Anthony Terkalas’s turbo big-block LJ Torana

Sydney's Anthony Terkalas built his turbo big-block LJ Torana his way, but he races it for the memory of his best mate

Photographers: Ben Hosking

WITHOUT mates, not many car builds would happen. Our circle of friends is vital to our projects, whether they merely influence the design or are there in the trenches hurling spanners at the car itself. As a result, so many street machiners feel a sense of duty to their friends.

First published in the October 2021 issue of Street Machine

Anthony Terkalas understands this perfectly well, with a close-knit crew of mates helping him finish this epic, methanol-guzzling, big-block LJ Torana known as PROWOG. However, the joy of completing an 11-year build is tinged with sadness after Anthony’s best mate, Joe Sabato of Hume Performance, passed away suddenly in September 2020.

“I got into drag racing through Joe,” Anthony explains. “We grew up together through our 20s, mucking around with cars, going racing and to cruises and the like, and, eventually, Joe bought Hume Performance.”

There were plenty of cars that came and went in that time, but Anthony has a particular affinity for early-70s Torries. This build kicked off with modest intentions.

“I’d had a blue LJ street car, but then I got married, so it had to go for the deposit for the house,” Anthony says. “So this one was just going to be a street car like my last one. I found a shell in Melbourne, but it was rough – really rusty and it’d had more hits than Elvis!”

After dragging the LJ carcass to Sydney, work began in earnest.

“The build snowballed pretty quickly,” says Anthony, who sent the sad Torry body off for a date with the grinder and a chassis table. What came back is a shadow of what rolled off the lot in 1972, with new rails, a stout sheet-metal nine-inch, custom four-link and anti-roll bar, and all set up to swallow 10.5-inch slicks.

“The whole front end was replaced with fibreglass parts, and only the roof and quarters are left,” Anthony reveals. “It isn’t groundbreaking, advanced hardware, but it will get the job done.”

Once the chassis work was finished, Anthony got on with sorting all the fabrication for the engine-mounting plates and custom exhaust, before the shell was wired in a dry-assembly stage. Once all the rough-in had been finished, the body was hauled off for paint, and Anthony was clear to sit down with Joe to talk horsepower.

“It was originally going to be an aspirated big-block for APSA racing,” Anthony explains. “This is why it has a 10.5-inch tyre. But after that class ended, I decided to go turbo, because if I want more power, I can put more boost in it. This way, as everyone else goes faster, I can add more power easily.”

Starting with a Dart Big M block, Joe put together a stupendously tough and surprisingly simple combo for the featherweight coupe. The 9.8in-deck-height fat-block swings a Callies Magnum crank, Oliver steel rods and Diamond pistons for approximately 9.8:1 comp, while Comp lifters work on a secret-spec solid-roller cam from Camtech.

The 357cc CNC-ported AFR heads run conventional valve angles and have been kitted out with PAC valve springs, Smith Brothers pushrods and Jesel shaft-mount rockers for a solid, stable valvetrain. Up top, an Edelbrock intake manifold wears a Wilson EFI elbow and throttlebody, while Plazmaman injectors fire the methanol in, and a Haltech Elite 2500 ECU controls the chaos provided by that 118mm Precision turbo mounted up front.

“Joe asked me how fast I wanted to go, so I told him and let him go building something to suit that end result,” says Anthony. Running on meth, PROWOG has made a best of 1762hp at the hubs on 26psi of boost so far, and Anthony isn’t in a rush to throw everything at it in one go.

“It’s only gone 8.0@175mph, at 60 per cent throttle,” he says. “It was exciting to get behind the wheel and be back at the track, but at the same time I was shitting myself as I had to get used to it!”

Wisely, Anthony is taking his time to learn the car’s set-up, with a crew of experienced hands helping him in the pits, including Michael Baghdadi from Mick’s Motorsports, plus his mates Tony and Peter.

“I’m making sure the converter is working, the trans has the right pressure and that I go through all the shakedown progressively,” says Anthony. “I have to get used to the boost coming in and it pulling me; it’s different to NA cars! It’s only on wastegate pressure at the moment, so there’s another 15psi to throw in it. I just want to try to run a six on this tyre, and then I’ll put a 315 radial tyre under it and go racing.”

Having come through the shock and grief of losing his best mate, suddenly Anthony had to ride a rollercoaster of emotion in his finished LJ. Ultimately, the car has helped provide a sense of purpose, both for him and the community around him.

“After Joe passed away, I felt like I didn’t want to go out there with the car without him,” he says. “But at the same time, I wanted to do it for Joe; I want to make Joe proud. He was hanging to go to the track and get the car sorted. It’s all for Joe now, and it is something all his friends and family can rally around.”

We’re sure he’d be cheering you on, mate.


Paint: Hyundai Grey 
Brand: Chev 540ci big-block 
Induction: Edelbrock manifold, Wilson throttlebody 
ECU: Haltech Elite 2500 
Turbos: Precision 118mm 
Heads: AFR 357cc, CNC-ported 
Camshaft: Camtech secret grind 
Conrods: Oliver steel 
Pistons: Diamond 
Crank: Callies Magnum 
Oil system: Canton sump, Moroso oil pump 
Fuel system: Aeromotive pump, Plazmaman injectors 
Cooling: Custom radiator 
Exhaust: Custom manifolds, custom exhaust 
Ignition: Haltech IGN-1A coils 
Gearbox: Two-speed TH400 
Converter: Coan bolt-together
Diff: Sheet-metal 9in, Strange Engineering centre, full-floater 40-spline
axles, 3.5:1 gears 
Front: Standard 
Rear: Strange Engineering coil-overs, custom four-link, custom anti-roll
Brakes: Wilwood disc brakes (f & r) 
Master cylinder: Wilwood 
Rims: Billet Specialties; 15×3 (f), 16×16 (r) 
Rubber: Mickey Thompson; 25×6.5 (f), 33×10.5 (r) 


My best mate Joe Sabato from Hume Performance who built my engine and was a wealth of knowledge; Mick from Mick’s Motorsports for the tuning, knowledge and support; Alex from Plazmaman for all the help on little things that needed to be done; Big Brendon for all the chassis work; John for the gearbox; Steve for electricals; my mates Tony and Peter for all your guidance and help; and especially to my wife and kids for your support and understanding through this whole experience