My Own VE Commodore was first purchased by WA’s leading LS based tuner (Daniel @ Chipmaster Performance) back in 2007 shortly after the new model came out. During his ownership the vehicle had seen a few upgrades in the way of multiple otr’s, diff ratio’s, exhaust & headers etc than ultimately the “maf-less” option became available for the E38 ecu (the engine controller) the car featured in a few articles of Perth Street Car during these upgrades and was promoted as “Project VE“.

It had ran multiple & various times @ the drag strip to a low 12.0 on the original stock/cam’d motor with 17″ et street’s. (which was backed up during my ownership)

Come late 2008 I purchased the vehicle off Daniel with around 50k km’s. Mods at the time consisted of:
SQP Spec’d 224/228 Comp Cam & Pac 918 Valve springs
Double Row timing chain upgrade with ls2 cam chain guide
CSV Mafless OTR
Difillipo 1 7/8″ 4-1 long extractors, 3″ cats and dual 3” xforce exhaust
Maf-less tuned along with the 6L80 tcm tuned to suit.

In Early 2009 the first mod I installed was a Circle’D Stage 3 3600rpm convertor. Which really woke the auto up, but launching on street tyres became almost impossible thanks to the stalls ability to flash to 3000+ rpm off the line.

Factory on Left. Circle’D on Right

During the convertor installation, I also took the time to flush the transmission fluid with some new Kendall Dexron VI and replaced the trans filter. Once the convertor was installed it required many changes to the lockup points and shift speeds. I often went weeks before making a change, some times I would be making multiple changes in a single day.

New Torque Convertor installed

I also thought it prudent to remove the trans cooler lines from the radiator and installed a rather large/obnoxious oil cooler as a bit of preventative maintenance shall the internal trans cooler portion of the factory radiator ever leak and to be honest I believe it does very little in aid of cooling, thanks to the engine’s constant 90~92 degree coolant temps. (even higher with the factory tune!) After installation of the trans cooler, temperatures were lucky to ever climb over 70c.

Designed as an RX3 oil cooler, I used it for the trans. Temps were brilliant!

Physical Size is a major difference between the stock and new convertor along with additional lock up plates/material giving it superior holding capability. The selling point at the time was circle’d advertising that they dared you to break it and run it locked at wot. Which isn’t such a bad call, when it’s highly likely the clutch packs will let go long before….(as I’ve found out, but we’ll get to this much later.)

Anyway, on with the show… The VE was my daily driver doing a round trip of 100km’s a day to my place of employment for nearly 4 years including a trip to the Pilbara. In that time it gained a Harrop HH122 Supercharger Kit and associated fuel upgrade. I had that on for about 6 months before removing it and putting the kit on my VY ute and fuel upgrade on my brothers VE for his twin turbo setup, but 4 Months later I put the blower back on & went a different path for the fuel system upgrade.

Suffice to say, the car just didn’t feel quick after I removed the blower, even though it was still capable of flat 12’s @ 116~118mph. 🙂

To cut a long story short, the original motor/trans copped an absolute flogging on a weekly basis whether it was being used at the drags, on the dyno for tuning, motor khanna events or the occasional street race… eventually something had to let go and surprisingly it was the motor.

I put it down to the tune for the engine as over the period of a few weeks, I had been leaning out the fuel mixtures as I had been running a water/meth injection system to help keep the intake temps down and consistent along with a nice boost in power.

However it took a cold night at Wanneroo raceway with much denser cold air & low methanol/water tank for it to melt the ring lands on cylinders 6 & 8. However during installation of the new engine I noticed that the fuel line from the aftermarket pump setup I use was able to be squashed closed, which would limit flow to the injectors. This was resolved by bending some metal around the pump module and resulted in the tune for the bigger motor using smaller numbers for the fuel map. A sure sign of a flow restriction.

Weirdly enough there were no physical marks or damage to the cylinder bores or heads of the original motor upon strip down. In fact the engine ran perfectly fine over the coarse of the night and that week to work even taking full boost load, the only tell tale sign was a rather loud tick and a bit of excessive blow by from the pcv (Positive crank ventilation) system.

In fact here’s a video of it idling (the give away was the louder than normal sewing machine sound):

Mirror Image Pistons

Nice Clean Pistons for 132K km’s. Yes that is the compression rings at the top left of each piston. All the other pistons were fine upon inspection.

While the block appeared to be in good order and just requiring a hone for some forged pistons, it was found that one of the cylinder walls had gone out of round and could not be corrected with torque plate honing. So it was unable to be re-used on the rebuild (though it’s still capable of receiving some darton sleeves one day ;-).

Go to History Page for the continued story.