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K-Trips 1982 Holden Commodore VH Build Thread


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Discussion Thread - K-Trips 1982 VH Holden Commodore Wagon

I know it's not the prettiest thing but I hope one day it will get better. I'm more about driving the car and making it mechanically sweet.

Anyhow - I was in Auckland at a Megadeth/Slayer concert (how apt) and was in the market for a V8.

I had found a car in AK that was in my price range so before the gig I made my way to the punters house and took a look at an '82 VH Commodore.

It ticked all the boxes and had heaps of room to improve on it. Worst thing was it was a 4cylinder and it hadn't run in years. I had a think about it and decided I wanted to go for it so slammed down the cash and got the wheels turning to have it trucked back to Wellington.

It was full of all kinds of spare parts which all came back with the car on the transporter.

Here is how it looked when it arrived in Wellington. Back before Smart phones and the old Nokia brick was essentially a potato with a flash.


With a crappy 4 cylinder :-(


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  • 3 weeks later...
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I bought this car 10 days before my annual road trip to Napier for Hawkes Boes and decided that I wanted to get this going and legal for the trip.
That meant I had 10 days to get the car to Wellington, put it through a WOF, get it running, do the repairs, get it lowered, make it somewhat reliable and then pack my shit and drive to Napier.
Long story short, it arrived in Wellington the Thursday a week before I was leaving. (I was leaving on the Friday morning) I got it delivered direct to my WOF guy who checked it as much as he could without driving it and as it was still full of spare parts he couldn't check the inside.
I got it to my lockup and for a whole week I laid into every waking moment I wasn't at work except for the Sunday after I accidentally got horrifically drunk and burst a hangover into life.
By the following Wednesday it was back at the workshop getting a check of the parts he couldn't check before and a recheck of the other stuff. He nicely gave me a bit of grace with silly things like a crack in the windscreen and stuff but II was legal and it was running and low on some nice steels. It was a total win.
As it was once I got it on the road... (a small hint to the progression of the car is the number of stickers on the LR window - there is one sticker in this picture)

Funny story - I was in the convoy heading to Napier that first road trip and we stopped at the bottom of the Rimutakas to fill up (my first time filling the tank)
The breather lines were so old, dry and fucked that as soon as I put fuel in them they just fell apart and it was hosing fuel out on the forecourt, the servo dude RAN over and told me I was going to blow the place up so we pushed it out on the road.
I was leaning under the back of the car looking where the leak was coming from and had my hand in the tailgate opening and Shaz came by and grabbed something out of the back and slammed the tail gate shut - on my hand - like solidly wedged it in there and it took a hefty hand to open the tailgate and get my hand out.

I still have  a small twitch thinking about it - luckily no fingers broke but my hand trembled for a good month afterwards.
It only leaked till it was about 3/4 tank so I kept it under half a tank the rest of the journey but it was apparently a GREAT time for the guys following me up the Rimutakas for the first time with their windscreens getting hosed in spilling fuel till it got low enough to stop.

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  • 2 months later...

Fixed the fuel leak and another few gremlins that became apparent on the roadtrip. But it didn't take very long till I was very much over the piss weak 4 cylinder which had a bit of a death rattle  starting. Plus I had another roadtrip planned for New Years so out came the Trademe goggles and I found a 6 cylinder in Auckland and I had almost everything else I needed that came with the car originally so I whizzed up the 09 and grabbed the motor.

Stayed the night at Spence's in Hamilton on the return journey, ended up on the razz in Hamilton town and got maggot. I woke up in the morning to a shit-cunt of a drive ahead and quickly ran upstairs to say ciao to him and walked into his room to catch an eyefull of a chick that had been dragged home, head down and ass up giving him a blowie. Her poodot is forever burned into my retina.
Anyhow got back and with the help of me good mate Daddums we quickly whipped everything together and got it running. Wasn't any big deal but I was stoked to have 6 cylinders and was now ready for a New Years roadie with some power.
Chrome rocker cover boyyyeeee.

Ended up in travelling all over the West Coast of the North Island for New Years with the fellow wagoneers - with a particularly scenic spot next to the Bulls River.


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So by this point I was just tootling with the drivetrain and making it run nice and handle well. But the haggardness of it started to get on my nerves. I found another VH wagon with dead rego but a reasonable body up in Shannon.

Cue early morning renegade run to Shannon to grab it one Saturday and drive it back to Wellly - no Reg, no WOF, no worries.


The guy selling it had literally chased street kids out of the car who had slept in the car.

They had graffitied with marker pens all through the interior (I guess they thought it was derelict because it was parked under a tree for a few years - but it still ran)

I didn't care cos I wasn't wanting much of the interior. But I still have the seats out of this car and if you lift up the headrests on the front seats you will see their tagging under it.



A side by side of the parts car at stock height and mine at lowered height. (plus you can see the front end on mine was pretty shit)


I ripped off a few panels and replaced them on mine




I also painted the motor while I had it all apart.



Then whipped the windscreen out and replaced that while repainting the front end.



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I pretty much just enjoyed it like this for the next couple years or so with very little active modification other the repairs as necessary and chucking in some I.C.E. and going from 15" steels to 16" steels.





Every year on Watangi weekend we have Wagnats up in Vinegar Hill so of course - it's got to be going for that.

This was Wagnats 4 (or was it 3? I guess it depends if you count Wagnats zero as the first one... LOL)


I had also built me a little trailer to tow behind it.

Recipe - take one fucked garden trailer, cut off all the shit on top of the deck and flip it. Add shit, weld, repeat. Voila!








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Then around early 2012 I started having a hankering for a bit more power and a V8 started preying on the mind.

Originally I was tempted by a 1UZ and even purchased a UZ conversion motor and manual gearbox etc for it and spent 6 months trying to find the motorvation to do the conversion part.

End result was I got this 308 and I talked myself out of the fuckaround that would have been doing a 1UZ conversion and into a nice simple 308 conversion.

Spent the next few months buying more parts for the conversion and come Queens Birthday weekend I ripped into it.

Long story short the conversion cost me a LOT more than I thought once I threw a few new parts at the motor and bought all the little bits I needed. Well over $10K now - so don't let anyone tell you a simple conversion is cheap.

Here's a basic rundown of the conversion in pictures but from the day I pulled into the lockup to pull the motor out to the day I had a WOF (albeit a little dodgy with no cert plate) was 8 weeks.






Dopey driveshaft loops, bigger brakes etc (all the essential cert work was done for the WOF but before the cert as checked)


Had to chuck some different rims on as the stud pattern changed going to the bigger brakes.


But the steady formula of black steels stuck.


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  • 2 months later...

Took this to Hawkes Boes. Was so choice. 650 Km, 120L of dinosaurs and no problems.

Got plenty of things to sort out before Nats next year but no big dramas - wayhey!

Cheers to Lee - I'm imagining that I'm doing a high speed run in these 2 photos - LOL



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Made it around the South Island with no problems really - 1600Km, 240 litres of gas and 2 litres of oil. Pretty good I reckon.

Other than a dicky lifter that got ever so slowly worse and a gearbox which seems to be getting a fair bit noisier, it went flawlessly.

Probably taking a month off working on cars now. Will take it to this monthly meet next week but then I'll be parking it up, reg on hold and getting into a bit more labour intensive but minimal cost stuff.

Plans are to get into it between Easter and New Years to strip the interior, screen and front guards then kick into all the rust between the back of the block and the front seats plus give the drivers door it's well overdue overhaul and probably throw the interior back together with some sound deadening and carpet.

If I have the time and money then I'll panel and paint both sides (below the windows) too.

Anyhow - photo from Nats. Cheers Roman



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  • 9 months later...
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Just been to Nats - 1900Km, 270 litres of gas and 2.5 litres of oil after leaving home I'm back and the beast performed like an absolute world class champ.

A picture from Markku - Cheers


Absolutely wasted the Wagoneers plaque on a speed hump in Remuera and it's now pretty bent up but still holding together so on it shall stay.

(felt like the whole weight of the rear slammed down on it HARD as it was momentarily standing vertical on the top of the speedbump)

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