Customlines, Webers, Fords and GTS Holdens - Morley's Workshop 382

By: David Morley, Unique Cars magazine

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Holden HQ Monaro GTS 4 Holden HQ Monaro GTS 4
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Morley tackles the big questions

Customlines, Webers, Fords and GTS Holdens - Morley's Workshop 382
1956 Customline

(Issue 382, Unique Cars mag)

Morley's Soapbox

A couple of issues back, I had a letter from Ian Hendry lending weight to the theory that car-making was a less precise art-form than it is these days. Seems Ian had scored himself a Ford GT many years ago and then started to chase its history. Turns out what should have been a Starlight Blue car – according to the ID plate – was really a Diamond White GT. And after scratching around underneath and consulting a few experts, Ian discovered that despite what the ID plate said, that car had always been white.

Which made me wonder if the car had ever been rebodied or if he thought the discrepancy was an admin stuff-up at Broadmeadows back in the day. So I asked that very question. My second question was equally obvious: What colour did he decide on when the car was restored and repainted? Here’s Ian’s answer to that lot.

"I had the car in question painted (Starlight) blue. For the same reasons you raised, people claimed the car had been rebodied or stolen and repainted. But I’ve had the car verified by various GT Falcon experts (including specialist panel-beaters) and all the numbers on the radiator support panel, body numbers and engine numbers all matched. We even checked the numbers stamped on the bolts holding on the front guards. Apparently, these bolts on each series of GT have a unique number. The car’s identity is further confirmed by things like the bonnet with the factory-stamped hole for the bonnet scoop but no holes for the deleted bonnet pins (as per the build sheet). Try to find one of those.

"I would have loved to have kept the car white as something unique, but took the coward’s way out."

Ah, Ian, I don’t think you took the coward’s way out of this. But I hear what you’re saying: Should a car that has always been white be repainted white in the interests of originality, or should it be painted the colour on the ID plate to remove any doubt of its provenance? I would have tormented myself for months over the same decision. And I reckon you’re right about the bonnet: Who would have bothered to chase a bonnet-pin-delete GT bonnet to build a GT clone that matched the factory ID and then paint the whole car the `wrong’ colour?

Your Mail

Thrust into insanity

Ref: When things go bung: Great stories Morley. I guess most of us have made garage/workshop stuff ups over time. Mine related to replacing the gearbox bearings in my first car, (a 1956 Customline) which as it turned out didn’t need them renewed anyway. But it was one of those jobs that my father (who lived 400kms away) said I should do as preventative maintenance.

Finishing my apprenticeship at the time and being 20 years old, I pretty much knew it all. With the help of a mate it seemed like only minutes and the Customline’s tail-shaft and gearbox were out on the ground. A little while later all the relevant components were out of the ’box and it was a quick trip up to the local Ford dealer in Lithgow in my mate’s Wolseley to get the old bearings pressed off and new ones fitted.

As was life in the country, the dealer didn’t charge for the work even though I had not bought the new bearings from him. Back to the shed and much time spent with the essential container of petrol and brush, cleaning everything for the gearbox reassembly. Back under the car and the cast iron ’box needed two to lift it up and bolt it to bell housing. Next remove the wash tray before bolting up tail-shaft, and surprise, surprise, one thrust washer found in bottom of wash tray. The F-bomb went off a few times as we realised that the procedure needed to be repeated all over again. Of course this time all the attention to cleanliness went out the window. True story.

Eric Waples,

Albion Park, NSW.        

Yep, those eensy-weensy little thrust washers’ll get you every time. But Eric, I reckon you’ve scored the dead-set quinella with this one. Not only did you have to remove and rebuild the gearbox twice, it also turned out the bearings were fine in the first place. What do you did you do for an encore? Kick the door in so you could learn about panel-beating?

But hey, most of us have had these flashes of anti-brilliance, so good on you for putting your hand up and dobbing yourself in. And surely, the left-over washer, nut or spring, discovered as grimy hands are being washed and celebratory beers are being cracked, must be one of the most common blunders people make. So what about it folks? Any more out there who want to drop themselves or a mate in it for doing something ridiculous, absent-minded or just plain stupid in the name of car repairs?

While you’re thinking about it, I can recall as a kid watching my mate spend five minutes with a screwdriver, undoing the reflector on the front wheel of his push-bike (they clamped on to the spokes) and moving it around so that it was in synch with the one on the back wheel. I patiently waited for him to finish the job and give that satisfied grin before I picked the front of the bike up and spun the front wheel so the reflector was right back where it started from. Who needs mates like that, eh?


R/T Weber fact hunt

I really enjoy your Workshop column. Long may the controversy survive – all of ’em! There must be some cerebral linkage to my academic/research background (financial, not automotive). Anyway, one of your correspondents, Pete Nicol, in Issue 379, opened up the can of worms that is roughly labelled "Charger R/T Triple Webers". I had thought that some of the Mopar faithful would have dived into this subject, which is rich in myth, lies, half-truths, etc. But so far, nothing! Is it because the Mopar mob don’t read Unique Cars? Or is it just too hard?

 I’m not a diehard brand man, but like pretty much anything that’s old, powerful and good looking. But I have owned a 1976 CL Charger since March 2011, which was fitted with triple Webers and dressed in R/T warpaint by some previous owner. I really, really like the induction roar these carbs make when the big 265 cu in (semi) Hemi is on song, and you are right: they are great eye candy when you pop the bonnet. So I decided to persevere with this set up. Consequently, I have been forced to learn a bit about Weber 45 DCOEs. 

Firstly the Charger R/T Weber six-pack facts: The E37 was fitted with two Type 53s (front and centre), and one Type 54 (at the rear). The E38, E48, E49 were all fitted with two Type 55s (front and centre), and one Type 56 (at the rear). My source for this is the 1971-73 Chrysler Parts manual for VH, VJ models. It seems clear that these types of 45 DCOEs were unique applications, developed by Weber in Italy especially for the Chrysler Charger R/T, as per your reply. In addition to jetting differences, there is debate as to exactly what the other differences between these carbs are, but at the least the two rear types (54 and 56) have vacuum-access nozzles, which the others don’t.

 These original-part Webers were apparently very expensive to buy in the day, and quickly became rare, so many aftermarket triple Weber setups for Chargers did in fact just use whatever 45 DCOEs that were readily available in the second-hand market. Apparently, most common were Type 9, Type 11 and Type 13. I remember reading that these were variously used back in the day to boost Minis and MGBs. It’s possible to fully replicate all the original R/T internals (main venturi , auxiliary venturi, main fuel jet, idle fuel jet, accelerator pump jet, main air bleed correction jet, emulsion tube, starter fuel jet, starter air jet, intake and discharge valve. And six of each no less) in a non-original carby.

But the original Charger carbies have three progression holes, and others (Type 13s anyway) have only 2 progression holes. This compromise can give rise to the slight cough under acceleration, and makes tuning more difficult. Hence your recommendation to use type 152G, with 4 progression holes. If I was starting from scratch, this is what I would use. However, I inherited a triple Type 13 set up (with two different models – two 4Hs and one 2D), and am going to stick with these for the time being.

 My engine has just finished a second rebuild, and I am looking forward to many, many happy hours tuning these puppies.

Garrie Smith,

Berowra, NSW.


Wow, Garrie. You’ve certainly dug the dirt on this one, haven’t you? Slow day at work? Whatever, thanks for helping sort this one out. It seems the original theory that the actual R/T Charger Webers were a special breed indeed holds water on the basis of your research. It also suggests that with three progression holes for the R/T Webers versus two for the non-Charger carbs, my mail that a 152G Weber with the four progression holes would be a step in the right direction.

I guess what I really want to know now is not what the differences between R/T and non-R/T Webers were, but why those differences made a difference. Why was the Hemi 265 such a difficult and finicky beast when it came to fitting three carbs to it? I mean, if Jaguar could get three carbs to work on an E-Type in 1961 (and believe me, it did) then why can’t switched-on blokes get the same principles to apply in modern, well-equipped workshops in 2015? Must be something to do with the way the 265 breathes – maybe the firing order? – that makes it sensitive to the transition from the idle circuit to the main jet.

You’re also right about the Hemi only being a semi-Hemi. Unlike a true Hemi engine which gets its name from the hemispherical combustion-chamber shape that suits a cross-flow engine design, the non-crossflow 265 had a vaguely hemispherical combustion chamber, but the gas flow characteristics of the head didn’t make the most of it.

Meantime, I sincerely hope you can get the Webers tuned on your car and that you don’t wind up stuffing them into a plastic bag with a few big rocks and hurling them off a bridge. Let us know how you go.


Weber worship

After reading the Triple Trauma discussion in issue 379, page 111, I thought my experience in the matter may be of interest. I have a 1978 XC GXL, long range tank, LSD, 4 wheel disc brakes, but a cross-flow 4.1 six.

Steering away from the obvious V8 transplant, I decided to work on the six. Initially I had a 350cfm Holley and Pacemaker extractors, but after a while, my son and I discussed further mods and agreed on going with triple 45DCOE Webers. We obtained a set of the original Italian versions and had them rebuilt. To assist the breathing we fitted an XD Alloy head, ported, polished and port matched to the Cain triple Weber manifold. The initial start-up went well, but was a disaster in the tuning. After securing the services of a recommended knowledgeable Weber tuner, the tables turned and after jetting etc and the fitting of a fuel pressure unit, the car came alive.

As per the Valiant discussion, our rearmost carby seems different, so the matching set may not be in fact all the same. We suffer from a slight flat spot at low revs. The statement regarding the two progression holes was mentioned by the tuner and we intend going to the later version with four progression holes eventually, which we are assured will give a more progressive acceleration and eliminate the flat spot. Overall, the performance and drive-ability is as we envisioned. Once tuned, there have been no problems with the set-up and we are only running ram tubes at this stage. The bottom end is stock so a full rebuild is in order, but we wanted to see what was available and are not disappointed.

As a point of interest, we are running solid mounts and don’t see any problems. Soft mounts were discussed, but we thought we would go as is and see how they behaved. Other than the small flat spot and some splutter on light acceleration (attributed to the back carby we believe) it is great to drive. And yes; the induction noise is phenomenal!

Ted Freeman,



I like your thinking Ted. Specifically, I like the way you looked at the alternatives and then decided to do something different.

As much as I love a big V8 under a big Aussie bonnet, I’m also a sucker for a warmed-up straight-six, so I reckon hats off to you for having the guts to do the car your way rather than simply follow the pack.

Not too many people have bothered with the Falcon six over the years which seems a bit odd, because every red-motored Holden owner and his dog were building hot sixes both back in the day (guilty here) and even now. I think part of the problem was that the Ford V8 was very good to start with and the fact that there was some kind of conspiracy theory that the Ford six was difficult to tune. That was the case back in the really old days when the Falcon engine had its cylinder head and intake manifold cast in one piece. So, changing the manifold to add more carbies was a big deal. Essentially, you had to cut the manifold off the head and then machine the head to accept studs which could then be used to attach the replacement manifold. Like I said, a big deal and not a job for most backyarders.

But the alloy-headed Falcon six was a much better mousetrap and was seriously tuneable from what I can gather (although I’ve never messed around with one myself). The biggest glitch seems to be that the alloy head expanded at a different rate to the cast-iron exhaust headers and many owners found themselves spannering up the manifold nuts pretty frequently to stop the faffs.

I’m also pleased to hear that you’ve mastered the Webers on your car. Well, nearly, anyway. Sounds like there’s still a small driveability issue and, if my theory is worth anything, the fact that the flat spot is just of idle and at light throttle openings, suggests that it is, indeed, a function of the less than subtle transition from the idle to main circuits. The later carbs should be an improvement, but let us know either way. The successful solid mountings suggest that, like the Hemi six, the Ford six is inherently smooth enough not to need the shock-absorbing soft carb-mounts.

The pressure regulator is important with Webers as they don’t like much more than about 4psi fuel pressure. Some people say up to 6psi is okay, but beyond that the carbs will flood.

As an aside the triple carbs that caused me so much pain and suffering actually came off a speedway car running a Falcon six, so you’re not the first to have done it. But nice one, all the same.


Old mates network

I enjoyed reading Laurie Floyd’s contribution to Morley’s Workshop, and his reminiscences of buying his HQ four-door GTS. I have known Laurie since I was a kid, he’s a year or two older than me, and used to go out with my sister. If he had the GTS back then, rather than the pesky little Austin Lancer, maybe they might still be together. He’s a thorough gentleman and would have made excellent brother-in-law material!

Laurie made the point that he had ordered a Salamanca Red GTS four-door from me when I worked at Coliseum Motors in Ballarat during the early ’70s, and that we were unable to supply after quite some time waiting. That is a really pertinent comment that Laurie has made: New Holdens were very hard to get for a period in 1974, waiting times were ridiculously long, inflation was rocketing along, industrial unrest was widespread, and many patient buyers had to cop price rises while they were waiting. That’s just the way it was then. If you couldn’t get a car out of floor stock chances were that you would have to wait several months. My HQ Kingswood wagon took seven months to be built and delivered!

I recall very vividly that back in the latter part 1974 we actually ran out of cars at Coliseum Motors. We had even sold all our demo vehicles, there were simply no new Holdens available to us for quite some time. I remember well that my LH Torana demo was sold, and I was given a 12 month old Orchid LJ SL Torana to drive. I loved it – it was a 202 with an M20 4 speed, GTR dash, GTR wheels, bumper overriders, Air Chief radio etc. I even remember the registration number, LLR-207. It was sold new by us and traded in on an LH SL/R 3300.

I recall that the only two cars we were able to source from GM at that critical time were two HQ Belmont Taxi-Packs. We had no demo vehicles for the two senior salesmen to drive, so we dressed these up with armrests, radios, bumper overriders and GTS wheels. One was saffron with doeskin trim, the other black with chestnut trim. These were pretty average cars even way back then, with 173 engines, three on the tree, and drum brakes. But beggars couldn’t be choosers; we just took what we could get.

I’ve added to my little collection since you were here in Ballarat – I’ve bought a lovely original HX GTS with 308, auto and power steering. It’s the best colour in my opinion, Mandarin Red with black trim. 

Peter Wilmot,

Ballarat, VIC


Isn’t that incredible? A car dealership being all but totally incapable of getting stock out of the factory. Shows you how nicely Holden was travelling at the time, I suppose. It also adds a small piece to the puzzle of how my notoriously tight-fisted old man went to town in 1974 to buy a Belmont and came home with a V8 Kingswood. I’ve long speculated that dear old dad simply got upsold by a fast-talking salesman, but maybe it was a case of "take the yellow one or take the bus".

Interesting that you mention SL/R 3300 Toranas. An LX version of that very model was the first car I ever did 100 miles-per-hour in. It was also the first car I’d driven with a tacho and it was the property of a bloke who happened to be the father of a young lass with whom I was most taken (which is an Emily Bronte way of saying 100 miles-per-hour wasn’t the only thing going on in that SL/R). I vividly remember the young lady in question finally allowing me to have a drive in Daddy’s precious car, so I immediately stoked it up to the ton at which point it overheated and puked its coolant all over the road. Happy days.

As for your HX GTS, haven’t those things come into their own in recent years. Back in the day (and for many years afterwards) I was not alone in thinking the big, bluff front on them was a backward step after the sleek, shark-like HQ. But these days, the GTS has grown into its skin a bit and suddenly looks great, especially in those bright, primary colours with the black-outs and that sharp body-kit (My pick would be the lairy green). Sounds like I’ll be heading out Ballarat way again soon to check out your latest toy.


More international Spotto

First let me say I love Unique Cars magazine. It is essential reading for every hot-blooded Australian male. Back in high school in the late 1980s I’d buy a copy regularly, and drool over my favourite cars such as MGAs, 420 Jaguars and such.

On page 116 of issue 379 I read a section asking readers to inform you of Australian manufactured vehicles spotted throughout the world. Here’s my contribution: Between  2000 and 2004 I lived in Koahsiung, Southern Taiwan working as an English teacher  in the Feng Sun Army Barracks. During my four years spent in Taiwan, I was in a relationship with a Brazilian lady, and during semester breaks we travelled throughout Asia together. One of the cities we travelled to was Manila where I saw parked on the side of the road in Pasig City an early model VC or VH Commodore  in two tone gold and brown. I would love to know how many Holdens  have been exported to the Philippines?

Brad Geyer,

Broken  Hill, NSW


Nice work Brad.  I have no idea how many Holdens were exported to the Philippines, but I think it was quite a few.

I remember reading somewhere once that Aussie Lions were sent right across Asia even to slightly unlikely places like Burma (as it was called back then – now Myanmar) and Bhutan.

And while I don’t know the exact numbers over the years, I can give you a hint of how big this exporting lark was for Holden back in the early 1970s: The HQ Holden set new records for Holden exports and in the three years of production, about 14,500 complete HQs were exported and another 72,000 were shipped abroad in CKD (Completely Knocked Down) form to be assembled in plants around the globe.

Contrast that with the current smell of death lingering on the local car-making game and you can see how times change.




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