Building a modified car can be stressful at times, no matter what kind of level you're at or budget you have; for most of us, cars and headaches go hand in hand...
Local enthusiast Shawn Karn can certainly attest to the struggles and complications often faced when taking on a new project, the story behind his VS Commodore 'KARNGE' including many a tale of heartache but thankfully in the end hard work, determination and a little womanly persuasion ensured the happy ending to this latest chapter.
What started out as a stock white BT1 some 12 years ago, Shawn's VS Commodore has seen many transformations and engine combos throughout the years, all built with the same intention however; to destroy tyres..
From a simple, worked V6 combo to an show-stopping air bag-equipped five litre streeter the car's styling and grunt went from boring to ballsy and it didn't end there.
Always looking to go bigger and better, Shawn decided to stuff something a little more impressive under the bonnet and once again give the whole car a makeover.
This next stage in the cars life saw the exterior dressed up with some wild graphics and an angry 355 equipped with an eight throttle injection setup replacing the old 5L donk.
Unfortunately, this new engine combo would cause no end of headaches for Shawn which took its toll on his eagerness to continue to persist with the car.
Behind the scenes, Shawn's wife Loretta could see the heartache he was going through and like any loving wife would do, set out to try and make things right. After sitting down and discussing things, looking back at the good and bad both Shawn and his better half decided to soldier on; go hard and chase the dream no matter the cost!
It was at this time the decision was made to build the cars current engine combo, a blown 400-cube SBC pieced together by local performance engine guru Aaron Hambridge from APM.
Featuring a host of high performance goodies both inside and out, this new methanol-slurping engine would help take the car to a whole new level of tyre shreading potential.
As in the past though, this build would not be without its complications. At the time Shawn's new engine was being finished off the APM workshop fell victim of an elaborate & very publisised break-in which through a big spanner in the works for a lot of people, Shawn included.
The next few years saw Shawn and his wife married, purchase their first house and start a family while the car sat patiently in the shed. Once settled into the new place though, in his spare time Shawn would practically live in the garage working away on the fabrication side of things.
Putting his trade skills to good use, chassis work, larger wheel tubs, a new transmission tunnel and a custom flat firewall was all knocked up at home. As you can imagine it took a fair bit of persuasion to get the massive 20x16 inch Boyd rollers under the rear end but we're sure you'll agree that it was worth the effort!
Once the fab work was completed, the engine installed and all plumbed up with half the Speedflow catalogue by Phill Kergean at Fuel Worx it was time to get started on the bodywork.
For the next few weeks Shawn, with help from wife Loretta would spend quality time in the shed together, rubbing the car back and prepping it for a fresh coat of paint. Things were then left in the hands of Shawn's best mate Stephen Fernandes who laid down several glassy coats of custom PPG black with purple pearl.
The interior of the car also copped a full makeover thanks to Top Auto Trim and Auto Tech with a custom carbon-wrapped sheet metal dash formed up, filled with Autometer gauges and finished off with a cool etched plaque from X-Piggy Customs.
Kirkey seats and 4-point harnesses hold the driver and one willing passenger in place while the car's whipping around the pad, Shawn slapping through gears of the T400 box through a B&M Pro Ratchet shifter.
After a mammoth effort by Shawn, wife Loretta and a handfull of close mates the car was completed by the deadline that had been set for the rebuild and ready to make its competion debut with the new setup at Summernats earlier this year.
At this stage it seemed like all the trouble and bad luck was behind them and it would be smooth sailing and fun times ahead. Unfortunately though as happens with many cars at this level, the first outing didn't go exactly to plan.
After getting off to a solid start to the Summernats tyre-shredding festivities the engine developed an ignition problem which saw Shawn having to leave the party earlier than hoped. Feeling kind of down on himself a fellow enthusiast by the name of Peter Gray stepped in to help out with the car and gave Shawn hope to continue to keep pushing through the teething problems.
The crushing feeling from the lack-luster debut was hard to overcome but with Powercruise just around the corner, it was no time to dwell on the past.
After a few more late nights prepping the car for the event Shawn was excited but once again very nervous. Fingers and toes were crossed, it was now or never.
Come Friday night, day 1 of Sydney Powercruise the ignition problem once again raised its ugly head during the first burnout session, forcing Shawn to pull the pin early.
Determined to not let the issue get the best of him, the car was promptly strapped onto the trailer, Shawn and crew hauling arse first thing Saturday morning to see Aaron at APM who after working some magic, fixed the issue once and for all.
Saturday night back at Sydney Motorsport Park, lined up ready to go there was a good feeling amongst the crew that things were finally going to work out, and boy did they ever!
The car performed faultlessly throughout the session, blazing the tyres like never before; Shawn, his crew and the crowd loving every single minute of it! So too did the judges, awarding KARNGE with the first place trophy.
Through all the hard times and dramas there was still plenty of good times spent with good people and Shawn tells us he's glad he made the decision to keep the car and continue the journey.
So there you have it, a tale full of ups and downs with a happy ending and plenty of tyre karnage as well! Be sure to keep an eye out for Shawn and his bad-arse blown beast at the upcoming Brashernats at Sydney Dragway which is set to be the burnout event of the year! GO HARD mate, show no mercy and let those tyres have it!!
Want to see more of 'KARNGE' and get the full tech run-down? Check out the Feature Photo Gallery HERE