The WEPN number plate is spot-on; Lee Murray’s LJ Torana is one bad-arse ride. We featured it in Street Machine in October 2015, with its Holden V8 mill sporting an F1 ProCharger and blow-through carby set-up. Since then, Lee has been busy revamping the combo, to the point that the Torry now runs mid-eights over the quarter!
First published in the August 2023 issue of Street Machine
The car retains the 355-cube lion from 2015; hard to believe that after 10 years of Powercruise and drag-race beatings, the stroked 308, built by Zoran at Zox Performance in Brisbane, remains untouched and still sings like a canary. In the days before billet Holden V8 blocks, the 355-cuber was really the best you could build at the time, based around a VT roller-cam block with four-bolt main caps, half grout-filled. A Scat billet crank with a big-block Chevy snout swings Callies Compstar conrods and JE pistons. Heads are Yella Terra –9 items, with the valves operated by a solid-roller camshaft.
Zoran employed plenty of tricks to keep the plastic healthy, including an external coolant crossover to the rear of the heads, a heavily modified oiling system, bronzed lifter bores, diamond-coated piston pins, a Newby crank support timing case, –12 breathers located in the valley, and the disused fuel pump port on the timing cover.
More recently, Lee decided to pull the pin on carby life and go EFI. “I got lucky and found a Shaun’s Custom Alloy billet inlet manifold to suit a Holden motor,” he says. “Then I jumped on the phone to Kon Michaloudakis at Wollongong Automotive Services, and he gave me a list of everything I needed.
“I pulled the engine from the car and sent it to Owen’s Paint & Panel Repairs on the Central Coast for what was supposed to be an engine bay repaint, but it turned into a full car respray. [I also] lashed out with a new set of headers.”
Once the car was back together, it went to Kon for a rewire, and eventually made it to the hub dyno. With the old blow-through carby set-up on E85, the best the engine made was 795hp on 15psi boost and E85. With the new EFI combo, Kon and Lee decided to bump the boost up to 20psi, and it belted out 870hp at the hubs on E85 and 970hp on methanol.
The next big gain came when Lee fabricated a cold-air intake pipe via the front scuttle area. At the recent Holden Nationals in Heathcote, Lee ran without the intake during testing and netted a 9.1@148mph, but come race day, the intake was reinstated and the car went 8.80@158mph – pretty stout on a 275 radial! The intake paid further dividends when the car ran 8.54@161mph at Grudge Kings in Sydney.
That’s pretty wild for a Holden motor with Cometic head gaskets and stock-sized head studs. It’s amazing the difference a set of smart coils, a Holley Dominator EFI system with an ICE dual-sync distributor, and a seven-gallon in-tank brushless fuel pump can make to a car. Oh, and let’s not forget some great tuning by Kon.
“I knew the car had an 8.90 in it, so an 8.54 is just a bonus,” Lee says. “Will I turn it up? No, it’s happy the way it is. I don’t want to wreck it, but I figure it can run an 8.40 with some suspension upgrades.
“It’s taken me a few years, that’s for sure,” Lee concludes. “The biggest challenge has certainly been waiting for people to get stuff done. Luckily, it was worth the wait.” He ain’t kidding!