Dave Sultana’s LJ Torana

Dave Sultana’s LJ Torana coupe was one of the cleanest cars to be found at the South Coast 660 in Portland earlier this year

Photographers: Chris Thorogood, Shaun Tanner

Between Dave’s runs in the Super Sedan class at the South Coast 660 in Portland, we found time to chat about the car’s build process and its racing career so far.

How did you come to own the LJ, Dave?

I’ve had the car for 10 years. I bought it as a wreck out of somebody’s front yard with the intention to just make it a stockie, but once I started opening doors and looking under the carpet, I found lots of rust. And the more I looked, the more I found! So I decided to change direction.

What did that entail?

One thing led to another. First, we put the car on a rotisserie and sandblasted it. A lot of the body came back in a bucket – there were holes everywhere! We looked at the shell and went, “Okay, now we’ve got a blank sheet.” The whole front end is new. We bought a four-door as a donor car to replace the floors. It got all new front panels, plus tubs and a rollcage. We spun it upside down for the chassis kit; the rotisserie made it so much easier to square everything up. We also boxed in the rear trailing arm hanger panels and put in adjustable arms. And then we started with the running gear!

Looks like a pretty nice set-up.

I got the engine from Tennessee when the dollar was a dollar, so that came at a reasonable price. It’s a 421ci Dart small-block with Pro Dart heads. I’ve only just converted to fuel injection with the Terminator X EFI. That’s a whole new world, so I’m still learning about it. Moving back, it’s got a Powerglide with a 5200rpm converter, going to a nine-inch diff with 35-spline axles and Truetrac with 4.11 gears. We get about 500rwhp on the dyno.

Who handled all the bodywork?

We did the body and paint with the help of my brother. He’s really good at getting things straight, so he prepared the whole car. That’s the base for how good the car looks today. All the preliminary work was done in the shed before we went to the spray booth. He spent two whole days laboriously laying down the DuPont Yellow Devil. We’re not painters or anything, but he did an excellent job.

It’s a very clean exterior. Is it the same inside?

I’ve left all the dash in place. I pulled out the original speedo and tacho because they were just crap – one night I was driving home and couldn’t even see the speedo. That was it, so I replaced all the gauges with Auto Meter ones. I’ve tucked a whole lot of telemetry under the dash, too.

How’s it been performing this weekend?

This is the most consistent it’s been so far. I was at Heathcote a few weeks ago and it was pretty loose, but today it’s hooking up really well. I got the wheels up in the air, so it must be! The best I’ve done is 9.80@138mph at Calder about two years ago. I’ve done a 6.30@107mph today on the eighth-mile, so about a 9.90 at the quarter. If I can repeat that again, it’ll be my dial-in time.