Feature Car: Chris Rossi’s 355ci Holden LC Torana Coupe

24 Jul

Chris Rossi’s metallic purple 355ci stroker Holden-powered LC Torana coupe, looks mean standing still. Chris did a lot of the bodywork work himself. It’s backed by a T350 and a 9in for good measure. It appeared in the July issue of Street Machine.

BUY A SHIRT, PRINT AND MORE!

As always, we’ve got a series of FREE desktop wallpaper images for you to enjoy. Simply CLICK HERE or on the thumbnails below to visit our Flickr page where all the goodies lay in wait for your visit.

Chris Rossi's 355ci Holden LC Torana Coupe

Chris Rossi's 355ci Holden LC Torana Coupe

Chris Rossi's 355ci Holden LC Torana Coupe

Feature Car: Dave & Sarah Cowie’s HJ GTS Monaro

24 Jul

David and Sarah Cowie’s pristine LS-swapped Holden HJ GTS Monaro was given a small feature in the June issue of Street Machine magazine. With a clean LS1 Conversion, flawless interior and a tough stance, it’s a largely home-built affair and the paint is to die for – a job David also handled himself.

BUY A SHIRT, PRINT AND MORE!

As always, we’ve got a series of FREE desktop wallpaper images for you to enjoy. Simply CLICK HERE or on the thumbnails below to visit our Flickr page where all the goodies lay in wait for your visit.

Dave & Sarah Cowie's HJ GTS Monaro

Dave & Sarah Cowie's HJ GTS Monaro

Dave & Sarah Cowie's HJ GTS Monaro

Feature Car: Adam Cleary’s 427ci 1957 Buick Special

11 Jul

Some cars take a while to be truly ready for a photo shoot. For Adam Cleary’s incredible, air-bagged and big-block powered 1957 Buick Special, that period was a little over two years from the first time I called him to the morning we did the photo shoot. When you do a build this extensive, sometimes there are just some niggling issues that take time to resolve. I like to think the wait was worth it. It was featured in the June 2018 issue of Street Machine.

BUY A SHIRT, PRINT AND MORE!

As always, we’ve got a series of FREE desktop wallpaper images for you to enjoy. Simply CLICK HERE or on the thumbnails below to visit our Flickr page where all the goodies lay in wait for your visit.

Adam Cleary's 427ci 1957 Buick Special

Adam Cleary's 427ci 1957 Buick Special

Adam Cleary's 427ci 1957 Buick Special

Adam Cleary's 427ci 1957 Buick Special

Feature Car: Jason McGrath’s 355ci Top 20 Elite Holden LC Torana

10 Jul

My photo shoot on Jason McGrath’s 355ci, Summernats Top 20 Elite, Holden LC Torana was featured in the June 201 issue of Street Machine magazine, which was on sale last month. It’s an immaculate little coupe, with detail for days.

BUY A SHIRT, PRINT AND MORE!

As always, we’ve got a series of FREE desktop wallpaper images for you to enjoy. Simply CLICK HERE or on the thumbnails below to visit our Flickr page where all the goodies lay in wait for your visit.

Jason McGrath's 355ci Elite Top 20 Holden LC Torana

Jason McGrath's 355ci Elite Top 20 Holden LC Torana

Jason McGrath's 355ci Elite Top 20 Holden LC Torana

Jason McGrath's 355ci Elite Top 20 Holden LC Torana

Feature Car: Beauchamp Family 1960 FB Holden ‘WILDFB’

02 Jul

The Beauchamp family’s incredible 1960 FB Holden phantom coupe appeared in the June 2018 issue of Street Machine. It’s not every day I get to shoot something that is so comprehensively modified as this. From the chop top and two-door conversion, to the one-piece flip front and twin-turbo Lexus V8 – it’s one crazy beast. And the execution is flawless.

BUY A SHIRT, PRINT AND MORE!

As always, we’ve got a series of FREE desktop wallpaper images for you to enjoy. Simply CLICK HERE or on the thumbnails below to visit our Flickr page where all the goodies lay in wait for your visit.

Beauchamp Family 1960 FB Holden

Beauchamp Family 1960 FB Holden

Beauchamp Family 1960 FB Holden

RAT CAT: Paul Lonergran’s incredible DIY 327ci Phantom ’28 Dodge

28 Jun

Paul Lonergran's Insane 1928 Dodge Rat Rod

RAT CAT

Paul Lonergran’s incredible 327ci phantom ’28 Dodge is a snake-belly-low rat rod that sets the bench mark for all others to follow – and does it cheap
Words & Pics by: www.hoskingindustries.com.au

Paul Lonergran's Insane 1928 Dodge Rat RodWe’ve run some bloody cool rat rods in our time here at Heavy Duty Hot Rods. Rat rods, when built to their true ethos of remaining cheap, encouraging parts scrounging and making rodding fun and hassle free, can really test a builder’s skills of sourcing and repurposing old bits and pieces into something new and exciting.

Sure, there have been some instances over the last decade of guys building big dollar ‘rats’ with the look of a rat rod, but offering mod-cons. We’ve even seen a fibreglass mid-’30s rod repainted to look like it was rusty. But the best rat rods will always be the ones that have risen from the pile of rusty parts that have been wasting away at the back of the shed.

For 39-year-old Paul Lonegran of PTL Fabrications on the Central Coast of NSW, building a rat rod hadn’t seriously entered his mind until someone planted the seed. “Well, actually a guy called ‘Black Plug’ inspired me to build this,” Paul says. “He asked me at a club meeting if I had anything to do with hot rods. As I’d been around rods all my life and have owned more than 20 cars over the years, I decided to build this to shut him up.”

Having previously owned and built a number of cars including a 1961 Studebaker, ’36 Terraplane and a couple of ’37 Ford coupes, Paul was no stranger to vintage tin. And as you may have guessed from that list, he’s no stranger to old cars that are just a little bit different.Paul Lonergran's Insane 1928 Dodge Rat Rod

This here low-slung rusty bucket definitely falls into the different category. Paul tells us the body – hand fabricated by Paul – is meant to represent a 1929 Dodge. From a few metres back you’d be forgiven for thinking it might actually be some original chopped, channelled and sectioned vintage tin. But get closer and you’ll see the square tube frame underneath onto which Paul bent up the steel body panels before coating them in red oxide primer and scallops.

Behind all the surface rust and corrosion is a plethora of parts from Paul’s apparently extensive collection of goodies that he says he’s had gathering dust for around 18 years. Indeed, when quizzed on the final price of the build project, he smiles and tells us it came to a grand total of $42.

Paul Lonergran's Insane 1928 Dodge Rat RodPaul’s rat is powered by a 327ci small-block that Paul rebuilt himself using the stock crank, Carillo rods and Arias pistons. With a static compression ratio of 11.8:1 when squeezing the AVGAS against the ported cast heads, it’s no slouch, providing 480fwhp to this light weight go-kart.

This is backed by a T350 and HQ Holden Salisbury rear end with steep 4.44:1 gears. We’d be surprised if the rat was ever able to get traction on those old Goodyear stock car slicks with a combo like this.

Look inside and you’ll find the epitome of Spartan cockpits. Considering it’s always open to the weather and the interior of a rat rod, it’s probably for the best. But just look at it: custom buckets fabricated from a 60L drum, rusty custom instrument fascia with vintage gauges and decaying Anglia steering wheel and column.

“Installing that Anglia column and wheel was probably one of the highlights for me,” Paul says. “I used to sit in one and steer it when I was four years old with my grandfather.”

With an insane completed cost of under $50 and a build time of just two weeks, Paul certainly stuck it to old ‘Black Plug’. And with a trophy for Best Rat Rod at the 2010 Taren Point Rat Day as further vindication, who can argue that this is one of the coolest rats you’re likely to find?

VEHICLE: 1928 Dodge (phantom)
OWNER: Paul Lonegran
BODY: Hand-built cab, red oxide primer, pin striping, scallops
ENGINE: 327ci SBC, stock crank, Carillo rods, Arias pistons (11.8:1 compression), Thompson rings, ARP mains studs, ported cast heads, stainless valves, Isky springs, Corvette rocker covers, Offy breathers, Isky solid cam’, solid lifters, chrome moly pushrods, Crow 1.6:1 rockers, Melling oil pump, custom sump, custom pulleys, 1946 International radiator, 850cfm Holley, Holley intake manifold, Bosch coil, modified Chev’ dizzy, Holley fuel pump, Reg Rocket ‘Hillbilly’ headers
PERFORMANCE: 480fwhp
TRANS: T350, 4200rpm stall, manualised
DIFF: HQ Holden Salisbury, 4.44:1 final drive, 1-piece tail shaft, LSD
INTERIOR: 1949 Ford Anglia steering wheel and steering column, custom seats made from 60L drums, custom instrument fascia, vintage gauges
SUSPENSION: “Suicide steer, Ford style”, front transverse leaf spring, Monroe shocks, rear leaf spring
BRAKES: Deleted front brakes, HQ rear drums
WHEELS: 13x5in Holden front steel wheels, custom 15x9in rear steel wheels, Goodyear Stock Car Special rear tyres
THANKS TO: Shacko

CLOCKWORK ORANGE: Simon Grima’s Phantom FE Holden Ute

28 Jun

Simon Grima's FE Holden

CLOCKWORK ORANGE

Simon Grima created this incredible one-off ute from a $500 sedan shell and 20 years worth of spare parts
Story and Pics by hoskingindustries.com.au

Simon Grima's FE HoldenSimon Grima’s 1956 Holden FE phantom ute is proof that you don’t need to spend the earth to take home trophies. This Vermillion Fire two-door has won over 25 awards since he finished the build back in 2006; including five People’s Choice awards. He also took out the top gong at the very first ute muster he attended in 2010.

Yet for all the plaudits and praise, Simon has only spent around $25,000 bringing what was once a $500 wreck back from the brink.

“The vehicle was purchased off a customer that wanted it out of his shed,” starts the 39-year-old mechanic and proprietor of Bonnyrigg Tyres & Mechanical in Sydney’s southwest. “It was just a sedan shell with enough parts to build two cars, including a HR front end. I paid $500 for the lot.”

The enormous pile of parts joined Simon’s existing enormous pile of parts for a few years until the creative bug hit. “One day I decided the shell would make a great learning project to practice MIG welding,” explains Simon.  “So, I started to build a ute out of the sedan shell, knowing it would give me a challenge with no intention of building a real car out of it.”Simon Grima's FE Holden

Using only a tape measure and a ‘good eye’, Simon went about cutting and shutting bits and pieces of the panel work. After a few weeks Simon thought the project was really starting to take shape, but his welding hadn’t improved. “I spoke to a real welder at one point who told me that because I was welding outside, my MIG shield gas was being blown away causing messy welds,” Simon remembers. “So I built a shed and the welding started to get better.”

It was at around the same time that Simon’s mates started suggesting that his go-nowhere welding project could in fact make a pretty good work truck. “Before I made the decision to get too deeply into making the FE a real car, I approached an engineer,” says Simon. “He said it wasn’t a problem if I stuck to his instructions – which were contained within a 30-page report and a bill for $2000!”

Simon Grima's FE HoldenWith a new goal in his sights, Simon set to work more seriously on the FE and work progressed steadily. “When my mates used to come over my wife would tell them that I was in the shed with my second wife. That’s how much time I used to spend on it,” exclaims Simon. “Whenever anyone would ask me when it would be finished, I’d tell them Christmas. They’d always ask which Christmas! To everyone else it was a nightmare project and I wanted to do everything myself.”

Indeed, Simon did prove himself a very capable and handy guy to have in the shed over the course of the FE’s build. Not only did he perform much of the body fabrication (helped by paint and panel guy Jason Dean), but he also built pretty much everything else as well. This included the chassis mods and fitting the injected 5L.Simon Grima's FE Holden

Originally from an HSV SV89, Simon sourced the engine from eBay with 180,000kms on the clock. It sits within the tight little engine bay thanks to Simon’s handiwork fabricating engine mounts, steering rack mounts, cross member modifications and building a custom sump from three other pans. “I used a dummy 308ci block during the construction process,” says Simon. “I used a VH Commodore rack that’s rear mounted. It needed very little modification to work properly.”

The 304ci injected motor copped minor performance mods in the form of a Crane 286 cam’, ported throttle and Chip Torque MEMCAL and it’s backed up by a VP T700 auto’ that’s been fettled with a stage-2 kit and B&M 2500rpm stall. Being a custom install, the tail shaft came in for some modification and it feeds torque into a 100mm narrowed VN diff’ that still uses its 3.08:1 gearing.

Simon’s FE sits nice and low, achieved through the use of the HR front end that came with the original mountain of parts. Up front you’ll find the setup completed by King springs and Monroe shocks while out back the leaf sprung rear has been modified by reversing them and removing a leaf. Simon made up custom coil-overs by using modified Nissan Pulsar struts and front HQ shocks. He also strengthened the chassis to cope with the weight and power of the V8, at the same time rigging up some larger tubs that now house 17x8in VX SS alloys.

Simon Grima's FE HoldenIngenuity and resourcefulness are themes that run through this entire build and you’ll find more of it inside where Simon has used a plethora of factory parts and some creative vision to build a sweet interior. VQ Statesman leather buckets provide the seating while he steers with a HZ Monaro tiller. Fresh grey carpets and velour roof linings complete the look, together with a neat custom centre console trimmed in matching grey leather and featuring a few VX Commodore parts like the shifter surround.

“On its maiden voyage to the 2006 All Holden Day the ute was suffering a major fuel problem,” Simon remembers. “Upon further investigation we found that a wasp had decided to make my fuel tank home while it was in storage. So, after putting fuel in the tank and making mud of its nest and eggs, the filter clogged and staved the car for fuel. The car survived and I even won a trophy!”

Simon is right to be proud of his FE. It has been a huge undertaking that he’s completed with primarily second hand parts and stuff he’s had lying around from decades of collecting bits – not to mention all the work he completed with his own two hands. “The only things that were redone were the chrome work, door trims and roof lining,” confirms Simon. “I tried to recycle everything. I suppose that makes it environmentally friendly – recycling old parts.”

Owner: Simon Grima
Model: 1956 Holden FE
Colour: Ford Vermillion Fire
Bodywork: Phantom ute style
Engine Type: SV89 304ci 5L
Engine Mods: Crane H286 hydraulic cam’, Crow timing chain, custom modified sump, Chip Torque MEMCAL, VT engine covers, JP oil pump, twin thermo fans, ported and polished throttle, pod filter, ported and polished intake, alloy radiator, Bosch external fuel pump, modified Triumph PI fuel tank (behind seats)
Power: 200fwkW (268hp) claimed
Exhaust: VR Commodore cast exhaust manifolds, twin 2in mild steel system, twin cats, 2x high-flow mufflers
Gearbox: T700, B&M 2500rpm stall, stage-2 kit, modified tail shaft
Diff: Modified VN Commodore, 3.08:1 final drive
Brakes: HZ front calipers, VN rear calipers
Suspension: HR front end w/King springs and Monroe shocks, Modified rear leaf springs, custom rear coil-overs, VH Commodore steering rack, chassis strengthening
Wheels/Tyres: 17x8in VX SS rims
Interior: HZ Monaro steering wheel, VQ Statesman seats, custom centre console, Smiths gauges, grey carpets
Other Mods: Relocated battery, 100mm widened wheel tubs
Stereo: Sony head unit, DVD screen
Build Period: 7 years
Cost: $25,000
Thanks: Bonnyrigg Tyres and Mechanical, Jason Dean (paint and panel), Turbo Exhaust Systems, ACA Transmission Services, Hi-Torque Trucks, Bosnjak Engineering

SMOOTH CRIMINAL: Chad Darke’s Smooth 336ci EH Holden Ute

18 Jun

Chad Darke's EH Holden Ute

SMOOTH CRIMINAL

A long list of subtle refinements makes Chad Darke’s inky blue EH stroker one slippery character
Story and Pics by Ben Hosking

Chad Darke's EH Holden UteBesides the 48-215 and FJ, there’s no more an iconic Holden model than the EH. Even today, almost 50 years since the introduction of the EH range, they remain as popular as the 260,000 they manufactured between 1963 and early 1965.

It’s no wonder then that Holden lover Chad Darke scoured the country for the right basis for his next automotive project back in 2005. “I rang my mate to see if he’d come with me to check out a car,” the 37-year-old electrician from Sydney relates. “I didn’t mention it was in Tasmania! We flew down there the next morning and started haggling.”

Once Chad had settled on a price, it was time to get the ute home and instead of throwing it onto a transporter and taking the easy route home, Chad and friend jumped in and headed north. “I asked the seller about fuel economy,” Chad says. “He said it was good for 10km/L and it was supposed to have a 100L tank, so I filled it up in Victoria and we set off for home. Somewhere between Yass and Goulburn the car started to splutter… out of fuel in the middle of nowhere!”

“Here I am waving my Jerry can around furiously trying to hitch a ride when a guy that resembled Ivan Milat picks me up. He took me to the nearest town and after a tense trip I got some fuel and found my way back to the car safe and sound.”Chad Darke's EH Holden Ute

With that fateful trip home behind him, Chad could breathe a sigh of relief and get stuck into the build up. Over the course of the next five years, the old EH would be transformed into a sleek, modern interpretation of the classic Holden, but not without the odd headache.

“Dealing with panel beaters and relying on other people’s conversion kits that didn’t fit were probably some of the hardest parts of the build,” Chad explains. “I ended up finding a good panel guy though.”

He’s not lying either – the finish on Chad’s EH is pristine and includes some choice body mods that really smooth the old girl out. For starters, the door handles and locks were shaved off. Given that Australian rules require a mechanical method of opening front doors, Chad replaced the handles with short metal rods poking up out of the top of each door. However, whereas most similar conversions work by being pushed down or lifted up, the mechanism on Chad’s doors works by gently pulling the rods toward you. We gave them a go and they worked effortlessly.

Chad Darke's EH Holden UteAnother huge visual improvement came via the deletion of the front quarter windows. With full one-piece glass inserted into the doors, it looks far more modern and further simplifies the exterior aesthetic. With an aviation-style fuel filler replacing the factory door, the modern iteration of the EH is almost complete – perhaps finished off most notably by the venerable Simmons FR18s.

Having a nice-looking ute is one thing, but without the proper mechanical motivation it’s little more than BBQ rice: all show and no go. Surely the old six-banger was never going to cut the mustard and Chad swapped it out for a Holden 5L.

Based around a Kingswood pre-EFI block, Alan Bruni built up a nice offset-ground 336ci stroker motor that is updated with a pair of VN EFI cast heads. It’s a relatively mild affair with an HSV hydraulic cam’, unported heads and a 650cfm Holley on top. While power is untested, the combo has pushed the ute to a 13.8sec ET in full street trim; and as they say, a 14sec street car is nothing to sneeze at.Chad Darke's EH Holden Ute

Chad shifts gears through a T5 5-speed and there are more Commodore parts to be found out back, with a VN Borg Warner running 3.45:1 gears and an LSD centre. Check each corner and you’ll find VT-spec’ discs on the nose and VN discs in the rear.

The sweet combination of old and new continues inside where the cabin has been decked out with timeless black leather and suede. Premier buckets provide an iota of more lateral support than a bench, but it’s the Autometer dash, Sony stereo and Momo wheel that helps bring the old girl into the present day.

With a ute as cool and contemporary as this in the shed, many would be happy to rest on their laurels and take a break, but Chad has more plans under way. “I’ll probably end up putting a bigger stroker kit into it,” Chad starts. “It’ll also cop a bigger stainless fuel tank,”

Bring it on!

Owner: Chad Darke
Model: 1963 EH Holden
Colour: PPG Midnight blue
Bodykit: Aviation-style fuel filler, deleted door handles and locks, deleted quarter windows
Engine Type: Holden V8
Engine Mods: Offset-ground 336ci stroker conversion, 5.7in small-journal Chevrolet rods, ACL Larry Perkins pistons and rings (10:1-comp’), ACL bearings, VN cast heads, polished rocker covers, HSV hydraulic cam’, Yella Terra roller rockers, double-row timing chain, high-volume oil pump, High Energy sump, Davies Craig thermo fan, 80A alternator, PWR alloy radiator, 650cfm Holley DP carb’, ceramic coated Torque Power intake manifold, adjustable FPR, K&N air filter, Bosch HEI distributor, Bosch EA Falcon coil, wiring hidden, Carter fuel pump, braided lines, custom bonnet hinges
Power: Untested, 13.8sec @ 98mph
Exhaust: Custom stainless headers, twin 2.5in into single system, single stainless muffler
Gearbox: T5, heavy-duty 10in single-plate clutch
Diff: Narrowed VN Commodore Borg Warner, 3.45:1 final drive, LSD, Cortina tail shaft
Brakes: 300mm VT-spec’ rotors and calipers, 278mm rear discs, VN calipers, front braided brake lines, VN master cylinder, VN V8 booster
Wheels and tyres: 18in Simmons FR rims (7in front, 8in rear)
Suspension: HR front end, King front springs, Pedders shocks, reset rear leaf springs, custom sway bars, LH Torana rack and pinion conversion, modified EH column
Interior: Momo steering wheel, EH Premier buckets, black leather retrim, custom Autometer instrument cluster, custom door skins, black carpets, black suede roof lining
Other Mods: Battery relocated
Stereo: Sony head unit and speakers
Build Period: 5 years
Cost: $44,000
Thanks: Pioneer Plating, M&S Johnson, “Tony Wellington for the timber tray; Jeffrey Smith for the machine work; Terry Edwards for engine balancing; Ray and Warren for the great panel and paint and my wife for putting up with us.”

BRUTISH BRIT: Stefan Niceski’s Salt-Flat-Inspired 1954 Triumph Thunderbird

18 Jun

Stef Niceski's 1954 Triumph Thunderbird

BRUTISH BRIT

Stefan Niceski spent two year’s worth of Saturdays and a million beers building this ultra cool Salt flat-inspired Trumpy
Words and Pics by hoskingindustries.com.au

Stef Niceski's 1954 Triumph ThunderbirdOld British bikes have really made a resurgence in popularity over the last few years. With the popularity of Harley-derived bobbers and choppers showing no signs of abating – and the cost of parts and base bikes staying high as a result – it’s no wonder people are looking for alternatives when constructing cool rides.

When you see some of the awesome bikes we’ve been lucky enough to capture on camera in the last few issues, it’s no surprise people are going for the humble Brit machines. One such advocate is 35-year-old Sydneysider Stefan Niceski.

You may remember the Trumpy we featured last issue belonging to Stuart Torkington. The two guys are mates and we were lucky enough to shoot both on the same day in the wonderful environs of 1349 Venice: a cool function/event space in Waterloo. At the time of our shoot, Stef’s bike hadn’t even been started.

Formed from a 1954 Triumph Thunderbird frame, you can imagine that its beginnings were less than auspicious, as Stef explains. “I found the frame in an old man’s green house,” Stef says. “It was surrounded by growth, including some tomatoes.”

Incredibly, Stef found the engine in another shed and with both primary components in place; he devised his plan of attack. “I thought I d fuse the two into some type of ‘Triumph Frankenstein vintage drag/salt flat sled’,” he says.Stef Niceski's 1954 Triumph Thunderbird

We reckon he’s nailed that design objective in superb fashion, but it didn’t happen overnight or by using all the factory components. “The build took me two years of Saturdays and quite a few beers,” Stef says. “I reckon she looks alright.”

Taking the original frame as the basis for the build, Stefan fabricated a custom rigid rear half, extending the length of the bike and helping it to ride lower in the process. To this he added XR250 front forks and exaggerated the low stance by bolting the handlebars on down low.

Up top, a Harley Sportster tank provides enough capacity for extended cruising while retaining the bike’s minimalist aesthetic. When it came to finding an oil tank, Stef got clever and modified a nitrous oxide tank before chroming it. About the only other appendages you’ll find bolted to the brilliant metallic blue frame is the custom seat and diminutive rear guard/shroud that Stef was responsible for as well.

Stef Niceski's 1954 Triumph ThunderbirdPower comes from that barn-find Bonneville 750 we alluded to earlier. At first, the engine was mistaken for a 1975-vintage unit, which is how the bike came to wear ’75’ on the tank (it’s reversed on the side of the bike we shot it from). “It was meant to represent the ’70s engine and ’50s frame, but it turned out the engine was actually from 1982,” Stef says. “It looked cool, so I left it anyway.”

That ’82-vintage engine runs a few choice upgrades in the interests of making more power – not that it needs a whole lot of grunt thanks to its light weight. Twin AMAL carbs mix the air and fuel, using little more than twin ram tubes for an intake. A Joe Hunt ignition sets fire to the mix and a pair of 1.75in straight pipes make a huge racket, wrapped in gleaming new exhaust wrap for that purposeful race bike appearance.

With full rego due to be applied to the bike shortly after our shoot, one of its first big voyages was the 2012 Taren Point Rat Day, where crowds flocked to it and mate Stuart’s ‘Skinny’ golden beast. Successfully mixing up the vintage vibe, Stef’s ’75’ is a crowd pleaser and we’re not surprised.

Owner: Stef Niceski
Bike: 1954 Triumph Thunderbird
Builder: Owner
Bodywork: Custom hard tail, custom mounts, 1985 XR250 front end, Bates head light, clip on bars, Baxter grips, custom Triumph pegs, custom seat and rear shroud, Harley Davidson Sportster tank, modified nitrous bottle oil tank, modified turn signal tail light
Engine: 1982 T140 Bonneville 750, Joe Hunt ignition, AMAL MK11 carbs, straight stack intakes, 1.5in chain drive, custom 1.75in straight pipes
Gearbox: 5-speed, stock clutch
Wheels: Front – 21in XR250 front rim, Avon tyre – Rear – 16in Harley Davidson rim, Avon tyre
Brakes: Disc front, drum rear
Thank you: Sovereign Classics, Sydney Custom Spray Painting

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.”