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1992 Holden Rodeo - AusTRUCK

Inspiration Abounds When Playing at This Level of the Game

Mike Alexander
Dec 11, 2015
Contributors: Jason Ballard
Photographers: Avit "Toasty" Chauhan
AusTRUCK—is it a cheesy play on words, or simply clever and oh so true? You be the judge. This stunning mini from Australia has certainly made an impression, and awestruck is just one of the many overwhelming emotions stirred up when you take a closer look at this build. Michael "Bobbin" Ellard wanted to take it to the next level with his 1992 Holden Rodeo (similar to our Isuzu Pup here in the states), with quality and attention to detail his ultimate objectives. When it comes to achieving a truly notable minitruck build, this Australian-built Rodeo dubbed Severed Ruby, easily accomplished that and much more.
The journey of this mini started nearly a decade ago. Back then it resembled a similar style with the Cadillac taillights and drag pan. The color was completely different, and it wasn't nearly as detailed or custom. Sporting a bright orange paint job with clean smooth bodywork, the build was still way ahead of its time, especially for the Australian custom-truck scene. Alas, Michael did what any man would for his family and sold his prized possession to purchase a home. When the opportunity came to repurchase the truck three years later, Bobbin quickly jumped at the chance. However, there was one catch—the truck had been wrecked. As you can see, this couldn't stop a man on a mission whose goal was to restore the truck and go above and beyond with a complete rebuild.
Photo 2/9   |   01 1992 Holden Rodeo Front Three Quarter Suicide Door
Bobbin has certainly grown up around top-notch quality builds. During the rebuild, as fate would have it, he met Laurie Starling from The Chop Shop and became good mates with him. Laurie helped kick the rebuild into gear and spent many a night scheming up outlandish and wild ideas to push the envelope even further. That’s why the tragic loss of Laurie weighed heavy on Bobbin's mind. Michael and his brother Matthew decided to stomp the pedal to the metal and set their sights on debuting at the next Motorex show, where Laurie had previously been one of the top honored guest Judges. It was the perfect way for Bobbin and family to pay homage to a man we all looked up to who was taken from the custom scene far too early.
The truck was rebuilt from the ground up, beginning with the suspension. Slam Specialties RE6 bags were used up front along with drop spindles and Chop Shop upper control arms. In the rear, they used a Chop Shop cantilever four-link combined with Slam RE7 bags. The chassis was shortened about 10 inches and a C-notch added to provide the extra travel the Borg Warner differential needed. Copper hardline was used throughout, as the new copper theme was perfect to plumb the air suspension in style. For rolling stock, a staggered set of copper-plated Intro Retro wheels and CTR Skyline Brembo brakes show how the customizers get around the super strict vehicle modification laws in Australia, including OE brakes that have passed "proper engineering" inspections. Bobbin went the extra mile to ensure his truck would pass all inspections, so it could be legally driven and wouldn’t be just another trailer queen.
Photo 3/9   |   03 1992 Holden Rodeo Rear Three Quarter
Body mods are at the core of any well-built custom truck and to say Bobbin's Rodeo has been heavily modded would be quite an understatement. So much so, it would be impossible to even list all of the body modifications that went into the extensive sheet metal surgery of this build. Up front, a 1960s Cadillac front bar was molded into the Rodeo bumper. Out back, one of the first things you notice is the tailgate has been recessed towards the cab to give the truck the look of the glorious tail fin era. Since Cadillac is the king of tail fins, Bobbin used Cadillac taillights on each side of the bed. The list of shaved items includes the tailgate, door handles, blinkers, wiper jets, and of course, the factory taillights. The custom door handles are nothing short of spectacular. Since the doors have been suicide, Bobbin opted for the smooth handles to be relocated to the fronts of the doors.
To ensure no stone was left unturned, a 2-inch chop top was done so well that some never even notice it unless it's pointed out. The bedsides were also shaved and include custom bodylines inside the bed, or "tray," as they call it Down Under. The license plate pops out from underneath the truck to provide that clean show truck appearance when on display at events. The hood was cut out for the shaker air intake and the firewall is totally shaved all the way through, including underneath the cab and the bed. That signature House of Kolor Candy Brandywine paint really rounds out this build. It mixes perfectly with copper plating accents on the wheels, grille, door strikers, interior pieces, etc. Talk about no comprises!
Photo 4/9   |   04 1992 Holden Rodeo Front Doors Open
One of the coolest things about this entire painstakingly detailed build is the fact that it was built to be driven to the limits. The heartbeat is a 5.7 LS1 V-8, which allowed Bobbin and the crew to focus on making it look pretty verses major internal work; this beast was more than enough power for the Pup. The intake is a custom intake with Edelbrock high-rise manifold. As with the rest of this build, the engine bay detail is unreal. Custom parts galore include the full custom intake and air cleaner cover, custom flushed fluid fills into the wiper cowl, hidden wiring, and custom touches throughout.
No true show truck built to this level is fully complete without a truly one-of-a-kind custom interior. Holden Rodeo bench seats with R31 Skyline padding were molded in to give a totally different look to the normal routine bucket seats and back cab walls of these pickups. Hy-Tone Motor Trimming performed the work, which is done in brandy and cream leather for true elegance. The smooth sheet metal dash is a piece of minitruck history as it came from Laurie Starling's original minitruck build, CHOPPA. The copper color theme is continued into the cab with custom armrests, custom trim pieces, steering wheel, and other accents have all been copper plated. Upon further inspection into the cabin, you'll obviously notice it's right-hand drive, but you may not notice the gauges—or lack thereof—on the super sleek custom dash. A set of Dakota Digital gauges are mounted in the custom-built headliner pod above. In Car Audio installed the audio equipment, including the Focal 10-inch sub along with Focal separates and amps. The icing on the cake is the smooth interior, completely free of switches or buttons. Being from the limo industry, Bobbin custom-built a tablet-touch control system completely integrated into the truck. Yes, a touch-control system that controls everything from the electric windows to starting the truck, all via a Samsung Galaxy Tablet.
Photo 5/9   |   05 1992 Holden Rodeo Rear Doors Open
When asked if he would change anything about the build, Michael surprisingly said he wished he had made the truck into a wagon that resembled a Chevy Nomad. Interesting, maybe the saying that a minitruck is never truly finished will ring true on a Severed Ruby Wagon reincarnation? Regardless, we know Laurie is smiling down on this amazing ride that Michael and friends brought to life in his memory.
Inside the Build
Year Make Model: 1992 Holden Rodeo
Owner and City/State: Michael "Bobbin" Ellard; Sydney, Australia
Club Affiliation: Severed Ties Australia
Engine: 5.7L LS1 V-8 swap, custom alloy intake with Edelbrock high-rise manifold, ClubSport extractors with 2-inch pipes, mufflers, and cats through to the rear
Chassis:
Frame Mods: Shortened frame 250mm, C-notch and rear clip with all new crossmembers,
Front suspension: Chop Shop upper control arms and modified lowers, Slam Specialties RE-6 bags, 2-inch drop spindles
Rear Suspension: Chop Shop cantilever four-link with RE-7 bags, Peddlers shocks, Viair 480 compressors, AccuAir management, 9-gallon air tank Brakes: GTR skyline front and rear calipers with Brembo discs
Body:
Shaved: tailgate, door handles, gas door, blinkers, wiper jets and taillights, 1960s Cadillac front bar molded into Rodeo bumper, custom shaker with hole in hood, suicide doors, smooth door handles relocated to front, 2-inch chop, shaved bedsides, body line inside tray, recessed tailgate with Cadillac taillights, pop-down license plate, electric hard lid, sheet metal floor and firewall, underside of the tray.
Paint: House of Kolor Candy Brandywine, Glasurit Lavender Blast and real copper plating with clear coating throughout.
Interior:
Holden Rodeo bench with R31 skyline rear seat padding molded in and trimmed in brandy and cream leather, custom sheet metal dash from Laurie Starling’s original minitruck CHOPPA painted Brandywine with cream leather and billet column and steering wheel, custom Tablet touch-control system, B&M shifter, electric windows and blue wire keyless entry with push-button start, Dakota Digital gauges mounted in headliner, Samsung Galaxy tablet, Focal audio system built by In Car Audio
Wheels & Tires:
Wheels: 19x8.5, 20x9; Intro Retro copper coated
Tires: 225/35R19, 245/30R20; Pirelli Cinturato
Special Thanks From Owner: “A very special thanks to Laurie Starling from the Chop Shop for the inspiration and push to take this build to the next level. Thanks to Matt, Dad, Paul, Ricky, Steve, Skippy, Johnny and everyone who helped out the last six months of the build to see it finished. Also, Image Limousines, Chop Shop, In Car Audio, Mobility Engineering, Glass Benders, and House of Kolor for their ongoing support. And last, but not least, all the Severed Ties club brothers and sisters and Toasty, Mike Alexander, and Mark Smyth for their huge help on this feature.”

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