Doing it for Dad: pro touring LX Torana

Adrian Haynes combined LS3 grunt, a third pedal and an elite finish to form a stunning tribute to his late dad

Photographers: Ellen Dewar

Looking at Adrian Haynes’s elite-level, LS3-powered, six-speed LX Torana hatch, you’d never believe it came into his life as an utter basket case.

First published in the December 2022 issue of Street Machine

Canberra-based Adrian and his dad, Robert ‘Bluey’ Haynes, picked up the hatch 10 years ago from an owner who’d realised he’d bitten off more than he could chew. Aside from being full of rust, the car had been rear-ended and subjected to the world’s dodgiest repair job. “A quarter panel had been put over the top of the original quarter panel, leaving all the spot-welded sections in place,” Adrian says. “It was very badly bent out of shape and needed to be put on a rack and pulled straight.” A second bare shell provided much-needed rust cuts and repair sections. “In hindsight, I should’ve bought a better shell, but LX shells are so hard to get that we had to make do,” Adrian explains.

Just 12 months into the build, Robert was diagnosed with early rapid-onset dementia, which Adrian says brought things to a fairly swift halt. “But my dad wanted the project to continue and be as much of a part as he could for as long as he could, so we pushed forward.”

Jason and Glenn Coburn of Exclusive Customs were slated to carry out the bodywork and paint, and even though they relocated their business from Sydney to the Gold Coast, they remained committed in spite of the distances involved. Local help came from Peter at Mobile Car Restorations, guiding Adrian through the metalwork and initial gap-setting process, and stepping in when things got too involved. Barry Thompson from Split Decision Restorations also got involved in sorting the metal and bodywork to bring the once-sad hatch to an elite level.

The LS3 and TR6060 six-speed manual the Torry now runs were both yoinked from a smashed VE ClubSport with just 20,000km on the clock. According to Adrian, it was always going to have three pedals. “I’ve only ever had manual cars,” he says. “It’s much more fun to drive when you’re steering and changing gears.”

After getting the donk fitted and running, Adrian pulled it out and sent it to Profection Automotive in Hume for some loving. The bottom end was left stock, while the heads were port-matched and polished. A Crow 227/224 cam was slotted in, with LS7 lifters. It’s all fed by a Plazmaman billet intake and 102mm throttlebody, hooked to custom piping.

The car’s yet to get a final dyno tune, but it should make somewhere between 450 and 500hp at the rears. “The gearbox can comfortably handle that, and it’s plenty fast enough in a light car, but still driveable,” Adrian enthuses. “You could get into it and drive to Perth and not have any problems.”

Adrian’s day job as a high school teacher didn’t stop him from getting stuff done himself. “Anything I could do, I tried to do myself,” he says. “Like most builds, not much happened perfectly the first time, particularly when it was here in Canberra. Generally, it was a bit of experimentation, like the interior, which I fabricated myself.

There was stuff that I played around with ’til I got it right, and if I couldn’t get it right, I got the guys at Exclusive to fix it. I went up there from Canberra six or seven times to work on it with them – pulling it apart, putting it back together, refining pieces, anything I could do.”

He’s particularly proud of his work fitting the driveline, which included grafting in much of the VE tunnel to make room for the girthy TR6060 ’box, which is hooked up to a custom two-piece tailshaft with integrated slip joint.

Adrian also fabbed up a new firewall, deleted the engine bay drip gutters and radiator support lips, and knocked up new chassis rail sections to achieve his desired symmetrical look. “I was probably more involved than it seems, but to get the body and paint to an elite level, it had to be done by experts,” he says. “Those are next-level skills, not a slapped-together street car sort of thing.”

Alongside the engine and ’box, Adrian also dragged the hatch’s steering and stopping smarts into the 21st century. The front end packs QA1 coil-overs, with King Springs and Monroe double-adjustable shocks in the rear, while four-pot Wilwoods grab 320mm discs all ’round. Adrian’s brother Scott also lent his talents to iron out any engineering gremlins.

Sadly, Robert passed away in 2020, a couple of months before Adrian and Glenn from Exclusive finalised the paint colour. In a “very emotional” moment, they chose to dub the hue HHH Rouge after Robert’s business, Triple H Motors.

The colour itself uses a custom two-tone blue and purple basecoat, with a custom-tinted red clear over the top. It echoes the classic two-tone Torana look but replaces the black with another shade of red.

Glenn finished off the extensive colour sanding and buffing on 26 May this year, just in time to debut the LX at the Sydney Hot Rod & Custom Auto Expo. “It was one of those classic stories of the car being finished late at night and put into the trailer at dawn the next morning,” Adrian laughs.

The hatch followed up with an appearance at Killer Rides Live in Wollongong, where Adrian took home nine trophies, including Car of the Show, Best Street Machine, Best Coupe/Tudor and Best Paint.

Adrian says he’s got a few other potential projects in the background. “But I am in absolutely no rush to get anything new started,” he clarifies. “This one is for Dad.”


Paint:Custom Spies Hecker Permahyd
Brand:GM LS3
Induction:Plazmaman billet manifold, 102mm billet throttlebody
Heads:LS3, ported
Camshaft:Crow 227/224
Fuel system:GM in-tank
Cooling:PWR, twin 12in fans
Exhaust:Twin 3in system
Gearbox:TR6060 six-speed manual
Clutch:VE ClubSport
Diff:9in, 3.89:1 Truetrac
Front:QA1 coil-overs
Rear:King Springs, Monroe shocks
Brakes:Wilwood (f & r)
Master cylinder:Wilwood boosterless
Rims:Boze Clutch; 18×9 (f), 18×11.5 (r)
Rubber:Kumho 245/35R18 (f), Pirelli 295/35R18 (r)

Glenn and Jason Coburn at Exclusive Customs; Barry Thompson; my brother Scott; everybody else who played their part along the way to get the car to what it is today; DCS Backlot Studio in Canberra.