ME­CHAN­I­CAL AN­I­MAL

BALLS-OUT TORANA STREET CAR

NZV8 - - CONTENTS - WORDS: CON­NAL GRACE PHO­TOS: ADAM CROY

It doesn’t mat­ter at what end of the au­to­mo­tive spec­trum your loy­al­ties lie, we’re sure all of us can agree that there are few en­gines that sound as good as a hot Holden V8 with a min­i­mal num­ber of Flow­mas­ter muf­flers. As Rod­ney Heads ma­noeu­vres this Torana into po­si­tion for its photo shoot, the fire-and­brim­stone ex­haust note is over­laid with the harsh me­chan­i­cal noises of a Jerico dog­box clank­ing into gear, the whine of its straight-cut gear set, and an un­happy bang­ing and clunk­ing from the Detroit Locker rear end. While the Torana tol­er­ates be­ing driven at a nana’s pace in an ur­ban car park, this is quite ob­vi­ously a car that was built to be driven at ten-tenths — seem­ingly at odds with its war­rant of fit­ness, rego, and the fact that it was driven through the city to get here. As Rod­ney parks it up and lets the shoot get un­der­way, the pro­pri­etor of Tau­ranga-based Heads Rac­ing Sup­plies ex­plains to us a bit more about how he came to be in­volved in the build of this road-go­ing race car. One of the most in­ter­est­ing things about fam­ily heir­looms is usu­ally the story be­hind them. This Torana, for in­stance, which was handed down to its owner by his father, car­ries a bit of a story with it … but we’re not go­ing to delve into it here, out of re­spect for the owner’s wish for pri­vacy. That would nor­mally put us in a bit of a sit­u­a­tion as far as this ar­ti­cle goes — after all, how do you write a story when there isn’t one to tell? Luck­ily, this par­tic­u­lar car speaks for it­self — or maybe it’s the work of Rod­ney and his co-worker Paul from

Heads Rac­ing Sup­plies that speaks for it­self. What­ever, it’s far from your av­er­age Torana build. With its iconic aero kit, fat wheels, and lurid colour schemes, ‘un­der­stated’ is one of the last words you’d use to de­scribe a Torana SS, but it’s some­thing that this one could eas­ily be termed. It’s got far more fire­power stashed away than that vi­brant paint, fat rub­ber, and pol­ished drop tank could ever sug­gest. “We ended up build­ing it the same way his [the owner’s] dad would have done, if he’d kept it for him­self,” Rod­ney says. “We built it old school, in that tra­di­tional style.” What Rod­ney’s talk­ing about doesn’t cover just the aes­thetic side of things but the whole she­bang — with its stroked Holden V8 and four-speed man­ual box, this thing is true-blue Aussie mus­cle with 21stcen­tury overkill only where it’s needed. That sound­track we men­tioned ear­lier comes care of a 355ci Holden V8, built by Re­gal Au­to­mo­tive, around a cast-iron 304 block. The block is about the only Holden-made part there, though, with a four-bolt mains con­ver­sion, C.O.M.E. Rac­ing billet crank, Oliver rods, and JE pis­tons punch­ing the num­bers out. With 10.5:1 com­pres­sion, its un­civ­i­lized low-speed man­ners are com­pounded by a hefty top end — C.O.M.E. Rac­ing al­loy heads, Har­rop high-rise sin­gle­plane in­take, and 750cfm Holley Dou­ble Pumper. Its idle is grumpier than a tod­dler throw­ing a wobbly, which is the only way it was ever go­ing to be. Same with the Jerico four-speed dog­box, which brings its me­chan­i­cal strength to the ta­ble, not to men­tion a rau­cous whine from its straight-cut gears; the Detroit Locker un­der the bum isn’t shy of mak­ing its pres­ence known, ei­ther. The Torana’s nos­tal­gic in­spi­ra­tion meant that com­pro­mises had to be en­gi­neered in. Sure, the Heads Rac­ing Sup­plies guys could just as eas­ily have built it to be a face-tear­ing weapon with every­day driv­abil­ity, but that sort of thing would have been in­con­ceiv­able 20-odd years ago, which is why there’s no fuel in­jec­tion, no power steer­ing — not much of any­thing, re­ally, just buck­et­loads of raw, un­re­fined grunt!

Other than the beefy Wil­wood brakes, it’s all Torana un­der­neath. There’s no trick front sus­pen­sion, no cus­tom three-link rear or Watt’s link­age — just fac­tory-stamped A-arms up front and a stan­dard tri­an­gu­lated four-link rear. King Springs coils and Koni shocks are the fan­ci­est gear keep­ing it stuck to the road, and, with that chunky rub­ber around the clas­sic 15x9-inch and 15x10-inch Sim­mons B45 wheels, we’d guess that the rear end would be just as happy to break free from the tar­mac given half a chance. As un­couth as the Torana’s be­hav­iour may be, don’t think it’s been slapped to­gether with­out re­gard for any­thing other than the oily bits. The pho­tos should tell enough of a story about the paint­ing abil­ity of An­drew at HD Refin­ish­ers; the two-tone Spies Hecker paint is just as smooth on the out­side as it is in the door jambs and en­gine bay. Speak­ing of which, Mike at Mi­cam Auto Elec­tri­cal con­trib­uted a fair bit of his hand­i­work, rewiring the car from front to back, but it’s in the en­gine bay that his work is most ev­i­dent, with all wiring neatly tucked out of the way. You can’t tell, but it’s

wired just as well in­side, with all the MSD ig­ni­tion gear stashed un­der the dash, and those Auto Me­ter gauges wired into a cus­tom dash clus­ter. There’s no au­dio in­stall to be found — point­less with the ag­gres­sive V8 and straight-cut gear set — but the car­pet and fab­ric, ap­plied by Reece at Re­gal Auto Trim, are just per­fect. The Torana isn’t what you’d call lux­u­ri­ous, but it’s cer­tainly fit for pur­pose, strad­dling that grey area be­tween be­ing a stripped-out street car and a com­fort­able race car. It’s far more street than race, though. The big Fuel Safe fuel cell and cus­tom surge tank have been sealed off un­der the boot floor, in a stain­less drop tank fabri­cated by Horne En­gi­neer­ing. It’s even had a filler neck plumbed back into the stan­dard lo­ca­tion be­hind the num­ber plate — no smelly cabin here! Well, not yet, any­way — from what we’ve seen of this me­chan­i­cal an­i­mal, the owner may well shit him­self the first time he stomps on the loud pedal!

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