Ivan Hans’s Mr Hyde LJ Torana

Pearlcoat panels - bad demeanour. A blown 355 cube Torana deseves to be called Mr Hyde


If ever a car was designed as a red flag to the bulls, then this could be it. A head-turning, supercharged and tubbed ‘71 Torana with Nitrous, wheelie bars and even a parachute. And in case any nearby traffic patrolman with a hearing problem misses the rumble from the exhaust, there’s a blinding Pearl paint job and slashing graphics to catch his eye.

First published in the April/May 1988 issue of Street Machine

Ivan Hans has gone Over The Top with his street car. Between those two personalised NSW number plates is a virtual full-house drag car. But Ivan wanted to build a road-regoed machine that no one else in Wollongong — south of Sydney — seemed game to bulld. “The police are heavy down in the ‘Gong, but I didn’t let that worry me…” In street machine ranks, police presence is a fact of life. How you relate to the force and to the system they represent is your business. Some buckle under. Some choose to fight the system. Others strike a compromise between what they want in a car and what the laws of the land demand.

Ivan Hans has produced a scintillating road blaster that, on the surface, might stretch a friendship with the blue peelers. Yet he isn’t anticipating any ongoing dramas with the pride and glory of the NSW Police. Bull-baiting isn’t the name of his game. Ivan’s not-so-terrible. The supercharged Torana is a tad noisy at present, but instead of waiting to get heavied by the force, Ivan is working to improve the howling small block Chevy’s muffler system.

On the face of it, a pretty sensible attitude. Certainly the owner has given himself a solid chance of enjoying his $30,000 investment in the manner intended, Having ploughed every spare buck and more than a year’s effort into creating a motorised masterplece, Ivan’s understandably reluctant to see his joy machine grounded with a defect sticker… Mr Hyde, alias lvan’s Torana, gets to stretch its road legs every couple of fine days. Only rainy weather keeps it garaged. Occasionally, it’s even ferried its owner to work!

Ivan snared the Torana from a disenchanted street machiner at the end of ’84. It was in primer and missing an engine and gearbox. In other words, it was in an ideal state for a bloke with a few wild ideas. The original plan was for a machine of milder manners. Like, a six-pack powerplant. Ivan also plucked some good bits out of an old hillclimb racer he’d acquired — suspension, cage, competition seats, harnesses . . .

Then the six suffered a fatal loss of lubrication when the oil filter spun off. A small block transplant became a priority. A simple project, you say. Wrong! Ivan dropped the car and a 350 Chevy replacement into a Sydney mob, one of those firms specialising in conversions. “It’ll be done in no time, sir,” they said. After ten months and weekly hand-on-heart promises, the only visible sign of progress was a modified sump.

Finally, Ivan got jack of waiting and took his gear back to Wollongong. A mate, John Cannon of JC Performance Fabrications, was ready and willing to do the job this century — if not sooner. But the nasty shocks weren’t over . .. John discovered the sump had been modified by a blind and deaf man — the crank banged on the sump at every revolution!

“John fixed up the crook workmanship and got the Chev going properly,” explains lvan. At this stage the V8 was standard inside, but equipped with a tunnel ram and giggle gas. Next came the halt-chassis and tubs. The owner did the simpler stuff, chopping out the floor from behind the front seats through to the boot. But he left the trickier bits to his pal JC, who made up the rails from 2×3-inch box tubing. He also did most of the tin work inside the tubs. The rear end sure copped the treatment. Ladder bars, wheelie bars, Ford nine-incher (from a buddy’s Fairlane) with 31-spline spool.

After last year’s Rod Nationals, Ivan was sufficiently inspired to press for an under-bonnet banquet for the Torana. Blower, Stage Four Nitrous Oxide kit, the lot. Pizza super supreme! He hit on a recipe for a hard-working 355-incher. Steel crank, Carillo rods, TRW blower pistons, Speed Pro rings, pushrods, and valves, Crower cam, Isky valve springs…

The package was bolted together by Ivan’s friend, Rob Madden. Complementing the good gear on the inside are some wild trimmings.

Poking through the bonnet is a polished air scoop atop a pair of Predator 930 cfm carbies. A Newby intake manifold, Moonyham supercharger and Fisher blower drive complete the induction picture. Nothing too subtle there. And on the other side, custom-built headers tailored for the engine by JC Performance Fabrications draw forth the exhaust gases. Concern with overheating was banished by a visit to Mr Radiator. A large and expensive four-core job keeps the temperature needle at a healthy mark.

Under the bonnet, the overall result is certainly visually impressive, helped by the obligatory Earl’s bralded lines and a splash of stainless steel and chrome. The engine bay itself is finished in stainless, as is the radiator cap, the specially machined accelerator linkage brackets, the Nitrous and fuel blocks and blower restraint straps. All bolts on the car are Allen-keyed and stainless. The alternator has been chromium plated. More to the point, Ivan Hans’ Chev Torana now conjures up a fair whack of horsepower. “At a rough guess, about 550,” he says. Just as importantly — considering Ivan likes to cruise about — the engine is conveniently flexible and well behaved in traffic.

More recently came a suspension update. On the rear, Spax coilover shocks were fitted (with the bottom mounts for the coilovers machined from stainless steel). The front end was dropped 1.5 inches and decked out with 90/10 Monroe dampers. Wheels and tyres are the drag buffs’ Laurel and Hardy combo. On the front, skinny 14×5 Dragways wearing Michelins. On the rear, fat 15x10s with bulbous Kelly Springfields. Most of the body mods, including the Ford LTD tailights and the LJ nose cone, date back to the days when the Torana carried a more modest six-pot powerplant. But the lengthened rear flares and glass-fibre bonnet are new.

The car is jammed with Individual touches and first-class workmanship. Corners weren’t cut. Underneath, a stone guard has been applied and painted black. Against this backdrop, the diff, suspension and cross-member have been red plated. Coll springs are now candy-apple red. The knobs on the window winders have been machined by the owner from stainless. In the boot is a 60 litre alloy fuel tank. The interior is a dazzling contrast of red against black. Good ol’ mum helped out with the Singer, stitching together a series of red vinyl tubes to cover the black sponge roll-cage padding. It looks sharp and tones in neatly with the red harnesses and carpet.

Ivan also fashioned an alloy cover over the face of the original instrument binnacle, with the appropriate cut-outs for the instrumentation. Other cockpit gear includes a NASCAR-style window net, chunky steering wheel, B&M Starshifter and a stainless steel parachute lever adjacent to the handbrake. Simply push forward on the lever and a cable pops the ‘chute. This safety-first item is, by the way, suitable for speeds up to 170 mph! There’s also a fire extinguisher. ..

And after eight long months In not-so-flattering blue spray putty, Ivan finally gave his car the livery it deserved. Pearl white with Candy graphics. Painting — all of it from body prepping to graphics — was lvan’s handiwork. Wayne Jolliffe helped out, particularly with the early preparation. First there were four coats of white base, followed by four of pearl and topped by two layers of clear. Then on went the tricky graphics. Candy Apple stripes with a silver base and candy over the lot. Finally, the whole job was preserved in nearly a dozen coats of clear lacquer.

You may get the impression Ivan Hans is more than a dab hand with a spray gun. A professional. Not so. A fitter by trade, our man Ivan has managed to teach himself the tricks of the paint trade. “I started off doing murals for friends and then graduated to full paint jobs on a few mate’s cars.” Then with some understatement “I guess I’m not a bad backyard painter.” Not bad? Good enough for Mr Hyde to collect Top Custom Paint at the Summernats!

But talk about cutting things fine — the Torana was completed on the morning of December 31, 1987! Car and driver barely made it to Street Machine’s wing-ding New Year’s party in the national caplial. Ivan was forced to trailer it to Canberra because the Turbo 400 was mucking up and wouldn’t move anywhere, except in first cog. He had a whale of a time nevertheless, cruising around in Hawkie’s haven.

But this bitumen-burning Torana is destined for a future a little more exciting than tooling around the streets of Canberra and the Steel City. Just as soon as the Chev gets a few more miles up, Ivan intends whipping up to Oran Park to give those horses a gallop down the quarter. Few cars attract attention like this stunning Mr Hyde. But the question most asked of Ivan Hans is, how does he see over the blower and scoop? So far no representative of the’ NSW Police has posed that question. lvan’s policy of non-confrontation is working.