Brad ‘Fox’ Cullen might not be a Mopar fan himself, but he certainly has the attention of the faithful. When the Pro Radial Valiant VC ute rolled out last year at Sydney Dragway looking like a mix of 90s Wild Bunch, Australian muscle and Pro Street, all Mopar eyes were on him. But he admits that he isn’t a lifelong member of the cult.
“No, not at all. I’ve owned Holdens all my life,” he said. “I saw this thing for sale and it looked cool. I got it at a good price and it is even cooler now with the blown motor in it. I just think it is different.”
If he isn’t a tragic yet, there is still time. Cullen shows interest in making the car period correct, with the right chrome trims and bumpers to come – he’s searching right now.
“I want to keep it as original as I can without going over the top.”
Antique hunting aside, there has been much to keep Cullen busy with this powerful pick-up. He purchased the car after a five year break from the sport, taking time to address the real life issues of family and business. When he found out about this car in Corowa, Cullen felt the time was right to get back into drag racing.
“It had an aspirated 540ci big block in it at the time. I brought it up to Sydney to race it a few times but it wasn’t fast enough for me. It went 9.30/145mph with the old motor and if I stuck at it, it probably would have run eights but I wanted something to get me into the Pro Radial scene.”
Cullen’s origins in the sport hark back to the street. He had a Holden HJ one tonner that saw action at Cowra’s airport drags, giving him the initial taste of straight line speed. A couple of drag-spec Toranas followed, until Cullen went into his drag racing ‘dark ages’ in 2012. Cue the Valiant!
Once Cullen had decided he wanted to head for the Pro Radial class, he worked out a deal with a friend to buy a blown motor and sent the car to SCF Race Cars to get it set up for radial tyres.
“I just like the radial scene,” he said. “It is more of a Pro Street style of racing. I like race cars that look like streeters, a lot of guys running fast and some that can actually drive it on a street too. Chrome bumpers and all that stuff. I like the heads up style. There’s a lot of good blokes involved in the sport.”
Lack of horsepower is certainly no issue now for the 1967 Valiant VC. In place up front is a genuine Jim Oddy big block Chev short block, coming in at 468 cubic inches. It uses a Bow Tie Mark IV standard deck four bolt studded block, that has been o-ringed and grout filled.
A Newby high-ram 14-71 Mooneyham magnesium blower provides the boost, while an Enderle 1100 pump keeps the methanol flowing. An MSD 44amp Pro Mag and MSD Power Grid ensure the spark is powerful and reliable.
Handling the combustion are Venolia blower pistons and oversized pins, sitting on top of Venolia nitro C-405 solid alloy rods by AJPE with Carr bolts. An Oddy-spec billet roller cam keeps everything opening and shutting at the right times in the Brodix cylinder heads, which have been ported by Warren Appleby Racing.
The 4340 internal balance crank leads to a Powerglide two speed transmission, a 9.5 inch Ford diff with Strange centre and eventually 315 Mickey Thompson radials.
The ute made its debut at Sydney Dragway, appearing at a test day before East Coast Thunder in November 2018 and then the event itself. A few gremlins made their presence known in a tough week for Cullen and his team.
“We didn’t have the best week. We didn’t get many good runs first time out, just because of little issues,” he said.
“We’d never run a blown motor before so we would check it in the pits, then come out and find a fuel leak and get shut down. The intake manifold bolts came loose and it pushed a gasket out. We put a new one on and then didn’t get time for the gasket to dry and it pushed it out again!
“We fixed an oil issue, we broke a throttle cable, and finally on the last run we hurt a transmission – so yeah, we had a tough weekend. It has got an MSD grid in it controlling the ignition so we pulled a heap of timing out to go from A to B to start.”
While he has limited experience on big tyres, Cullen said he could immediately feel the difference in the radial.
“The radials don’t wander around, they stay solid. They don’t try and shake the tyre or anything. The tyre itself is a lot smaller than what was on it previously, but people go fast on them.”
This is certainly a car we are going to follow closely in the future; it ticks a lot of the right boxes to be hot right now in Australian drag racing.
“We want to try and run mid fours on the eighth. It will take a while but that is where we want to be.”