Frank Peronace is a builder by trade so it makes sense that he owns a ute.
But, as you’ve probably already guessed, it’s f-a-r from your average Holden
Rodeo or WB ute on its last legs.
Not by a long shot.
When Frank decided he’d treat himself to a new ute he walked into a Sydney
Holden dealer and put down 40 large for a brand new VYII SS 6 speed. All of a
sudden, driving to work took on a whole new meaning!
But, just like your mamma used to tell you, there’s always somebody faster or
Frank realised this first hand when he pulled alongside another LS1 monster
at the lights and got left behind. This was the trigger that saw Frank pursue a
string of go-fast mods. Unfortunately, his first round of mods – at a company
that shall remain nameless – wasn’t a very positive experience. The company
pocketed a sizeable pile of money but failed to deliver any real performance
But all that changed when Frank idled up out the front of Sam’s Performance
in Padstow, NSW. You’re now looking at a 383ci LS1 stroker with a healthy 500hp
(373kW) at the flywheel!
Pop the bonnet and you’ll notice that this LS1 breathes through a Wilson FAST
intake manifold, which resembles the standard manifold but out-flows it by a
considerable margin. The manifold is teamed with a 90mm FAST throttle body. Sam
from Sam’s Performance says the upgrade manifold and throttle are worth about
20hp (15kW) at the flywheel on a 383ci stroker. A high-flow induction pipe
connects to the Holden airbox, which has been modified for an abundant flow of
ambient air. An oil/air separator prevents engine oil contaminating the inlet
Tucked down the side of each cylinder head you’ll spy H&M headers, which
feed into a twin 2 ½ inch mandrel bent exhaust. Note that the twin tailpipes
poke through cut-outs on both sides of the custom rear bumper.
Internally, the LS1 has been rebuilt using a 383ci (6.3 litre) stroker kit
comprising an Eagle crank and rods and Diamond forged pistons (for an 11:1
compression ratio). The LS1 cylinder heads were ported in-house and feature
upsized valves, competition springs and retainers. The camshaft is a custom
grind that Sam says delivers about 236 degrees at 50 thou lift.
Despite the highly tuned nature of this engine there’s been no need to
splurge on an aftermarket programmable management system. Sam has been able to
remap the existing PCM to deliver near-factory idle, driveability and
smoothness. Note that the stock airflow meter has been removed in preference of
MAP-based load sensing.
Amazingly, the fuel system remains completely standard – injectors, reg and
pump. Sam says the engine is running at the limit of the fuel system
flow, so for any extra power a big set of squirters and a high-flow pump will be
required. The ignition also remains standard.
The driveline of Frank’s ute remains standard except for a heavy-duty clutch
and a shorter diff ratio (which goes a long way to improving the car’s
flexibility and sharpness). With all that stroked V8 muscle sent to the back
wheels, the ute has ripped out 400hp (298kW) at the wheels and 500hp (373kW) on
the Sam’s Performance engine dyno.
No stuffing around here!
But Frank hasn’t stopped under the bonnet.
The cabin has been given an eye-catching red leather re-trim by G-Trim in
Padstow. Red leather covers the factory seats, door inserts, dash and console
and sections of the steering wheel. Carbon fibre has also been slotted into the
doors. Frank also whacked on a genuine Holden dashboard pod which is currently
equipped with an oil pressure and oil temp gauge. A nice, integrated touch.
The sound system is headed by a Pioneer DVD/CD/TV which is wired to a pair of
Pioneer amps – one for the in-cab speakers and another for the rear subs. The
doors are equipped with 4 inch splits, a small sub is tucked in behind the seats
and twin 10 inch subs live in ported enclosures in the cargo area.
And there’s plenty to see out back besides those sub-woofers.
Beneath the ute hardcover is a custom suede trim incorporating a flame design
in the side panels, ‘boxed’ wheel arches and a nitrous bottle in an enclosure.
And, no, the gas isn’t hooked up to the engine – it’s purely for show.
Obviously, you won’t see Frank fling an old wheelbarrow in the back of
this machine anymore!
Visually, the SS ute is enhanced with some subtle styling mods. Those twin
exhaust outlets required a Fab-Tech custom rear bumper, the bonnet is from a
current Monaro and a Chev grille has been installed. The ‘ACE SS’ number plates
are also hard to miss... At the time of our photo shoot the wheel aches were
filled by 20 inch Konya rims wearing 285/30 and 245/35 Falken rubber. And if you
think that’s an extreme wheel an’ tyre combo, bear in mind Frank now has
a set of 22s.
Yes, 22 inch wheels!
The standard suspension is sliced using 3 inch lowered K-Mac springs and
adjustable Koni dampers. Stand on the picks and it’s obvious the standard brakes
have been replaced – there’s a subtle but effective upgrade comprising DBA
slotted and drilled discs and high performance pads.
Frank has recently entered the car in the ’04 AutoSalon Final Battle and a
couple of other shows and, although no trophies have fell into his hands, he has
received some complimentary feedback.
"I could do a whole lot of extra stuff to it and get more involved in the
show scene, but I’m happy to drive it as it is – I don’t have to please others,"
Amen to that.
Build a car, drive it - and make damn sure you enjoy it!
Sam’s Performance +61 2 9772 3105