Frank Pudarich’s Violet Kandy LH Torana

The old saying goes that plumbers’ taps leak. No such problems for Frank Pudarich’s Torana

Photographers: Tony Rabbitte

You like to see what you’re getting for your money, right? That’s what Frank Pudarich thought, too, so the 21-year-old from Austral in Sydney built a rolling brochure for the family business, Frank’s Paint & Panel.

“Our problem was, we had nothing on site to show customers,” explains Frank, who is apprenticed to his father, Frank Snr. So he turned his attention to the Torana he had played with while at school.

First published in the January 2004 issue of Street Machine

“Dad bought the Torana for the engine and he gave the shell to me,” he says. “I worked on it after school when I was in Year 12 and got it finished just in time to drive it to the last two of my exams.”

But after the car was stripped completely for build number two, Frank realised that it would be easier to cut his losses and source another shell in better condition. By this time, Frank and his father had decided that Frank’s Paint & Panel should aim for recognition from House of Kolor as one of its network of ‘supreme painters’.

“I’m into American stuff,” says Frank. “I try to keep as up to date as I possibly can. All the show cars over there seemed to be using House of Kolor stuff, but apart from Peter Fitzpatrick and Mat Egan, no-one seemed to be using it here. We got in contact with the distributor and they sent up some samples that we tried out on some test panels. I wanted a purple.”

A better body was located and to cut a long story short, House of Kolor inspected the completed result and loved it, granting Frank’s Paint & Panel the coveted ‘recommended’ status the pair was aiming for.

The engine that powers the Torana is fitted with a 355ci stroker crank and has ported Red heads fed by a Holley 650. Rather than pay big dollars for lots of brand-new top-shelf hardware, Frank bought the engine second-hand.

“Then I had Paul from Pro Flow go over it,” he explains. “It’d been built with plenty of good bits, but Paul reckoned it was a bit too much to drive regularly on the street. He said it’d probably piss me off.”

The car’s axle was built around the rear tyres, with the nine-inch tracked to allow the biggest footprint possible.

“I wanted to get the biggest tyre I could under there without tubbing the car,” Frank explains. “I ordered the wheels to suit the car just as we started building it.”

The Convo Pros left Center Line in America on September 10, 2001, so it’s not surprising they didn’t arrive in Oz for nearly eight months. Brakes are HQ Holden discs and drums stolen off Frank Snr’s race car.

Having set such a high standard with the Torana’s paint, Frank wasn’t going to drop the ball with the interior.

“A lot of street machine guys go for the billet and alloy look, but I was at the Auto Salon show and I noticed a car with a carbon fibre airbox, and I thought it was something I could try,” he says. “I’m a third-year apprentice and we actually do this kind of work at TAFE so once I learnt the basics, I had a muck-around.”

Carbon fibre graces the dash, door trims, the door lock snippers, steering column stalks and shroud, and the knobs on the dash. As for the seats, “I wanted something snug,” explains Frank “I wanted to use WRX seats. The cabin doesn’t look it, but it’s very small inside. My head was in the roof!” So two old comp-style buckets were re-foamed and trimmed by Steve from All-Trim.

Since completing the Torana, Frank has hardly had time to scratch himself, with shows almost every weekend. Much of the time, the Torana is driven, although for the larger shows that require lots of display gear be carried, it’s loaded onto a trailer. Arguing against the trailer-pussy show-car syndrome, Frank reckons the car actually arrives cleaner at shows when he’s driven it.

“It was always meant to be a street car,” Frank proudly states, “not a full-on show car. But we’ve had a really positive response. I’d really like to do a full-on Elite car to try to get the best paint job in the country. We’re talking to two or three customers at the moment about doing that.”

Frank best summarises the final result himself: “I love this work – I simply wouldn’t be happy fixing smashed Magnas or Daewoos.”


Frank is a self-confessed car nut but his dad would have been more than happy to see him follow a different career path.

“My dad was a bit hesitant about me getting into the trade,” recalls Frank. “He wanted me to try something else first, so I went to uni for a year and did marketing. I enjoyed it very much – I did a lot of work experience at a couple of different places.”

There’s no doubt that some of the lessons learned in that year away from cars will help Frank in his future. “But at the end of the year, I decided it was something that I couldn’t do for the rest of my life. Dad was happy that I tried something else – he didn’t want me doing anything just for the sake of it.”


Colour:House of Kolor Shimmering Violet Kandy
Type:Holden V8
Heads:Ported ‘reds’
Crank:Harrop Engineering stroker
Intake manifold:Edelbrock Performer
Carb:Holley 650cfm double-pumper
Valves:Ferrea 1.94in and 1.6in
Exhaust:3in with two mufflers
Type:Shift-kitted GM TH350 three-speed auto
Tailshaft:Hardie Spicer, shortened and balanced
Diff:3.5:1 spooled 9in
Front:DBA slotted Holden HQ discs, Ultimate pads
Rear:HQ drums
Master cylinder:Reconditioned HQ-spec
Front:Koni shocks, Pedders springs
Rear dampers/springs:Koni/Pedders
Wheels:15×6 and 15×10 Center Line Convo Pros
Tyres:Michelin 185/65 and BFG 275/50
Seats:One-piece race-style buckets
Steering wheel:Momo Silverjet
Shifter:B&M Pro-Ratchet
Instruments:Auto Meter
Trimmed by:Steve at Alltrim