Every month we ask the cover car owner for the concept they’d most like to build, or see built

A few years back, we saw what Braden Smith was willing to do to an HQ Holden, and, on the cover of this issue, we’ve seen what he’s done to a VF Commodore, but what if he ever got around to finishing that long-term project hiding in the back of his shed?

“My first car was a VN Group A Commodore,” Braden mentions, and, remarkably, he still owns it. The reality is that it’s likely still in his ownership due to it being fairly well cut up, and not much use to anyone else, as much as to his emotional attachment to it. 

Wanting to build it into a Summernats-style show level car, Braden cut the floor out and started the construction of a complete custom chassis for the car before other priorities took over. Ever since, it’s sat in the shed waiting for its time to shine. When that happens, here’s what his plans for it are.

“I’d get the chassis work finished off, built around a pair of 22x15-inch Simmons rear wheels, and sitting on its arse thanks to adjustable coilovers and a four-link. Up front would be 20x9s with black centres and a polished lip, to match the gloss black paintwork on the body.

“Obviously, it’s got the full original Group A bodykit, so I wouldn’t need to do anything with that, because those already look tough and you never see them around these days anyway. 

It’d have big brakes all round, and a cage that goes right through to the front of the chassis.

The interior would be something late model — maybe from a VF, as it’s pretty bad arse for a stock set-up — and there’d be a fuel cell in the boot, since the stock tank would be long gone.”

While the above may be predictable for someone like Braden, his choice of engine isn’t what we’ve come to expect from him. Instead of a blower sitting atop a big block, he’d opt for a twin-turbo LSX, with the aim of making around 1200hp. That would be backed up by a G-Force five-speed dog-box and nine-inch diff. 

The best part about all this is that, since Braden’s already got the car, and it’s already part way done, we’re confident this is one concept that will become reality, and we can’t wait to see it when it does. 

Thanks to Ashley Westmoreland for the illustration. Check out more of his art at heroprints.co.nz

LVVTA’s view

Justin from LVVTA says: “Most of this project sounds pretty straightforward, with nothing overly complex other than the custom chassis. Due to the removal of the complete floorpan — which has an integral chassis — its replacement with a custom chassis would almost certainly mean that this build would become a scratch-built vehicle from both a registration and compliance perspective. That said, if it does become a scratch-built vehicle, getting it road legal would still be very much achievable provided you carried out the build using the applicable requirements contained in the NZ Car Construction Manual  (CCM) — previously NZ Hobby Car Technical Manual — which is now available for download from lvvta.org.nz

“Because it’s a ‘late model’ car, you shouldn’t expect to have any issues with the usual things such as collapsible steering columns, burst-proof door catches, and the like, as these will already be fitted as original equipment. As it’s a custom frame, you may decide to go to a custom IFS rather than the OEM McPherson strut set-up. There are a number of LVV-recognized IFS manufacturers whose assemblies — provided they’re supplied as a complete set-up — can be installed and certified without the need for any additional approvals. At the time of printing, the LVV-recognized aftermarket IFS manufacturers are: Rods by Reid, Total Cost Involved (TCI), Chris Alston’s Chassisworks, Art Morrison, Heidts, Kugel, and Factory Five. 

“The roll cage would need to be carefully designed so that it didn’t intrude into the interior ‘A zone’, or head swing areas, and you would be unlikely to be able to have rear seats. The wheels, braking system, gearbox and diff installations, and fuel system mods are all run of the mill, and all of them are covered in detail within the CCM. There are plenty of examples of the various ways of achieving the desired outcome. Boost is about the best thing you can do to an LS engine, transforming it from mild to wild, and, with the right turbo combo, you can achieve those figures with good road manners and reliability, all while running pump gas. This sounds like it’s going to be a tough street car, and, like the NZV8 crew, we’d love to see this thing pounding the pavement sometime soon.”