GREAT WHITE

GEORGE KOLLIS NEARLY PASSED OVER THIS PRISTINE VF HARDTOP WHEN HE FIRST SAW IT BACK IN ’86. THIRTY YEARS, MANY AWARDS AND A 10-SECOND TIMESLIP LATER, HE’S GLAD HE DIDN’T

STORY SIMON MAJOR PHOTOS ROHAN PHILLIPS

CLEAN, crisp and packing a blown small-block – it’s no wonder that after 30 years with this tough Valiant Regal hardtop, George Kollis is still smitten. “Back in 1986 it was just a dirty old Valiant,” the South Australian remembers. “I was looking for a daily thrasher, but I actually walked away when I first saw it. There were lots of dents and rust, and plenty more cars to choose from in those days. The owner, Italo, was an old bloke who talked us back for another look, so we gave it a proper inspection. My brother Nick and I peeled back the crusty seat covers and the trim was like brand new. I muttered to Nick: ‘F**k me, the interior is immaculate!’ So we cut a deal for a measly $1200.”

The added bonus? George’s new Val was a factory 318-powered 770 Regal, so it was loaded with goodies like air conditioning, bucket seats and a console floor shift.

The VF’s “daily thrasher” status didn’t last long, however; it was soon off the road for some TLC. “The body was rough around the edges,” George says.

“Italo had a boat, so he’d been dragging the hardtop’s arse through salt water for a number of years, but we managed to save all of the original panels.”

The luxury-spec coupe had been factory-ordered without a vinyl roof, but had scored a dealer-fitted cream version instead. It was thankfully left off during the makeover. “It just looked odd. A white car with a cream roof and green interior was like driving a big pavlova!” George laughs. “So it was peeled off before the car was resprayed in crisp factory Alpine White.” The panel and paint was the handiwork of George’s mate, Tony, and nearly 30 years on it still looks the goods, which is a testament to his skills. A reversecowl scoop was fitted – before they were cool – along with a few small wearand- tear touch-ups, ably handled by another mate, Joe Leuzzi.

Like many young blokes, George was keen on adding more grunt, and played with a number of small-blocks before settling on a 360-based combo built by himself and Nick. The current long motor has been in the car since 2001, and uses a factory cast block stretched to 406 cubes with the first of the Mopar Performance cast-steel four-inch stroker cranks. Scat H-beam rods and Wiseco reverse-dome pistons sort the bottom end, lubed via a Mellings oil pump drawing the good stuff from a Moroso eight-quart sump.

A custom blower-grind Crower flat-tappet cam and Crower CoolFace lifters work in conjunction with Jet pushrods, Isky springs and Ferrea valves to sort the valvetrain, the latter pairing housed in Brodix B1BA heads ported by PM Engines.

The Paxton supercharger was added in 2013, and forces air through a blow-through-adapted CSU 750cfm carb mounted to an Edelbrock Super Victor intake. “I’ve been gradually getting my head around the tune for this blown combo, but it had a nasty lean-out at Heathcote earlier this year, which torched a head gasket and hurt the rings in number-eight cylinder,” George says. “I’d promised my son Peter that we’d use the car for his formal, so I pulled the engine, repaired the damage and had it refitted and running just in time. It was a hectic five days!”

That single run netted George a 10.80@132mph, so it should go much quicker once the correct tune and boost is locked in. “The car is raced in total street trim, including the spare wheel and full exhaust,” he says. “I’m hooked on that blower so I’ll get it sorted; it has made such a difference to the car that I can’t step backwards now. It tips the scales at 3850lb with me in it, so it’s fairly weighty too; any additional power is welcomed.”

The custom four-into-one pipes are 15 years old and run restrictive 1.75-inch primaries, so a set of two-inch primary jobs are slated for the near future. A stainless twin three-inch system with four mufflers keeps the noise to a moderately acceptable level for George’s many street miles.

A custom alloy radiator with twin AU Falcon fans was given the nod for cooling duties, while a mix of Crane and MSD hardware handles the spark.

A 727 Torqueflite is an easy choice for a tough transmission, but George

I PEELED BACK THE CRUSTY SEAT COVERS AND THE TRIM WAS LIKE BRAND NEW. I MUTTERED TO NICK: ‘F**K ME, THE INTERIOR IS IMMACULATE’

called on his cousin Kon at Kollis Automotive to go the extra mile by adding a full-manual reverse-pattern valvebody and 4000 Dominator converter.

A 3.5-inch tailshaft spins back to a Currie-housed nine-inch packed with Strange internals, 4.11 gears and Moser axles.

The standard torsion bar front end has been retained, while the rear leaf springs are custom packs designed to work with no additional traction aids. The factory solid front discs and Gemini-sized brake pads (seriously!) have been upgraded to twin-piston BA Falcon calipers clamping ventilated rotors. Ford drums were deemed adequate for the rear.

Yes, the deal-clinching factory green buffalo-grain trim still takes pride of place inside this VF, and looks near-new more than 40 years after rolling out of Tonsley Park. “Italo had glued clear plastic over the seats and door trims before fitting covers, so a bit of elbow grease was all that was needed to tart it up,” George says. The B&M Quicksilver shifter and a selection of aftermarket gauges are the only deviation from stock.

With only a few small changes on the horizon, George has no intentions

I’M HOOKED ON THAT BLOWER SO I’LL GET IT SORTED; IT HAS MADE SUCH A DIFFERENCE THAT I CAN’T STEP BACKWARDS NOW

of selling the car or indulging in any new projects. “I still love playing around with this old girl, and although it spends 99.9 per cent of its time as a street car, I’m keen to improve on its ETs.

“Every year in June, a bunch of mates and I run our own bracket at Heathcote in memory of my old school mate, Gary Watson – Mr XR GT – who we lost to cancer in September 2011. It’s a great chance for us to have some fun and duke it out for the four-foot memorial trophy, all the while knowing Gary is as proud as punch of us for still enjoying the hobby that brought us all together.” s

GEORGE KOLLIS 1969 VALIANT REGAL HARDTOP

Paint: Alpine White

DONK

Make: Chrysler 406ci Block: Chrysler cast Crank: Mopar Performance cast steel Rods: Scat H-beam Pistons: Wiseco reverse-dome 10:1 Camshaft: Crower custom flat-tappet Intake: Edelbrock Super Victor Blower: Paxton Novi 1200 Carb: CSU 750 Holley blow-through Heads: Brodix B1BA Lifters: Crower CoolFace flat-tappet Ignition: Crane Hi-6 ignition, MSD crank trigger, MSD distributor Exhaust: Custom 1.75in-primary fourinto- one extractors, twin 3in stainless

SHIFT

Gearbox: Torqueflite 727, full-manual reverse-pattern valvebody Converter: Dominator 4000 stall Diff: Currie nine-inch, 4.11 gears, Moser axles, Strange centre

BENEATH

Front end: Stock torsion bar Rear end: Custom leaf spring Shocks: Monroe (f & r) Brakes: Twinpiston BA Falcon, ventilated discs (f), Ford drums (r)

ROLLING STOCK

Rims: Weld Pro Star; 15x5 (f), 15x8 (r) Tyres: Firestone 205/70 (f), M&H Racemaster 275/60 (r)

THANKS

My wife Helen and kids Patrice and Peter; brother Nick Kollis; Kon Kollis at Kollis Automotive; Joe Leuzzi; Gary Michaels, GM Auto Electrical; Gary Watson (Mr XR GT)