VINNIE’S MONSTER 947HP RB26/30 VL IS A CULT CLASSIC

Photos by: Jordan Singson | Words by: Ian Lee

Turbochargers are now a staple engine component in the majority of cars today with varying applications. Whether it’s to promote better fuel economy, generate more power or a bit of both, you’ll see turbo’s used in hatchbacks through to F1 cars and pretty much everything in between. While the commercial use of turbos has been around since the 50’s, widespread use of turbo’s in cars didn’t peak until much later. Australia in particular wasn’t blessed with many turbocharged cars unlike Japan for example. So for a long time, bigger was better and for many petrol heads Down Under wanting power, there was no replacement for displacement.

Enter the 80’s and the global fuel crisis. Fallout from this event rocked car manufacturers around the world as they were suddenly forced to consider more economic means of powering their cars. In response to this and with deadlines to release the new generation Commodore, Holden recognised their existing flat 6 was not up to scratch and decided to partner with Nissan to supply a motor, aka the RB30DET. With the car’s release in 86′, public perception and intrigue grew surrounding these new motors from Japan that could really cop a beating. In no time, people started lapping up the fabled VL Turbo’s and the rest is history.

Since then, clean VL’s (Calais in particular), have never been particularly easy to come by so when Vinnie posted up a WTB he knew he’d be waiting for some time. A few weeks later, Vinnie got his wish as he was approached by Neno (the original owner of the car) and just like that, Vinnie got a turn key street monster in a platform he’d been chasing for years.

The 86’ Calais started off as a rolling shell with Neno wanting to use a clean, original tagged chassis for the base of his most ambitious build yet. Having owned multiple VL’s in the past, including the highly coveted BT1, Neno was pretty familiar with how to get the most out of these cars and where most nuts and bolts went. Like most VL’s, the car was destined to be a crowd pleaser at roll racing events, Powercruise and anywhere that offered enough runway for the potent RB30 to stretch its legs.

For a car its age, the car is in pretty great condition with the body straight and both the paint and interior being accurately restored in a period correct manner. By today’s standards, the VL body may come across a bit square but there’s no denying they have that 80’s charm about them with those then futuristic lines, split tone paint and funky interior. But most would agree that it’s what’s under the hood that really grabs your attention when you spot these cars so let’s get right into it.

To get the most out of the factory RB30 bottom end, an RB26 head was swapped to help with greater response and top end from the engine thanks to the Skyline’s twin cam setup. Before this was meshed together the head got some TLC including a CNC race port and Camtech 282 camshafts. The bottom end also got some attention seeing a combination of Nitto and Carrillo pistons, rods and rings. Siemens 2400cc injectors, 3 Bosch 040 pumps and an Aeromotive 60L fuel cell help make sure that the thirsty setup never runs short of fuel. Strapped to this engine is a custom Garrett GTX42/45 (42 housing with a 45 wheel) hooked up via a 6 Boost Manifold as well as a Turbosmart Race Gate and custom 3.5 – 4’’ exhaust setup. Controlling all this hardware is a Link Fury ECU which with help from ESP in Canberra, has managed to extract a solid 706kw at 36psi. During the build process the engine bay also got a full wire tuck and shave at 12 Volt Performance to really hone the focus on the infamous red RB26 cam cover.

With the extra power, the 80’s drivetrain wouldn’t have lasted much abuse, so to safeguard this from happening a 2 speed Powerglide along with a TCE 5500rpm torque converter was installed. A single-piece tail shaft was also fabricated to link up with a Borgwarner diff along with the custom billet rear axles. Fitted to the rears are a pair of Weld Magnum drags wrapped in Mickey Thompson Street Radials. A matching frontrunner set of Weld Magnum wheels have also been fitted to the front to keep the look clean and consistent. For stopping power, an upgraded Wilwood brake booster has been added along with a VT front brake setup.

Aside from the obvious front Sparco seat swap, the interior maintains much of the original interior pieces. Even the original gear selector cover has been kept although now housing a B&M shifter. The dash which has done away from the factory mathbook grid line design to a custom Racepak IQ3 digital dash. Some handy wiring also has got the ignition lined up to a push button start for those modern creature comforts. Complimenting the seats and to finish off the interior is a matching suede Sparco steering wheel.

Six months on since Vinnie took ownership, it’s been a journey to just familiarise and gain confidence driving such a potent car on the roads. That said, with drag goals in mind, Vinnie says that the next round of mods will be to prepare for that which includes putting in a full cage, parachute and widening the rear setup.

Sadly, for many the golden era for Aussie performance cars is far beyond the horizon and despite the current ZB Commodore being a turbo as well, it just isn’t quite the same as the VL. Whether or not we’ll see a miraculous return from manufacturers like Holden or Ford, only time will tell but until then, it’s reassuring to see people putting in effort to keep classics alive and well.

Special thanks on the build goes out to Ryan Acworth, Megan – Neno’s patient wife, 12 Volt Performance, Extreme Street Performance (ESP) and Next Up Performance.

MODS LIST

– 706kW 947hp on 36psi
– RB26/30
– Siemens 2400cc injectors
– 3x Bosch 040 fuel pumps in a aeromotive 60L fuel cell in the boot
– R35 coil pack
– Full wire tuck engine bay done by 12Volt Performance
– Relocated battery to boot
– Relocated fuse box from engine bay to glovebox
– Hypertune inlet manifold
– Hypertune throttle body
– Hypertune fuel rail
– 6 boost exhaust manifold
– Custom Garrett GTX42/45 (42 housing with 45 wheel in it)
– Turbosmart race gate
– 3.5-4” exhaust
– Full CNC race ported head
– Camtech 282 cams
– Nitto forged pistons
– Nitto oil pump
– Carrillo forged rods
– Fire rings in the block

– 2 speed powerglide
– Tce 5500 stall
– Transbrake
– Custom single piece tail shaft billet yoke
– Straight cut gears in glide
– B&M shifter in car

– Borgwarner diff – cut down 74mm either side and braced
– TA diff hat
– 31 spline billet axles
– 1/2” wheel studs
– Full spool

– Link Fury ECU
– Custom switch wired in by ESP for low and high boost settings

– VT front brake upgrade
– Willwood brake booster

– Weld magnum 15×8.5 rears with 17×4 weld magnum front runners
– 255 Mickey Thompson ET Street R Pro Radial

– Series 2 grey interior
– Sparco front seats
– Custom dash with iq3 racepak street built into with custom indicator lights built into the panel
– Sparco steering wheel
– Push button start

– Boxed lower control arms
– Adjustable upper control arms
– All suspension dialed in by suspension dynamics in QLD

VINNIE’S 947HP RB26/30 VL IS A CULT CLASSIC

Turbochargers are now a staple engine component in the majority of cars today with varying applications. Whether it’s to promote better fuel economy, generate more power or a bit of both, you’ll see turbo’s used in hatchbacks through to F1 cars and pretty much everything in between. While the commercial use of turbos has been around since the 50’s, widespread use of turbo’s in cars didn’t peak until much later. Australia in particular wasn’t blessed with many turbocharged cars unlike Japan for example. So for a long time, bigger was better and for many petrol heads Down Under wanting power, there was no replacement for displacement.

Enter the 80’s and the global fuel crisis. Fallout from this event rocked car manufacturers around the world as they were suddenly forced to consider more economic means of powering their cars. In response to this and with deadlines to release the new generation Commodore, Holden recognised their existing flat 6 was not up to scratch and decided to partner with Nissan to supply a motor, aka the RB30DET. With the car’s release in 86′, public perception and intrigue grew surrounding these new motors from Japan that could really cop a beating. In no time, people started lapping up the fabled VL Turbo’s and the rest is history.

Since then, clean VL’s (Calais in particular), have never been particularly easy to come by so when Vinnie posted up a WTB he knew he’d be waiting for some time. A few weeks later, Vinnie got his wish as he was approached by Neno (the original owner of the car) and just like that, Vinnie got a turn key street monster in a platform he’d been chasing for years.

The 86’ Calais started off as a rolling shell with Neno wanting to use a clean, original tagged chassis for the base of his most ambitious build yet. Having owned multiple VL’s in the past, including the highly coveted BT1, Neno was pretty familiar with how to get the most out of these cars and where most nuts and bolts went. Like most VL’s, the car was destined to be a crowd pleaser at roll racing events, Powercruise and anywhere that offered enough runway for the potent RB30 to stretch its legs.

For a car its age, the car is in pretty great condition with the body straight and both the paint and interior being accurately restored in a period correct manner. By today’s standards, the VL body may come across a bit square but there’s no denying they have that 80’s charm about them with those then futuristic lines, split tone paint and funky interior. But most would agree that it’s what’s under the hood that really grabs your attention when you spot these cars so let’s get right into it.

To get the most out of the factory RB30 bottom end, an RB26 head was swapped to help with greater response and top end from the engine thanks to the Skyline’s twin cam setup. Before this was meshed together the head got some TLC including a CNC race port and Camtech 282 camshafts. The bottom end also got some attention seeing a combination of Nitto and Carrillo pistons, rods and rings.

Siemens 2400cc injectors, 3 Bosch 040 pumps and an Aeromotive 60L fuel cell help make sure that the thirsty setup never runs short of fuel. Strapped to this engine is a custom Garrett GTX42/45 (42 housing with a 45 wheel) hooked up via a 6 Boost Manifold as well as a Turbosmart Race Gate and custom 3.5 – 4’’ exhaust setup. Controlling all this hardware is a Link Fury ECU which with help from ESP in Canberra, has managed to extract a solid 706kw at 36psi. During the build process the engine bay also got a full wire tuck and shave at 12 Volt Performance to really hone the focus on the infamous red RB26 cam cover.

With the extra power, the 80’s drivetrain wouldn’t have lasted much abuse, so to safeguard this from happening a 2 speed Powerglide along with a TCE 5500rpm torque converter was installed. A single-piece tail shaft was also fabricated to link up with a Borgwarner diff along with the custom billet rear axles. Fitted to the rears are a pair of Weld Magnum drags wrapped in Mickey Thompson Street Radials. A matching frontrunner set of Weld Magnum wheels have also been fitted to the front to keep the look clean and consistent. For stopping power, an upgraded Wilwood brake booster has been added along with a VT front brake setup.

Aside from the obvious front Sparco seat swap, the interior maintains much of the original interior pieces. Even the original gear selector cover has been kept although now housing a B&M shifter. The dash which has done away from the factory mathbook grid line design to a custom Racepak IQ3 digital dash. Some handy wiring also has got the ignition lined up to a push button start for those modern creature comforts.

Complimenting the seats and to finish off the interior is a matching suede Sparco steering wheel. Six months on since Vinnie took ownership, it’s been a journey to just familiarise and gain confidence driving such a potent car on the roads. That said, with drag goals in mind, Vinnie says that the next round of mods will be to prepare for that which includes putting in a full cage, parachute and widening the rear.

Sadly, for many the golden era for Aussie performance cars is far beyond the horizon and despite the current ZB Commodore being a turbo as well, it just isn’t quite the same as the VL. Whether or not we’ll see a miraculous return from manufacturers like Holden or Ford, only time will tell but until then, it’s reassuring to see people putting in effort to keep classics alive and well.

Special thanks on the build goes out to Ryan Acworth, Megan – Neno’s patient wife, 12 Volt Performance, Extreme Street Performance (ESP) and Next Up Performance.