The Holden Grey motor is often referred to as the Holden side plate. The engine earned its name as they were painted grey from the factory. They came in 2 sizes, 138ci and 132ci. More engineering and after market modifications have gone into this engine than any other engine in Australian automotive history.

August 06, 2014

Mark Rieks Turbo Greymotor powered FX Holden Ute

08:33 Posted by GreyFC No comments

Mark Riek, the director/project manager of Benchmark Commercial Building Services in Brisbane QLD, has done up several cars over the past 20 years including: a HR Holden Premier, a VH SL/E Commodore (was a 253 stroked to 307), an LH Torana and a Toyota Hilux mini truck just to name a few;  a wide range of vehicles.  After a run of fast or modified cars, Mark made a switch to 4WDs for a few years until he followed an FJ Ute out on the road one day and the project itch returned. So began the search for what was originally going to be an FJ ute. However, when this FX presented itself, it was too good to pass up and besides, there was something special about owning one of the first Holden Utes. “I see it that I saved an Aussie icon from a future of rusting away in a paddock somewhere”, says Mark.


As with many of us the ‘old man’ plays a big part. Mark’s previous cars had a helping hand from Marks father John Riek: “As for the body work I have to give full credit to my dad. Without his help the ute would still be sitting under the house today. My original intention, when I bought the ute, was to carry out the rust repairs myself and get my dad to assist me but shortly after buying the ute my wife fell pregnant and then we sold house and bought a 100 year old workers cottage and we started renovating it, then we had our second child then I started my own business, meanwhile the ute was trailered up to my dad's place and he started work on it for me and it hasn't left there since. I don't think it will leave there now until it's registered (which will hopefully be soon)”.

Below Some pics of the hard work Johnh Riek put in

As for the family; “Does my wife love the ute? Now, yes, but when I bought it, no, but as it's nearing completion she is calling it her Friday cruise car. Lily's not a massive car fan (even though I did take her to the drags on our first date, something I'll never live down).” Mark may never live that down but the story lives on and I’m sure will be passed through the generations.

Below Mark his son Benji and daughter Bessie.

The grey motor bug didn't really bite until the project had progressed for a while. “I think my dad's traditional approach to restoring old cars started rubbing off on me, even if I wasn't going to compromise on upgraded driveline components like suspension and steering etc. My dad introduced me to Geoff Scott. Geoff had only just recently completed a heavily worked grey motor that was to go in a circuit race car running methanol injection and he said if we whack a turbo on it, it would be good for around 250rwhp. I had no idea that these old grey motors were good for that kind of power and the more I thought about it the more I loved the idea of keeping the original motor in the FX. It's almost rare to see an FX or FJ with a grey motor these days and even rarer to see one so extensively modified, it should shock (and impress) a few people.

I love the FX; such a mean looking car.  I’ve always thought they were a fine vehicle even with that tiny little 132ci 60hp grey motor.  When I picked up this beauty in 2009 it was only $1000 from eBay.  Times have changed and this would fetch quite a bit more these days.  I knew she needed some work but I wanted to see her happy again.  At first I was considering a small V8 or commo V6 conversion but my ute deserved better than that.  Modernising the steering and brakes are important and required but taking out her heart, the grey, just didn’t feel right.  In the end I decide a turbo grey would keep her running the original engine but with a modern twist.  Something different, something people will appreciate... and appreciate we do.  There is just something about the grey motor and a turbo one is just super rare.  I spent a total of 5 ½ years getting her to the point she is now.  Started and running and it sounds mean.”  (see video).

“I am hoping for around 250rwhp on about 12 pound boost, that's the maximum boost we feel comfortable running. Geoff thinks it will make those figures. It will be dyno tuned before it's registered so we'll soon see”, says Mark.

As you can see, while the motor has received huge amounts of attention, so has the body.  Fully restored back to bare metal, all rust repairs, chassis kit, 16” wheels and a full rack and pinion front end.  This car will not only look the part, sound the part but will also drive and handle the part.

“My timeline has blown out by years, I was hoping to get it complete for a maiden run to Cooly Rocks On at Coolangatta in 2012, the June event just gone I even had accommodation booked and prepaid my entry fee, but still didn't make it. But I haven't seen this project as a race, it's more like a marathon, and I have saved for quality parts instead of just slapping it together. I was never going to compromise on quality.” 

Mark tells me “Although the ute wasn't initially built for the show scene, its finish and quality is far beyond what I was hoping for but, then again, my dad is a perfectionist so it's little wonder. It will be my weekend cruise car and I do want to share what dad and I have created so a show here or there is inevitable”.  I agree and a vehicle this well presented should be shown off and appreciated.

Well done on something unique and staying true to the heritage of the grey motor and not going red or V8.


Turbo fitted to original 138 Grey motor
PWR water to air intercooler
PWR custom aluminium radiator with twin 12” thermo fans
81mm bore using Mazda pistons
Superlite cross drilled nitrided crankshaft
Balanced and blueprinted bottom end
Plateau honed cylinder finish
Custom modified oil pump with external pressure control
Baffled and external oil supplied sump/pickup
4G64 conrods with "ARP" 3/8 bolts
Alloy timing gear matched set
Turbo spec waggott cam
Refaced and heat treated lifters
Ported cylinder head, inlet bored to 34mm
38/33 valves on 7mm sintered guides
Single performance valve springs 90/188LBS
Motec ECU
Fully fabricated custom EFI fuel rail.
Shift kitted Tri-matic Auto with a high stall convertor
9" Diff - standard FX Holden width with a 3.5 Truetrak centre and 31 spline billet axels
Breaks, front end and suspension:
VR / VS Commodore Disc brakes front and rear
VR / VS Commodore pedal assembly and brake booster
V6 Conversions coil over front end
VL Commodore manual steering rack
HG Holden collapsible steering column with HD/HR Holden auto selector indicator
Chassis, body, other:
Castlemaine Rod Shop chassis strengthening kit incl cross member
Custom stainless steel fuel tank - built to fit into standard mountings
Relocated battery into the rear of the tray

Retractable Seat belts
Heater / demister
2 speed / intermittent windscreen wipers

VR / VS Commodore Disc brakes front and rear
VR / VS Commodore pedal assembly and brake booster
V6 Conversions coil over front end
VL Commodore manual steering rack
HG Holden collapsible steering column with HD/HR Holden auto selector indicator
Windscreen washer jets
16” x 6” steel smoothie wheels fitted with VW hubcap clips to fit original Holden hubcaps


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