Matt Lomas’s freshly minted LH Torana is one immaculately turned-out streeter, but the journey to get it to that point was far from smooth. This thing has thrown Matt so many obstacles during its four-year build, it’s a wonder he mustered the strength to see it through. “The car kicked my arse the entire way,” he sighs.
First published in Street Machine’s Summer Special magazine 2023
Matt was only 17 years old when he purchased a 355ci VL Commodore, slowly modifying it over the years that followed. But as much as he loved it, there was one car he still dreamed of crossing off his bucket list. “I had wanted a Torana since I was a kid,” he says, “so after about 20 years of owning the VL, one night on a whim I decided to put it up for sale.”
In less than 24 hours, the mid-80s Holden was flogged off, allowing Matt to finally chase his dream car. “Being in my 30s, I knew what I wanted, and this time I planned on building exactly that,” he says.
Matt began chasing Torana shells, and by September 2018 he had invested in a 1974 LH roller. It had been built as a Powercruise weapon and sported hefty mods to suit, including tubs, a wider trans tunnel and a sheet-metal dash. Matt was even supplied a bunch of pics apparently proving the shell’s worthiness beneath its slap-dash paintwork.
Coalfields Smash Repairs then set about adding a raft of roadworthy must-haves including an external fuel filler, chassis connectors and extra bracing. However, the bodywork beneath the backyard paintjob proved to be rather less stellar than promised. Stripping the entire shell to bare metal revealed far more filler than expected, though thankfully not much rust.
Once the team got the body tickety-boo, it was time for a dowsing of Matt’s chosen hue. “The House of Kolor Tru Blue pearl is beautiful, but it’s a shit to deal with as it shows everything – it’s as bad as black. So the body had to be spot-on,” he says of the car’s now arrow-straight bodylines.
While creating a street-legal cruiser was Matt’s focus from the get-go, some aspects of that brief were about to throw him a few curveballs.
“I bought a supercharged LS2 six-litre, then rang about 20 engineers and none of them would touch it, but they’d okay a 5.7-litre,” he says. “Then I found Troy at Fink Engineering, who would do it – he was good to deal with.”
More trouble ensued when Matt went to sling the LS2 between the towers – the block was cracked. As for the trans – you guessed it, still more problems. “The first TH400 had issues shifting between second and third gears,” Matt says. “I gave it back to the shop, trading it for another ’box, but the valvebody needed replacing on that one. Third time around, I told the trans guy that this is bullshit!”
Mercifully, the diff proved hassle-free: “Diff Technics used the wheels and car to set everything up, and it worked well. It’s one of the few things I had no dramas with.”
All went well in the interior department, too. Cardiff Motor Trimming swathed everything top to tail in tan leather and suede, including the VS GTS front and modified rear seats.
Once everything was finally buttoned up, the final test for the Torry was getting through the rigours of engineering. And, as per the car’s preferred modus operandi, the complications kept coming.
The first round of engineer-based driving saw the alternator cark it and the aforementioned shifting issue rear its head. During round two, a trans cooler line let go, pissing fluid onto the exhaust. “I’m lucky the car didn’t catch on fire!” Matt says. With the line promptly repaired, the Torana finally received that sought-after tick of approval.
While it’s clear the build gave Matt more than his fair share of difficulties, he prefers to focus on the good that came out of it. “With help from a few great mates and family – including my young sons Jack and Cruz – we put the Torana together in my back shed,” he smiles, highlighting the moments he cherishes. “Cruising with my wife and kids, that’s what I built it for – to drive and use it. But if I do happen to put it in a show pavilion, it’ll turn heads.”
Indeed, this blue beauty may have a date with Australia’s biggest horsepower party in its future. “If I go to Summernats, I’ll drive the LH there; I’d only trailer it to race,” Matt says. Hang on – race? “I’ll add a removable ’cage, as I’d like to see what it can do – it should go nines.” Phwoar – a nine-second, street-legal cruiser!
While there were plenty of trials along the way, Matt finally has the car he always wanted.
Even the wife’s a fan: “I am very pleased that my wife Bec loves the Torana and hasn’t complained about the money or time that has gone into it,” Matt says with a nervous laugh. “Although she might if she knew the exact amount I’ve spent!”
1974 Holden LH Torana
|Paint:||House of Kolor Tru Blue pearl|
|Induction:||Harrop Stealth 2300 supercharger, 70mm pulley, 92mm throttlebody, EFI|
|Heads:||LS2, Manley valves, PAC valve springs|
|Oiling:||Melling pump, Moroso sump|
|Fuel system:||Twin Walbro 525 pumps|
|Cooling:||PWR radiator, trans coolers and intercooler, PWR twin thermo fans|
|Exhaust:||Boosted Fabrications 4-into-1 stainless headers, twin 3in system|
|Ignition:||Eagle 10.5mm leads, Bosch coils, 1000cc injectors|
|Trans:||Coastal Transmissions-built TH400, manual shift, forward pattern|
|Tailshaft:||Gibson one-piece, 1350 yokes|
|Diff:||9in, Truetrac, 3.25:1 gears, 31-spline billet axles|
|SUSPENSION & BRAKES|
|Front:||King Springs, Pedders shocks|
|Rear:||King Springs, Pedders shocks|
|Brakes:||DBA discs with Ford AU III calipers (f), DBA discs with VS calipers (r)|
|Master cylinder:||VT Commodore|
|WHEELS & TYRES|
|Rims:||Bonspeed Intense; 18×7 (f), 18×10 (r)|
|Rubber:||Nankang; 205/40R18 (f), 275/35R18 (r)|