WE’VE given away many cars, engines and even a couple of motorbikes over the 40 years of Street Machine’s existence – not to mention a Space Invaders game and many trips to SM Summernats. Some of the bigger-ticket items get sold straight away by grateful owners who need to turn them into cash. Others, like HQFORU, take a few years to find their true custodian. But sometimes one of our giveaways stays with the same owner for decades, like Jeff Foley’s Haltech-injected 202! He won the beast in 2000, fitted it to his UC Torana hatch and has only now sold the six to slot in a 308.
First published in Street Machine’s Yearbook 2021
Jeff was a 24-year-old trainee draughtsman on a paltry $17,000 wage when then-SM editor Seddo called him with the good news. “I was working in the office and the receptionist told me she had a bloke called Geoff Seddon on the phone. I was like, ‘What the hell?’ I was pretty stunned,” he recalls.
After taking delivery of the engine (initially sans ECU and instruction book), Jeff weighed up his options. “I was thinking about selling it, as I wanted a V8,” he says. “But my brother said I’ll probably never own an engine built like this again, and it’ll go like a V8 anyway.”
Convinced, he set about finding a suitable recipient for the donk. “I wanted a Torana coupe, but they were all dungers and way too expensive at $1400 for a rough LJ GTR and $1000 for a rough LX SS,” he recounts. “Instead I bought a good and going $650 UC hatch, as I wanted to street-machine it and wouldn’t be too concerned about chopping up a future classic. I wish I had just gone with one of the other cars in retrospect!”
The factory Starfire four was yanked and the hot six bolted up before Jeff tasked a suburban performance shop with setting up the injection and management system, but they didn’t share his enthusiasm for the venerable Holden six, or the mighty UC.
“The performance mob said they didn’t know why I was wasting my money and their time playing with a Torana,” says Jeff. “They said it wasn’t ever going to be worth anything and that a Skyline or Silvia would out-handle, out-brake and out-perform it. They said, ‘Don’t bring it back; we don’t want to see it again.’”
In their hurry to cleanse themselves of the apparently uncool Torry, Jeff says they never nailed down the tune. “It never ran correctly and used to ping a bit at higher revs, so I had Hussey Performance in Warragul do a little work to it and Dandy Performance do the tune. After that, it went like a rocket, chirping the tyres everywhere with the car’s 3.9 gears.”
Jeff’s woes didn’t end there, though. When he headed to VicRoads for a cursory engine number change, he was told the mill was listed as stolen. It turns out the donor car had been pinched in the early 90s, the powerplant eventually finding its way to the wrecker visited by SM. A VicRoads investigation found the car’s insurance had been paid out, so Jeff was finally cleared to hit the blacktop.
The 202 performed well for 20 years of weekend driving, but Jeff finally decided it was time for a change earlier this year. “The 202 was fast for a squirt around town,” he says, “but these days I’d rather go for a drive in the hills with my family.” It was packed up and sent to Queensland, bound for a new life in an EH.
The UC now runs a Holden 304, topped with a Torque Power dual-plane manifold and Holley Sniper injection. The SM-provided Trimatic is gone too, with a Ford T5 now in its place. It feeds into a limited-slip nine-incher with 3.25 gears. Jeff says he’ll likely recruit long-time mate John Pilla of Powerhouse Engines to screw together a warm engine combo.
Jeff extends his thanks to his wife Liz for her enduring patience with his car obsession, his brothers Ade, Tex and Pete, and Street Machine for handing over the stout 202 all those years ago. “I really liked the engine,” he says, “and it’s been a great topic of conversation with car blokes whenever it comes up.”
THE subscriber giveaway donk started as an SM Grunt Hunt project, spread across three consecutive issues. The build began in the Jan-Feb 2000 mag with a complete $400 blue motor, into which a grumpy Crow cam was slotted and helical-cut timing gears installed. Some bolt-ons were also switched out, with the end result netting a respectable 164hp engine dyno figure.
March’s Part Two saw the stock internals replaced with a raft of tougher goodies, including Powermax pistons and bearings. A Yella Terra head was screwed on, as was a Holley 500cfm carb and Scorcher ignition for 191hp.
Finally, on went a VK Commodore manifold and a then-cutting-edge Haltech EFI system, controlled by an F9A ECU and tuned at Swift Automotive. Planned testing in a VC Commodore fell through, so the donk instead found a temporary home in Danny Bardel’s LJ Torana drag car.
Mated to a Race Glides-built Trimatic ’box, power at the wheels was 166hp – more than a stock injected Holden 304! The 202 and stout auto were then pulled back out of the car and offered to one lucky subscriber.
Jeff Foley’s UC Torana
Block: 202ci Holden six
Crank: Reconditioned Holden
Cam: Crow 35667 billet
Head: Yella Terra
Manifold: VK Commodore
ECU: Haltech F9A
Quarter-mile: 14.2@88mph (LJ Torana)