It’s a new project car! – Carnage Episode 66

The crew picks up a new project that’s ‘a little bit different’


ONE of the best things about Carnage’s audience is their generosity. Whether it’s a set of axles for a Volvo 240 or an entire donor car, we rarely go a few weeks without a kind offer.

You may remember the 1991 Toyota Soarer we were given earlier this year. That car packs a 1UZ V8 in running condition, though the rest of it has seen better days.

It’s a great donor car, but until now there’s been no suitable recipient for the bent eight.

That’s where Telfo and a late-night Marketplace session come into play. Stumbling across a Toyota Lexcen wagon at a bargain-basement price, he knew what had to happen.

If you’re not familiar with the Lexcen, it’s a product of the short-lived Button plan of the 1980s. It was a scheme designed to rationalise the Aussie car industry by encouraging local carmakers to share designs and platforms.

Essentially, this meant badge engineering. A Nissan emblem was tacked onto the XF Falcon ute, and vice-versa for Nissan’s Patrol, which became the Maverick.

Holden and Toyota spent a little more effort in differentiating their shared cars, with the Commodore-based Lexcen getting a Camry-style front clip, new steering wheel, and altered body mouldings. The driveline featured the same Commodore-spec 3.8 V6, available with auto only.

As Scotty and Telfo astutely point out, Lexcens were usually bought and owned by a demographic less likely to abuse their cars. That means they can be a tidy purchase – if you can find one still on the road.

Though it’s nudged up a lot of kilometres, our Lexcen seems mechanically sound, needing only a few tired interior parts swapped out for rego.

After slapping on the fresh plates it was time for a baseline dyno run at Maxx Performance. The well-used Buick managed to push 98kW to the rear wheels – about par for the course for a car like this.

Scotty now has the means to build a Commodore V8 with a twist. Technically, it’s a Toyota rather than a Holden, and an imported quad-cam powerplant adds another layer of deviation. With heaps of cargo space, it’s also the ideal platform for a practical Drag Challenge rig.

We’ve got big plans for this car in the near future, which you’ll see on a future episode of Carnage!