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Ford and Holden fans show their true colours

There's nothing like good, friendly Aussie rivalry. And since the 1960s, the one played out on the racetrack, which has in turn spread to suburban driveways, has attracted some very passionate and dedicated fans on either side of the fence. It's none other than the Holden v Ford debate, pitching mate against mate, car against car.

From a young age, many car fans choose a side and stick with it. Most wear their team insignia advertising their choice from head to toe.

But then there are those who are best referred to as the 'more extreme' fans.

Take Dave Kahila and Bob Pupovac, for example. Both have spent about $100,000 and endless hours transforming an average car from their favourite brand into a masterpiece.

And both will put their cars on display at next weekend's MotorEx for the first time.

For Kahila, not only did he know where his loyalties lie from a young age, he also knew exactly what car he wanted and needed to show off this allegiance.

As a teenager, Kahila was full of envy when his cousin bought his dream car, a VK Commodore. Kahila continued to pester his cousin for more than 10 years, making his intentions well known.

“I said one day, `I'm going to own that car'; he would say, `Yeah, yeah, whatever'. And now I've ended up owning it,” Kahila says. “He wanted to build it himself, but kept putting it off.

“It sat in the garage for about five years. Over coffee, I said, `Sell me the car'. He said, `All right'. I think he just got sick of me asking,” he says.

And with the car finally in his possession, Kahila then enlisted the help of his younger brother, Paul, and the pair got to work.

“We stripped every nut and bolt, every panel, every door, paint stripped it, supercharged it, put a nine-inch diff on it, tubbed the back ... it was a full custom restoration,” he says.

“Ever since I was a kid that was my dream to have a blue VK Commodore.”

This is the third car Kahila has restored, and the one he lists as the best. While he bought the brown car on his own for $5000, he has now given half of the ownership to his brother for all his help on the project. He estimates the car would be worth between $50,000 to $60,000, despite the extra money he spent restoring it.

But to him, it's priceless.

And when examining the extravagant nature of it, it's clear this isn't your daily driver.

Kahila says he mainly takes it out on the weekends and is often greeted with some fairly scared responses, especially from the noise.

“They freak out, it turns heads big time.

They really get scared, it's so loud.”

And it's not just kids with this reaction. Kahila says it's “kids, dogs, grown-ups, everyone, all the time”. Kahila may be proud of his car, but that doesn't mean he'll be embarking on another one any time soon.

“I'm not allowed to do anymore,” he says, mentioning the house he is in the process of building. "I have got two kids, I've married recently, there's just no time for them (the cars). My wife hates it.”

Kahila also says that he's not prepared to spend the huge amount of money that is needed with a new project.

However, that doesn't mean he has completely finished this one yet. “Once I've finished the house, I'm planning to strip it and do the underneath, make it a full proper showroom car. I want to go that little bit extra.”

While he's a Holden man, Kahila is one of those rare fans who doesn't mind Fords as well. But when it comes to V8 Supercars and the car he loves to own, he always has his Holden hat on.

Over in the other corner is Bob Pupovac.

There's no sitting on the fence at any time for this self-described “Ford freak”.

“I've always loved them, always, the shape of them, and they're quicker,” he says.

Pupovac became a Ford fan at a young age, and says it's a bit of a mystery as to why he fell in love with the blue oval. “One of my uncles has always been into drag racing,” he says.

However, Pupovac says his father always drove a Ford, although wasn't really a big car enthusiast. And like Kahila, he's turned his dream car into a reality. His is in the guise of a 1981 Ford Fairmont XE ESP — the very first car he purchased 11 years ago, at just 18 years old.

He says he paid $5500 for it and spent the first five years cruising around in it as his daily driver.

But Pupovac knew it had a lot more potential.

“About seven, eight years ago I pulled the car down to a bare shell,” he says. “I've added a supercharger, fuel injection, airbags, suspension, a roll cage, 20-inch wheels, I could keep going on forever but that's probably the main ones.”

Pupovac, who co-owns a Bridgestone Tyre Centre, completed the restoration in stages with his business partner. He still plans to spend another $10,000 on brakes and suspension.

“I love doing it, it's like a hobby,” Pupovac says.

He gets a similar reaction to Kahila when he takes the car out. “People freak out, they can't believe the size of the engine and wheels.

“I plan to drive it a bit more about and I'm going to race it as well,” he adds.




Engine: 355 cubic inch with supercharger, 500kW at the motor 328kW at rear wheels

Value: $50,000-$60,000



Owner: Bob Pupovac

Engine: 408 cubic-inch Cleveland, 395kW at the wheels

Value: $60,000-$80,000



Where:  MotorEx

When: next weekend June 30 - July 1

Where: Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush

More than 50 Ford and Holdens, plus more than 500 hot rods, street machines, performance and classic cars, exceeding $60 million in value.



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