Video: Aiden Stampalia’s WRECKAGE LX Torana at Summernats 35

Aiden Stampalia built his LX Torana in record time to take on the pad at Summernats 35

Photographers: Shaun Tanner, Tim McCormack

Aiden Stampalia is no stranger to a last-minute Summernats build. A few years back, Aiden, Anthony Page and a couple of other good mates pieced together a farm-find HJ wagon and roadtripped it from Perth to Canberra for Summernats 32 – a 7000km round trip!

For Street Machine Summernats 35, Aiden fronted up with possibly his wildest creation yet: this 6/71-blown, LS-powered LX Torana. While Aiden didn’t drive the car there this time, the last-minute thrash to get it there was properly cool stuff.

The 1976 LX sedan was originally bought new in Bali, before making its way back onto Aussie soil in the hands of one of Aiden’s mates. That meant when Aiden bought it, he got an LX with plenty of free ventilation. “The whole floorpan was basically rotted out, but because I planned on building a whole chassis for the car, I didn’t care anyway,” he said.

Aiden did exactly that, completely re-engineering the guts of the Torry from the ground up. “I built the full chassis myself, and I fabricated everything new down to the radiator panel,” he said. “The only Torana bits that remain are the roof, door frames and rear quarters; the rest I made myself.”

He completed a bunch of the fab work earlier on before shoving the car in storage until around August last year. At that time, he realised that if he was going to get the Torana to the ’Nats, he’d have to start cracking the whip, so he kicked the build into high gear.

Fast-forward to the week of Christmas and Aiden’s plans took a nasty turn. The Dodge NASCAR engine that was destined for the Torana lunched itself on the engine dyno after something loose went through it. “I thought that was us all over when that happened, but my mates wouldn’t let me give up that easily,” he said. “A mate of mine said he’d let me borrow the LS1 out of his VU ute, so that’s what’s in it now with the 6/71.”

The car was painted just nine days out from the leave date for ’Nats 35, and as the deadline drew closer, more curveballs kept getting lobbed the team’s way. “We found out just a few days out from leaving that we needed a bonnet and exhaust to do any cruising, so we hacked up some Pacemaker exhaust bits for what we now call the ‘piecemaker’ exhaust, and found an old bonnet with a blower hole that we painted last-minute,” Aiden explained.

That bonnet was painted on New Year’s Eve, and the boys didn’t hit the road from Perth until 2am the Monday morning of ’Nats week, driving through the night to make it to Canberra in time for Aiden to take his place in the Burnout Masters Last Chance Wildcard Shootout on Thursday afternoon.

Despite the mad rush to get the car done, Aiden said the Torana performed perfectly all weekend. “I caught fire in the Shootout, which obviously cost me, but the car itself ran mint all weekend, with no issues,” he said. “It has no real insulation, so it filled with smoke quickly, and for some reason it turns one way when I’m on brake on the pad. But other than that, it was perfect.”

Aiden scored a place in the Burnout Championship final later in the weekend, and he has much bigger plans for the Torana for next year’s ’Nats.

“It obviously got a bit burnt in the rear over the weekend, but the plan now is to go right over it, paint the underside and hopefully get it in the Top 60 in the show hall next year,” said Aiden. “We’ll go through and refine the car and get that Dodge NASCAR engine in it as well.”