Kathryn Moran can trace her lifelong car obsession to her parents. “I blame my dad’s genes and a little of Mum’s,” she explains. “My younger years were spent going to car shows in Dad’s 1956 Chevrolet sedan, where he would promote his work, a radio station in Victoria called 3MP.
We later towed the caravan to Queensland for a holiday and never left – Brisbane was where I really got into cars, and my family know I will never change!” Now 51, Kathryn has been restoring cars since her teenage years in the 80s – a time when you could get parts for traditional street machining models from every wreckers in town.
First published in Street Machine‘s Yearbook 2023
1. Kathryn was out cruising around Brisbane and the Gold Coast from the age of 15. “I loved it,” she says. “I remember seeing a girl race her Torana, and I immediately just wanted to be like her. My first car was this EH Holden sedan, which was in good nick and looked pretty cool, but I tried driving it with the three-on-the-tree manual and just knew it wasn’t meant to be.”
Kathryn moved to the Gold Coast with her family soon after and bought a two-door, six-cylinder LC Torana. “It was okay, but I already knew it wasn’t fast enough, so I had the engine overhauled, and boom! I could keep up with the guys on the Coast!”
2. As is often the case, Kathryn soon got used to the power of the Torana and felt it was just a little slow for her liking. Enter this very tidy VC Commodore sporting a set of HDT-spec Irmscher wheels and a 308/auto driveline, which allowed her to start having some real fun.
“The Queensland Police-run ‘Operation DRAG’ was happening at the time at the old Surfers Paradise drag strip, so I took the Commodore there as often as I could,” she says. “I still have the trophies that I won for being the quickest female in a V8.”
3. The Commodore was fun, but Kathryn’s eye was soon caught by a beautiful XB Falcon show car painted in EB GT Black Pearl and sporting a tunnel-rammed 351 Cleveland. “It had a white interior with a pink anodised rollcage, pink leather steering wheel, and even the engine was pink – what more could a girl want?” she laughs.
“I sold the VC to fund this, but I realised pretty quickly that the Clevo was too slow for my love of power, so instead of working the engine, I swapped the XB for a purple XY Fairmont sedan with a much tougher 351; the XY had a lot more grunt, so I was happy for a while.”
4. The time came once again for Kathryn to go faster, so she had Marty White at John White Race Engines (People Like Us, SM, Mar ’12) build her a new motor for the purple XY. “Wow, he built a great engine!” she enthuses. “I was now winning every race with that Clevo, but I still decided to put the good old nitrous oxide on it to go even quicker.
While I was driving that around, I came across this beautiful gold XY Fairmont with white trim; I bought the car and not long after decided to swap the tough engine from the purple XY into it. I took this gold one to Willowbank a few times and had a lot of fun.”
5. Sharing Kathryn’s garage with the gold XY was an orange Mk1 Escort circuit car, along with a green Mk2 Cortina GT streeter and a 1986 Mercedes 300E. “I bought the Escort thinking I would give track racing a go, but it just wasn’t me,” she says. “Drag racing is where my heart is, and I wanted a real race car, so I gradually sold all of these aforementioned cars and bought this yellow XB hardtop.”
Some readers may recognise this car from when it was owned by the late Todd ‘The Judge’ Wilkes, who was a 2001 Summernats Horsepower Heroes winner before being tragically killed in his Giocattolo at Eastern Creek soon after.
Todd was reputed to be building this XB with twin-turbo Hemi power before his passing, and Kathryn bought it from his estate and had big plans for it. Sadly, those plans didn’t happen, as Kathryn went through one of those life stages where something you wish you could have kept unfortunately had to go.
6. Kathryn’s partner, Glen, owns this gorgeous ZF Fairlane, which the couple have had for 25 years and share driving duties of at Willowbank. The heavyweight is powered by a 383-cube stroker Cleveland and puts the power down through those rear Weld Draglites via 4.11 gears.
An 11.20-second best is nothing to sneeze at, and the pair hope to improve their respective times with some tweaks to the suspension.
7. As an eight-year-old at a local show in Victoria, Kathryn spotted the vehicular love of her life. “I thought the headlights and guards were amazing, but I had no idea what it was,” she says. “I eventually learnt it was a 1973 Mercedes, and it was many years later while riding my bike around Burleigh on the Gold Coast that I kept noticing a ’73 Merc sedan that never seemed to move.
I contacted the local council and asked if they could find the owner and get them to contact me. The previous owner rang and said the person who bought the car off him passed away shortly after, so I purchased it from the owner’s estate and finally had the model I’d always dreamed of.
But as things go, I then found this more desirable two-door model in red with white trim, so the sedan was sold. Glen suggested we do ‘a little bodywork’ on it – and a full bare-metal respray later, it looked amazing, and even more so after a decent lowering job.”
8. Kathryn’s dad bought this Aussie-delivered 1956 Chevrolet 210 sedan in 1966. “It was the first car both my brother and myself ever rode in,” she recalls. Recently, the car moment came along that she had been hoping for her whole life but never imagined actually happening. “I was at my parents talking about cars – which is all I do – and Mum said to my dad, ‘Why don’t you give the Chev to Kathryn to restore?’ Dad didn’t hate the idea, so I was quick to get a tow truck around there before he changed his mind!” Kathryn laughs.
“The red interior is still okay, and there’s some rust here and there, but it’s been garaged its whole life so is in good nick considering its age. The colour will stay the same, as that’s how I always remember Dad driving it, and have appropriately named it DADS56. What will change is the driveline – I’m fitting a 540 stroker big-block backed by a full-manual, reverse-pattern Turbo 400 and nine-inch; there needs to be some ‘Kathryn’ in it somewhere!”