces.
Matt’s Statesman was repaired, retaining the disliked factory colour, but it wasn’t out of the wars. “That’s when it got defected, Matt sighs. “They did me for over 20 things, so there was no way it was going to be lifted easy. A wry smile creeps across his face: “So that’s when I decided to come back worse!”
Naturally, the HQ’s transition from tough P-plater rig to intimidating pro streeter didn’t happen overnight. “I let it sit for a while, Matt admits. He looks towards his dad, Vince, who has wandered in to raid the shed fridge, before continuing: “We had heaps of other toys, so we put it on the backburner.
The bug to rebuild the car hit Matt hard and without warning. “I just woke up one day and said: ‘That’s it, I’m doing it. I put the papers in to the engineers and sold all my streetable cars to help finance it.
Vince shakes his head at Matt’s statement. “We sold a lot of nice cars to pay for this thing, he adds, clearly with no regrets.
“I had the bodywork and paint done by a panel shop and was dropping in there most nights to do the assembly, Matt says.
The Statesman’s tough shape was kept relatively pure, with modifications made either for aesthetic or practical reasons. The workshop took the shell back to bare metal, flattened the firewall, smoothed the front wheelwells, stretched the rear wheelarches and installed a pair of monstrous tubs.
“We fitted the interior, dash and the whole front end; all the bolt-on stuff, Matt says.
It was during the reassembly process that Matt noticed the new silver paint was going off, blistering and cracking within a few short months. Having lost faith in the original workshop, Matt had the faults corrected elsewhere, and the results speak for themselves – as does a Top 60 berth at Summernats 31.
All this chat about bodywork has so far failed to address the 632 cubic inch elephant in the room. After a quick clatter and a whirr, the shed is shaking to the sound of 10 litres of angry V8 desperately seeking a road to run down. I quickly check to see if any of the garagenalia has dislodged, but it’s safe. Matt shuts down the Dart Race Series tall-deck big-block and all is quiet again.
“We originally had it set up with an F3R ProCharger hanging off the side; thank God we didn’t run that. It would have been so shit on the streets, Matt says.
Yet despite the mad skills of engine builder Dino Cecere and the big-cube Dart smashing out over 1000hp, Matt isn’t keen to hit the quarter-mile any time soon. “Really man, I don’t want to abuse the car, he says. “I had the bug for a bit, but there’s a lot of money in PRO HQ to put down the track and I ain’t taking it to no dustbowl drag strip!”
Matt guesses the Statesman would run lowto-mid nines if challenged, but that in itself presents an issue; it would need a rollcage. “I did consider putting a ’cage in it at some stage, but it would be a pain in the arse driving it around like that, plus I couldn’t engineer it with people in the back seat, so I threw that idea away.
The appeal of hitting the track isn’t totally lost on Matt, but only for the right event. “If Powercruise or something comes to Adelaide, we’ll take it there and have some fun, but running numbers doesn’t interest me at all. If I want to race a car, I’ll build a race car. I just want to have fun in this.
Matt reaches into the fridge and rescues a softie. “I’m fine to let my mates do the drag racing. I’m just happy to sit there cooking the barbie and drinking beers.
With the multiple dramas that beset the earned HQ now that a fading pleasure. memory, s we’d say Matt has
Matte-black and clean underneath, PRO HQ’ use is for cruising. “We built it as a streeter,” Matt says. “It runs pump-fuel 98 like a new car to drive. It just loves to cruising on a Saturday night and we’ ve taken it the back way through the hills.” followed up last year’ Summernats Top berth with a Top 20 Street placing and a for Top Modified Street at Nats 32
Colour: PPG Silver with factory black vinyl roof
ENGINE Type: Dart tall-deck big-block
Intake: Edelbrock Super Victor II
Induction: Bob Brooks custom-made 1250cfm
Heads: Dart SR20 Pistons: Carrillo
Rings: Total Seal
Crank: Callies Magnum
Cam: Cam Motion solid-roller
Pushrods: Jet Engineering 7/16in
Lifters: Isky 904
Valve springs: Isky Tool Room
Valves: Manley Performance stainless; 2.4in (in), 1.88in (ex)
Oil pump: Moroso billet
Ignition: MSD Digital 6AL box with Pro-Billet distributor
Fuel pump: MagnaFuel ProStar 625 series
Exhaust: Custom four-into-one headers with 2.25in to 4in collectors, 3in pipe into twin 18in Magnaflow mufflers, twin stainless 16in resonators
Transmission: Reid two-speed Powerglide
Converter: TCE 4800 high-stall
SUSPENSION & BRAKES Brakes: Vented and slotted DBR rotors with HQ calipers (f), vented and slotted DBR rotors with PBR twin-piston calipers (r)
Front suspension: Pedders springs, Competition Engineering adjustable shocks
Rear suspension: QA1 coil-overs
Rear end: McDonald Brothers four-link, Strange 4.11:1 diff centre with Truetrac 35-spline axles
Tailshaft: Hardy Spicer with Strange forged ends
Steering: Custom rack-and-pinion
Rims: Weld V-Series; 17x4.5 (f), 15x14 double-beadlock (r)
Rubber: Mickey Thompson SR; 17x6 (f), 31x18 (r)
My dad Vince for the endless hours of help, support and arguments – his knowledge and input made PRO HQ the car it is today; my mum Lucy and sister Bianca; the boys: Joe, Moose, Tony, Giuseppe, Sam, Tyson, Andrew, Claude, Dino, Adrian and Danny; Remo at Prestige Classic Detailing; John Sawka; Jason at Transteer; Dean at Pro Formance; Anthony at Sprint Auto Parts Hectorville; Sot from Speed Garage and MVE; anyone else who has helped along the way that I have missed