HOME-GROWN HERO: Adrian Coulter’s 380rwhp 6/71-blown LJ Holden Torana

18 Jun

Adrian Coulter's LJ Torana

HOME-GROWN HERO

Adrian Coulter’s 6/71-blown LJ Holden Torana is a true home-built masterpiece that almost cost him everything
Story and Pics by Ben Hosking

The stories behind some performance cars almost write themselves and those vehicles are usually home-built. You just can’t create the same texture, depth and interest with a cheque-book build that’s simply spent months in and out of workshops. Sure, put two cars next to one another and they might look the same; but you can be sure the journey the home-built car took to get to the finish line will be a whole lot more interesting than the workshop car.

Adrian Coulter's LJ Holden Torana33-year-old Novocastrian Adrian Coulter has spent the last nine years building this incredible Viper Blue LJ coupe (this is actually its second build) and except for that glowing blue suit, he’s completed everything himself in the shed at home. “The car won awards for Best Paint and Best Interior at the 1998 and 2000 Toranafest events,” says Adrian, a qualified panel beater AND mechanic. “After that I took the car home and stripped it back down to a bare shell. It took nine years to get from there to here.”

It’s hard to believe that a Torana this straight and highly detailed could have once started out as such a wreck – just as it did in 1995 when Adrian first bought it. “It was in primer when I bought it,” says Adrian. “I was told it just needed rubbing back and painting, but when I got it home and went to open the passenger door, it fell off!”

Things went from bad to worse once Adrian started rubbing the panels down, finding all manner of damage. Eventually, the casualty list included two sill panels, the rear beaver panel, two floor pans, the front valance and plenty of other poorly repaired dents and damage. “It took 15 months just in bodywork,” explains Adrian. “It was a never ending story, but worth the effort in the end.”

Fast forward to the second build and Adrian pulled out all the stops, creating an LJ with more attention to detail than most big dollar builds can muster. From tip to stern there isn’t a square millimetre of this car that hasn’t been massaged or tricked out in some way.

Up front, the engine started life as a 1990 304ci injected 5L, no doubt powering a VN Commodore or some description. Adrian rebuilt it himself using the factory crank with A9L rods and simple ACL Race Series pistons, rings and bearings. The rotating assembly does enjoy some additional support in the form of ARP mains studs and a girdle which is a good thing considering he’s forcing eight pounds of boost down its throat.

Unbelievably, Adrian was the first guy to ever lay eyes on that shiny GMC 6/71 supercharger. “Starting the motor with the blower on it was definitely one of my favourite moments in the build,” says Adrian, smiling with the thought. “I was the first person to open the crate with the 1959 blower in it. It still had the metal packing straps around the box and everything.”

It was a doubly exciting moment considering it was Adrian’s first blown engine – one that also features ported cast heads and a sturdy valvetrain using plenty of Crow parts. While the car hasn’t been on a dyno, Adrian reckons the twin-carbed beast is making around 380hp at the treads with plenty of fuel left in the mix to make sure nothing breaks – except tyres.Adrian Coulter's LJ Holden Torana

This is all backed by a worked T400 using a B&M 2800rpm stall and stage-2 kit before twisting torque through a 3in thick-wall tail shaft and on to a 9in that Adrian narrowed and braced; filling it with VL turbo 28-spline axles, 3.5:1 gearings and a mini spool. He also tubbed the rear end to the chassis rails, relocating the shock mounts and boxing the control arms.

In fact, the suspension at both ends is pretty custom, including a Hadfield Chassis kit, strengthened upper and lower front control arms and a full set of Nolathane bushings. With an LJ V8 steering conversion, King springs and Monroe shocks, the car handles like a dream and very unlike a car of its vintage. “Setting the diff’ angles and geometry was probably one of the hardest parts of the build,” says Adrian. “Well that and saving the money to build the car without losing my wife.”

In all, the car took three bank loans, all Adrian’s spare cash and almost his marriage to complete – but he didn’t give up and neither did his missus. “I have to thank my wife for her patience and support,” says Adrian. “She’s been amazing.”

Adrian has no other plans for the LJ other than to drive and get some enjoyment out of his hard work. Indeed, in order to fly under the radar as much as possible and not end up defected off the road; Adrian is contemplating a life without the blower – something he planned for when building the engine. If you look closely you’ll see a custom plate between the carbs and the blower which allows Adrian to remove the pump and simply refit the carbs to the blower manifold for quick and easy swaps. Although he has considered selling it all.

“I’d consider selling it for the right price,” says Adrian. “I don’t really want to, but it’s time to start thinking about the family.”

What a legend.

Owner: Adrian Coulter
Colour: Dodge Viper blue
Bodywork: GTR flutes, rear wheel arches stretched, rolled guards
Engine Type: 1990 304ci V8
Engine Mods: Modified oil galleries, ARP head and mains studs, stud girdle, A9L rods, ACL Race Series pistons (8.5:1-comp’), ACL rings and bearings, ported cast heads (flow around 550hp), stainless valves, K-Line valve guides, Chev’ LT1 valve springs, Crow retainers, alloy catch can, Crow hydraulic cam’ (112˚ LSA), Crow lifters and pushrods, Yella Terra 1.65:1 roller rockers, double-row timing chain, JP high-pressure low-volume oil pump, High Energy sump, alloy oil cooler, 2x 10in thermo fans, 4-core Statesman radiator, 65A alternator, billet engine pulleys, 2x 600cfm vac-sec Holley carbs, GMC 6/71 supercharger (8psi), K&N air filters, Mallory distributor, Bosch coil, Holley fuel pump and adjustable regulator, 60L RCI fuel cell, custom alternator bracket, custom carb’ mounting plate
Power: Approx. 380rwhp (283rwkW)
Exhaust: Heat wrapped custom tri-Y headers (1-3/4in primaries), twin 2.5in mild steel system
Gearbox: T400, custom oil coolers, B&M 2800rpm stall, stage-2 shift kit
Diff: Smoothed and detailed 9in, VL turbo axles, 3.5:1 final drive, mini-spool, 3in thick-wall tail shaft
Brakes: HQ front discs, HQ rear drums, Falcon master cylinder, VH44 booster (mounted under dash), new custom brake lines
Suspension: Strengthened upper and lower front control arms, new ball joints, King front springs, Monroe shocks, boxed and shortened rear control arms, custom rear shock mounts, custom diff’ bracing, LJ V8 steering conversion, Nolathane bushings, Rod Hadfield chassis kit, Commodore trans’ tunnel, custom rear top shock mounts
Wheels/Tyres: 15in Weld Draglite rims (6in front, 10in rear)
Other mods: Mini tubs to rails, battery relocated, custom boot enclosure
Interior: Custom black velour trim, Monza front buckets, Monza harnesses, 12in silver Momo tiller, custom roof lining, black carpets, B&M Quicksilver shifter, aircraft switches, restored factory gauges, rebuilt column, HR blinker arm, stamped alloy glove box insert, modified hand brake, ancillary gauges, 4-point alloy cage
Stereo: JVC CD player, Kicker power amps, Sony 6x9in speakers, MTX rear 6in splits, 2x 12in Sony subs
Build Period: (2nd build) 9 years
Cost: $55,000
Thanks: Bow’s Mufflers – Broadmeadow, “My wife for her patience and support throughout the build; my parents for all their help. Also my mates Ben, Big Dan and Dave for all their help. Without them the car would still be in the shed unfinished and gathering dust.”

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