EH Holden S4 - Reader Resto

By: Harvey Miles & Dave Carey, Photography by: Harvey Miles & Peter Bateman

Presented by

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It's one of the most original Aussie muscle cars; but not in the way you think

 

EH Holden S4 Resto

When this car came up on eBay about five years ago, I thought, "No, I don’t want to do another car," but as soon as I rang the seller and he told me all about it; that it had every original part and piece of documentation, everything suddenly changed.

We went down to Tahmoor in my mate’s truck and trailer and hauled the S4 back to Canberra along with all the parts. It showed around 60,000 miles on it and hadn’t been around the clock, but it needed a lot of work to get it to the standard I felt it deserved.

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Luckily I’ve been into EJs and EHs for 45 years and wrecked around 300 of ‘em, so as a result had plenty of parts lying around to fix it up. The problem is that you’ve got to get the right year; there are lots of subtle differences between the 63s and 64s and even some differences from one Holden factory to another.

Iconic Holdens: EH

I’ve got every piece of literature on the EH Holden from back in the day; brochures, workshop manuals and service bulletins, including the one specific to the S4. I even have copies of the GMH employees’ magazine ‘People’ that was released during the EJ-EH era. This stuff proved invaluable in getting this car right!

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The body had some rust, so we put two good guards on it and although the rear quarter had taken a hit, I didn’t have a decent spare.

My mate John Taylor and I not only beat it back into shape, but spent 14 months, all day, every day in my shed fixing the rest of the bodywork; it was a full tear-down back-to-the-firewall job. I don’t have an eye for spraying so John handled that, finishing it in Winton Red acrylic with a Fowlers Ivory roof, just like it had when it was new.

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While John and I put her together, I had another mate, Bob Harris strip down the original motor. The S4 had the 179HP Red six, but once it became a regular production option, that part number changed, so I knew the motor was true to the car. These S4 179HP engines were put together very particularly, with very fine tolerances, so all it needed was a gasket kit and reassembly.

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Originality is such an important factor on this car because of its history as Holden’s first racing special, plus because I knew it had everything it should have. The 179HP motor, the strengthened 3-speed gearbox, beefed-up tailshaft, larger fuel tank, shorter 3.55:1 diff ratio, S4 compliance tag and full service history were all included, plus the original build sheet; the only one known to exist!

Holden EH S4 Review

There’s nothing in it that’s not factory EH; right down to every nut and bolt. I even sourced a period-correct Delco battery that I resurrected and had restored.

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This car was built in August 1963 and first registered 6 September, the same day as the Number 17 car campaigned by Spencer Martin and Brian Muir at the Armstrong 500 on 6 October 1963. That’s no coincidence; Heldon Motors in Bankstown supplied both cars, with mine going to the crew chief for the Scuderia Veloce race team, Bob Atkins.

My car went to Bathurst not only as Bob’s transportation, but also as a backup car. It was called upon to lend out its tailshaft after Martin and Muir dropped theirs mid-race.

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Although it’s Australia’s first homologation special and at least part of it raced at Bathurst, it’s not exactly a muscle car; however the Summernats judges this year thought differently.

Once they learned the history they said "Maybe we’ll put it in ‘Muscle Car’ category; you’ll be up against the GTRs and HOeys though." I didn’t mind; I just presented the car as best I could and didn’t think much of it when my entrant number wasn’t put up amongst the finalists and winners, so I drove back home when the time came.

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My mate rang me on the Saturday to ask me where my car was, "In the shed at home!" I told him.

"Harvey, you got a spot in Top 60 Elite and you won Top Muscle Car!" he said. I didn’t believe him, but he kept on, "I wouldn’t have a go at ya, Harvey! You’d knock me bloody head off!"

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So that was pretty nice; a good validation of all the hard work John, Bob and I put into it. I’m now restoring a one-of-one factory Cadillac pink EH sedan; we’ll see how that goes!

THE RESTO

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Quarter Pounder

The RH quarter had copped a pretty hard hit; Harvey and John worked the original metal back into shape

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Firewall Fiddle

Despite only 60,000 miles on the clock, the car was completely stripped

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Numbers game

Harvey's lovely S4 boasts a complete set of matching numbers

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Cool kit

The unique-to-S4 tool kit even included GMH's legendary 4-inch screwdriver

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Stencil Art

Harvey even replicated the original Heldon Motors dealership stencil under the bonnet

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Big Tank

The 'Bathurst Big Tank' has been part of Aussie homologation specials since Day 1 - the S4 being Day 1!

 

SPECIFICATIONS

EH Holden S4

ENGINE 2940cc Holden Red 179HP
TRANSMISSION strengthened 3-speed manual
LENGTH 4511mm
WIDTH 1727mm
HEIGHT 1478mm
WHEELBASE 2667mm
KERB WEIGHT 1119kg
0-60mph (97km/h) 11 seconds
Standing quarter mile 19 seconds

 

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