FOR over half a century, the Holden Torana has captivated the hearts and minds of Aussie revheads like almost nothing else. And like many of his generation, Adam Nagy’s love affair with Holden’s gutsy little giant-killer can be traced back decades. “I’ve had Toranas and HQs since I was 16, and I’m 45 now,” he says. “Without exaggerating, I’ve owned two or three hundred of them!”
First published in the January 2021 issue of Street Machine. Photos: Chris Thorogood
Despite the extra heft of the Chev motor up front, Adam says the car’s road manners are solid – especially after he dropped in fresh springs, shocks and bushes
One highlight of Adam’s back catalogue was a Holden 355-powered LJ Torana he campaigned in the mid-90s, which reliably put down mid-10s on pump juice and survives to this day in Queensland. “My partner Kim didn’t appreciate doing a few hoops and a fairly lengthy powerskid in the LJ,” Adam laughs. “She won’t get in the car with me now!”
Adam, who is the owner-operator of Tyrepower Melton, snagged this LX hatch from mate and drag racer Matt Forbes in January 2020. “He bought the car about six years ago, but he only drove it a few times,” he says.
Fast Lane Speed Shop’s Daniel Cassar sprayed the car in Holden’s Papaya Orange, complemented with original-style SS body stripes
A considerable amount of work had already been performed on the car when it came into Adam’s possession, including a fresh lick of Papaya Orange paint courtesy of Fast Lane Speed Shop’s Daniel Cassar. Most importantly for Adam, there was a big-block Chev donk already nestled between the chassis rails.
Adam dragged the Torana into the current decade with a set of 17in Weld AlumaStars. Front-runners are 4.5in wide wearing 26x6in rubber, while the rears are 8in wide and shod with 265-wide radials
Installed, engineered and registered in the LX back in the 90s, the 468-cuber (which Adam refers to as a “baby one”) was put together by Simon Hollingworth, chief of Ballarat’s SJH Race Engines.
A 4340 crank is hooked up to H-beam rods, which in turn push SRP forged pistons. Up top, mechanical roller lifters are packed into World Performance alloy heads. A Holley 850 double-pumper carb supplies pump 98 fuel via an Edelbrock Super Victor manifold. The whole shebang is kept firing happily by a full MSD 6 ignition system. Black stuff circulates through a Melling pump, which pulls from a High Energy sump modified to fit within the Torana’s confines.
A fully manualised, forward-pattern Powerglide handles shifting duties, with a transbrake and formidable 5200rpm stall converter. “It’s not an all-out race converter,” Adam points out. “So I can bring it up to 1500 or 2000rpm and just cruise along.” The tailshaft is a hefty custom-made 3.5-inch unit that turns an N-case nodular nine-inch diff with a Detroit Locker and 3.9:1 gears. This was one of Adam’s own additions to the build, put together by Chris’s Differential Services. Power reaches the wheels via 31-spline billet axles, hooked up to HQ-pattern hubs. Stoppers up front are Wilwood four-spot discs, with venerable HQ drums bringing up the rear.
Though it’s yet to see action on a dyno, Adam believes the Chev is spitting out about 750fwhp. The motor previously lived in a ’68 Camaro, which was sent down the quarter to the tune of 10.20 seconds. Now that the mill is in a considerably lighter vessel, Adam is confident the hatch is capable of lazy nine-second passes with some on-track R&D.
According to Adam, wedging a big-block into a diminutive Torana is a surprisingly sedate affair. “Believe it or not, they pretty much just drop in!” he laughs. The original steering arms and knuckles required some tweaking for clearance, and some minor trimming of the front of the chassis rails’ lips was also performed. “With the way this one is set up,” Adam says, “it’s actually easier to change the plugs than it would be with a Holden V8.”
The hatch has no radio, as Adam prefers the dulcet tones of a fat-block Chev. Running a twin 3.5in exhaust system, it’s unlikely he ever had a choice. “It’s a bit noisy, but most real cars are!”
While the bones of the LX have remained largely the same under Adam’s custody, he has added some of his own touches, which he describes as “turning a 90s car into a modern one”. High on the agenda was breaking up the Torana’s monochromatic bodywork. “There was just way too much orange; there was just no other way to describe it,” Adam recounts. “The blackouts and decals break it up really well.
“I’ve redone the interior, too,” he continues. “It was a sort of camel colour when I bought it and it was all wrong.” In its place went period-style Slate and Golf Ball trim, as well as an LX SS tiller. A few performance touches round out the cockpit, including a B&M Pro Ratchet shifter and Auto Meter gauges tucked under the reverse cowl.
Despite owning the hot hatch for barely a year, Adam’s long-time buy-sell MO means he’s already preparing to say adieu. “By the time this magazine comes out, the car will be up for sale,” he promises.
If you’re in the market for an original, unmolested Torana driven only by an old lady on Sundays, this probably isn’t the car for you – but we’ll let what’s printed here speak for itself.
In the meantime, Adam’s already plugging away at another project, a tubbed HQ GTS sedan: “With a pump-fuel fatty, of course!”
1976 HOLDEN LX TORANA
Paint: Papaya Orange
Brand: 468ci Chevrolet big-block
Induction: Edelbrock Super Victor, 850DP Holley carb
Heads: World Performance alloy
Camshaft: 700/720, 268/276
Pistons: SRP forged
Oil pump: Melling high-volume
Fuel system: Holley HP150 fuel pump
Cooling: Copper four-row radiator, twin thermo fans
Exhaust: 21/8in extractors, twin 3.5in system
Ignition: MSD 6 Series
Gearbox: Manualised Powerglide
Diff: 9in, 3.9:1 gears
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: King Springs
Brakes: Wilwood discs (f), HQ drums (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Weld AlumaStar; 17×4.5 (f), 15×8(r)
Rubber: 26×6 R17 (f), 255/60/R15
Dave, Jodie and Dad; Simon Hollingworth from SJH Race Engines; my better half Kim for putting up with me and letting me do what I do; Tyrepower Melton