Street Machine - - Contents -

SOME­TIMES the most seem­ingly fleet­ing mo­ments can have a last­ing im­pact on our lives, and when it comes to Lenny Casella’s pas­sion for V8s, never has a truer word been spo­ken. Grow­ing up in a house­hold where To­ranas and mo­tor rac­ing were the or­der of the day, it was in­evitable that Lenny would ar­rive at that des­ti­na­tion – though he has taken the scenic path to get there, dab­bling in some other cool rides along the way.

01: AS A teenager Lenny showed a ma­jor in­ter­est in his dad Gino’s white SS To­rana hatch. “It was a 308 car in mint con­di­tion, but he sold it be­fore I got my li­cence for my own safety,” Lenny laughs. “So I had to set­tle for a KE20 Corolla sedan, which was fol­lowed by a Dat­sun 1600, be­fore I bought this very tidy 1980 RA40 Cel­ica lift­back. It was a great car and went okay, plus it had the front spoiler and CSA mags to make it stand out from the rest. That was im­por­tant to young blokes back then too.”

02: REG­U­LAR trips to Lake­side and watch­ing Bathurst as a starry-eyed kid saw Len quickly de­velop a soft spot for ro­tary power and the looks of RX-3S and RX-7S. “Al­lan Mof­fat and Gregg Hans­ford were my favourite driv­ers and their suc­cess with RX-7S had me hooked,” he says. “In 1987 I was 18 and bought this ’81 model, to which I fit­ted the Sim­mons B45s and a full bodykit. I swapped out the 12A for a 13B, and was about to head down the turbo route when I sold it in 1999 and bought a Mazda MX-6 turbo in­stead.”

03: DE­SPITE his foray into fours and ro­taries, Lenny was never far from To­ranas and Aussie mus­cle in the early 90s. Many of his friends owned tough sixes and V8s, in­clud­ing this GTR owned by Lup­cho Likoski. Lup­cho owned a few To­ranas, in­clud­ing a tidy black LJ GTR and quick red UC hatch, but was run­ning afoul of emis­sions laws with triple carbs on the UC. He bought this show-con­di­tion white LC as a roller off a guy who had fit­ted its orig­i­nal tough six into an FED drag­ster. Lup­cho’s 202 was re­built and de­tailed to 90s glory in Cyan Blue, with plenty of braid and chrome.

04: IN THE mid-90s Lenny owned a turbo Subaru WRX. “It was a great car, but Glen Beswick’s 451-cube CL Charger was the ul­ti­mate game-changer,” he ex­plains. “I worked with Glen and ca­su­ally said to him: ‘When you get your Charger run­ning, make sure you give it a stab past my place.’ Late one night I could hear this rum­ble, so I jumped out of bed and raced to the win­dow. Then all hell broke loose. It was like

The Guns of Navarone as this Charger black­tracked all the way up the street! That was it – I was hooked on V8s. I still love this Charger. It

came up for sale re­cently as a roller and I was so tempted to buy it, but I have enough projects on the go.”

05: WITH V8s now firmly en­trenched in Lenny’s psy­che, the WRX was sold and re­placed by this brandspankers 5.0L VR HSV Maloo, which he fit­ted with a Mag­num bodykit. So be­gan a string of tough Com­modores; the VR made way for a 5.7L VU SS util­ity, fol­lowed by a 5.7 HSV VY Club­sport, and then his favourite: a 6.0L HSV Maloo R8. “In 2015 I had the chance to buy an ex-harrop-owned su­per­charged VZ Club­sport, and a plan was hatched; it was time for me to mix the worlds of both new- and old-school.”

06: LENNY’S ‘new ver­sus old’ plan came in the form of this LX hatch, which he bought in 2007. The ini­tial build took five years, and was painted orange to pay homage to his dad’s To­ranas – an orange SL/R sedan and the afore­men­tioned SS hatch. “This car is the per­fect mix of both, and Dad just loves it,” Lenny says. “It orig­i­nally ran a stout 350 Chev, but af­ter driv­ing the su­per­charged VZ I was hooked by its power, plain and sim­ple. The blown LSX en­gine from that now lives in the To­rana, so I have my per­fect mix of new- and old-school. It’s run a best of 10.9@128mph so far. I was told early on it couldn’t be done, so the chal­lenge was on; it was a mis­sion. I started throw­ing away the re­ceipts as the mount­ing costs were mak­ing me feel sick – oh, and to hide it from the wife too!”

07: LENNY’S long been a Peter Brock fan and dreamed of owning an HDT Com­modore. “I got tired of buy­ing new cars and los­ing so much money with re­sale, so these days I tread more care­fully and balance both my en­joy­ment of cars with in­vest­ment value,” he ex­plains. “I bought this VH SS Com­modore back in 2003, and it’s a gen­uine match­ingnum­bers Group Three. The L31 308 is stock and backed by the orig­i­nal M21 and 10-bolt Sal­is­bury, plus I still have the proper Irm­scher wheels that I swap on depend­ing on the event. I’ve al­ways had goals, so when I get an idea in mind, I just start work­ing hard to make it hap­pen.”

2 3 1

5 4 6


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.