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.

October 20, 2015

Graham Cumming's record breaking sideplate 'CRUSADER'

08:21 Posted by Unknown No comments
14.67 SECONDS

Not exactly a ground-shaker in these days of six second dragsters you might think but in the field of stock bodied sideplate engined Holdens a mid-14 is some-thing else again—unique.

Only three cars in Australian drag racing have achieved a "magic" 14 from sideplate power in a Holden sedan, and two of these just cracked the barrier with 14.98s and nines.

It had become generally accepted among sideplate afficionados that a 14 meant a lot of luck, a scattered engine or both. However, there was one crusader among their ranks who believed otherwise.

Graham Cumming, a young Sydney racer who campaigns a particularly smart FJ named appropriately "Crusader" caused scarcely a ripple in the drag racing ocean when he sped to a 14.99 elapsed time at Sydney International late last year.

A 14.88 at SID early this year started people talking however, as no sideplate sedan had ever gone this quickly. When Graham and wife Nolene Cumming hauled the car to Surfers for the Easter Tin Top Titles and scorch-ed the slick track with a 14.87 fame (although sadly not fortune) was theirs. That their car is cap-able of consistent times in the 14s was amply displayed at the April meet at SID when Graham posted 14.94, 14.86, 14.76 and capped it all with a shattering 14.67/93.85 blast from the high spinning sideplate.



Graham Cumming is understandably happy with his car and its recent performances although in usual drag racing manner is constantly striving for another tenth, a few more miles an hour. His immediate ambition is to run a hundred in the quarter with his present car and he believes that although six tenths away at the moment a 13 is not impossible". The present "Crusader", second FJ to bear the name is the result of constant development.

Tipping the scales at 2008 pounds wet, Graham estimates that the "Crusader's" engine is putting out something like 190 horses at the flywheel—and living at the eight grand plus it gets screwed to regularly.

The engine came from a '62 EK and is bored to 31Ain. The holes are filled with Westlite 12:1 pistons with standard GMH rings and stock rods swing on the balanced crank with Vandervell bearings. Cumming, unlike other sideplate racers, has experienced no crank or bearing, trouble—in fact the present set of bearings has been in the engine "about 14 months" says the owner. He uses a stock oil pump delivering about 45-50 lbs. pres-sure, a stock size sump ("I don't hold with all this big sump and high oil pressure business") and Kendall GT racing oil. The cam in the sideplate screamer came from Bert Jones and has 40/80 timing specs. Solid lifters, also from Bert Jones, are used together with tubular pushrods activating the stock rocker gear which has aluminum spacers in place of the original springs.


Graham attributes much of the car's performance to the super head job, the work of Doug Forbes who runs Doug's Porting Service and shares a workshop with Neville Alder's Performance Engineering at Brookvale, where Cumming himself is employed as a motor mechanic. The head has big-13/4in. inlet and 11/2in. exhaust valves—big ports, big chambers—big every-thing. Ninety thou was removed from the face for an overall compression ratio in the region of 13:1 which even the special cop-per asbestos head gaskets from Robbie Mac's Pittwater Road Speed Shop find hard to contain.

LOOKING into a future of more fourteen second times is owner/builder of the record-breaking "Crusader", 26-year-old Sydney mechanic Graham Cumming (above). 2000 lb rar shows evidence of weight reduction—note absence of front bumper and stone tray. Engine (below) has Armour manifold, triple two inch SUs, Genie extractors, churns out 190 sweet sounding horsepower.

115/145 Esso racing fuel is stored in the stock fuel tank and is pumped through standard lines by a Cooper "S" pusher type electric pump to three 1 3/4in. SU carburettors on an Armour manifold. The carbs were mounted, set up and tuned by Cumming who in fact performs all the maintenance on the car. After trying various different exhaust configurations Graham has found the presently fitted Genie extractors to give the best performance. Ignition features a Mallory twin-point distributor modified by Bert Jones, a Bosch coil with 7-volt resistor firing Champion J6 plugs. Robbie Mac's Speed Shop helps the team in the plug department.

Those 190 sideplate horses leave the crank via a K&M steel flywheel and pressure plate and a stock 186S clutch plate. Trans-mission is a GTR Torana unit with four all synchro ratios and a custom T-bar shifter.

The crankshaft flywheel and clutch assembly received the full balance treat ment at Alder Performance Engineering. The rear end fitted to "Crusader" came from a '56 Chev and carries imported Zoom 4.88:1 ratio gears.

Rear suspension comprises FJ leaf springs (with the shackle reversed on the right) and Armstrong 50/50 shocks. Peter Amiott (of 289 Falcon fame) made the lift bars which, according to Graham "work just fine!" Completing the put-it-to-the-ground department are a pair of 150 compound 750 x 14 M&H slicks which, reports Graham are just the thing for a car of this weight and horse-power.

Front suspension of "Crusader" is all FJ with the exception of the 90/10 Arm-strong shocks fitted. In keeping with modified production class allowances all excess fittings have been re-moved from the interior of the car, the front seat being replaced with two Morris 1000 bucket seats.

A MaxRob wood rim steering wheel replaces the FJ item and instrumentation consists of Smiths tacho, redlined at 8000, oil and temperature gauges. All side window glass has been re-placed with perspex, supplied by Alder Performance Engineering although the body remains original, all steel.

Paintwork is basically orange with lime green and maroon strips, the work of Warren Amiott, while the trick sign-work was applied by Sandy Signs. Graham Cumming is no new-comer to drag racing. The 26-year-old mechanic used a Repco Holden engined MG in com-petition seven years ago, clock-ing dead 14s and then campaigned an FJ in the E/MS ranks.

The next Cumming entry was the first "Crusader", an FJ ute which had a best time of 16.03, posted at the 1970 NSW Championships. Graham has been running the present car for just over a year and intends to persevere with it until after the 1972 Mr. Holden meet (watch out side-plates!) when plans revolve around a rail with the current engine. Cumming has his sights on Brenton Wight's 10.89 D/ Dragster time, and if determination and ingenuity are of any value we have no doubt that it is well within his reach.






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