383 Holden V8-powered 1975 LH Torana

A tough Holden V8 makes Mark and Jody Wilson’s lovingly restored Torana sedan get up and boogie

Photographers: Amber Wilson

YEAR 12 student Amber Wilson wrote the following yarn and took the photos for us as part of a school assignment. She gives us the lowdown on her parents Mark and Jody Wilson’s killer LH Torana.

MARK and Jody Wilson’s 1975 LH Torana has undergone a complete ground-up, nut-and-bolt restoration. Mark bought the car in 2000 from its original lady owner (you know the story – only driven to church on Sunday). It was a complete, untouched body with very little rust, and the only damage was on the rear lower quarters where the lady had misjudged the gatepost a few times while heading out the driveway.

Wrapped in cracked and sunburnt Persian Sand paint, the car was running a nana-spec 202 and T-bar auto, but Mark and Jody immediately plotted a V8 swap. A mechanic by trade, Mark did the engine rebuild himself, with Jody by his side. A 308 from an HQ Statesman was sourced from the local wreckers, and then Mark performed his magic. A 750 HP Holley sits high and proud on the COME inlet manifold, flowing down to the COME 600 Series alloy heads and matching crank, which has woken the old girl up from a 308 to a lovely crisp 383.

Power reaches the rear rubber via a Supra five-speed W58 ’box, which is currently feeling the pinch and is soon to see an upgrade. The original factory banjo diff has been beefed-up and jammed full of goodies like a reinforced housing, solid pinion spacer, Truetrac centre and billet 28-spline axles.

The brakes are now upgraded thanks to a HQ and Wilwood disc set-up on the front and Commodore discs on the rear, while spark comes from an ICE two-step system.

While Mark has modified every inch of the car, he spent many hours (and many more re-dos) to ensure the car looks as factory as possible. People spend plenty of time trying to spot all the mods and slight changes that have been carried out.

Getting the interior sorted was a real feat. Mark had the whole interior stored at Nan’s garage across town while the car was sent away for panel and paint in nearby Bathurst. Unfortunately, Nan’s shed burnt down, so all those extremely rare interior pieces were lost forever. It took Mark and Jody a few years to track down replacements for all the lost parts, but once everything was in order, Wayne from Street Trim delivered a pristine interior with a classic but updated look, complete with extended vertical-stitched seats and matching trim. Mark opted to have an original gauge cluster recalibrated and restored – no aftermarket monster gauges here – and his keen eye for detail went right down to the gearshift pattern emblem on the console lid, which copped an upgrade to show the now five-speed pattern in the original font; not many people have picked that slight change. You certainly won’t find any audio gear lurking under seats or hiding in the glovebox –why would you want to drown out that heavenly roar of the 383 at full scream?

As mentioned, panel and paint were done in Bathurst by the amazing Scott Schumacher, who put his heart and soul into the car. Mark had his heart set on a custom orange paintjob, but at the last minute, Jody, who just loves Holden Atlantis Blue, opted for a similar but slightly tweaked blue with the help of Scott, his painter and Paul from PPG. Mark’s not disappointed about the colour change, as it better suits the factory resto.

As for rolling stock, Mark chose three-piece Simmons wheels wrapped in Pirelli rubber, neatly tucked underneath the uncut, unrolled guards.

No stone has been left unturned on this 12-year restoration, with Mark and Jody working tirelessly together for many long hours to rebuild their dream street machine. They both say that all the work, hours and plenty of lost skin have all been worth it.


Paint: Custom-mix PPG Volkswagen (inspired by Holden Atlantis Blue)

Block: Holden HQ 308, two-bolt with Pavtek girdle
Capacity: 383ci
Inlet manifold: COME, four-barrel single-plane
Induction: Holley HP 750
Heads: COME 600 Series alloy
Camshaft: Crow hydraulic-roller, custom grind
Valves: COME stainless; 2.08in (intake), 1.6in (exhaust)
Conrods: Scat Pro Series I-beam
Pistons: SRP forged
Crank: COME 383
Sump: ASR Super Street
Oil pump: COME blueprinted high-volume
Fuel system: Carter, PULP
Cooling: Custom PWR radiator, twin fans, Derale PWM controller
Exhaust: 1¾in custom 4-2-1 headers, single 3in Hi-Tech polished stainless exhaust
Ignition: ICE two-step with timing control

Gearbox: Supra W58, with custom shifter
Clutch: NPC custom clutch and flywheel, Quarter Master hydraulic release bearing, Mal Wood hydraulic master cylinder/pedal, custom reservoir
Tailshaft: Chrome-moly
Diff: Holden banjo with reinforced housing, 3.08:1 centre with Harrop Truetrac hemisphere, solid pinion spacer, billet 28-spline AP axles

Front: Custom Lovells coils, HQ Holden stubs, Harrop L34 steering arms, Whiteline sway-bar
Rear: Custom Lovells coils, short shocks, factory sway-bar
Brakes: HQ Holden discs, Wilwood four-piston calipers, braided hoses (f); VN Commodore discs and calipers, braided hoses
Master cylinder: Custom booster and 1in A9X-style master cylinder

Rims: Simmons FR; 17×7(f), 17×8 (r)
Rubber: Pirelli P1; 205/45/17 (f), 245/40/17 (r)

MARK: My lovely wife Jody for her love, support and encouragement, plus all her hard work and skinned knuckles alongside me – and the okay to build another Torana so we can have two; Scott Schumacher for the awesome panel and paint; Wayne Birkin from Street Trim for the awesome interior

AMBER: My principal, deputy principal and photography teacher