CLINT KELLY’S INCREDIBLE LJ TORANA IS BACK WITH A BENT-EIGHT BENEATH THE BONNET
YEP, you’ve almost certainly seen this gorgeous LJ Torana GTR XU-1 tribute before. It’s been doing the rounds for about five years now, and we featured it back in our May 2013 issue bearing the number plates CRAZY6. Those plates might be the only outward change since then, but beneath the skin, Clint Kelly’s Torry is now a whole different breed of beast.
He’s managed to marmalade one of those new fandangled LS engines into the stunning little coupe, and he’s done such a ripper job of it that we figured the car was worth a second look.
For those who might have missed it the last time it was featured, the car was running a nutso little Holden six with a J.ZED head and a trio of 45mm Dellorto carbs. Clint had Nc touring car racer and Holden six guru Vince Macri do some subsequent development with the engine, and with the switch to a roller camshaft, 50mm Weber carbs and a set of larger, 1 7 /8-inch primary headers, he managed to coax monster grunt out of the little six-pot. We’re talking a V8-shaming 412hp at the flywheel, or 300hp at the wheels.
Those are serious numbers for a naturally aspirated red motor, but Clint is a bit of a tinkerer who is always looking for an excuse to pull something apart, improve it, and put it back together. After all, when the car was first built, he was the bloke who did the tub work, built and installed the four-link, took care of all the bodywork and handled the assembly process from start to finish, all in the same backyard shed you see here. Not bad for a concreter.
“I’d never owned a V8 before, and the six was virtually on the limit,” he says. “It was like a race car to drive, which was great, but it would sometimes get hot in traffic and my missus struggled to drive it with the paddle clutch I had fitted. I’d been thinking about putting a side-mount blower on it, but when I found out that the laws had been relaxed and it was possible to fit an LS, I thought that might be the go.”
Clint sourced a low-kay six-litre L98 V8 through fellow Torana tragic John Spinks, sold off his mental little six-pot to Vince, and struck up a deal to have him extract some more power out of this new engine. Vince duly fettled the heads to flow more air, fitting Manley valves and springs. He also installed a COMP Cams Mutha Thumpr camshaft and lifters, and a Melling oil pump to ensure adequate blood pressure.
In the meantime, Clint set about researching the best way to shoehorn the big alloy bent-eight into the Torana’s compact engine bay. He opted for engine and transmission mounts from Tuff Mounts, along with an alloy sump and transmission crossmember from The Rod Shop. Like all V8-INTO-LC/LJ conversions, the steering had to be relocated. Clint nudged the base of the column across, then notched the front crossmember to get the lower Lh/lx-style steering shaft knuckle as low as possible to create the most amount of real estate for header clearance.
Speaking of the headers, Clint built them himself, and it was a mission. “They’re 1 7 /8-inch headers, and I bought the mandrel bends and built them in the car; that was the worst part of the whole build,” he says. “I’d tape up the pipes, mark them up, cut and tack them, then take them to a mate to fully Tig-weld them. Then I’d clean up the welds to make it all look like one piece. I made every runner separately, and made my own collectors. The headers owe me over $1000 in materials and I don’t know how many hours. It’s no wonder shops charge so much to do that kind of work.”
RELAXED AND IT WAS WHEN I FOUND OUT THE LAWS HAD BEEN POSSIBLE TO FIT AN LS, I THOUGHT THAT MIGHT BE THE GO