Carnage: We race a Holden… Barina

In this episode of Carnage, we buy a Holden and go racing!

Photographers: Shaun Tanner

YOU guys have been crying out for a Holden Carnage project, as so far it’s been all Barra motors in Fords and of course the Mazda MX5.7. So we bought a Holden! But it’s probably not the sort of Holden you were hoping for – it doesn’t have a V8 or even a V6. That’s because it’s a Barina.

 Yep, Scotty bought a poxy little four-cylinder front-wheel-drive city car. We’re not really sure why, either. Still, it was cheap, and Carnage is all about having fun with cars on a tight budget.

 This isn’t just any old Holden Barina either. Normally a Barina would come with a 44kW 1.4-litre four-cylinder, but the previous owner of this car swapped in a 2.0-litre motor from a Holden Calibra with 110kW! So it has more than double the horsepower from factory.

 What would we do with a car like this? Naturally we couldn’t drive it on the street as it isn’t registered, so we turned it into a dedicated race car by stripping out the interior and shedding some weight.

 This car was $500 as-is, and naturally a few things weren’t quite right with it. For starters one of the brake pads was a piece of wood – easy fixed. The clutch also needed replacing, and the wheels were jammed onto the hubs.

 With the car in reasonably roadworthy condition, it was off to Calder Park to see what it would run down the quarter-mile. Obviously we weren’t expecting it to be very fast, but it was good fun! The tyres on the car were hard as rocks with zero grip, so it wheelspun through the first three gears and did big smoky single-wheel burnouts.

 From the start our plan for this car was to do some kind of motorkhana, circuit or hillclimb events with it – anything with tight and twisty turns. So after Calder Park we put some decent tyres on the thing and went racing at the One Tree Hill Ararat Hillclimb. We had to quieten the car down to pass scrutineering, so the legends at Extracted Performance Exhaust hooked us up with a muffler and side pipe. Don’t worry, she is still plenty loud!

 Having been into drag racing his whole life, this was Scotty’s first foray into turning left and right, and he loved it! The Barina was even pretty competitive against the other cars in its class.

 All up, this thing owes us less than $2000, with the biggest single purchase being decent rubber. It shows you don’t need to spend big to have a huge amount of fun on four wheels. This isn’t the last you’ll see of the Barina; we plan on fitting better suspension and maybe upgrading the brakes to make it even quicker at its next event. Stay tuned. Maybe we’ll do a proper Holden one day, too.