I DON’T need a crystal ball to foresee the influx of readers’ letters, angrily proclaiming that Louis Younis’s blown, tubbed, ’caged and outrageously tough LJ Torana coupe is not a street car. But whether you like it or not, ours has been an outlaw counterculture ever since hot rodding evolved from moonshine-running almost a century ago, and the reality is that this car has been built in equal parts for street and strip duties.
First published in the May 2021 issue of Street Machine
That’s going to upset some people and make others grin like mad bastards. I recall grinning as I watched Louis’s dad Tony trundle down Sydney’s M4 motorway in his blown and injected, eight-second Anglia a few years back, so I suppose I fall into the latter category. I also suppose that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and bad-arsery runs deep in the Younis family DNA.
“A lot of this obsession started from Dad,” Louis confirms. “He was the first person to put in our heads that you have to have the baddest, craziest car on the street.”
Louis’s brother Danny also rolls in a tubbed, blown and injected streeter – a Capri that we featured in the December 2014 issue of SM, and which Danny expertly pilots as one half of the Blown Outlaws burnout team. So yeah, the Younises have got form.
This isn’t Louis’s first build, either. Not by a long shot. There’s been a bunch, including a tubbed, turbo LS-powered VK (SM, Mar ’18), but the pride of the fleet is undoubtedly his gorgeous LC GTR (SM, Apr ’12) – also tubbed and blown, but fitted with a howling Holden red six-pot and more focused on show than go.
“I love Toranas, especially pro street cars. And after the PHAAT six-cylinder Torana build, I decided I needed a race car in my life,” says Louis. “I bought this Torana in 2014 from a guy that had a single-turbo small-block Chev mocked up in it. It was originally Paul Bourchdan’s green RAT400 car, which had already run low nines and was a great base to start with.”
Louis had the car painted in straight black tinter by Pauly’s Restos and rebuilt by Wayne Grima at Grima’s Garage, who buttoned it up with the staunch nitrous small-block out of Brad Zammit’s PROGAS LC. With that combo, the car ran into the eights on its first full pass on only one kit, but soon thereafter it came crashing back down to earth after a massive wheelie that caused the engine to lose oil pressure, pick up a bearing and eject a rod.
Louis’s ultimate goal for the car was to compete at Street Machine Drag Challenge, and with the event looming in 2015, he bought a cheap-and-cheerful 383ci crate motor off a mate and slammed it in. It ran bottom 10s on Day One, but Louis got greedy with the giggle gas at Portland and junked the poor, defenceless crate engine as a result. A frantic Gumtree search turned up a mild 350 for sale locally, which the boys swapped in at the track, enabling them to see out the event. A monster effort, which scored Louis the trophy nobody wants to win – the Hard Luck Award!
“After Drag Challenge, the Gumtree motor was sold and the car sat for four years,” says Louis. “My dad built another motor for me with second-hand bits that I had collected, then we put that motor in the car with the blower and hat in 2019. Then it sat still while I tinkered with other cars and had more kids!
“In October 2020, Paul, Charlie and the team at ProFlo Performance took the car on and pieced the puzzle back together to turn my dream into reality.”
The finished product is fearsome to say the very least. The blown-and-injected look was important to Louis, but the car needed to be streetable and low-maintenance. With that in mind, the lads at ProFlo went to extraordinary lengths to convert the car to EFI while maintaining the mechanical look. “I wanted to mimic the mechanical injection to a high level, and I’m confident the majority of people will never pick it,” says Louis. “I even had a K-style barrel valve custom designed with a TPS built in!”
The JBR carbon hat houses a Joe Blo EFI set-up, powered by a Haltech Elite 2500 ECU. The ignition side is managed by the Haltech and fired by an MSD magneto for proper pro street vibes. The blower is a 14/71 Mooneyham perched atop a Newby manifold, which is affixed to Brodix heads. The engine weighs in at 377ci and features a Callies crank, Oliver rods, JE slugs and a custom solid-roller camshaft. It made over 800hp at only 5500rpm while torching the tyres on JEM’s chassis dyno just before our shoot, so you’ve got to imagine it’ll be good for four figures once fully sorted.
The fabrication side of things – and the engineer’s certificate that goes with it – was completed many moons ago, and the car has all the hardware required to proceed in a straight line very rapidly indeed. It’s been tubbed to accept 15×13-inch Weld wheels shod in steamroller-esque 29x15x15 tyres, despite the slammed stance. The full-floating 35-spline nine-inch is suspended in a custom four-link with Strange coil-over shocks, and is required to pass tech for the high seven-second zone, which is where Louis hopes the car will eventually end up.
“It will take a more serious long motor, but the end goal is to drive the car to the track, run in the 7.80s or 7.90s and then drive home,” he says. “But for now, the first thing that comes to mind is street duties to local car shows, Powercruise events, and as many no-prep, off-street style events as I can get to. That’s where I want to start, but Drag Challenge is something I need to do again with this car; I have unfinished business there. Maybe I’ll give it a crack next year.”
We’d dearly love to see a car this wild take on Drag Challenge, and we reckon Louis might just be crazy enough to do it.
1973 HOLDEN LJ TORANA
Paint: Straight Black
Brand: 377ci small-block Chev
Induction: JBR carbon hat, Joe Blo EFI, Haltech Elite 2500 ECU
Blower: 14/71 Mooneyham, Newby manifold
Camshaft: Custom solid-roller
Fuel system: MagnaFlow pump
Cooling: PWR radiator, Spal thermo fans
Exhaust: Custom, with Hooker mufflers
Ignition: MSD magneto
Gearbox: Hughes Powerglide
Converter: Neal Chance 5500rpm
Diff: 9in, floating 35-spline axles
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: King Springs, Koni shocks
Rear: Four-link, Strange coil-overs
Brakes: Wilwood discs and calipers (f & r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Weld; 17×4.5 (f), 15×13 (r)
Rubber: 26x6x17 (f), 29x15x15 (r)
My wife and kids for their patience and support of my passion; my father and my brother for their support and motivation; Wayne Grima at Grima’s Garage; Pauly’s Restorations; Paul, Charlie and the team at ProFlo; Gizmo’s Auto Electrics; Dean Sammut; Dom Ursino; Jason Mansweto at Mansweto Racing; Al at Al’s Race Glides; Mouse at Rocket Industries; Craig Burns at SCF Race Cars; Bobby at Competition Engines; Adam at JEM; Steve at Alltrim