YEE-HA! yelled the coverline under the pic of Chris Boundy’s bold yellow LC Torana jumping off the cover of Street Machine’s July 1995 issue. It was a ripper pic but Jeez, didn’t it make the phones ring with complaints!
This article was first published in the August 2011 issue of Street Machine
Remarkably, 16 years later Chris still owns that same Torana. It’s had a good life.
“I did a few shows and it’s been a great cruise car but it’s been sitting around for a while,” he says of his first car. “I was undecided about whether I should revamp it or not. But then I thought: ‘What the hell? Life’s too short!’”
Sliced and spliced bumpers are just the start of a swag of body-by-Bennett tricks and tweaks
So right now it’s undergoing a massive rebuild by Paul Bennett, who also built the car into its yellow cover-car guise.
“Chris approached me and said he was thinking about revamping the car,” Paul explains. “He wanted to do a Godzilla [Nissan GTR twin-turbo six] engine transplant, but I said: ‘Let’s try something more innovative.’ I suggested a Maserati twin-turbo V6. In a 1700kg car, that engine runs 0-100km/h in six seconds — it’s quick.”
Three years after that discussion, and with the build theme and budget decided, Chris delivered his world-weary Torana to Paul’s place where it was disassembled and most of the old Chev-based hardware was sold in anticipation of the Maserati mumbo.
But there will be far more to this Torana than a wog engine transplant.
“Think Euro look,” says Paul of the Torana’s new appearance. “Imagine if Maserati actually built the Torana — that’s what we’re aiming for.”
As he starts talking through the list of finer details — carbon fibre and Kevlar interior, low centre of gravity, extended wheelbase and track — you know the car’s 90s-neat punchy paint, bolt-in ’cage and 15-inchers are gone forever.
That stubby bi-turbo V6 engine is installed behind the front axle’s centre line, assisting Paul and Chris’s ambition of 50/50 weight distribution for fine handling. The target weight is 1100kg, which at around 600kg less than the donor Maserati, will help provide startling real-world performance.
Chassis and driveline are almost complete; lowered lid and laid-back glass will be next
“Yep, trim the fat off it and she’ll be a rocketship! I found an engine in Japan through an Aussie importer. It was from an almost brand-new car that’d been hit up the rear,” Chris says.
With the Torana stripped and gutted, the engine was dropped in and the chassis architecture determined. Special consideration was given to the exhaust routing off the back of the twin turbos. With a fully fabricated front crossmember, Paul wasn’t restricted by any Holden factory parts and was able to place everything where it needed to be. The chassis features fully rounded contoured rails — there aren’t any mitred corners anywhere — with those flowing curves carried into sheet-metal such as the tubs. The rear end is a Mark Williams nine-inch with 14-inch Wilwood brakes and the lot will be suspended on airbags and roll on the gorgeous Euro rims you see here.
“It just fits — so it fits!” Paul says proudly of his component placing. “Every aspect of the car has been rethought for weight distribution. The battery and brake components have been shifted rearward. We’ve done the same with the fuel tank, too. Reworking everything under the skin means we can apply a race-car philosophy to the build. It’ll handle, steer and stop.”
With no rear seat, the car’s new two-seat coupe configuration can be exploited: art up front and hardware behind
Apart from tidying up the Maserati engine’s appearance Paul says they’re not going to play with it.
“It’s all staying stock-standard, so all the original sensors and plug-ins will stay in place. Spare parts and servicing will all be Maserati. Simple.”
Halibrand-style diff cover will be a visual centrepiece of the boot
Paul’s identified several important styling elements that define the car as a Torana but will apply subtle yet significant body modifications to chase the Euro look. Trademarks that are off-limits to extensive fiddling include the shark-like nose and the swaged edges of the mudguards that are carried through the doors. However, he’s extended the sills to visually lower the car and reworked the tail-lights for a smoother appearance. The door glass will be one piece and the turret will be lowered into laid-back front and rear ’screens. The bumpers will be recessed and there’ll be a diffuser panel over the centre-shot exhaust.
It’ll be a full-time two-seater too, with a full complement of comfort and convenience features: air conditioning, ’leccy windows and central locking. The pinnacle of the interior will be centre-mounted digital gauges to reinforce the car’s mantra of usability, simplicity and elegance.
Yep, Maserana — as the car has been christened — will be a class act with Bennett’s supreme blend of art and driveability. Maybe we’ll do another jump shot when it’s completed!