Nonno's Turbo LS Valiant Ute - From Rusty Relic to Blown Beast

A battered 1971 Valiant ute, destined for the scrapyard, gets an extreme makeover with a turbocharged LS heart transplant and pro-touring upgrades, transforming this tired workhorse into a wicked sleeper showstopper.
Nonnos Turbo LS Valiant Ute From Rusty Relic to Blown Beast

Like many survivors from the 70s, Luke Novel's VH Valiant ute was headed for the scrapheap. But this tough old girl was saved from a date with the crusher and reborn as one wicked pro-touring machine.

The Humble Beginnings

The ute had been Luke's granddad's work truck back in the day. 

"He bought her new in '71 as a basic model with a 245 Hemi lump and three-on-the-tree," 

Luke explains. That simple driveline spent its life hauling all sorts of gear for Nonno's fruit and veg business. Luke vividly recalls one particularly hefty cargo - a massive pig they had to wedge in the tray for sausage-making!

When the ute finally found its way to Luke years later, it was one rusty, beaten-up relic. 

Nonno told me to just take it to the tip and bring back the battery for the tractor," 

he says. But Luke had bigger plans - turning this paddock basher into an all-out performance weapon.

The Turbo LS Heart Transplant

The tired old 245 was ditched in favor of a potent 427ci Dart LS Next block packed with Dart Pro1 LS3 heads. But the killer combo is the pair of BorgWarner S400SX3 turbochargers force-feeding big air into this blown Valiant. A custom Steve Morris cam, Callies Magnum crank, Carrillo rods and CP pistons ensure it's built to handle the massive boost.

Controlling the fire-breathing LS is a FuelTech FT500 ECU, while a transbraked Powerglide from Neal Racing, their stout Chance converter and a burlier 9-inch rear end get the power to the pavement. Just don't mention the cost to Luke's wife - 

She thinks most of the parts only cost 50 bucks!" he laughs.

Keeping it Sleeper Style

One of Luke's biggest challenges was keeping that stock, narrow-nostril bonnet. It took some serious fabrication wizardry to snake the intake piping through the inner guard and massage every component to fit under there. Even the turbos had to be perfectly positioned for optimal symmetry.

Up front, the tired torsion bar setup was binned for a full tubular IFS with coil-overs and rack-and-pinion steering. Out back, mini-tubs were crafted to stuff those meaty rubber runners under the rear quarters.

Mixing New and Old

The body itself is a mix of new and old sheetmetal. While the roof skin is original, the rest has been repaired or replaced, with the rear quarters being especially rough before Luke scored some fresh panels. Kurt Bertling laid down the slick bodywork before Caleb Tann applied the classy Billet Silver hue.

Inside, it's all business with Sparco buckets, race-spec roll cage and an array of Auto Meter gauges filling the resprayed stock dash. A full exhaust with four mufflers keeps things relatively hushed...until Luke mats the loud pedal and those twin snails start screaming!

Orignally published on Street Machine.


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