ORIGINAL CAR 1971 HOLDEN TORANA LENGTH OF RESTORATION: 10 YEARS
Email details to: uniquecars@ bauertrader .com.au
This has been a long-term project – I’ve had the car for around 17 years. When I bought the car it was an olive green two door S with drum brakes on the front, and a 173 engine with Trimatic auto..
The guy that I bought it from worked up the road from us and it was a wreck filled with bits and pieces – basically being used as a cupboard. I got it for $400.
It had a lot of rust around the front and rear windscreens. The driver side rear quarter panel had to be replaced and the front lower stone tray was rusty. Apart from that it was pretty good. All the floors were solid, and the boot floor was solid.
We ended up buying a complete LJ quarter panel from the door back, which we unpicked. So we had to cut out the little indicator sections from an LC and weld it in.
For the rest of it we just ended up using panel cuts from other cars.
It doesn’t sound like a lot, but I was working and this was a part-time restoration, so the body took about seven years. The cash side of it was a hold-up too. I was an apprentice and didn’t have a lot of money, so the build took about 10 years in total.
Like a lot of people who do long-term builds, I did get fed up. In fact I had it pretty much lined up to be sold
and my partner Kerri talked me out of it. I got to a point where I thought I’d put enough money into it and would never be able to finish it. She talked me into hanging on to it and it’s lucky she did. At that point it was in the undercoat stage, so ready for doing the interior and putting colour on it.
The original engine had a blown head gasket and cracked cylinder head, so we got rid of that. I ran into someone I knew at the Ballarat swap meet and the bloke sitting next to him said he had a genuine GTR he said he’d smashed and had kept all the running gear from.
I managed to get the factory door trims from him, the 161S engine and all the bolt-ons for that, the original steering wheel and a couple of other bits and pieces for about $400. That was a few years ago and there’s no way you’d get that deal now. I got two doors from him as well. So we tossed all that in the back of the hatchback Torana we had and brought it all home.
I had the engine rebuilt back to factory specs – it’s still got the original camshaft in it.
So we put the Aussie M20 gearbox in it – one I rebuilt – just to have something a bit stronger.
The engine itself was still on the standard bore, but the cam retaining plate had broken and the camshaft had come forward and hit the timing case. The previous owner had pulled it out at that stage to repair it and never got any further with it.
That motor I left up to my engine builder
to do – I was still an apprentice and didn’t want to gamble with an something that was pretty rare. The gearbox we did, that was fairly easy. The diff we sent the centre off to get done, while I did all the brakes and bearings myself. We changed the front to discs and had both the booster and master cylinder reconditioned. A full conversion there.
The brakes are the same as the standard GTR, disc front and drum rear.
It was a column shift auto car as well, so we had to change the steering column over to manual shift and cut the floor in the right spot for the four-speed to come through.
Quite a big job.
As for the colour, the first time I ever saw a GTR was a mate’s car that I saw at a lot of shows. I essentially based my car on that.
Although a few weeks before we put the colour on I was considering going with green, but I’m glad I went with this colour.
The hardest part of the build was getting all the finer details correct, like the spare wheel bracket in the boot. The guards involved a lot of work, too. I actually got a genuine set of flutes out of another set of original guards and we managed to weld them in. Trying to get the little hard parts was the biggest thing to do.
We removed the original wiring loom that was in the car – the automatic loom. I fully
dismantled it, put in all the extra wires to run the XU-1 dash we have in it. I had that whole thing laid out on the loungeroom floor for a week! It wasn’t popular. We even had it all on the floor, including the wiper motor, hooked up to a 12 volt battery and tested everything before we put it in the car.
The dash we ended up buying second-hand and we paid around $300 for it – almost as much as the car! I was pretty lucky they were all matching gauges and it’s date code correct for that shell. We’ve had a pretty good run with it.
If you were going to tackle a project like this, the priority is 100 per cent a really straight body to start with and minimal rust. That on its own drops the build cost in a big way.
As for my car, I’m going to tidy up a few bits and pieces. We’ll put in some new brake lines to tidy it up and do a full repaint of the engine bay Apart from that, we just enjoy and drive it.
It’s done 30,000km. We go up to Toranafest in Newcastle, and the All Torana Day in Adelaide, we’ve been to Bathurst in it, done the Great Ocean Road three or four times. It gets used!
BODY 2-door coupe ENGINE 2.6-litre six POWER & TORQUE 92kW @ 4800rpm, 202Nm @ 2800rpm PERFORMANCE 0-100km/h 10.3 seconds TOP SPEED 170km/h TRANSMISSION four-speed, all synchromesh manual SUSPENSION Front – independent coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers.
Rear – live axle with coil springs, telescopic shocks BRAKES disc front, drum rear power-assisted WHEELS 13 x 5.5 steel PRICE WHEN NEW $2778