Darren Mallison put his V8-powered ’83 Corona sedan to the test at Drag Challenge 2016


ENGINE swaps are part of street machining heritage, and we saw quite a few examples of 2016’s coolest conversions at Street Machine Drag Challenge this year: GM/Holden LS V8 and all-Aussie Ford Barra turbo twin-cam six re-fits into full-freight Falcons and Holdens.

Toyota Corona V8 2But there were also some more adventurous heart transplants, such as Paul Mulcahy’s twin-turbo and supercharged Commodore V6-powered 1958 Austin Lancer, and Max and Jake Edwards’s LS-powered Corona wagon.

Toyota Corona V8 5Add another Corona V8 to the list of crazy conversions – the rumbling Chev-powered red ’83 sedan that Darren Mallison and his brother Mick brought over from Mount Barker, South Oz.

Toyota Corona V8 6“I bought the car about six years ago from Tony Webb – Webby – in Brisbane,” Darren said. “It already had a V8 in it – in fact, this car has been V8-powered for most of the past 30 years!”

Toyota Corona V8 8It’s had a Val 318 in it for most of that time, but for the past decade it has been Chev-powered. Darren arrived at Drag Challenge this year with a gassed and E85-fuelled 414-cube small-block. Built with stacks of help from Brett at Gawler Mechanical (who campaigned a silver HT Holden at Drag Challenge), the engine was built with a Dart block and Brodix heads CNC-ported by Frank Intini. The 13:1 compression burns the E85 quite nicely after it has been fed into the Super Victor intake by a 950cfm Quick Fuel carby.

Toyota Corona V8 10“It turns a few heads!” Darren laughed. “People hear the rumble and they look for a muscle car – they don’t expect to see a Corona! That’s what we like about it – it’s fun and unexpected.”

Toyota Corona V8 7The ’box is a Powerglide with a 4800rpm converter, and behind that there’s a nine-inch fitted with 3.89 cogs. The Corona retains its factory-style four-link suspension, but with tweaks. The coil-overs and a fat anti-roll bar were set up by CK Racing Developments to allow the mid-size 1980s family runabout to hook up straight and even. It’s been mini-tubbed and the chassis rails are notched a little to allow a 10-inch slick to fit. The Ford rear drums and early Commodore front discs are game enough to pull the car down from nearly 240km/h once every few minutes at the drags. The rear slicks – and the 150-shot of giggle gas – meant Darren was in the Turbosmart Outlaw Blown class for Drag Challenge.

Toyota Corona V8 9“You look at the videos and it launches really nice,” Darren said. “Before the anti-roll bar went in, it used to really twist up.

“It sits on the highway at three grand at 90km/h, so we’re only putt-putting around in it. I think we used about 600 litres of E85 juice for the week – it’s not a fuel-economy run!

Toyota Corona V8 3“We had the best time,” he said of his Drag Challenge odyssey. “Every time we talk about it we start smiling again! Almost nothing went wrong all week – we were turned back from the startline once for a drop of water; one nut on the water pump backing plate needed a half-turn to tighten it.

“Our best was a 9.37 at 145 at Swan Hill. The startline there is awesome. It was a bit bumpy in patches but that didn’t affect us.” Darren echoed many others when he concluded: “I’ll be back!”