Reader’s rocket: LS-swapped HQ Tonner

Bought as a fire-damaged rolling shell, Willem's Tonner is now a home-brewed LS-powered stunner

Photographers: Jordan Leist

Willem Van Der Merwe’s tells us about this HQ One Tonner:

“When I got my 1973 Tonner, there wasn’t much left of it – the owner before me had an untimely engine bay fire, and then the car was completely stripped, sandblasted and primed. I bought the project as a roller.

First published in the March 2024 issue of Street Machine

“Working at Novel Smash Repairs in Bunbury, I had the chance to do the rust repairs and panelwork myself after hours. While I was at it, I fabricated the custom tray and tubs, smoothed out the engine bay a bit and then painted it that wicked Mazda Soul Red colour.

“When I first completed the car, I had a fuel-injected 5.0-litre in it with a T5 ’box, but that only lasted six months or so before I changed things up with a fresh LS donk and a 4L60E transmission with a 3900rpm stall converter.

“Once I found out that the Castlemaine Rod Shop had a complete kit for the conversion, I knew it was the right way to go. The car now has Wilwood six-piston front brakes, rack-and-pinion steering, a shortened nine-inch diff with a 4.11-geared Truetrac, and a McDonald Brothers four-link set-up with Viking coil-overs.

“The car gets a ton of attention due to the massive 20×12 Simmons wheels on 345 tyres on the back. The fronts are 20×8.5. The interior features an HJ GTS dash with OMP WRC-R seats, Velo four-point harnesses, a TCI Outlaw X shifter, and a neat Billet Specialties steering wheel.

“I am rather proud that I did most of the work myself, from the panel and paint to the wiring, engine conversion and the basics of a complete rebuild. I appreciate the advice and help I got from my mates during the build, too.”