Building your dream machine always takes longer and costs more than you think. Just ask Ian Williams, the owner of this sweet Chev-powered LX Torana.
Ian’s been into cars most of his life (so far!) but family and work took up most of his time over the years, so he’s having his car fun a little later in life than most.
First published in the July 2005 issue of Street Machine
But maturity may be a good thing. Ian was able to focus on the task at hand rather than jumping at the first shiny part that came his way. Which is why his Sting Red LX sedan is what it is today.
In his youth Ian was like the rest of us, under-funded but enjoying the toys at hand. In those days he had a hot EH ute and a 327 HK Monaro that he used to race at Castlereagh and despite mortgages and babies they lived on in his memory and he vowed that one day he’d do it all again.
So he kept his passion for cars, especially Toranas, and instilled it in his sons, buying them Torries as their first cars. The boys modified their Toranas and some of the mods were filed away in Ian’s mind. For later.
But it wasn’t until the new millennium, when Ian bought his stepson’s Chev-powered Torana, that he decided to do something with the information he’d filed away.
Being out of the scene so long, he decided to check out the Sydney Torana Club to see what was going on and by doing so he found himself a whole new bunch of friends.
When he bought the Torrie, it already had a basic 350 Chev, top loader and nine-inch combo, with a set of 14-inch Dragways. The body was straight so it was good to go — for the time being. Taking it to a club drive day changed all that. Sure, it had some mumbo on the street but at the track Ian’s Torana wasn’t doing too well.
After two laps he was out of brakes. The 4.11 gears were causing the engine to top-out too quickly down the straight and fuel surge was killing it on tight corners. “I had a ball,” says Ian, despite all the problems. Maybe because he’d realised he had the money and know-how to build it stronger and faster.
Already having a Chev was a good start but the engine was yanked and given a massive make-over. Good bits from High Performance World included an Eagle stroker crank, Trickflow aluminium heads and a set of EFI-converted Hilborn injection stacks for the four-bolt block.
It had the looks and with 360hp pumping through the rear wheels the 384-cube stroker also had the balls. What it didn’t have was staying power. After just 2000km the engine wasn’t feeling healthy and a pull-down revealed that the cam lobes were gone.
Ian decided to build the engine all over again but this time he had Spiro at Autotech Engineering put the new engine together after the great job he did tuning the EMS 8860 ECU on the first motor.
The basic internals from the first engine were checked over, reconditioned and re-used. However, this time Ian added some brand new over-size pistons and a Crane hydraulic roller cam. The new donk is already punching more power than before and Ian reckons it’ll have no problem putting 400 ponies to the track soon.
Backing up the donk is a super-tough Tremec TR-3550 five-speed and a 10.5-inch brass-button clutch. The LX came with 4.11 gears in the nine-inch. After the track experience they were swapped for 3.25 gears. Trouble was, when the five-speed went in and 17-inch wheels were fitted, the 3.25 gears proved to be too tall … so the 4.11s went back in!
Before the engine was refitted, the body had a date with RSV in Granville, where Elly brought the panel and paint up to the condition you see here, laying on a fresh coat of Sting Red with Brilliant Black highlights — a massive improvement over the factory Mandarin Red and cream interior.
Next it was delivered to Autotek for the trim — a pair of cool Recaros and the rest of the interior tailored to match. Add Autometer gauges and a MOMO tiller and you’ve got an inside as hot as the exterior.
With track action definitely on the agenda, the chassis, suspension and brakes weren’t going to be ignored. For strength, a CRS chassis kit was fitted, with WB stub-axles added up front to run bigger brakes. Slowing it down, Brembo four-piston calipers bite DBA 330mm rotors up front, while WB Statesman calipers work 293mm DBA rotors out back. It’s a damn sight better than the original gear and they look great behind those 17-inch Cragar wheels.
Ian has two identical sets of wheels for the Torrie, one for track work, wrapped in the appropriate rubber, and one wearing the street-legal package.
K-mac springs lower the LX at each corner. Koni adjustable shocks control bounce, while front and rear K-mac sway bars keep everything tracking nicely. So not only does the Torana go but now it also stops and handles too!
Ian’s keen on cruising a bit too, now he’s got the car back from the various workshops. He’s also had the car engineered for NSW, which meant changing things like the drop tank and the exhaust. Next time you see this car the 2TOUGH plates will probably be gone but Ian’s not worried about that. At the moment he’s happy running in the new engine. Then Spiro is going to do a final tune and it’ll be game on.
In the club
While street machining is a sport of individuals, there’s a lot to be said for hanging around with like-minded people.
You always have your mates to talk to but joining a car club can be a very rewarding experience. Not only do you get to enjoy the company of people who share your passion but your family gets to meet and play with a whole new group of people too.
So not only is the club experience good for you, it’s good for your family as well. And if your family is having fun it becomes a whole lot easier to spend the cash on the car when needed. It’s a win-win situation.
Ian took a look at the Sydney Torana Club and liked what he saw — now his family loves to get involved in club outings. Ian enjoys taking his wife out on weekends for club runs where he not only spends time in the company of his spouse but he also gets to enjoy that throbbing small-block Chev under the bonnet.
So if you’ve got a problem with a project that you just can’t get over, what are you waiting for? Get out there and join the club.
1976 LX Torana
|Sting Red/Brilliant Black
|Chev small-block 384ci (6.3-litre)
|Hilborn eight-stack, 55mm bores
|Trickflow, 23-degree aluminium
|Speed Pro hypereutectic
|Eagle nodular, 3.75-inch stroke
|Eagle, 5140, 5.7-inch
|Crane hydraulic roller
|Custom 1.75-inch headers; twin 2.5-inch system
|Tremec TR-3550 five-speed
|Brass button, 10.5-inch
|Nine-inch; 4.11 gears; LSD
|Recaro SP-SITZ Speed
|Brembo four-piston caliper, DBA 330mm discs (f); WB Statesman calipers, DBA 293mm discs (r)
|K-mac heavy duty, lowered
|Koni gas adjustables (f&r)
|Cragar Super Sports, 17×8 (f), 17×9 (r)
|Bridgestone RE540S, 215/45 (f), 255/40 (r)