Without a hint of arrogance, Laurie Seguna says that most people are "blown away" when they see his MR SIK Holden Gemini up close. Those who aren't must be lying… or clinically dead!
"I reckon I'm going to cause an accident one day because everyone's eyes are just on you. You don't want anyone to come up beside you, keep looking, start swerving and run you off the road, so I'm really cautious."
Laurie Seguna isn't complaining, not by any means. In fact, by now he's quite accustomed to all the attention as the owner of MR SIK, one of the most recognisable cars in the modified scene. The highly-prized Holden Gemini has won nearly every award imaginable and holds its own amongst the big boys.
"I'm probably one of only a handful of four-cylinders competing with V8s at Hot Rod shows," Laurie says. "Winning Superstars in 2008 [Best of Breed: Street Machine] was a big thing for me, especially a four-cylinder competing with street machines."
It all started for Laurie in his mid-teens, when he bought his first car - the very Gemini that he transformed into the showstopper you see among the pages of FreeStyle Rides: "It would've been the early '90s and Geminis were a pretty fashionable car then; there were a lot on the street. They were cheap to buy, reliable and I liked the shape a lot. I started tinkering around in the garage, which gave me the passion for it."
There was never any doubt that Laurie wanted to build something unique that would stand out from the car crowd in Australia. In one of its initial guises — Cobalt Blue paint, white interior and Borbet wheels — he began exhibiting the Gemini at four-cylinder shows.
However, Laurie was truly inspired by the Hot Rod builders in America, particularly the manner in which they strived for perfection and didn't skimp on the details in the process. When Laurie began attending Hot Rod shows he knew he had to take his Gemini to another level. "I thought to myself, 'if I really want to be competitive and go all out, I've got to do something that's completely different'. That's how we came up with the concept of what we've got now."
Laurie admits his Gemini has essentially been in the build process since he first owned it. "I've been paying rego for nothing for the last 18 years," he laughs. "Building cars like mine, you need a lot of money. It takes a lot of patience and a lot of time. My car is not a practical one that you can drive every weekend but I never built it for that. I always knew in my heart I wanted to do it for full-on show and be competitive and that's what I did. There are only a handful of people who are willing to go to the extent that I have."
And because Laurie is part of such an exclusive group of elite car builders, establishing a support network is vital. "It's frustrating, yeah, but I had Owen Webb pull me through the hard times. I'd ring him up and tell him the dramas I was having. He always tried to help me out where he could by giving me suggestions."
To repay Owen's support, Laurie displayed MR SIK at MotorEx. "I was in the 'Superstars of the Decade' series and being invited to that meant a lot to me," he reveals. "Being in that hall with so many quality cars and bikes... it's an awesome feeling seeing your car mingle with the best of Australia. It's getting pretty strong, there are a lot of awesome, way-out cars and it pushes everyone to the next level. It's the best car show in Australia and just seeing your car there is a privilege."
"It's pretty good that [the car] is spinning people out in that way. That's how I know I've accomplished what I wanted to," Laurie proclaims. "I love getting comments, having it out there and people admiring it. That really makes it all worth it, with all the heartache you go through and all the money spent."
No matter which angle you view it from, the comprehensively modified Gemini is a case of sensory overload, even the tidy engine bay.
"I wanted to hide everything and make it look simple. I wanted the engine to look like it's just sitting there with nothing hanging off it that shouldn't be. It's working because we get lots of comments about it not having spark plugs, a throttle body, this and that..." Laurie explains. "Obviously, it's all there. It's just the way a lot of the parts have been hand-fabricated so they're built-in. For instance, the throttle body is built into one of the stainless steel hoses, so no one can really notice and everyone freaks out: 'How the hell does it start?' or 'How does it drive?'!"
Being in that highly competitive mode for years means Laurie stays on top of his game, and not just with his automotive endeavours either.
"Now it's actually showing with my home too. Because I built the car to that standard, every time somebody comes over, I want my house and garden to look spotless," he explains. "I'm so used to being in the show scene and having my car in front of everybody, it feels like everything's on show. It's not a bad thing because I get comments about my house. That's how I like it; the car's the same. You take pride in what you've got; it's the same in your whole life."
Awards and public admiration aside, the biggest impact MR SIK has had is on Laurie's self-belief: "Before I started building my car, I never thought I could've done this. I had no mechanical background whatsoever when I was younger. Just by building my car it's given me a lot more confidence."
House of Kolor Tangelo Pearl and Passion Pearl; House of Kolor orange and silver (with rainbow pearl); pin-striping; pillar-less conversion; roll cage in between the two skins of the roof; roof rolled down 50mm
Custom interior; Classic Instruments gauges
My wife Karen and the kids; my Mum and Dad; Amanda and Steve; Owen and Bruce at House of Kolor and Meguiar's; Joe Webb; Show Wheels; Pioneer; Allan; Matt and Chubby.