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Top 10: New Zealand’s best engine bays

21 July 2016

We’re spoiled for choice here in New Zealand, with so many different models of vehicles available and great freedom to do what we like to them. That means over the years we’ve seen some killer engine bays in cars that we’ve featured. So much so that we thought it was time to assemble a list of the best.

Here goes:

10. That old saying of stuffing 10 pounds into a five-pound sack, or whatever it is, may have been talking about the engine bay in Steve Gooch’s Ford Thunderbird. It’s a tight fit, yet Steve’s managed to make it visually appealing and intriguing at the same time. You can read the full story here.

9. Ivan Jujnovich’s trophy-hauling ’55 Chev pickup is simplicity at its finest. The LS1 sitting in a perfectly smooth and clean bay, and draped in chrome. It’s show worthy, yet clearly still an LS1 at the same time.

8. Even if you know nothing about what makes power, it’s easy to see that Mike Bari’s Chevelle means business. Every last detail of the build was planned before any work started to take place, and it shows. 

7. Steve and Leanne Milne’s slick ’56 Chev looks great at first glance, but take a closer look and it’s even better. Countersunk allen-head bolts, a subtly recessed brake-master cylinder, and plenty more custom touches ensure this is more than first meets the eye. 

6. If you’re building a street car to look like a race car, then Dave Best’s ’65 Corvette is the benchmark you should aim for. The raw aluminium finish, combined with the use of race-style fittings, as well as the mechanical injection set-up and dry-sumped small block is the perfect example of form and function colliding. 

5. When a top-level fabricator, who also happens to be a perfectionist, sets about building themselves a drag car, you know it’s going to be something epic. That’s exactly what Jason Sellars’ Falcon XY ute is. Even with all the ancillaries needed to run an engine such as this twin-turbo 380ci Cleveland, Jason’s managed to keep the engine bay amazingly tidy, and the attention to detail is on point. 

4. If you thought turbos were a modern thing, then Murray Storey’s 1947 Chev Sedan Delivery should set you straight. The 1960s turbo set-up is intriguing alone, but when it’s in an engine bay this tidy, it just adds to the already huge appeal.

3. James Flynn’s Model A may look like an unfinished junker, but that’s the point. That engine with no distributor cap, belts, wiring, or hoses is actually a masterpiece of creative engineering. It runs perfectly, thanks to an EFI set-up hidden under the custom-fabricated alloy manifold and hidden rear-mounted radiator. Creative genius at its finest!

2. It’s never easy to make a Ford engine look clean and free of wiring, but the team at Burkes Metalworks nailed it with this ’69 Mustang build. What makes it even more impressive is the view when you look back towards the radiator, where people generally hide the unsightly bits — in this car, it’s just as clean. We also love how the exterior stripes flow over the custom radiator cover and how they went to the effort to CNC-machine a custom brace rather than buy one of the readily available off-the-shelf items. Full marks!

1. Matt Elliott’s ‘JWDRPR’ Chev C10 pickup looks stunning from the outside, but when you open the hood, it takes things to a whole new level. The custom panel work and cleanliness are unmatched by any other. Full feature here, from before the Procharger was added to the mix.