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Published on 05/10/2018

Aussie-ome LS Swap - Chris Hanifan’s Custom 1977 Holden One Tonner

WORDS:

Dan Hodgdon

PHOTOS:

Matt Best

Among the many unique trucks on hand at the C10 Nationals inside Texas Motor Speedway was one that came from the other side of the world. The school-bus colored, right-hand drive 1977 Holden One Tonner caught our eye both for its stunning fabrication work and the LS swap under the hood.

 

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Published on 05/10/2018
vehicles, events
WORDS:

Dan Hodgdon

PHOTOS:

Matt Best

Aussie-ome LS Swap - Chris Hanifan’s Custom 1977 Holden One Tonner

Among the many unique trucks on hand at the C10 Nationals inside Texas Motor Speedway was one that came from the other side of the world. The school-bus colored, right-hand drive 1977 Holden One Tonner caught our eye both for its stunning fabrication work and the LS swap under the hood.

 

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However, not only is the truck from Australia, so is the owner. Chris Hanifan was born in Melbourne and lived in Brisbane, where he was heavily involved in the Australian drag racing scene. He raced blown Alcohol Pro Mods and was instrumental in creating the ultra-popular Top Doorslammer category in Australia through the Australian National Drag Racing Association (ANDRA). The category is comparable to Pro Mod in the United States.

Both a mechanical and civil engineer by trade, Hanifan had spent some time in the U.S. on holiday before moving to Florida about a decade and a half ago. He then ultimately made his way to Spring, Texas, in the Houston area. Today he is a project manager for a chemical company and does the engineering designs for chemical injection equipment in oil refineries along the Gulf Coast.

 

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Shortly before he left the Land Down Under, he found the 1977 Holden One Tonner cab chassis (so named for its one-ton payload) and brought it with him to the States. It had previously belonged to a concreter.

“When we saw it, it had all the main features that I wanted on it even though it was full of rust,” Hanifan said of the vehicle which was chocolate brown at the time.

He fabricated many of the replacement panels himself in the United States, welding them in one piece at a time, and recently swapped out the cast-iron big block engine he was originally using for the popular LS. Nearly every part of the vehicle has been modified.

 

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The custom build features a 4.8L turbo LS engine with an LS9 cam, six-liter LS1 heads and an LS2 intake manifold.

“You walk up, you turn the key, it’ll crank twice and it will start,” Hanifan said of the benefits of his LS swap.

The truck also utilizes a two-speed Powerglide transmission with a transbrake. The ECU has been flashed with the tuneup from a fourth-generation Camaro, and within two hours of that process, the truck was making 560 horsepower at 5200 rpm thanks to Patrick Guerra of Pat G Tuning.

In the back-half is a three-quarter chassis with a shortened nine-inch rearend and 4:11 gears, a floating hub assembly, coilover shocks and a four-link suspension.

“It drives on the road fabulous,” Hanifan said. “It drives like a normal car.”

 

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This is certainly no ordinary vehicle though, as even though it is registered for the street, it is also legal for NHRA Super Gas competition.

“It’s 3400 pounds with me in it,” Hanifan said. “If I do a little bit of math on the 560 horsepower, it should run 10-flat or 9.80s at about 145 mph.”

In other words, it’s no slouch on the quarter mile. Even without knowing any specs, that is apparent from the massive 33-inch rear tires.

 

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On the exterior, the truck features a gold-dust gradient and also incorporates subtle ghosted flames in the paint. They are so subtle in fact that passersby often don’t notice them at first glance. It’s a part of the vehicle that particularly amuses Hanifan.

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“The funny thing is, people come up and look at it, and they’re so intrigued with everything else that they don’t even see the flames,” Hanifan said with a grin. “Then they come back later on, they get in a different light, and then they’ll see the flames.”

An additional piece of artwork on display during the C10 Nationals was not a part of the vehicle at all, but rather a painting of the Holden done by Hanifan’s friend, Thomas Martin of Martin Artworks. Hanifan displayed it on the truck’s tray throughout the weekend. Martin’s stunning work has reached all the way to the highest levels of drag racing and added yet another distinctive element to an already very eye-catching part of the show.

 

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Australians are known for their love of all things automotive and it’s always encouraging to see how the car and truck world can bring people together. Yet, while many of the concepts between the American and Australian automotive cultures are similar, there are still certain differences that make each unique.

For Hanifan, one thing in particular stands out.

“We do better burnouts,” he said matter of factly.

After seeing this Holden and learning about Chris Hanifan’s background, we are in no place to argue.

 

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