shawn - shawn taylor commodore 01 - Shawn’s Commodore is ‘Taylor’ made
Father of two Shawn Taylor

You might say Shawn Taylor’s Holden Commodore is ‘Taylor’ made.

The 45-year old postie purchased the car about 10 years ago and like many blokes are apt to do, decided it needed a bit more get up and go.

The red 2001 Commodore VX Series II Executive is fitted with a 3.8-litre Ecotec V6, together with a four-speed auto as standard.

Shawn planned to replace the six with a more powerful V8, in effect to transform the car into the SS it could have been.

But his cousin, Ryan, a mechanic, had a better idea.

He thought it would be easier and cheaper to turbocharge the engine, and what’s more the modifications would not require any major structural changes.

Nothing particularly new about that, I hear you say, except that the turbocharger in Shawn’s VX comes from a diesel, John Deere agricultural tractor.

You heard right — a tractor — like the kind farmers use to plough their paddocks.

“My cousin was looking into turbos and they were selling them at the time, and I think he was the first to put one in. He just liked the idea, the structure of it and the fact it wouldn’t break easily,” he said.

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You know what they say about red.

Shawn, a father of two from Blacktown in Sydney’s west, represents an Australia that really no longer exists — or soon won’t at least.

A time when Holden built cars in Adelaide and young men saved and dreamed of owning them one day — and of course what they could do to make them go faster.

The fact that the engine in a Holden drove the rear wheels was a major drawcard.

That period came to an end when first Ford in 2016, followed a year later by Toyota and Holden — pulled the plug on local production.

Sure, they still sell Commodores, but as any bloke worth his salt can tell you — they’re imported and not the real deal anymore.

Shawn has always been a Holden man, if you don’t count the Corolla he had for three months when he worked in the city.

His first car was a Holden Gemini coupe (remember them) and his second car was a Gemini too — this time a station wagon.

“I wasn’t happy when they shut down, that’s for sure, with parts and all,” he said.

“I didn’t feel betrayed, but being a Holden guy, I was sad in a sense.

“I’ve had Holdens from the start, from the age of 16 when I got my Ls.

“I’ve driven the others, Mustangs and Fords and all that — my brother’s got one — but I don’t like them.

“I just like the look of Holdens. The shape I suppose and I’ve been a big Brocky fan since I was old enough to go to Bathurst.

“I even followed him when he went to Volvo. I’m a big Lowndesy fan still. I followed the HRT when Skaisey was running it. And now I’ve gone to the Red Bulls with van Gisbergen and Whincup.”

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It’s in good nick for its age.

So how does Shawn’s new and improved VX go now?

Let’s just say it’s got a kick in it like a mule, or better still make that a cranky old bull in the back paddock.

“I’m getting nearly 400 horsepower at the rear wheels (about 300kW). That’s with 11 pounds of turbo boost. I could go higher, but I’ve got it tuned to run on 98. Unless you put BP Ultimate in it, it runs like a puppy.

“You could run it on ethanol I suppose and get more out of it, but there’s not too many petrol stations where you can get it.

“If you drive it sensibly without being an idiot you still get over 500km from a full tank.”

When Shawn bought the car it had 90K on the clock and had a fleet car driven by Catholic nuns . . .  or so the story goes.

The turbo has been in it for five years and in that time it has travelled less than 5000km.

Apart from tinted windows and the 19 inch wheels — 8.5s at the front and 9.5s at the rear — it remains fairly standard.

In fact, it’s even got the original transmission, although it was rebuilt about 1000km ago to shift harder — and is barely run in.

shawn - shawn taylor commodore 16 - Shawn’s Commodore is ‘Taylor’ madeThe heart of the matter.

The whole job cost Shawn around $12K and the car is insured with Shannons for $12,500.

The idea was to build a daily driver, not a race car.

“I don’t go crazy and I do burn outs in it. I drive it sensibly,” he said.

Sadly, however, the VX has outlived its usefulness and it is looking for a new home.

At 16 and 14 years of age, neither boy is old enough to drive the car yet and there’s no room to store it.

What’s more the boys probably don’t need th kind of attention it attracts.

So what’s next?

“I’m going to buy a car that reliable for my boy, for him to learn in and to drive in,” he said.

“He’s got two more years of school, so he’ll get his Ps next year. More than likely, if I sell this and get another car, I’ll I still be able to drive it to work.

“He won’t really need it until after he finishes school because school is just around the corner.

“Summer time is coming now so I’ll probably be riding my motorbike to work anyway.”

The nitty gritty:

  • Clubsport body kit
  • DTM 19 inch alloys
  • Custom steam pipe turbo manifolds
  • Aeroflow turbo beanie
  • 3.5 inch dump pipe and 13 inch Mandrel Bend exhaust system
  • 4.0 inch intake pipe and custom airbox
  • K&N air filter
  • Turbosmart 45mm wastegate
  • Turbosmart boost gauge
  • GFB boost controller
  • Front mount intercooler and custom piping
  • EMS Stinger ECU
  • Custom breather catch can and braided hoses
  • Billet rocker covers
  • Custom battery cover
  • Brand new radiator
  • Aeroflow overflow bottle
  • Braided fuel and oil lines
  • Turbosmart fuel regulator
  • Walbro fuel pump
  • Modified alloy VS V6 fuel rails
  • 1000cc Bosch injectors
  • Airconditioning fully operational

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.