Most VL Commodores can turn heads. Huss’s turns corners as well.
The VL Commodore is an Aussie legend. The car that united Holden’s iconic sedan silhouette with modern turbocharged performance. Mixing local design and manufacturing with German and Japanese engineering, the VL’s pedigree for speed has won over generations of car lovers. Huss Ghamrawi was one of many with the Commodore taped to his wall.
Like Holden when they assembled the VL, Huss has taken the best of multiple worlds and combined them. Working alone and with the help of family, he has built what he calls the VL-R – a Walkinshaw kitted VL Commodore with all-wheel-drive, 900 horsepower and the handling credentials of a Skyline GT-R. The VL-R is Godzilla smashing through the city with an Australian flag draped over its shoulders.
One of seven boys, Huss is a panel beater by trade. Among his brothers there is the full scope of automotive trades; a tow truck driver, engine builder, tuner, spray painter, and a mechanic. Huss and his brothers grew up stuffing whipper-snipper motors into RC cars, stripping down push bikes or stealing wheels off shopping trolleys for billy carts. His passion for cars comes from his dad, but it was cultivated by his brothers.
Huss started with a Sigma sporting chopped springs and a stereo making more kilowatts than the motor. The affair with the VL really started at 19, when the tow truck pulled up with his brother’s new car, a proper Walkinshaw VL SS hitched to the back. Six years later, a VL Calais made its way into the garage. Fitted with a quick Nissan RB25 motor and half a Walkinshaw kit, Huss got cruising, making the car his.
Taking the Calais on track at a PowerCruise event, he spent the weekend off the racing line, getting passed by waves of Nissan Skylines.
“I love the VL. I love the look of it,” said Huss. “I can’t stand the way they drive… I hate the way it spins the tyres so easily, I hate the body roll, I hate the way it doesn’t stop.”
The event was the catalyst starting him down the path to the VL-R.
“The GTR is king of the street… I decided to build my ultimate ride.”
Saving an R33 GT-R shell from the scrap pile, he set about tracking down a donor VL. $300 deep, with two cars once ready for the wrecker, a mechanic friend let him borrow a hoist.
Huss took to the project with everything he had.
“I had no holidays, I worked through all of them… I had to get the car finished. I sacrificed a year of my life to get it done.” Armed with only measuring tape, grinder, plasma cutter and welder, work started. The floor of the GT-R was cut out, and over many painstaking hours the VL body was slowly lowered, massaged and fused to the Skyline.
Dressed in a full Walkinshaw body kit and painted by his brother, Huss has taken his revenge on the Skylines that used to blitz him around Sydney Motorsport Park. Stroked to 2.7 litres and with a big single GTX-42R turbo, the RB26 has been specced for battle. It produces a rasping symphony as it spins up 1000 horsepower at the flywheel. The car handles the power with a six-speed gearbox, differentials and brakes from an R34 GT-R.
When Huss drops the triple plate clutch the four 245 wide tyres grab hold of the tarmac and launch the Commodore Frankenstein hard enough to push him back into the custom trim.
“Driving it now, with this much power, it makes your hands sweaty. You’ve usually got to make sure you’ve got room.”
“To drive a car that once needed to stop to circle a round-a-bout to one that can corner hard at 70k’s. The feeling is incredible.”
Old heads can see what the car is when they spot the front drive shafts; the independent rear suspension or the front suspension mounts. Most are content with assumption it is another hot-rodded VL, until they see that Walkinshaw wing disappearing rapidly into the distance.
“Going up a hill and the boost kicking in and the car taking the hill like it’s nothing. That’s my favourite part of my car.”
A polarizing car, built for hard overtakes on corners as well as straights, and bake the rear only when it’s the drivers intention, the car will never be completely VL or GT-R.
“When you look at it, it’s a VL. When you drive it, it’s a GT-R. It’s a VL-R!”
But who cares for labels when you’re clinging to 1000 horsepower worth of Godzilla with a Southern Cross tattoo.