You just know it was fate that a kid who spent years studying Summernats videos and getting into trouble at school for reading Street Machine magazine during class would one day knock everyone’s socks off with one of the neatest and sweetest rides to ever take centre stage in Canberra’s elite Judging Hall.
First published in the November 2002 issue of Street Machine
West Australian Allan Kirk was born and bred horsepower and competition, and he helped wrench on his father’s championship-winning race boats from the time he was old enough to hold a spanner. He furthered his hands-on upbringing when he crewed for four years on Greg Byrne’s blown big-block Pontiac Funnycar which managed a record-holding 6.7@214mph. However, his true passion was with street cars and Allan is a Torana boy through and through, picking up an LC Torana as his first car.
“I was only 16 and my old man kicked my arse when he busted me driving it before I had a license,” he says.
From there Allan went on to own a further three LCs, two XU-1s and a GTR before setting his mind on Summernats. Unlike numerous other show cars, this smoothed and improved LC was built as an elite-level show car from the outset. Although a lot of constructive advice came from spending time with elite hall champs Shane Burcher, Ed Brodie and Darryl McBeth, Allan had a good handle on what it would take to win. He’d spent years studying every killer car that appeared in Street Machine magazine, or at Summernats, the whole time piecing the car together in his head.
“I always wanted to build a car to win over there,” he says. “I fell in love with Brett Hayes’ 1989 Top Ten Tangerine LJ, and felt that was the way to go.”
Allan taught himself how to use a MIG welder while building the rotisserie so that he and his father could complete that trophy-winning undercarriage. For added stiffness the chassis rails from a CRS Torana V8 kit were used then Allan and his dad set-about reinforcing and smoothing off the rest.
“We just got some steel from the local metal store, then for next 18-months spent every Friday and Saturday night in the shed cutting, bending and welding it in,” he says.
Allan admits it’s probably pretty heavy but everything is completely smooth and there’s not an untidy area or rough edge to be found.
Michael Crossing from Race On Custom made the tubular chrome-moly front and rear suspension and added the HQ and VL braking system, which is operated by a Toyota Landcruiser master cylinder and remote reservoir all tucked up under the dash. Allan refers to Michael as the car’s fashion designer who was always on hand with good advice whenever they got stuck, and fabricated a host of other stuff the boys found too scary to build themselves.
After becoming exasperated at the inability of regular exhaust shops to fashion the system Allan envisaged, he decided to enlisted the help of motorcycle exhaust specialist Gareth Lougher to bend up the polished stainless system. Six months was spent stuffing around – including custom making neater-looking mufflers – but the effort was well worth it.
The car actually belongs to Allan’s wife Trina (they met through the Victorian Torana Club) who bought the LC as a mint-condition daily driver for $6000 and gave Allan the nod to do a stock rebuild. She stipulated that nothing poke through the bonnet and the car stay the factory colour, which kind of worked against his plan to make it in the elite hall.
“Everyone I spoke to said don’t paint it white, you can’t win with a white car,” says Allan, but she who must be obeyed had spoken.
Sam Rhodes from Vulcan Paint and Panel was enlisted to wave about the spray gun and figured if had to be white, then he’d just make everything else work around it. After the door and boot locks were deleted and the fuel filler and body seams removed, he painted all the suspension and driveline components in a contrasting candy-apple red to neatly complement the expanse of white.
After using 253 and 308 power for two of his previous LCs, Allan decided to opt for a 350 Chev under the smoothed bonnet this time around. A well-seasoned 010 block forms the basis onto which has been added free-flowing aluminium Edelbrock heads and TPI injection. Although the TPI was chosen more for its looks than anything else, Allan is not to thrilled about its flow characteristics.
“It kills the horsepower, it’s so bloody restrictive,” he says, but even so, Allan and Phil from Chev Power still managed to coax 428 dyno-proven, PULP-friendly neddies out of the thing. Cooling the mill is a Browns Radiators aluminium jobbie, while copping the brunt of the healthy horsepower is a 31-spline, locker nine-inch hooked to the engine via a Chriss Dimoff-built TH-350 auto.
Step inside and you’re surrounded by fibreglass panels. The painted, Auto Meter-filled dash facia is one of the more obvious pieces, however the speaker pods on the doors, full-length centre console and the Iris tweed-covered floor panels are also fashioned from the stuff.
Other highlights include lots of Rare Spares rubbers and lenses, power windows (made from HQ mechanisms) for the custom-made one-piece front windows, embossed Holden emblem in the hood lining, smooth one-piece steering column along with billet mirrors, third brake light and door handles. Cruising tunes are supplied by a Pioneer head unit and speakers with a Jensen Bass Tube beefing up the bottom end.
Everyone who’s worked on the car was either a family member (brother Mick’s polishing business handling all the shinny stuff) or close friend. This worked out really well as no one knew what they were up to until the car was completed and none of their ideas were leaked out to be copied.
However, the long haul over to Canberra for Summernats 14 is a trip all involved would rather forget. Two weeks out, with the car far from finished, Allan broke his leg in a work accident, which kind of slowed proceedings. The not-quite-finished LC was loaded into the trailer he was sharing with Grant O’Rourke just hours before it was due to depart and 800km into the 3829km trip the tow truck’s engine blew.
Allan’s wife and mates had already flown to Canberra and all hope seemed lost, when champion friend, Russel Ladbrook, jumped a bomber back to Perth, grabbed his XD ute and set out rescue Allan and the stranded LC. With the 3.8-tonne trailer loaded up behind the 302 ute (lucky the cops didn’t see them), the pair set about covering the remaining 3000 kays in just two days. They crossed the Nullarbor in 40-degree heat with no AC only to arrive in Canberra and have a misinformed hotel manager ring the local tow company to come and attempt to drag away what he though was an illegally parked car and trailer (complete with LC). They say life was never meant to be easy.
The trip home wasn’t much better. He hit two more ’roos, broke two stub-axles on the trailer and rolled into the driveway with five bucks in his pocket, zero in the bank, prize money already spent, and a quarter tank of petrol!
However, Allan fulfilled the dream of cracking the coveted Top 10, while trophies for Top Tudor, Top Engineered and runner-up Undercarriage/Driveline were simply icing on the cake. As for the future, Allan’s vowed to return to Canberra to give Grand Champion a decent shake. “After all”, he declares, “what’s the point of having 400hp if you can’t blaze the tyres and have a bit of a go?”
Allan & Trina Kirk
1970 LC Torana
|Sickens Kashmiar White
|MAKIN’ IT MOVE
|Aluminium Edelbrock Performer
|Chev TPI EFI
|Dyno’d 428hp at the flywheel
|Turbo 350 with a mild shift kit
|Dominator, 2800rpm stall
|Ford nine-inch, 31-spline with 3.7:1 Detroit locker
|Eibach front, Pedders rear
|Aldan coil overs, Koni adjustable
|Outlaw calipers, HQ rotors front; Outlaw calipers, VL Commodore rotors rear
|Toyota Landcruiser with remote reservoir
|Rack and pinion
|Painted SAAS woodgrain
|Pioneer CD/tuner and speakers, Jensen sub
|Polished 16×6 and 16×9 ROH Milanos
|215/45VR16 245/45VR16 Toyo Monarchs