THE last-of-the-line Torana, the UC series, tends to be forgotten. No V8 engine option and no racing (in 1980 the new Commodore took over that task) meant the UC never had the performance cred of the earlier Torries. But hey, that doesn’t mean they can’t be built into something fast!
Jason Ross has done just that with his UC, walking the well-trodden path to performance by using boosted GM/Holden V8 power: a 5.7-litre LS1 from a mid-noughties VZ Commodore, coupled to an el cheapo turbo. “I’m a Torana man – I love ’em!” Jason said. In fact, he used to own Tuff Mounts 235 Aspirated winner Brodie Olsen’s Holden-powered LX.
Jason’s ambition with the UC was to make it fun and fast without too many trinkets or expense. The LS1 is stock-as-a-rock: “I bought it from a backyard with the heads off and water in the bores,” Jason laughed. “I rubbed the rust out with emery paper and WD40.”
The turbo is a cheapie. “It says ‘GT45’ on it. I got it years ago from a mate who bought a bigger one for his car. It works well,” Jason said.
Regularly cruised, on race days the Torana’s boost is 18psi. “It doesn’t like any more than that,” Jason said. “It’s never been on a dyno, but the Moroso maths indicates it’s about 900hp at the flywheel.”
The trans is a Powerglide sourced second-hand from a strip car in Sydney; it’s a built ’box that’s had a freshen-up. A nine-inch diff with 35-spline axles and 3.25 cogs lives out back.
“It’s a backyard budget build,” Jason said. “I had a cancer scare a while back that meant I had to tighten the [financial] belt a bit.”
Budget build it may be, but Jason’s UC proved more than up to the rigours of Drag Challenge Weekend, running low nines on the quarter to narrowly edge out Juan Kudnig for the Tuff Mounts 235 Blown crown.
WINNER – TUFF MOUNTS 235 BLOWN
1979 UC TORANA HATCH
Class: Tuff Mounts 235 Blown
Engine: LS1 5.7L
Turbo: Chinese GT45 copy
Transmission: Powerglide two-speed
Converter: TCE 3500rpm
Diff: 9in, 3.25:1 gears
Power: Around 900hp
Previous PB: 8.63@148mph
Best DCW 2020 Pass: 9.01@149mph
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Street Machine is the bible of Aussie modified auto culture, celebrating wild muscle cars, customs and hot rods – and the incredible humans who create them.
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