In recent years the Australian LS1 tuning scene
has undergone a transformation. Not so long ago you were limited to aftermarket
supercharger kits and, if you’re an atmo performance fan, a cam and heads
package was your only option. How things change!
Noel X’s VY SS ute runs with the county’s best
supercharged LS1s thanks to a lethal combination of cubic inches (402 of ‘em!)
and all-out breathing enhancements. A Harrop eight-throttle induction system is
the perfect crowning glory.
Noel – the owner of a successful forklift company
- purchased his SS ute brand new with the intent of using it for work purposes.
A Redback twin 2 ½ inch exhaust, Pacemaker Tri-Y headers and a custom engine
management tune helped ensure Noel was never late for appointments. Two
seventy-five horsepower at the wheels made that a certainty.
But when Noel purchased a van for work purposes
and ‘retired’ the SS ute, he decided to explore the potential that he always
knew was lurking between the front suspension towers. The next mods are ones
that NA LS1 fans know well – a cam and heads package. Noel opted for a 224
degrees duration camshaft, tickled alloy heads from Sam’s Performance and
swapped to a shorter (3.9:1) diff ratio for improved response. On the Sam’s
Performance chassis dyno, this upgrade yielded a 78hp (58kW) at the wheels gain
bringing the total to 354hp (264kW).
This was all pretty kick-butt stuff but six months
later the engine was out. Not because of any mechanical failure, but because
Noel wanted more grunt. After discussions with Sam, it was decided that the best
way to go ahead was with extra cubes courtesy of a 383ci (6.3-litre) Lunati
stroker kit. The Lunati kit increases swept capacity by more than 10 percent and
the supplied pistons raise the compression ratio to 11:1. At the same time, a
seriously big camshaft was slotted in and a Fast intake manifold went on top.
The fuel system was up-spec’d with a Walbro in-tank pump and Holden supercharged
V6 injectors and, of course, the engine was retuned to suit. Again, the diff
ratio was shortened to a lively 4.1:1.
This level of modification proved too much for the
standard clutch so a heavy-duty organic single-plate unit went in and the
six-speed manual ‘box was equipped with a Ripshifter. The standard SS ute
suspension was also tweaked with lowered front springs, rear airbags (which help
accommodate heavy loads), Koni dampers and a front tower brace. The ABS
controlled anchors also slow things down better thanks to slotted discs and
This configuration delivered massively improved
torque throughout the rev range and a top-end output of 454hp (339kW) at the
treads. With a pair of semi-slick tyres under the rear, the car managed a best
ET of 11.9 seconds.
At this point Noel caught a glimpse of the
magnificent Harrop eight-throttle intake system and, well, it was love at first
sight. Understandably. The existing Fast manifold stepped aside and the new
Harrop manifold gave much improved throttle response and a smoother idle.
Interestingly, there was only a minor power gain.
But there was no doubting the extra power to be
achieved by the following mod!
Once again, the engine was hauled out and the
cubic inch count was elevated to a massive 402 (6.6-litre). This required boring
the standard block and inserting huge 4 inch diameter sleeves. The pistons were
again changed and the compression ratio remains more-or-less the same as
previously – around 11.2:1. Given the extra torque achieved by the over-bore, a
more aggressive camshaft (delivering around 270 degrees duration) was fitted.
Those extra Newton-Metres also allowed the change back to a taller 3.9:1 diff.
At the time of our photo shoot, Noel’s 402ci beast
was still being run-in but subsequent dyno runs reveal the new engine can belt
out more than 460hp at he wheels along with massively improved torque through
the rev range.
Noel hasn’t invested a huge amount in visual
enhancement because the eye-catching factory green paint already does a great
job attracting second glances. The only body mods are the fitment of Chev bowtie
badges, clear lens taillights and a custom bonnet. Unlike many other custom
bonnet treatments, this one looks genuinely tough without being kinda ‘out
there’ – look closely and you’ll notice a Ford XR8 power bulge with a scoop
neatly located toward the front. Judging by its appearance, the bonnet scoop is
the same as fitted to a Subaru Liberty B4 twin-turbo - this scoop not only looks
cool but provides extra airflow to the under-bonnet air filters. The final touch
is the fitment of TAK five-spoke 18s wearing 235/40 Falken rubber. Very nice.
Under-bonnet detailing includes a polished oil
catch can, dipstick handle and coolant header tank lid – but, let’s face it,
anything besides the wonderful Harrop manifold is just gravy... Inside, the trim
remains standard Holden SS fare with the exception of a Pivot shift light to
warn when the big 402ci bruiser is spinning close to its 7000 rpm limit.
At the time of writing, Noel hasn’t had the chance
to run the car down the quarter mile in its current configuration. However, with
traction permitting, it should run a very low 11 second pass – Noel says maybe
an 11.1. Of course, when you’re that close to running a 10 second ET
it’ll be almost impossible to call it quits.
Tens without forced induction or nitrous? Yep, it
Sam’s Performance +61 2 9772 3105
Did you enjoy this article?
Please consider supporting AutoSpeed with a small contribution. More Info...