Andrew Baumgartner’s turbo L76-powered HB Torana

Andrew Baumgartner’s HB Torana combines big tyres and budget grunt to make one nasty Drag Challenge machine

Photographers: Chris Thorogood, Shaun Tanner, Noah Thorley

There’s just something to love about big meats stuffed under what was originally supposed to be a small economy car, which is what makes Andrew Baumgartner’s angry HB Torana so damn cool.

Andrew’s little HB has been extensively modified to fit the 315/60R15 Radial Pros it runs in kill mode, giving the rear of this thing an awesome stance. “It was built to be a big-slick car, and I bought it sight-unseen as a roller from the internet back in 2021,” says Andrew. “I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, just a small Capri-like car to run sevens and do Drag Challenge, and then this popped up.”

First published in the January 2024 issue of Street Machine

All the chassis work and rollcage had already been tackled by Matt Marsh at Pro Street Industries in Wollongong before Andrew purchased the car. “The rails, tubs, arches and all that had already been done for big tyres, so I just had Pazzo at PSIDUP Fabrications do a firewall and tunnel to suit the Powerglide,” Andrew explains.

In terms of grunt, the core package in the HB is a pretty simple one. An unopened 6.0-litre alloy-block L76 from a VE Commodore sports nothing other than a VCM camshaft and basic valvetrain upgrades, and takes around 20psi of boost from the GTX5009R Gen II turbo. “It still has the 230,000km-old bearings in it and the standard oil pump; it’s about as stock as you can get for this power,” says Andrew. “We’ll build a banger motor for it soon, but the goal is to run a seven on this one first if we can. I don’t have the biggest budget like a lot of blokes, so it’s about doing more for less.”

The whole car was thrown together in just six months, debuting at Powercruise Sydney. “Even though it was like fitting 20kg of stuff in a 10kg bag, it was one of the easiest cars I’ve built,” says Andrew. He cut-and-shut a pair of KillaBoost exhaust manifolds, while Power Logic Racing took care of the fabrication for the cooler piping, using a Plazmaman water-to-air intercooler. “It’s a big space-saver, because I didn’t want to cut up the front of the car,” Andrew says.

Other neat bits include the Edelbrock intake, Haltech Elite 2500 ECU and the ballsy Preston Automatics Powerglide. “It made 600rwkW [805rwhp] on the rollers, wheel-spinning with three blokes sitting on the back, but I don’t really care about dyno numbers – just what it runs at the track,” Andrew declares.

The HB copped a few outings at Heathcote, with a PB of 8.35@165mph, before Andrew threw his hat in the ring for the Turbosmart Outlaw Blown class at Drag Challenge 2023. “Our goal was obviously to get through the week, and run an 8.50 average if we could,” says Andrew.

Day One at Tailem Bend saw Andrew nail his target, handing in an 8.57@162mph. A road trip east for Day Two at Mildura’s eighth-mile yielded a 5.47@133mph, before an arduous route south in 30-plus-degree heat to Heathcote Park Raceway. “As soon as we left the track, we saw temps over 100 degrees [Celsius] for the engine, so we had to wait for the sun to go down and take it easy,” he says. “It was a bloody hard week for us on the road; we didn’t get into each track until 2am most nights.”

The boys struggled with grip on Day Three at Heathcote, nabbing just a 9.16@164mph.

With racing at Portland on Day Four rained out, a coastal road trip took us back up to Dragway at The Bend for Day Five. Andrew was acutely aware that a seven could be on the cards on the brand-new surface, and an 8.16@160mph earlier in the day looked promising. “Unfortunately, after that one, we just couldn’t get it to hook again,” he says. “It’s all part of learning a fresh chassis.”

Despite his trials at the 2023 event, Andrew reckons there’s still a seven in the Torana, and he’s determined to test the theory at the next DC: “I’m keen-as to bring it back for the next Drag Challenge and hopefully grab one of those red hats!”


Type:6.0L GM L76
ECU:Haltech Elite 2500
Turbo:Garrett GTX5009R Gen II
Heads:Standard rectangle-port
Camshaft:VCM SC5
Gearbox:Preston Automatics Powerglide
Diff:9in, 35-spline, 3.7:1 gears
Rims:Weld AlumaStar; 15×4 (f),15×12 (r)
Rubber:Nankang 165/80R15 (f), Mickey Thompson Radial Pro 315/60R15 (r)

Chris at Race Wires; PSIDUP Fabrications for the tunnel and firewall; Andrew and Con at Preston Automatics; Max and the guys at Power Logic; Pedders Campbellfield; Matt Marsh at Pro Street Industries; Speed Pro; the previous owner Matt Hearn, who dragged the car out of a paddock