900rwhp blown LQ9-powered 1977 Holden LX Torana hatch

How do you follow up your super-clean 700hp turbo Torana build? If you're Marc Palmer, you build a 900rwhp blown LX hatch!

Photographers: Mitch Hemming

WHILE he already carries the keys to a blue, 700rwhp, turbo-LS1 Torana hatch (Street Machine LSX Tuner #7), Queensland’s Marc Palmer couldn’t shake the memories of his first car, a Mint Julep LX sedan. However, that four-door P-plate chariot was a world away from the 900rwhp, mini-tubbed and ProCharged brute Marc has just finished building.

First published in the May 2021 issue of Street Machine

“I have a huge thing for Toranas,” he says. “I found this one advertised online as a painted roller, and because my first Torana was green, I just had to have it!

“I picked it up from a bloke in Gympie who’d lost interest, and he was the second owner; he’d got it from his aunty who’d had it from new. The car was last registered in 1992 with a full rotisserie paint and panel job done in 2014, then put into storage until I picked it up in 2018.”

Having already spent a few years building his other hatch, Marc had a laundry list of work he wanted to do from the outset to build the best streeter he could, and make it a monster.

“Before I got the shell home, I’d already built it in my head,” he laughs. “I always loved the sound of ProChargers; I wanted a bigger-cube engine in this LX, with a ’Glide and nine-inch; and I’d wanted a mini-tubbed car from the first time I saw one in Street Machine.

“On the blue car, I’ve chopped and changed things over the years with different combos or upgrades, so I made a plan for the green hatch and set about following it from A to Z. I wanted the new Torana to be a tough street car first and foremost; if it goes high-nines that will be awesome. I ran a 9.30 in the blue LX and I love going to the track, but it doesn’t faze me if the green car doesn’t run a number.”

While some internet whingers complain that LS mills are boring, Marc’s Torry lays down a smile-widening 938hp at the hubs, despite the bottom end of the iron 6.0-litre LQ9 remaining as it came from the factory. The only deviation to the guts of the long motor are the Camtech 237/248 hydraulic-roller cam and a set of LS7 lifters, while Jet Engineering one-piece pushrods lift the factory rocker gear and PAC valve springs in the #317-casting cylinder heads.

“From my reading, the LQ9 seemed the pick of the LS bunch,” Marc says. “If you knock 30thou off the deck face, the #317 heads are the same spec as the #243 heads off an LS6, which are the gun Gen III cylinder head, so that meant I didn’t need to pay extra for heads!”

The party-starter is a D-trim ProCharger, shooting compressed atmosphere through a custom air-to-air 100mm intercooler hung out the front, then into a Holley Hi-Ram intake where it is mixed with E85 and ignited by Mace Engineering coils.

“I wanted to be different, which is why I went for the side-mount blower,” says Marc. “The turbo hatch is fun and fast, but it doesn’t have the low-down punch the blower does, and while an aspo set-up is awesome, it doesn’t have the legs of the blown combo.”

Behind the steel LS is a Paul Rogers-built transbraked Powerglide rated for 1200hp, a nine-inch TCE 3600rpm billet converter, a four-inch tailshaft wearing 1350 unis, and a braced nine-inch diff full of good gear like a Truetrac centre, 35-spline axles, Strange 3.5:1 gears and heavy-duty 5/8-inch studs. All up, it is a stout drivetrain designed to run sweet on the street.

“The build was pretty cruisy as far as things go, but I’ve spent every night in the shed for the past two years just chipping away at it,” Marc says. “I’ve done everything myself, from smoothing the bay and tub work to a full rewire, built the engine and had my hands on some of the fab work, put together the custom bonnet and painted it, and even fired up the sewing machine to make sections of trim and the boot fit-out! To me, this is what building a car is about, not just paying the bill at every shop you go to.”

While he is ready to start clocking up kays in the mean green machine, Marc isn’t done playing with the other Toranas at home, including his wife’s.

“My wife Lucy has been awesome; she’s really supportive of my car addiction, plus she has her own LC GTR,” says Marc. “I’m pulling the turbo-LS combo from my other hatchback and going for a whole new combo with a Whipple- or Harrop-blown 6.0-litre. I also have a 5.0-litre set aside to drop into the GTR with a Supra five-speed, but I’ll give it the factory look.”

With two super-clean, tough-as-nails hatches in the books, we’re sure the LC will be an absolute belter. And no doubt built all at home to boot!


Paint: PPG Modena Green

Brand: Chevrolet LQ9 6.0L
Induction: Holley Hi-Ram
ECU: Holley Terminator X
Blower: ProCharger D-1X
Heads: GM #317 casting
Camshaft: Camtech 237/248
Lifters: LS7
Conrods: Stock
Pistons: Stock
Crank: Stock
Oil system: Melling oil pump, Holley retro sump
Fuel system: Bosch 1650cc injectors, twin Walbro 525 pumps
Cooling: Custom PWR radiator, Zirgo fans
Exhaust: Custom 17/8in 4-into-1 headers, 3.5in stainless twin system, Holley FlowFX mufflers
Ignition: Mace Engineering coils

Gearbox: Paul Rogers Powerglide, transbraked
Converter: TCE billet 9in 3600rpm
Diff: 9in, Truetrac centre, 35-spline axles, Strange Engineering 3.5:1 gears, 5/8in studs

Front: King springs, Competition Engineering 90/10 shocks
Rear: Viking Crusader coil-overs, Enemies Everywhere anti-roll bar, United Speed Shop Magnum adjustable trailing arms
Brakes: Wilwood 320mm discs with four-piston calipers, (f), Wilwood 280mm discs (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood 1in

Rims: Weld Magnum 17×4 (f), Weld Alpha-1 15×10 (r)
Rubber: Racemaster 185/55R17 (f), M/T ET Street 275/50R15 (r)

My mates that helped out, gave advice or chipped in when I’ve needed a hand; my great mate Dave Mott (FFM Fabrication) for spending countless hours and weekends at the shop punching out some killer fab work and helping me make it look exactly how I wanted; Kye Knight at Andrews High Tech Automotive for all the EFI work and tuning; Tony at AllTrim for making a killer set of seat trims and Corey Walker for fitting the covers; 24-7 Fittings; Paul Rogers and TCE Converters; Chris’s Differentials; Joe at Clean Getaway Detailing for bringing the paint back to life; last but not least, my wife for supporting my hobby