Andrew Canicais is a pretty young bloke, still in his late 20s, but has had a pretty impressive list of cars already, including a couple of VN SS Commodores, a VZ Maloo and a VY GTS dubbed PRO GTS that was airbagged and ran 10-second quarters. But he was keen to get into something with a steel bumper, which is where this VH SS Commodore comes in.
“It’s pretty much how I bought it, but it had a 355 Holden stroker that was completely rooted – the cam was snapped in three, the block was split and all sorts of shit,” Andrew says. “I’ve always had LS engines, so I’ve gathered stuff here and there and just wanted to get it running, because I’d sold my daily driver to get it. So I just slapped together a carbied LS and dailied it for six or seven months.
“I had another VH I was doing that was tubbed, and I was going to do a single-turbo set-up for it, but I ended up selling it to a mate and kept the turbo manifolds and all that. I thought: ‘Stuff it,’ and I pulled the motor out of the SS, shaved the bay and put the turbo kit on, and it escalated from there.”
Andrew admits he wasn’t planning on going with the full Shaun’s Custom Alloy intake; it was just supposed to be a quick update to get it up and running with a blow-through carby set-up, but things just kept going. “I wanted something a little bit more reliable and all under the bonnet, because when I had a filter hanging out the bonnet, I just kept getting death stares everywhere I went,” he says.
Jeff Johnson at Streetbuilt hooked Andrew up with the intake and Holley EFI set-up, and he reckons he’ll never look back. Shaun’s Custom Alloy also provided the rocker covers and 80L fuel cell, while Plazmaman got the nod for the 102mm throttlebody and intercooler.
Andrew didn’t skimp on the boost hardware either, choosing KillaBoost turbo manifolds, a 76mm BorgWarner turbo and 60mm Turbosmart external gate that exits just ahead of the front tyre. The four-inch exhaust system dumps in front of the diff, which you’d think would make for a pretty noisy ride, but apparently not. “Funnily enough, it doesn’t sound like a turbo LS car,” Andrew reckons. “You wouldn’t even know it’s got a turbo; you wouldn’t even know it’s an LS, to be honest. It’s got a real deep note and doesn’t sound like a cray boat!”
Andrew and his mate Ryan spent about a week and a half smoothing the engine bay. “We got rid of everything on the firewall except for the master cylinder,” Andrew says. “I bought a polished master cylinder, and it looked good with all the other polished stuff, but it didn’t stand out enough in my opinion. So Ryan jumped on the computer and Photoshopped a few different ideas – like white base with a black lid; black base with a white lid – but I liked the all-white option.”
All the pipework was handled by Paul at Grgich Performance using stainless steel that was then ground back smooth and polished to perfection. Paul also did the brake, fuel and transmission lines, and wired the Holley ECU along with the rest of the car.
The next item on the list was a new set of Welds – skinny 17s on the front and 15x8s on the rear with lots of dish. That, of course, meant that the diff needed to be narrowed to suit the backspacing.
With the driveline now complete, it was time to send it to Streetbuilt to be tuned on the hub dyno. “I told Jeff: ‘I don’t want to push this thing. If it makes 550hp, I’m happy with that; I’m stoked. I just want it for the looks and a little bit of go.’ He goes: ‘Nup, I’ll get more than that.’ At 14psi, it made 705hp and shattered the diff into a million pieces!”
That resulted in another call to John Ricca from Race Parts Melbourne – who supplied all the parts for the car – to get a Strange centre for the nine-inch.
Although future plans for the car have been put on hold while he builds his new home, Andrew has a dream: “I’ve always wanted an eight-second street car [Geez, remember when an 11-second car was an animal?], but at the moment it torches tyres at 100km/h and scares the shit out me, so it’s still a fun car. If it hooks up, Jeff reckons it should go mid-nines.”