Pro Street 622ci LH Torana

A couple of hog-hunting buddies pooled car parts to race at the sharp end of Modified Street

Photographers: Tony Rabbitte

If your memory isn’t too bad, you might remember that back in January 2006 we featured a crazy eight-second Bathurst Monaro, owned by Johnny Wilson. You couldn’t miss the massive induction hood or the 615 cubes of big-block overflowing from the engine bay.

First published in the February 2007 issue of Street Machine

Well he’s back — and this time he’s brought good mate Joe Gillespie along for the ride. The boys have pooled resources and created this mid-8sec beast. They’ve already rewritten the record books and now they’re looking for sevens.

After just a couple of meetings the red LH Torana ran [email protected], making it the quickest Modified Street runner in the country. At the recent Powercruise Streetcar Shootout, Johnny and Joe top qualified in Modified Street but came runners-up to Mick Voase in the final after their Torana went up in tyre smoke.

But why is Johnny’s engine in Joe’s Torana?

It all came about when the monster motor in Johnny’s Monaro developed a problem, not long after we featured the beast. Apparently the pistons in the old donk weren’t exactly what Johnny had been led to believe he’d got, and the tops lifted off them, causing some damage. Time for a rebuild; so he went to Kavey at KV Resto & Race Fabrication.

Johnny is a big fan of Kavey’s work, especially after the fine job he did on the Monaro. “It’s mint, I can’t fault any of it,” he says.

So ‘the Caveman’ bored the big-block out a little further, then fitted new Ross Pro Mod pistons and some other goodies to freshen things up. With the internals fixed, and pumped out to 622ci, the engine was ready to race. But Johnny had started thinking about his pristine Bathurst Monaro. With the value of original Aussie muscle, he didn’t want to damage the old girl by tearing it up on the strip any more.

Which is where Joe comes in. Joe and Johnny are old pig-hunting mates.

“Johnny used to call me The Barefoot Bushpig from when I lost my thongs while pig hunting and I was tearing through the scrub barefoot.”

Joe’s no stranger to Street Machine either, his Torana — this Torana in fact — appeared on the cover of our Summernats special for Summernats 11. It’s always been a bit of screamer and used to run a VN-headed 308 that could whip down the quarter in a respectable 10.9 seconds.

Joe’s plan was to rebuild the genuine SLR5000 Torana with a fresh look and a 385ci, nine-second small-block he had lying around. But with Johnny talking about getting another shell for the big banger, he suggested matching it to the LH instead.

Now, Toranas do have decent-sized engine bays but a big-block Chev is still a really tight fit and 622 cubes wouldn’t slide in without a little jiggling. Kavey was given the task of making it happen while keeping a ‘street’ look. The ultimate aim was to tackle the Powercruise Shootout Modified Street class and give the record a healthy nudge.

Inside, Kavey welded up a chrome-moly rollcage to keep the weight down, and fitted a pair of lightweight Kirkey seats. There’s no back seat — you’d have to be a gymnast to climb in there. The interior is all about going fast and keeping an eye on the engine with an array of Auto Meter gauges. Kavey also created 2.5in primary fenderwell headers that flow into 4.5in collectors. Twin 4.5in exhausts run back to custom Gonzo mufflers that dump at the diff.

Fabricated trailing arms use the factory suspension points and coil-over shocks to mount the sheet-metal diff. That’s full of good gear too: a Strange alloy centre, full spool, 3.7:1 gears, 35-spline axles and floating hubs with Outlaw discs and calipers on either end. Weld Magnums, 10 inches wide, wear 29×10 Hoosier slicks to keep the bum off the deck and transfer around 750rwhp to the track.

We’re not guessing with those figures; recently the Torana took on all comers at the Queensland Holden vs Ford show and won outright, with 747hp at the tyres. The competition included a twin-turbo big-block. This thing is bloody serious but there’s more madness to come.

A big-block Chev is a tight fit in a Torana and 622 cubes wouldn’t slide in without a little jiggling

The guys have sourced a Nitrous Express kit, which supplies extra fuel and nitrous to direct-port nozzles via twin fuel rails. The nitrous hasn’t yet been fired up but the system is trick and can supply 1000hp per rail. Of course, the 10in tyres would never handle 2000hp of giggle gas but the guys reckon that 500–600hp extra should see them down around the 7.9sec mark. Sevens on 10in slicks would be really impressive!

About the only thing Kavey didn’t do on the car was the paint. At some angles it looks orange while at others it appears deep red thanks to the gold fleck laid over the House Of Kolor Scarlet. Well-known Brisbane painter Shaun Brown worked the panel and paint, and Joe’s very happy with the result but he initially had trouble finding someone to take on the job.

“No one wanted to touch it — they all wanted to do insurance work,” he says.

Other external features of note are the L34 flares and front spoiler, and the Harwood bonnet scoop with five inches added to its width. The nitrous rails were protruding through the bonnet so to hide them, Kavey widened the scoop.

On its first outing, at Powercruise 7, the Torana impressed fans with its antics.

“At 60km/h you can aim it straight, boot the throttle and it’ll pull the wheels off the ground,” says Johnny.

Next outing, at Mackay, the Torana wiggled its way down the slippery track each round until they met Angela Dow’s blown Torana in the final.

“It was a good fun day — I had to drive my way to the finals,” Johnny says. Angela won at Mackay and the next outing was the Powercruise Streetcar Shootout where, as we said, Mick Voase and his 540ci LX hatch won after Johnny and Joe lost traction. With a few meetings down, the guys are keen to flick the nitrous switch.

So far Johnny’s done all the driving but Joe’s been impressed with the car so far and he’s ready to have a crack — “Oh yeah, I can’t wait!”

Johnny’s happy too, staying out of the politics that often surrounds the scene.

“We don’t mouth off; we just turn up and let the car do the talking.”


Colour:HOK Scarlet with gold fleck
Engine:Chev big-block, 622ci
Carbs:Twin 1050 Dominators
Manifold:Custom sheet-metal
Nitrous:Nitrous Express direct port, 500–600hp
Heads:Dart 18deg Big Chief
Pistons:Ross Racing Pro Mod forged
Crank:Lunati Pro
Rods:Lunati Pro billet
Cam:Lunati nitrous
Rockers:Jesel shaft-mounted
Ignition:MSD belt-driven dizzy, crank trigger, MSD 7-AL
Fuel pump:Product Engineering 540
Exhaust:Custom 2.5-inch primary fenderwell headers, 4.5-inch collectors, Gonzo mufflers
Transmission:Powerglide, full manual, transbrake
Converter:Converter Shop 5500rpm
Diff:Sheet-metal 9in, full spool, 35-spline axles, Strange alloy centre, and 3.7 gears
Brakes:Wilwood discs & calipers (f), Outlaw discs & calipers (r)
Springs:Pedders V8 (f), coil-over (r)
Shocks:Pedders 90/10 (f), coil-over (r)
Seats:Kirkey alloy (f)
Harnesses:RCI five-point
Gauges:Auto Meter everything
Stereo:You wouldn’t hear it
Shifter:Precision Performance Products

Kavey, KV Resto & Race; Central Qld Radiators; Bob Grant’s Automatics; Shaun Brown; Melissa, Hi-impact Promotions; the pit crew: Scotty, Finch & Captain Norm.