Home ARTICLES The SIX ONE Spotlight-O-Rama - Speedhunters

The SIX ONE Spotlight-O-Rama – Speedhunters

When Life Gives You Le Mans

At the SIX ONE show that took over Melbourne’s Seaworks Maritime Precinct in late April, there was no shortage of desirable metal to drool over.

We’ve already had a look around at the 50-odd custom creations that rolled into the converted warehouse for the event, but today I want to delve deeper into five builds that really ticked those Speedhunting boxes and had me feeling inspired. So without further ado…

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The Ford GT40 is a beautiful and iconic machine, but being as rare and valuable as they are, seeing one in the wild is usually a guessing game of which company supplied the recreation kit.

SIX ONE was not the kind of show where you’d expect to see a ‘standard’ (if that word can be used) kit car, and a closer look at this Gulf blue example quickly revealed that this was not your usual GT40 replica.

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The period colour scheme and graphics hint at a retro approach, but then you spy details like the massive AP Racing brakes lurking behind billet centre-lock wheels and start to realise that there isn’t much old school here.

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And it only gets better. The rear end is a tantalising peek up the skirt of the beast, with the twin downturned exhausts capping off an F1-style rain light and gearbox-mounted tow hook.

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The car is built and owned by Jason of Renner Auto in Melbourne’s southern suburbs. What started as a hobby for a successful business director has turned into a full-blown workshop churning out vintage-inspired performance cars.

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The theme of modernisation is nowhere clearer than the power unit. But before we get into details, just take a look at the thing… It’s probably one of the most functionally aesthetic engine bays I’ve ever seen this side of a McLaren F1.

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The engine is a recent Ford Coyote mill, as commonly found under the hood of the current Ford Mustang. I’d say with some level of confidence that Jason has tweaked this one rather significantly, but it’s a great starting point with up to 460hp (343kW) in stock form and a quad-valve head featuring variable cam timing.

And just check out those billet ITBs and equal-length, long-tube headers.

Engine management is handled by an Australian Haltech unit which gives control over the timing and integrates a bevy of additional sensors including the wide-band 02 units I spied just before the exhaust crossover.

As you can tell, it’s a no-expense-spared build that has endless details to soak up and enjoy, but alas this is just a spotlight. Perhaps I can set up a full feature in the future, if you’re interested? Let me know in the comments section below.

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Either way, after seeing the GT40 I’ll have to head down and see what else Jason is cooking up…

The Corolla Kid

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The automotive addiction starts in the same way for many of us – picking up a cheap first car with visions of turning it into something that completely transcends the humble origins. But how many of us actually stick to the plan and bring that teenage dream to reality?

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According to the owner of this KE20 Toyota Corolla, Bardin, the plan did change slightly along the way. Originally a much more lairy paint scheme was in the works, but thankfully as Bardin matured, so did his taste in automotive paint codes.

The lovely dark green is actually a factory colour, giving extra points for the purist crowd.

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However, look under the bonnet and – gasp – the original 3K is long gone, replaced by a heavily tuned Nissan CA18DET. A solid 335hp (250kW) to the rear wheels in a package this compact is hard to argue with.

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The interior has been subtly modernised where it counts too. There’s a dished and suede-wrapped Sparco wheel to steer with, and fixed buckets trimmed with retro perforated leather to hold Bardin and his passenger in place.

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Externally, things are kept nicely period correct and remind me of the modified TE27s I’d see littered around the JCCA New Year Meeting in Odaiba, Tokyo. Bolt-on flares, chin spoiler, and the quintessential fender mirrors never look bad.

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It’s the kind of car that makes you just want to jump in and drive it hard. Which is exactly how Bardin enjoys the car 12 years after he started the build.

Porsche Plus Pedal Power

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We’ve seen a bit of American and Japanese flair, but how about this Aussie take on a European performance icon. This 911 did make me question if there is such a thing as being too cool, such was the level of aestheticism displayed.

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So far this year we’ve seen custom 911s done every which way, but it doesn’t make a well-executed example like this any less special. Starting with a very early 2.0-litre car, the owner has added the right mix of performance enhancement and styling touches to create what is – to me at least – the perfect 911.

Like Stuttgart’s own performance specials, it’s not so extreme as to shout for attention, but seduces you slowly with the right details in the right places.

The guards have been subtly pumped to accomodate the wider Minilite wheels, and period details like the Cibie lights on the long hood hint at what lies beneath. Even the stone chips on the rear bumper tell the story of a car not afraid of a backroad blast.

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The original engine block has been taken out to 2.7L with a bit of performance magic sprinkled on, and it now breathes through a set of Weber carburettors. The gearbox is a much more recent and robust 5-speed unit.

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I’m told the suspension has been significantly modernised as well, ensuring that the 911 handles as good as it looks.

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Are you enjoying the selection so far? Now for something a little different to our usual programming…

The Power Of Dreams 

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In terms of numbers, SIX ONE was an even split between cars and bikes, so it would be remiss of me to not include a two-wheeled creation here.

It was hard to pick one from the 25-odd in attendance, but in the end it was this Honda CX500 that kept me coming back to fill up my SD card with more and more photos of the details.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle to tell 1970s Japanese bikes apart, but the CX has always been one of the more easily identifiable models thanks to its Moto Guzzi-esque 80-degree V-twin aligned east-west across the bike’s frame.

This engine was technologically notable for a number of reasons at the time it was launched, but has been a bit of an ugly duckling in the bike community until recently.

This CX looked brilliant from a distance – a great, restrained colour palette and perfect café racer geometry – but it was from up close that the true genius of this custom shone through.

Details like the swingarm cradling the rear wheel could be mistaken for stock such is the quality and completeness of the fabrication, but it, along with almost everything else on the bike, has been made by hand.

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Every bracket and fastener has been honed and improved or completely recreated. As I’m sure you can tell, the bike is more of a show piece than a road warrior at this point in its life, but everything is there for when owner and builder Garth decides he wants to chase down some sports bikes.

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This is obvious when you look at the controls – a clean, race inspired clip-on sets the ride up in a race-ready stance, but all the essentials – mirror, speedometer, and bar-end indicators are there.

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That custom rear swingarm utilises an external reservoir Öhlins shock, which by fate (or design) matches the yellow colour scheme rather closely.

Touches of carbon adorn the upside down front fork that was borrowed permanently from a Yamaha R1 and give a bit of modern flavor. Motorcycle-heads might start to wonder about how a retro spoked wheel mates up to a modern performance fork?

Well, the answer is again more custom work from Garth who machined the hubs himself on a lathe.

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Really, you could almost see this bike being a special retro-remake that Honda could bring to market in 2020, a testament to the work done.

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Amazingly, Garth doesn’t do this kind of thing for a living – he’s actually a furniture maker by trade. I asked how one goes from not building bikes to building something of this calibre, and the answer was simple: “As my wife and I were watching a documentary on custom bike builders, I said to her that I could do that too. And here we are.”

Makes it sound easy, doesn’t it?

Meet Memphis Hell

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The event organisers, Luke and Geoff, asked me to select one car for a ‘Speedhunters Choice’ award – no rules or categories, just a well-made trophy to quietly present to the owner of the car I felt best embodied the spirit of customisation that Speedhunters is all about.

The car I selected – Aaron Gregory’s Chevy Pickup – is also the last of this five-way spotlight.

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Truth be told, I would’ve loved to do a full feature on the truck, but Matt beat me to the punch. So this will have to suffice for now.

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As some of you might know, Matt lives in Sydney while this show was in Melbourne, but Aaron actually drove the truck the 900 kilometres south to attend SIX ONE (and our own Speedhunters Live show a fortnight later).

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Seeing as Aaron actually drives this thing, it needed to be engineered and usable on the street. He’s effectively future-proofed the Chevy by dropping the original cab over a newer floor and firewall, and a beautifully presented LS provides the, erm, explosive power.

As you’ve probably guessed, the tray hides the airbags that allowed the chassis to sit on the polished concrete floor.

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The little marks around the body don’t take away from the Chev, but add a bit of character and remind you that first and foremost this truck is built to be driven.

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The build was ‘finished’ seven years ago and has been on the road since, but Aaron continues to evolve the look to such an extent that it was barely recognisable from itself only a few years prior (you can see some photos of it here on the Fuel website).

The current iteration channels some more contemporary motorsport vibes – especially with the aluminium splitter, diffuser and rear wing. It’s not a look you would ever think would work as well as it does.

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Simmons wheels have been a fixture of Australian custom car culture for decades, but not like this. Aaron had the faces sitting around for some time looking for a home, and when a friend offered up some matching barrels he cooked up these custom satin-finished wheels that again look surprisingly at home on the pickup.

That’s it for our coverage from this year’s SIX ONE event. To keep things fresh, the organisers have promised a completely new collection of cars and bikes for the next event, so we’ll all be waiting patiently until then to see what Australia’s owner/builders have been working on in garages across the nation.

Blake Jones
Instagram: blaketjones
blake@speedhunters.com

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