Craig O’Brien’s 1977 LX Torana

When Craig O’Brien stumbled upon his dream car hidden in the garage of his then-girlfriend Kelly’s grandmother’s house, he was told it could be his for the price of an engagement ring

Photographers: Ashleigh Wilson

TWENTY years, one wedding, two kids and a complete rebuild later, we caught up with Craig to talk about the deal of his lifetime.

First published in the November 2021 issue of Street Machine

What’s your history with Holdens?

I bought my first Torana when I was 16 at a motor auction in Newcastle. It was a 1977 LX, and I paid $2100 for it. When I was 30, I decided to trade it in for a new car. The next day I was so distraught that I bought it back from the dealer. I drove it to work every day for the next 12 years. When we sold it, it had 430,000km on it, without ever touching the engine.

And how did you come to own the LX we see here?

We were celebrating Grandma Dorothy’s 80th birthday when I opened the garage door and saw the Torana sitting there – a 1977 LX SL four-door. I couldn’t believe it. I asked her how I could get to own it, and after my constant nagging, Dorothy said, “If you marry my granddaughter, it’s yours!”

Clearly, you took the deal?

Things got fast-tracked after Dorothy side-swiped an off-duty cop and had to hand in her licence. After that, I got the call that the car was mine. Kelly and I ended up using the Torana as our wedding car, and even had our bridesmaids’ dresses made to match the green colour. We unveiled the car to Dorothy on our wedding day and she didn’t recognise it. “No, my car didn’t look like that, and it definitely didn’t sound like that,” she said.

What was your vision for the rebuild?

We wanted to build something reliable that sounds nice and goes well. When we got it, everything in it was standard: the six-cylinder, saggy arse, venetian blinds and skinny tyres. We started by tidying up a few bits of rust in the doors and then had it resprayed in the original GM-H Super Mint Metallic green and added black highlights.

Talk specs with us.

It’s running a rebuilt 308 engine out of an HX Statesman that’s been bored out. I’ve got extractors on it, an XL radiator and two thermo fans. It’s got a Trimatic three-speed auto and the original banjo diff. I put raised King springs in the front, and in the rear are HQ springs. I decided to put a drop tank into the back of it and have got the two pipes coming out either side. To complete the look, I bought a set of Dragway Classics off a mate.

Has the family been involved in the build?

When I needed the brakes bled or the wheels put on, my girls Madison and Makenzie were always there to help. They’re rattle-gun queens! My eldest, Maddi, just got her learner’s. She’ll be the fourth generation to drive the Torana. She’s already asking if we can drive it to school. Makenzie is only a year and a half behind, and then she’ll be at the wheel.