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.

December 04, 2016

Lucky 7 - A grey powered Speedway Ute

15:04 Posted by GreyFC No comments

Lucky 7


When it comes to slinging spanners most young blokes are keen to pull stuff apart, but quickly realise its tough putting it back together. Young Brad James is different. Not only can he put it back to together, he makes it work — as you can see from his FX ute. It all started for Brad tinkering in the shed with a bunch of grey motors his dad Tom had. Tom was a founder of the Howling Humpy's — a classic speedway class that uses grey-power FX and FJs — so he had a few spare donks.

"I always liked the old grey motors': Brad explains. "Dad usually had a few dungers lying around so I mixed a few parts around to get something going." This was when Brad was in his early teens and with a motor ready they decided to slot together a speedway car. Tom got a couple FX shells from a mate who ran a local scrap yard. Both were pretty sad. One had been lifted with a hook through the back window, distorting the roof, while the other had a better body, but rusty chassis. "They were pieces of poo when we got them," Brad admits.

So they decided to combine the two. Easier said than done of course, and since it was to be a racecar they decided the channel the body four inches. A pair of sills was cut from a Chrysler Centura and welded in to replace the rusty originals. They opened up the rear wheel aches for larger rear tyres, removed the spare wheel door under the back and closed up the tailgate opening using metal from a Torana bootlid.

With no plans to drive the ute on the road they set the engine back 14in and built a new removable firewall out of aluminium checker plate. A full rollcage with fixed intrusion bars was welded in and doors made up from a pair of skins on simple frames. The idea was to keep things cheap and simple.

They already had an engine but pulled it down to check it. It was rebuilt using mostly used parts — even the bearings were second hand. "There's only two new parts in the motor — the file-fit rings and the reground cam': Brad laughs. All else they pulled out of other motors. But Brad says there's a new 150ci 'big-bore' donk on the way with a ported head and roller rockers. The gearbox is an all-synchro three-speed with a heavy-duty red motor clutch.

Diff is a standard FJ with a HR centre and 3.08 gears. It runs factory drums behind customised FX rims with 14x7s front and 14x8s rear — and go-domes for a bit of bling. Brad credits his dad for the colour scheme. They initially looked at Jetstar orange and black, but decided it needed a little white. Race numbers and signage are by Robbie Farren; Brad says seven is his favourite number. Now they had a racecar, but where to race?

Tom was invited to race at the forthcoming 50th anniversary of the Wahgunyah Speedway. He'd been out of the scene for years, so they showed up with the FX ute only to be told that the rules had changed — no utes were allowed. Strings were pulled and a one-time exception made so long as the ute started at the back of the field. So Tom got to race the ute — Brad was only 14 at the time — and even managed to pass a few in the field and picked up a battle scar in the process. "It got a scuff on the driver's side front, so we left it there," Brad says. But with no future for the ute in speedway they
decided to register it on street rod rego.

A few changes need to be made. Glass and headlights just for starters. Plus some new seats to replace the fibreglass race seat and cutting out the intrusion bars. It also needed proper doors. They got busy. The aim was to take it to the Kustom Nats at Phillip Island in a month. It was an epic thrash at the end with a 36-hour stint before pushing it onto the trailer. Carby issues meant the ute wasn't running, but they got their street rod plates and got it going at the event. That was four or five years ago. Brad is 19 now and has his licence.

He's driven the ute to events like Chopped and Summernats 25 and drives it regularly around his hometown of Shepparton. "I used to drive it to school. It was the first car I drove when I got my P plates',' he reckons. "It's friggin' loud at 110km/h because everything is solid mounted and the motor's right there beside you [laughs]. But it's a bit of fun and hangs on like it's on rails.

Source:  Hot Rod '12 Page 157
Story:  Scott Taylor
Pics: Chris Thorogood

September 11, 2016

19:44 Posted by GreyFC No comments
Here is a cool pic of a Norman Type 65 Supercharger in a FJ

Picture from:

Norman supercharged grey motor in a windowless FJ panelvan in the late 70's, what would they want for this these days.

June 19, 2016

The Exterminator

20:39 Posted by GreyFC No comments

First Early Holden into the 14's

THE success of the fabulous "Exterminator," owned and raced by Tony Prentice and Gra-ham Elliot, at the "Mr. Holden Eliminator" contest in Sydney in July, marks another "first" for South Australia in motor sport. More than 200 entries were pre-sent for this annual event, held at Sydney International Dragway (Castlreagh) and entries were divided into three classes.

1. JUNIOR DIVISION—For Hoi-dens from 1948 to 1963.
2. SENIOR DIVISION—For EH-HK Holdens and early models (48-EJ), with the 179-186 type engines.
3. OPEN DIVISION—For any type Holden with any type Holden six-cylinder engine and no limits on engine or body modifications . The only provision for all three classes was that all cars be suit-able for registration. The "Exterminator" was known to Sydney fans, as earlier in the year Prentice and Elliot ran a time of 15.20 at the strip, to win over all the other competitors.

The "Exterminator" at the grid at Brooksfield

They caused quite a stir, as Sydney racers said that an early model, running a maximum of 38 in. bore and twin carbs. couldn't run that fast. Consequently, the car was pulled down by officials, but was ruled legal for E/stock and eligible for the titles they had won.

Running against more than 40 competitors, the boys laid down a 15 second time trial that set the crowd on its feet. This time was faster than most competitors in "senior" division. Their closest time in "junior" was a 15.7 second run by a Sydney competitor.

When final eliminations came around the boys looked good and took the title out with' a 14.92 sec. run, making the first early Holden in Australia to break into the four-teens. For this they received a cash bonus of $50 in addition to other prizemoney.

For the title the car ran 4 and 1/4 in. bore, stock stroke, twin Stromberg carbs. and a wild "Maxwill" head and cam. [Many thanks go to John Lewis, of `Maxwill" dyno-tune, for all the assistance he has given the boys.]

Open division was taken out by Warren Armour's wild, top-chopped FJ with a 200 cube "186," which turned in a fantastic 13.67 to take the event.—PHIL HART.

June 11, 2016

A two Wheeled Holden?

09:36 Posted by GreyFC 1 comment
Source:  Two Wheels - #4
Author:  Warwick Robbins

TAKE a 210 bhp, six-cylinder Holden engine, a supercharger, various lengths of steel tube, a conglomeration of cogs, chains and shafts, an assort-ment of mechanical bits and pieces, throw together methodically, add two wheels — and you've got a motorcycle? 

You also need another ingredient — the guts to ride it. One hopes Dennis O'Regan takes after his Irish ancestors in that respect, because he's certainly going to need a fair helping of intestinal fortitude when he climbs aboard. 

Over three recent months Dennis, who lives in the outer Sydney suburb of Kingswood, with the help of his brother and several mates, has been building up an outfit which is guaranteed to warm the blood of every drag fan in Australia. 

The main difference between this and other drag bikes so far seen on Australian strips is in the power unit — a 1955 Holden six. This has been mounted sideways in a special frame which had its origin a long way back on a Triumph outfit. The only part of the Triumph frame which is left is the rear section which mounts the wheel and will eventually carry the seat. However, even this is due for some extra modification. 

The front of the frame is all Dennis' own work. It is built of welded steel tube with heavy gauge plate for engine mounts and brackets. The top tube is 21 in. diameter, 11 gauge and the two front engine braces 2 in., 16 gauge. The rest is in 1 in. or 11 in., 11 gauge. The engine itself is built in to form part of the frame. The front forks are from a BSA 125, mounted on an Aerial stem. However, this will be replaced with a stem of Dennis' own making to bring the forks closer together to fit a 20 in. Bultaco front wheel running a 2.75 width tyre. The front wheel will also be fitted with a brake for starting only. The rear wheel is the original 20 in. Triumph, unsprung and will eventually be fitted with a 300 Avon drag slick. 

Altogether the frame is extremely simple yet designed for maximum strength. In standard form the engine puts out about 65 bhp but when the bike first appears it will probably be producing in the vicinity of .140 bhp. However, the supercharger should easily boost this over the 200 mark with other modifications and careful tuning. At one stage Dennis thought of including a gear-box, possibly an early Morris unit, in place of the transfer shaft, but this posed too many problems and will not be required anyway, as he has dropped plans for using the machine for roadwork. 

The fuel tank will either be mounted underneath the top frame member in front of the motor or along the top member in the form of another tube. It will have a capacity of about half a gallon. Another engine modification will be the addition of a fabricated sump, angled to the centre for a centre oil pickup and to give better ground clearance at the sides. 

The electrics will be as for the normal Holden, but both the generator and starter motor will be scrapped. It will also run without a radiator. With an estimated final weight of about 6501b, a possible standing quarter speed of 140 mph at 7500 rpm and time around 10 seconds this is going to be a pretty mobile rig. 

However, Dennis says he won't need a parachute, just a standard back brake — and a good prayer. So far this project has cost him only $50. Final cost will probably be about $400. If you're a drag fan, keep your eyes open for an extra wide, two-wheel monster in brilliant orange. 

Top view probably gives the best idea of how the
mating of the bike and Holden engine takes place.

June 05, 2016

Norman Super Charger for sale

20:27 Posted by GreyFC No comments
It's not often you see such an exquisite piece of Australian automotive history for sale, but thats what we are seeing right now on eBay.

A genuine Type 65 Norman super charger is for sale on eBay with a starting bid of $5500.  It's missing a few bits buts it's a fine piece of speed equipment.

I have seen some pictures ( I will try dig them up ) of a perfect condition and complete Type 65 that sold 5 years ago for $8500.  It was by an unknown buyer and many people thought it was a fake bit, but it wasn't it was real and the cash changed hands.

This goes to show the price is what someone is willing to pay at the time.

I have personally seen very few Norman super chargers change hands ( only 2 Type 65s ) and they are never cheap.

They are period correct for the Holden grey motor.

Ebay Link:

March 24, 2016


08:58 Posted by GreyFC No comments

Lindsay Wilson chose the FJ as many have before him to make his modifications.  The body is a 1955.  Engine is a 1955 Holden six modded to 154 cube inches, engine has solid lifters ( as do all grey motors ), wade cam has 154 grind.  Lukey muffler.  Trans is 55 Holden with H pattern floor shift.  Motor has been balanced.  Pressure plate is 186 Holden.  Swap was done by Lindsay and Neil Burston.

The FJ have been lowered 3 inches at front, stock at rear.  Sway and lift bars fitted.  Shockers all around are Armstorng double action.  Diff ration is 3.89  1955 vintage.  Original steering box is topped with a Max Rob steering wheel.  Wheels are Hinchcliffe mads with Bridgestone and Firestone tyres.  Taillamps are a trailer accessory unit.  Headlamps are EJ Holden.

Full set of Smiths gauges with an addition of radio stereo player.

Paint color is popular yellow enamel with black deerhide roll and truck interior.  Custom work features flared and filled fenders.

Original Source : Custom Rodder date unknown.
Facts double checks with Lindsay Wilson himself March 23rd 2016

March 07, 2016

Australias Only Six Cylinder Sprite

08:54 Posted by GreyFC No comments
If you have a old tired AH Sprite follow in the steps of a Sydney enthusiast and modify it to out accelerate an E-Type Jaguar.

IF, at traffic lights, you should happen to encounter a bright red Mark One Sprite with four headlights and a fast-back hardtop,—don't bother to challenge it unless you are operating something really potent. Beneath that customised bonnet lurks a healthy Holden engine. 

Now owned by Ken Browning, the car was built by John Grant, who works at Penshurst Motors, Sydney. He bought the Sprite from a wrecker after it had been written-off. 

Before concerning himself with the mechanical side, John spent many weeks straightening and realigning the monocoque structure. But before that was completed he began thinking of fitting a Holden engine. After preliminary measuring he decided it was feasible if the firewall  and surrounding panels were modified. 

Normally the battery is mounted on a shelf on the firewall which extends forward with the boxes that accommodate the occupants' feet. The battery was re-located in the boot and the flat panel removed back to where the firewall was vertical. The inner sides of the boxes were then cut and rewelded so that they were parallel to the car's centre-line, instead of angling in. 

The modifications resulted in a deep slot in the forward part of the body. This corresponds, in width, to the sub-frame members. Extra bracing, in the shape of U-sections, was added to the fire-wall at the top of, and between, the two boxes and also underneath the car to act as another cross-member. 

Some of the interior panelling had to be altered too. The front of the driveshaft tunnel was extensively cut away to make room for the gearbox—which sat further aft than originally. After the engine and gearbox had been tentatively positioned, sheet metal was fabricated and welded up to form a new gearbox cover. 

 Two 1 1/2 in SU carburettors, mounted on a log type manifold push fuel into the motor.  One pancake type air filter does both units.

A stock Holden gearbox but with floor-shift was retained. The cylinder block was bored out to 3 1/8th in—making the capacity 2300 cc—and the cylinder head was thoroughly reworked with a port-and-polish, larger valves, stronger springs and then planed to give 9 to 1 compression. Mery Waggott reground the camshaft and a pair of Myers cast-iron exhaust headers were fitted with dual exhaust pipes merging to a single outlet. John built the inlet system which has two 1z in SU carburettors on a log manifold, but because there is very little room to spare beside the engine, both carbs draw breath through a U-shaped manifold from one air cleaner. 

A fantastic performer, the main problem with the Holden-Sprit is the handling.  This will soon be improved by fitting wider rims on the rear wheels.

The Sprite's radiator had been wrecked — it probably wouldn't have been big enough, anyway —so a Vanguard cross-flow unit took its place. Even then some cooling difficulties were experienced until a Sprite top header tank was fitted and the position of the filler neck changed. 

The Sprite bonnet was also badly damaged. While repairing it John thought he might as well go a bit further and customise. The original headlights were discarded and their vacated locations filled with sheet metal. The bonnet was then cut and L-section metal installed to accept the dual Lucas set-up. Perspex covers were moulded to fit over the lights and give as smooth a line as possible. 

Unable to obtain Sprite seats at a reasonable price, John installed those from a wrecked Minor 1000. The interior was retrimmed and a console, housing three gauges and switches, was built between the driveshaft tunnel and instrument panel. A wood-rimmed alloy-spoked steering wheel replaced the original. 

Driving impressions left no doubt that this engine swap is far more successful than one would think. Because the front of the Holden engine is no further forward than that of the original 948 cc engine, the steering is little heavier than normal. Actually, the extra weight is almost amidships and its affect is therefore minimised. The wood-rimmed wheel gives the interior a sporting touch, and the stick-shift is one of the best we have encountered. The pattern is the normal H-shape of a conventional three-speed transmission. Its action is absolutely flawless; there is not a fraction of lost movement and strong spring-loading against reverse allows first-to-second changes that are most un-Holden-like. There is only about three inches movement, at the knob, between any of the four positions. 

 Sever alterations had to be made to the firewall and transmission tunnel for the Sprite to accept the Holden motor.

The power and the car's light weight mean that this Sprite is literally a top-gear-only vehicle under most conditions. Although a four-speed box would provide slightly better acceleration, John felt it wasn't worth the trouble and expense for a car that serves primarily as a day-to-day hack. This is not altogther surprising when you realise that the car has almost twice the power/weight ratio of production Sprites. A stock Mark I Sprite weighs 12.75 cwt and has 43 bhp to do the work. The Holden-engined version weighs just under 14 cwt but has at least twice the power. Assuming that the engine pumps out even a conservative 86 bhp, Ken's car has 6.14 bhp per cwt whereas the standard model has only 3.46 bhp per cwt. 

The interior is extremely well finished.  Gear shift is a delight to use.

We were unable to obtain perfectly accurate acceleration times because the rear axle had a Austin Lancer crown wheel and pinion fitted, and the speedometer drive ratio had not been altered to compensate. However, by pacing the Sprite against another vehicle we were able to mark the speedometer so it was near-enough to correct.

Even if one takes a sceptical view, and adds another second or two to allow for wheelspin. the times are still very impressive. The engine winds up to 6000 rpm without hesitation in first and second gear, the speedometer showing 45 and 75 mph respectively. Foul weather prevented us from ascertaining the maximum speed but it must be in the vincinity of 110 mph! 

As mentioned previously, the increased weight has not seemingly affected the Sprite's steering or handling. But the car's behavior was not all it could have been when we drove it—not quite up to Sprites' usual high standard. Over-size 5.90 tyres had been fitted to the rear wheels in an attempt to reduce wheelspin. And that they did —but at the expense of excessive tyre roll when cornering. The problem is due to be cured in either of two ways—by re-fitting standard-size tyres (and overlooking the wheelspin) or b-' adapting wider rims to the rear wheel centres. 

We can't help feeling that this engine swap could well become popular throughout Australia. Early MkI Sprites are reasonably priced and Holden engines are certainly cheap enough. Off-hand we don't know of any other means as practical for obtaining so much performance for what should be a relatively modest sum. 


February 23, 2016

The BMH Special - The Comic Book Grey

08:01 Posted by GreyFC No comments

Created in 1952 as Australia's First Holden powered racing car, built and built by the managers at Badger Motors Holden, the Holden dealer of the Northern district of Western Australia the BMC special is an iconic piece of Australian racing history.

Now proudly owned, restored and raced by Thomas Benson it once again shows off the grey holden engine and is easily recognizable among the largest starting lineup.

BMH Special - The Comic Book

When asked about the name name Thomas begins to tell the story: " Was never officially named the Comic Book, Always the BMH Special, that is until 1957 AGP when very rapidly it was reported as the BM Holden, an assumption by a journalist one must presume and that’s what went into the program, was often referred to as the Badgers Motors Holden which again is an assumption by people believing the name came from the dealership where it was built, but that’s way off the mark, is simply an acronym of the names of those involved, B for Badger (dealer principal of Badgers Motors) M for Mariner the Body builder at Badgers, and H for Hammond, the vehicle builder and workshop manager at Badgers, now the Comic Book tag is a curious story,  Aub Badger being a bombastic Character was oblivious to the tag applied to the vehicle as it to many resembled a cartoon characters car! Upon learning of the joke which he assumed was at his expense he commissioned Mariner to cut the body back to more resemble race cars of the late 1950’s." 

"The nose was changed several times as was the wing and the bonnet, the mainframe and configuration remained pretty much the same throughout its life except that fairly early on they learned the gearbox wasn’t up to speed and went down the 4 speed GM sourced route as was common in period for GM powered cars, these guys were a bit maverick and had the resources of the GM parts division as they were Chevrolet dealers as well as Holden, they quick smart worked out the Corvette box would fit the Holden engine and that the Vauxhall was the same bolt pattern so they weren’t adverse to doing a warranty claim on a fictitious serial number and obtain a few bits! Even had the mechanics at the Vauxhall dealer doing their dirty work for carburetors."

When did you purchase the car? 

"Well I didn’t, I was chasing the history of an earlier car owned by one AV Badger and every time I followed up a lead, it took me to another piece of information or part of this car, in the end I just had to recreate the car using the knowledge and the few remains that I had been given or found. Did eventually end up with two cars for the price of one!"

And the condition of the few parts you were able to bring together?

"I had an engine block with a ventilation hole in it, the front frame minus the suspension, a back axle, driveshaft, water injection system and manifold with 2 carburettors, what was reputed to be the radiator, but I doubt it unless it was of an early incarnation of the car, I did eventually track down one of the engines used and still have it, it was a later engine block, 3 3/16” bore"
What can you tell me about the engine(s)?

"We run two engines, both 3 5/16” one with flat tops and the one with ski ramps, one at 145hp and the other is 185hp."

What issues, if any have you had as we know the cranks are a weak point in the grey?

Minced a crankshaft in the low HP engine and had to ditch the crank as the clutch fried the thrust washers that’s about the only drama I have had. 

What about some specs on the beast?

"There a three sorts of secrets, Top Secret, Bottom secret and middle secret and what’s in there fits none of those categories, however, it is a J block, and it is out to 3 5/16” the pistons are of my own design and manufacture. The carburettors are SU with 1 ¾ chokes and the Camshaft is a commercially available one but best of luck trying to guess as it’s a most unusual combination. Apart from that it’s all Holden except for the home made manifold and exhaust, and no I don’t use anything above 6000 rpm, contrary to popular belief.

Yes! Enough said on that front, its radically different from what most others use, it does have a fantastic amount of torque for what is a low speed engine. Gear ratio is same as GTR Torana  and rear axle is 3.99 anything else on a grey motor never works."

Do you have any track times to share? 

"MMMMM -VVF? Very Very fast, for me that is, it did crack 100mph at Longford, can do a lap of 2.08 of Phillip Island, about a 1.14 of Wanneroo and holds the lap record for the class at Collie in 54 seconds or there about"

Do you wife and kids like it?  What do they say about it and the time invested in the car? 

"Will sidestep that one! The kids will no doubt fight over it when I’m gone! May the best man or woman win! I have an inkling that one may have the right temperament to drive it, but I not going to get drawn into which one!"

How often do you take it out? 

"It gets a run about 6 times a year."

Have you ever had offers of the car?  Would you ever consider parting with it? 

You ask that of a guy who still owns the car he learned to drive in! Oh dear, this is embarrassing,  I can say that I did once sell a car that I owned and do I regret it, yep so I stopped doing it. So slowly the garage fills with a new toy once in a while, the challenge is keeping them all going. I have sold a few that I didn’t like that is about it, its pretty much a one way street at my house.

What other cars do you have and how did you come to have a passion for older race cars?

"I didn’t start out as a collector of race cars, I started out restoring a 1936 Chevrolet Sports, just because it looked like my sort of car, I collected heaps of them all shapes and sizes, then I got the remains of the Badger Chevrolet and restored that to its former glory, then I had hung onto a 1971 Honda Coupe 7 that I have owned for eons. Love racing that it’s the best fun. Have the 1929 Whippet I learned to drive in, 1925 Chevrolet Tourer which is a restored car but is the chassis of the Atkinson car that set the endurance records in WA in 1925, so that’s like the wolf in sheep’s clothing, I have always had a soft spot for rear engine Renaults, R8 in particular. Have several other Hondas. All 1300 air cooled ones. I have the Ex Kellerberrin Circus 1925 superior M truck, it’s very special and very rare, have an underslung 1927 Chevrolet with 216 running gear, what else do I have? Several wooden boats, all of my build, all have the same name theme, we have a flat punt called POINTLESS, a 10” dingy called WRECKLESS, thinking the next one might be FRUITLESS! Maybe HOPELESS?"

Is the grey motor special to you of this just “happens” to be grey powered. 

That it’s the first Holden to race is special, that we can understand them pretty well these days helps, its has a satisfaction that we can take what is an 80hp engine and wind 180+ out of it without too much bother is testament to the design, and we must remember that effectively this is a pre war design by GM. 

Thanks for your time Thomas, I'm sure many will enjoy the read and the history.  TGM Admin.