JEKYLL HYDE #Holden-Commodore
VY SS #Holden-Commodore-VY
SS / #Holden-Commodore-VY-SS
The transformation of Todd Arnold’s VY SS, in his own words, has been “a Jekyll and Hyde scenario” – except less murderous and destructive! Story by Ben Hosking. Pics by Ralf Schubert.
We get a few comments and suggestions about engine diversity here at Street Commodores. Most of the time you can tell it boils down to the commenter’s loyalty or preferred engine/model than to any real lop-sided coverage on our part. However, one recent criticism we encountered was that there were far too many LS-powered cars lately. “It’s all LS1-2-3 through 6 and if the cars didn’t come with one, they’ve been transplanted”.
Well, without going back and counting, they’re probably right – but with very good reason: the LS-series of engines is like the injected 5L was when it first hit the scene in the late 1980s with the VN. All of a sudden ‘retrotech’ was born and conversions were happening everywhere. Perhaps the biggest difference this time around is that the LS-series just boasts so much power-making potential and West Australian Todd Arnold’s series-II VY SS is an excellent example of that.
Todd bought the VY from one of the guys at West Coast Smash Repairs, who’d already repainted the car in its original Phantom mica – so it was sitting pretty and ready to do some cruising. “I originally purchased the SS as a daily after pushing two conrods out the side of the block on my VZ Maloo,” Todd says. “I planned to keep it stock, but that lasted about a week before I removed of the rear spoiler, fi t SL and SSL springs and bolted on some cheap china-chrome 20s. I drove the vehicle like this for a year with no desire to modify it anymore, as I had started building as LS1 for a VK project car I had.”
Indeed, Todd, clearly pretty handy with the tools, began bolting together a fresh LS1 in his parent’s shed, but before long, he’d found a buyer for the VK shell leaving him with a new engine but nothing to bolt it into. You can guess what happened next.
“After spending many hours in the shed, and turning my parents’ laundry sink from a beautiful white into more of a dark grey/black hybrid, the engine was complete,” he says. “With a few teething problems sorted by some friends it made 386rwhp, naturally aspirated.”
“I kept it N/A and I had little to no desire to enter the realm of forced induction. With a 6in filter through the bonnet and a TH350, Sunday coastal cruises were moderately enjoyable.” But, as we hear so many times here at Street Commodores, it wasn’t long before the healthy 380rwhp combo grew a little wearisome and Todd found himself yearning for more – much more. “The initial stages of having a custom turbo kit designed and fabricated proved quite difficult (also mentally draining),” Todd says, “as my desire for the car was to keep the air conditioning and all the luxury features, but that clashed with the custom style manifolds.”
After months of not having the car to cruise in due to it being in bits and pieces, Todd decided to take the car to the crew at Streetbuilt Racing where they quickly took to the project, ordering an ASE turbo kit and stripping out any unnecessary hardware in preparation. “In total, the turbo setup and fuel system took over 14 months, with certain highs and lows along the way,” he says.
Let’s take a closer look at the combo and what helps it make 624rwhp on E85 and just 14psi. First off, as we began our story, the home-built LS1 was already making almost 400rwhp without the turbo kit and no serious internal modifications – no extra cubes, no extra compression, no head work.
In the interests of longevity there are forged H-beam rods and forged pistons and the factory heads are held in place by ARP studs, but the majority of the mumbo comes from external influences – save for a big hydraulic roller cam and upgraded valve train gear.
The most obvious is the billet 67mm Borg Warner turbo that’s pumping 14psi into the Edelbrock intake setup that features a Super Victor single-plane manifold and 90mm throttle. Fuel wise, there are two Aeromotive A1000 pumps out back drinking E85 from a 95L fuel cell and feeding it into the engine via dash-10 lines and 1000cc injectors. The combo retains the factory ECU and coils. Let’s see you get these kinds of numbers from a Holden 5L with the same amount of work.
Being a fresh build, track time has been limited. However, Todd has run a best of 10.7sec @ 130mph so far and we reckon it won’t be long before the numbers get smaller. “The first drive was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had,” he says. “It’s a new car, a Jekyll and Hyde scenario.”
“Off boost it’s comparable to a run-of-the-mill cammed LS1 – rough idle, aggressive note and a slow humming from the firing of all cylinders. The sound is enough to relax most people with oil and passion in their veins, Todd continues. “On boost the torque is evident with butt imprints into the leather seats, and horsepower carrying it through with speed once the tyres gain traction. The sound of the screamer pipe evacuating the wasted gases brings shakes to the knees.”
Todd isn’t quite finished with the VY just yet. While he says if he had his time again he’d turn his attention toward a “steel bumper US muscle car”, he still plans to fit a bigger turbo and aftermarket heads to the LS1, whilst retaining the factory cubes. “There were moments when I wanted to just sell the car and move on, but the team at Streetbuilt wouldn’t let me and pushed me through till the end.” We’re glad they did!
TECH DATA NITTY-GRITTY 2004 #Holden
Commodore VY SS II
MODEL: #2004 #Holden-Commodore-VY-SS-II
BODYWORK: Reverse-cowl scoop, alloy wing
COLOUR: Phantom, matte roof
ENGINE MODS: Prepped block, Manley forged H-beam rods, Mahle forged flat-top pistons and rings (10.8:1 comp’), Clevite bearings, Manley double valve springs, sheet metal rocker covers, dash-10 breather lines, Moroso catch cans, ARP head studs, Thunder Racing-spec’ Comp Cams hydraulic roller (0.610/0.615in lift, 242/248° duration, 110° LSA), Howards tie-bar lifters, Trend chromoly pushrods, Howards 1.7:1 roller rockers, Rollmaster double-row timing chain, #Moroso
high-volume oil pump, 4-core VZ alloy radiator, 2- per cent under driven pulleys, Edelbrock Super Victor 4150 intake, 90mm Edelbrock throttle, Borg Warner S400 67mm billet turbo (14psi), 2x A1000 Aeromotive pumps (E85), Aeromotive reg’, 2x 100-micron Aeromotive fuel filters, 10-micron Aeromotive filter, 95L fuel cell, dash-10 fuel lines, 1000cc injectors, 2x 50mm Turbosmart BOVs, Turbosmart wastegate, 4in intercooler, custom intake piping.
POWER: 624rwhp (465rwkW), 10.7sec @ 130mph
EXHAUST: ASE turbo manifolds, twin-into-single stainless 3.5in system (turbo back), screamer pipe.
GEARBOX: T400, 4500rpm All-Fast stall, reverse pattern valve body, trans brake, modified driveshaft.
DIFF: 3.07:1 final drive, LSD, VT 4-bolt flange
SUSPENSION: King springs, FE2 shocks and struts
WHEELS/TYRES: 15in Weld rims (4in front, 8in rear), ET Street rear tyres
INTERIOR: B&M shifter, eBoost 2
BUILD PERIOD: 3 years
COST: $45,000 approx.
West Coast High Performance, Streetbuilt Racing, FED PSI, Final Drive Engineering, Alfa Motorsport, West Coast Smash Repairs, Unique Detailing, Rollin Industries, Joshua Lopreiato, Mark and Roni Arnold for their ever-continuing support, my wonderful girlfriend Tracy for accepting my passion, all my friends and family associated with the positive progression of the build.
The combo makes 624rwhp on E85 and just 14psi.
A 95L fuel cell full of E85 lives in the boot along with the relocated battery.
“The first drive was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had,” he says. “It’s a new car, a Jekyll and Hyde scenario”
67mm billet Borg Warner S400 turbo pumps 14psi into the relatively mild LS1.
Being a nice, clean anthracite leather job, Todd hasn’t rushed to modify the interior of his SS and the only mods you’ll see in here (at least until he gets sent home to put a cage in it) is a B&M shifter and eBoost 2.
The LS1 has been rebuilt, but retains stock cubes and its original crank, however forged H-beam rods, flat-top pistons and ARP head studs help ensure longevity. Most of the attention has been lavished on the intake and fuel systems where you’ll find two huge Aeromotive A1000 pumps sending E85 to the front end where a 67mm billet #Borg-Warner
turbo pumping 14psi into the Edelbrock intake setup for 624rwhp and a 10.7sec ET... so far.