Posts Tagged ‘car’

RED DEVIL: Les Chadwick’s 355ci Holden LX Torana Hatch


21 Aug

Les Chadwick's 1976 LX Holden Torana

RED DEVIL

Meet Les Chadwick’s interpretation of the classic Aussie hatch back
Story and Pics by hoskingindustries.com.au

Les Chadwick's 1976 LX Holden ToranaIt’s easy to understand why so many people lust after the LX Torana hatch. Thanks to its motorsport background in this country and that fact that history occurred in the wonderful years prior to the mind-numbing parity of the V8 Supercars when racers piloted vehicles much more similar to the road-going versions, anything even part-way resembling the legendary A9X tends to get pulses racing.

Even though Sydneysider Les Chadwick has always loved Toranas, this gleaming LX is actually the 56-year-old’s first. “I’ve previously owned a twin turbo Hilux, Datsun 720 ute, Holden tonner, an HR, XD Falcon and an XY Falcon ute,” Les says. Clearly, Les a man of varied tastes.

The LX has come a long way since Les purchased it back in 2005. There hasn’t been a single nut, bolt, washer or gasket that hasn’t been turned, replaced or recoated and the results show in these photos. At the heart of it all is the stroker Holden; based on a VT-era 304ci block and filled with a 355ci COME Racing stroker kit.Les Chadwick's 1976 LX Holden Torana

The VT blocks are generally considered the pinnacle in the Holden design and Les’ combo runs a solid roller valvetrain operating within a set of heavily ported cast VN-style heads. All the air enters the engine via the 750cfm Mighty Demon and a Redline dual-plane intake. Power is untested at this stage, but as we learned during our photo shoot, the car has no trouble turning the 10in-wide Convo Pros.

Les says that the completion of the flawless Brilliant red bodywork was one of his most memorable moments during the build, and with good reason: it looks fantastic. “Just being able to show everyone what all the hard work had been for was a real defining moment,” les says.

Painted by Bathurst Paint and Panel, the flanks of the car show no rippling, no dents and no signs of the car’s 30-odd years of existence. Contrasted by Les Chadwick's 1976 LX Holden Toranathe traditional blackouts, the red really stands out, but it is a colour that isn’t going to date like the latest flash-in-the-pan fad.

Les has achieved a similar level of timelessness with his treatment of the interior as well. It mixes the classic primary architecture of the LX cabin with some more modern parts and styling to create a place that’s fresh and updated without feeling – or looking – weird.

Up front you’ll find some aftermarket reclining race seats. These and the rest of the cabin has been decked out in some soft leather with red stitching to match the paintwork outside. With a modern steering wheel and the addition of some Autometer gauges, Les sits pretty in a cockpit that grabs your attention with its subtlety and cleanliness as opposed to whitewash of tan leather and billet that is likely to date a few years down the track.Les Chadwick's 1976 LX Holden Torana

Luckily for Les, the build up of the Torana went pretty smoothly. “About the biggest problem I had was that my shed was too small,” he says. “There are no further plans for the car at this stage other than to enjoy it.”

Whatever the case, Les has the pleasure of cruising around in one of the nicer LX examples we’ve seen lately, bristling with attention to detail and packing all the right hardware to allow him to do just about anything his heart desires; whether it be long trips, drag racing or just going to the shops. What more could you ask for?

Owner: Les Chadwick
Colour: Brilliant red w/blackouts
Bodywork: A9X, painted bumpers
Engine Type: VT Commodore V8
Engine Mods: 4-bolt mains, COME 355ci stroker kit (10:1-comp’), ported cast heads, Crow solid roller cam’, Yella Terra rockers, double-row timing chain, High Energy sump, twin thermo fans, 3-core radiator, Gilmer belt drive, 750cfm Barry Grant Mighty Demon, 76A alternator, 8in K&N air cleaner, electronic distributor, Earl’s fuel filter, billet throttle linkage, braided lines and Speedflow fittings, alloy catch can and radiator overflow, Redline intake manifold
Power: Untested
Exhaust: Hurricane 4-into-1 headers (1-7/8in primaries), twin 2.5in mild steel exhaust, Hooker mufflers
Gearbox: T400, 3000rpm stall, ‘stage-2’ kit
Diff: 9in, 3:1 final drive, LSD, 31-spline Mark Williams axles, 3.5in double-wall tail shaft, tail shaft loop
Brakes: HZ front rotors and calipers, HZ rear drums
Suspension: HZ front shocks and springs, 26mm rear sway bar
Wheels/Tyres: 15in Centerline Convo Pro rims (8in front, 10in rear)
Other mods: Mini tubs
Interior: Black leather trim w/red stitching, front race seats, black carpets, B&M shifter, Autometer gauges, sports steering wheel
Stereo: Pioneer head unit, Sony Xplod rear 6x9in speakers
Build Period: 4 years
Cost: Undisclosed
Thanks: Walker Race Engines, Gary Campbell Auto Electrics, Active Automatics, KCDR Drivetrains, Bathurst Paint and Panel, Blue Chrome, Craft Diffs, “My wife Kim for all her support and patience and also to Sarah and Jake”

DEVIL’S ISLAND: Matt Sharp’s chopped, channelled and sectioned Model-A Ford Tudor


14 Aug

Matthew Sharp's 1930 Model-A Ford

DEVIL’S ISLAND

Devil’s member Matt Sharp’s bitchin’ chopped, channelled and sectioned ode to the heyday of hot rodding leaves us all hot and flustered
Words & Pics by: www.hoskingindustries.com.au

Matthew Sharp's 1930 Model-A FordThere’s little dispute that hot rodding’s heyday took place in the decades of the 1950s and ’60s. Most of the important innovations we still rely on today were developed in these years by ingenious and often crazy fabricators here and in the USA.

Names like Roth, Barris, Jon Kosmoski, Gene Winfield and so many more forged the way for builders at all levels to tinker with their tin in sheds all over the world, setting a pretty clear stylistic path while they were at it. While styles changed over the ensuing decades, the new millennium has seen a distinct shift back to the aesthetic ideals of the early days and 29-year-old Matthew Sharp’s 1930 Model A tudor is an excellent case in point.

Looking like something from a 1964 issue of Car Craft, this HOK Tangerine candy metal flake sled may look like some serious coin has been lavished on it, but it actually started as a budget build. “It started as a budget build and it stayed that way,” Matt says. “We built it to drive and have fun in.”Matthew Sharp's 1930 Model-A Ford

While you’d never know it now, the project actually began with a dented and damaged steel 1930 tudor body and rails. The car still retains both today. “The sides were pushed in, the doors were rough but it was a cheap start,” Matt says.

Having previously built a Commodore ute “with all the usual bling” and tinkering with jacked up 4X4s, this build was to be Matt’s first foray into rodding. Luckily for Matt, he had some exceptional assistance in the form of his father-in-law, the inimitable Tony Webster from Webby’s Speed Shop in Carrington, Newcastle NSW.

What you’re looking at now is actually the second iteration of the project, with the first being decidedly more ‘rat’. With the ethos of having fun and doing it cheaply, the undercoat and rust aesthetic worked perfectly for Matt, who drove the chopped and channelled tudor for a few years before hauling it off the road for a quick respray. “When we first finished it, we drove it from Newcastle to Philip Island via the Princess Highway for the Kustom Nationals, then drove it home again,” Matt says. “We started off pretty tentatively, but after we got past Sydney it was pretty relaxing. We figured if anything was going to go wrong, it would have happened by then.”

Matthew Sharp's 1930 Model-A FordRiding on the car’s original rails, the Model A is snake-belly low thanks to the 5in chop and 5in channel job. The car uses a classic combination of parts to achieve the desired results, like the torsion bar suspension, super tall 16in Firestone white walls and super furry, stark white faux fur trim. However, the driveline is a little different, using a Holden V8 with triple Strombergs in place of the usual small-block Chev’. This is then backed up by a T5 5-speed manual.

No matter where you look on Matt’s tudor, you’ll be greeted by a large amount of cool detail. Peek inside and check out that awesome instrument cluster housed within the headlight bucket or perhaps the cabin-mounted Moon fuel tank from the 1950s. Outside, dig on the cool recessed tail lights or the centrally-located exhaust pipes exiting through the lower part of the cabin behind the number plate. If that wasn’t enough, you gotta love the Mooneyes logos plasma cut into the sun visor or the beer bottle top pressed into the radiator grille. And you can miss all the excellent pin striping courtesy Smith Concepts.Matthew Sharp's 1930 Model-A Ford

“You know, I think if I were to do it all over again, I’d probably not repaint it like I did,” Matt says. “I had more fun in it when it was still a rat.”

As it is, Matt is looking to sell the tudor on to new owners for less than you could build it for yourself. He tells us it’s time to pay some money of the house and start work on a new project; no doubt with the help of Webby and the rest of his Devils club mates. We can’t wait to see it!

NOTE: If you think Matt’s Model-A looks familiar, it’s because it was later sold to Kyle at Smith Concepts, who turned it into this CLICK HERE

VEHICLE: 1930 Model A Ford
OWNER: Matthew Sharp
BODY: Steel tudor body, 5in chop, 5in channel, frenched tail lights, custom tonneau roof, plasma-cut Mooneyes motif in visor, House of Kolor Tangerine candy over metal flake
ENGINE: 308ci Holden V8, stock crank, stock rods, ACL 40-thou’ pistons, cast heads, Chev’ LT1 springs, Crane hydraulic cam’, high-volume oil pump, shortened Model A radiator, 3x Stromberg carbs, custom intake manifold, mechanical fuel pump, genuine 1950s Moon fuel tank, steel fuel lines, custom exhaust
TRANS: T5 5-speed, Exedy heavy-duty single-plate clutch, custom long-arm shifter
DIFF: Borg Warner, 2.89:1 final drive, LSD
INTERIOR: Moon steering wheel, custom bomber front seats, white faux fur trim, 1968 Dodge Phoenix speedo in Diamond T headlight bucket, factory dash, long-arm shifter, white vinyl trim on seats
SUSPENSION: Torsion bar front and rear, hot rod front shocks, spring car rear shocks
BRAKES: Commodore front discs, Falcon rear discs
WHEELS: 16in steel rims, Firestone white walls
THANKS TO: Webby’s Speed Shop, Hamilton Chrome, Tidy Trim, Joel Butcher, Shlong, Corey, Tony Bidner, my wife Nicole and her mum Sharyn, Smith Kustoms for the pin striping and Webby for everything

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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.”

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.”