Judith Menso’s Whipple-blown LX Torana hatch

Over nearly three decades, Judith Menso's Iron Lion-powered LX hatch has morphed into a home-built elite show car

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

Thanks to passionate Holden-loving elders, Judith Menso’s fate was sealed from an early age. Enveloped in Monaros, Commodores and H-series dailies, it was pre-determined that Judith would have petrol pumping through her veins – and she’s proud of it, too.

First published in the September 2021 issue of Street Machine

In 1992, a young Judith had her sights firmly set on a 308ci-powered Barbados Green LX Torana sedan. But her dad was having none of it. Instead, the then 17-year-old was strongly persuaded to invest in an under-powered four-pot Torana hatch.

“The hatch was bought for $5000. My parents were happy to contribute $3000, but I couldn’t put in a V8 until I owned it. Hence I paid them back as soon as I could,” Judith laughs.

Over the past 29 years, the Torana has copped a raft of modifications, including Judith’s desired V8. “A friend and I put in a 308ci over a long weekend – it was still my daily driver so couldn’t be off the road,” she explains.

Later, Judith’s hubby Rodney – who’s owned the ex-Street Machine giveaway HQFORU for the past 25 years – put his panel and paint trade to work dousing the LX in BMW black with a gold pearl, and later black with pink flames. “The pink highlights were added as I was tired of being asked if it was my boyfriend’s car,” Judith says.

The hatch went from daily driver to weekend cruiser before deterioration saw the tired LX eventually parked up.

Fast-forward to Easter 2019, when Judith and Rodney hatched fresh plans for the weary LX. Initially the idea was to just give it a quick freshen-up for the 2019 Toranafest. “Now here we are after a two-year, full-on rebuild. We went a bit off track!” Judith smiles.

The pair decided to step up to an Elite-style build, setting their sights on Summernats, an event Judith was keen to sink her teeth into. The short turnaround was thanks to Rodney’s passionate desire to see the project completed quickly and to an exceptional level.

“About 75 per cent of the build was done in our shed,” Judith says. “Rodney did an awesome job of the body and fabrication work. The LX doors and underneath were beaten up worse than what we thought; it looked like someone had been out bush-bashing before I owned it.”

Rodney fabricated a fresh firewall, cowl panel and bespoke radiator support, and re-engineered the mounts from inner guards to fenders with hidden fasteners.

Externally, a ton of subtle mods make the hatch look and sit just right, including both the rear spoiler and A9X scoop moulded to the body. “We also spent a long time deliberating on the stance; the flares were tweaked and the rims and ride height played with until the LX sat just so,” Judith says.

Next, Rodney set all of the gaps, getting the LX lines nice and crisp before laying down the Holden Morpheus Purple from roof to undercarriage. “I’ve always loved the colour; my everyday driver is a Morpheus Purple SS VE Commodore,” Judith explains.

Yet perhaps the most striking element of the car now is the show-spec lilac leather trim. “I wanted a clean, fresh, light colour that was different but still complemented the body,” Judith says. She had a vinyl sample in the exact hue she was after, but after exhausting all local leads on correctly matched hides, the lilac furniture leather was imported from Italy. Michael from Resurrected Auto Upholstery then trimmed Judith’s dreams into sumptuous reality.

Under the moulded A9X scoop now resides a 304ci from a VR Stato, thanks to Judith’s brother Jeffrey. “We kept a Holden motor but added the Yella Terra Whipple blower for something different. I wanted to keep the motor reasonably tough but didn’t want anything sticking out of the bonnet,” she says.

Underneath gained more than an immaculate paintjob, with the entire suspension and braking system receiving a decent overhaul. There’s a Castlemaine Rod Shop IFS with Viking coil-overs, a Rod Shop chassis kit, and Wilwood stoppers all around.

Team Menso set an ambitious target of debuting HER LX at Summernats 2021. The event’s cancellation and the shift in focus to a Rockynats unveiling worked greatly in their favour. “We were still rushing and doing things the night before we left on the seven-hour drive to Rockynats,” Judith admits. There, HER LX wowed the punters and judges alike, collecting a sought-after MotorEx Superstars invite.

“Now we’re fixing some of the rushed areas; Rodney tucked the front bumper and moved the number plate underneath just before this shoot,” Judith says of the continuous improvements.

“I want to keep the car Elite for a while, but soon I’ll be getting into the driving events – I like doing that sort of stuff,” Judith says. “I’ve been an enthusiast since I was a teenager, and it hasn’t stopped.”

Make sure you get to check out HER LX in the metal before Judith firmly plants herself behind the tiller and drives off into the sunset.


  • A9X scoop moulded to bonnet
  • Reshaped cowl panel
  • Rear spoiler moulded to hatch lid and quarter panels
  • Door and guard gaps aligned
  • Redesigned flares
  • Bumpers shortened & reshaped
  • Toyota Hilux bonnet lock and striker
  • Kindig It door pulls and poppers
  • Fibreglass dash with OEM pad
  • Billet Specialties wheel with leather half-wrap
  • Custom console flanked with LEDS
  • JVC Stereo
  • Dakota digital gauges
  • Billet door handles, dash knobs and pedals
  • Triton front seats
  • Italian lilac leather
  • Reshaped rear seats
  • Flat floors


Paint: PPG Holden Morpheus Purple
Brand: Holden 304ci
Induction: 2.4L Whipple supercharger
ECU: Haltech Elite 2000
Heads: Ported 
Camshaft: Crane 
Conrods: A9L
Pistons: Hypatec
Oil pump: JP
Fuel system: JD Customs aluminium 90L drop tank, internal Raceworks electric fuel
pump, upgraded injectors
Cooling: Aussie Desert Cooler radiator, twin 12in thermos
Exhaust: Pacemaker extractors, custom twin 2½in system, stainless mufflers,
electric cut-outs
Ignition: Haltech Elite ECU
Gearbox: TH350
Converter: Converter Shop 2500rpm
Diff: CRS, Strange centre, 3.55:1 gears, 31-spline axles
Front: CRS IFS, Viking coil-overs, rack-and-pinion steering
Rear: CRS four-bar, lowered springs
Brakes: Wilwood discs (f & r)
Rims: Showwheels; 18×7 (f), 18×9 ®
Rubber: Grenlander; 225/45 (f), 285/45 (r)

My husband Rodney for all the work he’s put into HER LX over the past two years; my brother Jeff Granshaw for engine assembly; Bill Dingle Smash Repairs; John at JB Automotive for engine machine work, dyno and tune; Michael at Resurrected Auto Upholstery for custom interior; Tony at TDv Autosport for wiring; Warren at Norstate Auto; PPG; Barry & Matt at Performance Parts Plus; Bob Parkes Automotive for exhaust; Jake at Castlemaine Rod Shop; Barbara at Glicks Auto Plus