Ditch Jones’s HR ute (SM, Apr ’07) was one of those cars that you could call ‘polarising’. The two-tone paint, wild teal-coloured interior and welded-up tailgate definitely had tongues wagging when it debuted at Summernats 20, with people either loving or hating the styling. One thing that couldn’t be argued though was the level of detailing and build quality that went into the car, which Ditch had owned and showed since the late 80s.

First published in Street Machine’s Yearbook 2022

The bodywork for Ditch’s big rebuild was extensive. You’ve probably spotted the suicide doors and re-sculpted tailgate, but note the extended sills, flush-fitting glass, and stretched bonnet to cover the deleted wiper cowl. The wheelbase has also been stretched 100mm to centre the front wheels in the guards

He took the HR off the road in the late 90s, as he recalled in our 2007 feature on the ute: “I wanted to take the car to the next level, as I kept coming up against better machinery.” By the look of the end result, Ditch skipped ‘next level’ and went straight to ‘boss level!’

To handle the extensive modifications, Ditch turned to Drago Ostric and his team at Sefton Concept Vehicles. Among the many highlights were the removable front clip, suicide doors, lengthened wheelbase, flush-fitting glass and the welded-up and reshaped tailgate.

The custom all-steel interior was fabricated by Sefton Concept Vehicles. The shortened Cobra race seats were covered in teal suede

The interior was wild as well, with a custom steel dash and console that looked nothing like the original, and teal blue trim that, depending on who you talked to, either complemented or clashed with the silver-and-yellow paint scheme Ditch had chosen. One thing was certain: this ute stood out in a crowd.

While many people at the time didn’t understand why Ditch didn’t, ahem, ditch the six-pot and stuff in a V8, everyone agreed that the detailing on the 4/71-blown 202 was second to none.

Current custodian Craig McKenzie is now giving the HR a serious makeover in time for Street Machine Summernats 35, so we had to sit down with him for a chat to learn more about his plans for this iconic machine.

How did you come to buy the ute?

I bought it back in 2018. I’ve got a Nissan Navara that has been in the build for years, and even though it’s been at shows before unfinished, it was just taking too long, so I started looking for a car to get me into the Elite Hall in the meantime.

The ute was actually at a car dealer, and I remembered it from its era, so I paid for it over the phone and went and grabbed it.

Craig is now in the midst of a massive rebuild of the ute, including new trim by Simon Judd and a brand-new paint scheme

What condition was it in?

It wasn’t the best. It’d been through a few hands before I got it and people just didn’t seem to care about these old show cars.

There was nothing really major wrong, but the interior was pretty dirty and gross, and the paint needed work. But I could see the potential.

After giving the HR a big detail and a new set of rims, current owner Craig McKenzie was stoked to make the Elite Top 10 with it at Summernats 32

You got the HR sorted in time for Street Machine Summernats 32, where it made the Top 10 and won Top Pro Street. How much work did it take to get it to that point?

A lot of painting and polishing, basically. Luckily, I’m a panel beater by trade, so the paint side wasn’t that hard to get done.

But a lot of the car had to be pulled apart, cleaned and polished, with heaps of work that people don’t see. It took around six months of work to resurrect it properly.

The blown six was insanely smooth, featuring a stack of one-off billet pieces and stunning paint. The 4/71 pump was topped with a Garlits hat hiding a 700cfm Holley double-pumper

You did a fair bit of the car show circuit after Summernats; how did that go?

Really good; the car won a bunch of awards and the reaction to it being back was really positive.

After Top 10 at the ’Nats, it did well at Red CentreNATS and the Adelaide Auto Expo, and its last show was Springnats, where it won six awards including Car of the Show before we pulled it apart.

What instigated this current rebuild?

It needed to be updated, and while I could’ve sold it, I wanted to take the next step with it. I’d also been asking the judges what areas I could improve on when I was at Summernats after its refresh.

The interior in particular was a big one for me, so that’s getting done right now and will be a big change from the last version of the car. Heaps of people said the same thing to me about updating the car – even Ditch! He’s all for the changes I’m making, and even wanted me to make more than I’ve planned.

Can you give us a hint about the nature of these updates?

Like I said, the interior will be very different, and that’s getting done right now by Simon Judd at Elite Custom Interiors.

I wanted to keep the blown six like it was, so that engine has been out and refreshed and the car is already running and driving with it. It’ll be more white this time, with bronze with satin grey and a few other things throughout.

How is it tracking for its unveiling in January?

Once it’s back from the interior getting done, I’ll be full swing into the paintwork side of things to get it done in time for the show.

The fact it already runs and drives is a big step, but there’ll still be quite a few late nights.

This isn’t the first old show car you’ve resurrected, having recently revamped the GGHO5T Nissan Silvia (SM, May ’22). What is it about them that appeals to you?

I always believe that with a bit of work and updating, cars like this can hold their own today, which is why I love bringing them back.

People think I’m just looking to save money by buying cars that’ve already been built, but people don’t understand how much work still goes into bringing some of them back and taking them to the next level.

This ute in particular has me really nervous, because it’s been in the Top 10 so many times that I don’t want this to be the time it misses – but with 30 cars being unveiled, it’s a big ask.



3 Most Reliable Lexus Models

While there are a few automotive brands out there known for being reliable, one of the top companies with several durable models in its lineup is Lexus. Which vehicles are the top three for being reliable rides? Why does reliability matter? Lexus logo | Getty Images When you buy a ...

View more: 3 Most Reliable Lexus Models

The Cheapest New Dodge Charger Is a Versatile Sedan Option With One Big Issue

The Dodge Charger offers everything from a sensible V6 and all-wheel drive to supercharged tail-happy sports sedans. Better yet, the cheapest offering in the model’s lineup, the SXT, is versatile and well-suited for daily driving. However, the 2023 Dodge Charger SXT has one glaring issue: it’ll be the last car ...

View more: The Cheapest New Dodge Charger Is a Versatile Sedan Option With One Big Issue

Cheapest New Audi Is 1 of the Best Small Luxury Cars, Says Car and Driver

Audi has a solid lineup of luxury vehicles — with their good driving dynamics, premium features, and attractive designs. Also, compared to some other luxury brands, Audi models are relatively affordable. This includes the 2023 Audi A3 subcompact sports sedan, which is the cheapest new Audi car. Also, according to ...

View more: Cheapest New Audi Is 1 of the Best Small Luxury Cars, Says Car and Driver

GM Just Announced An All-New Small-Block V8 Is Coming

The electrification zeitgeist is in full swing, but gasoline-powered engines won’t disappear overnight. Nor will V8 power, as GM just confirmed a new small-block V8 engine is coming soon. This will be the sixth generation of the legendary small-block V8 that has powered so many Chevy and GM products since ...

View more: GM Just Announced An All-New Small-Block V8 Is Coming

Best car tool kits 2023

Whether you're looking for an emergency set of basic tools or something more comprehensive, a good tool kit can save you lots of stress – but who makes the best?...

View more: Best car tool kits 2023

The Lectron Adapter Will Let You Charge a Ford Lighting at a Tesla Station

Electric vehicle charging ports are mess. Some use one type developed in Europe, others use a Japanese system, and then Teslas use their own. But, what about those who have access to a Tesla charger, but want to charge something else, like a Ford F-150 Lightning? The Ford F-150 Lightning ...

View more: The Lectron Adapter Will Let You Charge a Ford Lighting at a Tesla Station

How Much Does a Nissan Tune-up Cost, and What Do They Do?

Keeping up with your Nissan‘s regular maintenance means you get optimal performance and fewer chances of major breakdowns. With that, you save on fuel costs and significant repairs and avoid the inconvenience of your car breaking down or stalling in the middle of the road. Naturally, tune-ups are a considerable ...

View more: How Much Does a Nissan Tune-up Cost, and What Do They Do?

How Does the New Corvette E-Ray Stack Up Against Hybrid Hypercars?

The new 2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray isn’t just the latest stage in the Corvette’s evolution into a world-class supercar. Instead, it’s a reminder that the latest generation of plastic fantastic can punch well above its weight class. For instance, the new hybrid Corvette is quick enough to compete with several ...

View more: How Does the New Corvette E-Ray Stack Up Against Hybrid Hypercars?

4 Snow Plow Safety Tips When Encountering These Vehicles on the Road

Alpine is Coming to the U.S, but it’s Not Bringing the Goods

What’s the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Towing Capacity?

1990s GMC Typhoon: There’s Never Been an SUV That Can Beat It

Your 2022 Ford Maverick Might Have Faulty Airbags

This Older Porsche Infotainment Upgrade Helps Modernize Your 911 and Cayenne

Only 1 Type of Buyer Should Even Consider the 2022 Jeep Compass

3 Most Common GMC Sierra 1500 Problems Reported by Hundreds of Real Owners

5 Used Cars with the Biggest Price Drops

Incredibly Rare and Awesome Pontiac GTO Judge Sold for $1.5 Million

Is the 2023 Toyota RAV4 Too Old to Keep Up?

Carroll Shelby’s 100th Birthday Honored by Centennial Edition Mustang


Top Car News Car News