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Sunkist

A hard to ignore Gemini wagon with an injected V6 under the hood, a full chassis, mini-tubs and enough colour and detail to blow your mind.

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images


The line of three heads peered down from atop an unfinished wall on a nearby construction site. They looked at the orange car accompanied by an owner, journalist, and a photographer who was unpacking his gear. The car was obviously special - but what the hell was it?

One of the workmen called down "Hey, what's that thing?"

Realisation dawned before he gave time for a reply. "It's a bloody Gemini!" he suddenly bellowed. "Ha ha ha. Is it a diesel? Ba ha ha!".

But the nosing lumberjacks soon changed their tune when Simon pulled the latch and raised the bonnet for us to take our pics.

"Whoa, what a donk, whoa..." they drooled.

Instead of seeing a 1600 four they were spying the unmistakable contours of a 3.8 litre Holden V6!

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What they saw would surely have been a familiar sight - the very same 3.8 litre V6 mill that's used to pull along the sports ute that lay parked below next to the cement mixer. The fellas were certainly impressed - but, unfortunately, they still couldn't see half of it. They were too distant to marvel at the attention to detail Simon Gauci has put into his pride and joy 1984 TG Gemini wagon - the fruits of two years of unwavering thought and effort.

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Simon bought the (then written off) wagon about four years ago with the full intent of making it into a V6 showstopper. Then, mainly over the last two years, Simon and his brother toiled away in the garage building the car up to a level that could cope with the torquey Holden V6. Like, for example, fabricating up a full chassis from square tubing that reaches from bumper to bumper - which, incidentally, was one of the requirements for engineering approval. And while we're on that topic, Simon guarantees that the car's all 100% engineer-approved - with the exception of the skinny-arse front tyres that were on for the pics.

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Simon tracked down a VP Series 2 Commodore engine/box/loom/MAP sensor/computer pack in good, original condition. The vee-six was swallowed by the Gemini's engine bay without hassle, but the boys did have to persuade the tunnel, make new mounts and fabricate a new exhaust. For adequate cooling, a larger capacity radiator was brought to the show with the custom combination of a Torana V8 triple row core and Holden 6 cylinder end tanks. A 16 inch Davies Craig thermo fan is also used to suck air through the core when it's needed. The fuel delivery system was stepped up with a VN Commodore in-tank pump feeding an aftermarket VL pump - so no swirl pot was need. The rest of it consists of re-routed 5/16 lines along with a return line.

On top of the standard 125kW, the 3.8 V6 also copped a bit a serving with a larger throttle body pulled from a Holden 5.0 V8, a mild Wade camshaft and a full engine strip down, clean and balancing. 'Cos Simon scored the whole engine/wiring/computer shooting match, he's also retained the standard Delco ECU, which still manages well and starts the car first time every time.

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And we can see Simon perhaps starting off a new trend with his ingeniously modified Holden airbox. He's cut away the topside and inserted a piece of see-through acrylic so you can peer down and see the foam type Unifilter lurking below. Now that's one sick-arse mod if you ask us!

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Since Simon had to start from scratch with a new exhaust system, it makes sense that he went for a high performance one while he had the chance. Shortened factory 3 into 1 extractors lead into a single 2½ inch mandrel pipe with a stock Commodore cat and Walker rear 'box. Add all of these tweaks together and Simon has a Gemini with a damn strong power/weight ratio - and a torque curve fatter than the female singer at the end of a show.

This truck-load of torque is palmed off down through a Holden T700 4 speed auto with a modified B&M shift kit and then down a shortened and balanced XT GT tailshaft to the rear end. The rear end is pretty competition-oriented too. Not one to stuff around with fiddly little things, Simon went for a big Ford 9 incher that was grabbed from a F100. Spinning a 3.9:1 LSD centre, traction is excellent and the 28 spline billet axles have proven man enough to handle whatever the V6 dishes out.

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Under the wagon's bum has been adapted to a Commodore 4 link set-up, with the guards also mini-tubbed by 1¾ inches to accommodate the wide rear rubber. The ride height has been cut down a bit with one inch lower heavy duty King springs at the front and rear accompanied by a quartet of Monroe gas dampers. Under the nose, the crossmember and lower arms have been strengthened and re-welded for added durability.

To assist in gaining full roadworthy approval, the stockie brakes had to be replaced by units of a much larger stopping power. The '60s Ford parts bin was raided for a pair of XT GT rear drums, while the other end is improved with 10½ inch vented discs with Volvo 4-spot calipers. It's an upgrade that is 100% necessary to stop a car with around four times the stock power level...

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Other than the wonderful engineering that's gone into the car, it's also decked out with a body and interior of show quality. Simon's the man to credit with all the bodywork that was done, which includes such things as re-molding the doors to fit a pair of stylish Ford XY GT mirrors, and moving the rear number plate. Once fully rubbed back and prepped, he also applied a generous serving of custom mix all over (all but the final coat was performed by Simon). Based on the home grown Ford Tango orange, it's an eye-popping colour with just a few custom dashes of this and that to make it exactly right.

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Adding sparkle to the bright paint is also a set of top billet alloy wheels. These are 15x4 and 15x7 Centerline Convo Pros (you can guess which end has the pissy little four inchers!), that wear 135/60 Michelin and 225/60 Kelly Charger rubber.

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Start opening things up and you'll continue to be blown away. Under the bonnet you'll be hit by (other than the engine!) powder coated or painted everything (orange or grey), fully concealed wiring and a cleverly installed gas strut to hold up the bonnet. It's an engine bay that's absolutely spick-and-span without a single hair out of place.

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Swing open a front door, peer in and you'll see Honda Prelude front seats, Piazza split fold rears and custom door trims all covered in orange and white leather. The striking orange/white combination is in stark contrast to a black floor carpet console and dashboard.

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Add to the interior list an array of an Autometer Pro-Comp tacho, shift light, oil pressure and water temp gauges and you're about there. Lift the rear tailgate and you'll stand there for a while looking too. There's a massive audio system in evidence with a Pioneer 12 disc stacker, Coustic cross-over network and Design Reference amps, and a big Phoenix Gold ZX500 amp in the centre of the floor.

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Other audio bits throughout the car are the Pioneer head unit, hideaway DSP, 6 inch Alpine front splits and a set of three JL 10WS subs that butt up against the back of the Piazza rear seat. Of course, it's all coordinated in orange and white leather to match the rest of the cabin and you might also notice that the battery is also now contained in a box in the back. It's a set up for impressive viewing.

Now what?

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Okay, so we all know this beautifully modified V6 Gemini is a bit of a grunter, but Simon still has a couple of major plans drafted out for the car. He's recently been bitten by the turbo bug and now wants to drop not one, but two turbos into the engine bay!

The best just keeps getting better.

A couple of turbos will get the building boys atop of the wall really excited!!!

Contact:

ATS (Australian Turbo Sales)
+61 3 9335 1254

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