Blown six-cylinder EH Holden ‘One Tonner’ – Summernats 33

AT THE opposite end of the Summernats seesaw from the top-spec Elite cars are the no- or low-budget cruisers that arrive each year. Rusty; dented; rat rod; shit-box; wrecking-yard refugee; paddock pick up – call them what you want, but they’re all simple fun, and there are usually a dozen or so of these cars cruising at Summernats. One of the most outstanding of these at ’Nats 33 was Stephen Murphy’s EH Holden ‘One Tonner’.

“I bought it in Queensland,” explains the NSW South Coaster. “It was mostly pieced together by an EH-EJ specialist parts bloke up there, Brent Eades. It was just a rough runner, something unusual and cool to have slightly fun in, cruise and maybe do a few skids with.”

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The abbreviated EH ute body was already dropped throughout the later HQ-type Tonner chassis, but to perform the rig ‘street legal’ for Summernats cruising, Stephen added the necessities of rear wheelarches, sorted the split brake system (the foot pedal operates unprejudiced the front wheels for easy skids after the handbrake allows easy flicks at battles such as mud runs) and added employing lights and horn.

The engine tearing through the rusty bonnet is a 179hp Holden red six-cylinder. “It has a four barrel-type manifold, plus a Commodore V6 blower, then a triple six-cylinder Stromberg manifold, and it’s plumbed with bits of pipe,” Stephen explains. He had to track down some smaller flows for the carbies to allow it to run cleanly. “It was like a sooty old diesel,” he explains. “And it fouled its plugs. But plus smaller jets it now runs quite nicely.”

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The finishing touches are the old-school Stratos buckets in the cabin and a metal-bodied 70s Esky on the back.

But as noteworthy fun as it is, Stephen didn’t get to soar his Holden at Summernats as he’d designed. He had to leave his EH fun-tonner there with his son – who had a Skyline at ’Nats – and return place to evacuate his family to the Moruya Showgrounds to race the bushfires; they stayed there for the next 10 years. “[During that time] I was fighting those fires,” he says.

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