SOMETIMES dreams really do come true. Just ask 35-year-old Jarrad Rogers; his 1974 G-Pak LH Torana has helped him fulfil more than one dream over the past several months.
After a single rust bubble spawned a five-year ground-up rebuild, Jarrad trailered his PPG Sunkist-drenched sedan down to Canberra in January for Summernats 32. Knowing full well that a coveted Top 60 spot was never guaranteed, Jarrad nonetheless dared to dream big.
As it turned out, the judges loved the car and come Friday afternoon of the ’Nats, Jarrad almost wept when he saw his name on the Top 60 awards list. “I jokingly told my wife I must have gotten dirt in my eye,” he says. “I first went to the Summernats a decade ago and caught the bug for muscle cars. It’s been a dream of mine ever since.”
Not only did the G-Pak make Top 60, but the judges also invited Jarrad to try his hand at the big one – Grand Champion. Not a bad effort for a first-timer. “To run against all the legends of Summernats in the Grand Champion competition was a very humbling experience,” Jarrad says. “What a ride the past six months have been!”
While Jarrad says that he’s always been a Holden man, in another life he actually haunted the halls of the then-trendy ‘sex-spec’ Auto Salon scene. Back then, his ride of choice was a decked-out Honda Integra that ended up being featured in Hot4s magazine. “I sold that car many years ago and always told myself that I’d build a tough muscle car when I could afford it,” he says.
The car scene on the mid-north coast of NSW is a pretty tightly knit community of likeminded folks, and Jarrad says that he couldn’t have built the LH to the standard he has without the help and support of his mates in the scene. “I did as much as I could to help out, but it just wouldn’t have been possible without them,” he says. “There were no major problems during the course of the build, just the usual hiccups.”
Jarrad actually bought the car in a pretty complete state, running gear and all. However, the aforementioned rust bubble in the rear quarter sent him on a search mission that kickstarted the entire project. Before he knew it, the car was stripped down to its undies, with the shell left with Manning Smash & Auto Repairs and the engine and running gear sent off to Barry White at Shine Automotive for a freshen-up.
Where many these days opt to go the LS route, Jarrad says he wanted to keep the original G-Pak old-school – albeit with some modern flair. That’s why you don’t see an alloy V8 or any fuel injection on the car.
Jarrad took the road less travelled when the time came to select the rolling stock, choosing Foose Legend rims measuring 18x7in up front and 20x9in at the rear
Instead, you’ll find a nicely detailed 308ci Holden V8 nestled in the matching Sunkist engine bay that’s been tidied up and partially smoothed over. The warmed-over V8 runs VN-style heads, but it’s the TBS 6/71 pump bolted onto the valley that grabs the most attention. Topped by a pair of 750cfm Holley double-pumpers, it’s pretty classic Aussie muscle – just how Jarrad wanted it. Making 450hp on pump fuel, it’s a healthy, driveable combo that Jarrad says is more than enough for his needs.
Scott at Trik Trim did a nice job in the boot, too. There isn’t much room for the shopping, but everything has been neatly boxed in, with access hatches for the battery and fuel cell
The sleepy country town of Wingham, NSW wouldn’t be the first place you’d associate with custom car creation, but the guys at Manning Smash did a superlative job on the Torana’s bodywork. With the panels stripped, the decision was made to shave the drip rails and boot lock, as well as the old fuel filler. It was then drenched in the chunky metallic orange you see now, before the black G-Pak decals were added.
“The heavy mica kept sinking to the bottom of the spray gun cup,” Jarrad says. “They had to have one of the young guys agitate it as the paint was being laid down. PPG later recommended a particular type of gun, but it came out beautifully!”
A raked set of Foose Legend rims completes the look on the outside, measuring 18x7 inches up front and 20x9in under the bum. They’re separated by a Ford nine-inch with steep 4.11:1 gears and a full-spool centre.
Proof you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to impress the Summernats judges, Jarrad’s G-Pak engine bay has been judiciously smoothed over, with all the wiring and plumbing still easily accessible. Combined with a neat 6/71-blown 308ci Holden V8 between the rails, it’s hard to go wrong
Inside, you won’t find any of the ‘classic’ aesthetic that defines Jarrad’s choice of powertrain. Instead, it’s all tan Italian leather. It covers everything, including the custom door trims, centre console and the dash. “Scott at Trik Trim did an amazing job of it,” he says. “He even mocked up the dash in vinyl first.”
Jarrad went for a new-school-meets-old look inside. Classic Recaro front buckets (sans headrests) combine with a re-bolstered rear bench, and everything has been slathered with rich tan Italian leather, including the custom dash fascia, door cards and centre console. The Billet Specialties tiller mirrors the shape of the spokes on the Foose rims
The combo is completed by a pair of Recaro buckets with the headrests removed: “They just didn’t look right with the headrests attached,” Jarrad says. Up front, the dash fascia is a simple affair, with a full complement of Auto Meter gauges mounted against more of that sumptuous Italian leather. Classy and, in its way, understated, the cabin is the perfect foil for the bright and bold exterior.
We mentioned at the start that Jarrad had more than one goal with the completion of the Torana. “I also had a goal of being featured in Street Machine,” he says. “This past six months has just blown me away!
“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster to be honest,” he continues. “From the judging on the Thursday of the ’Nats, to seeing my name up on the list on the Friday, realising that we’d actually done it! Then the Grand Champion contest and now a Street Machine feature. It doesn’t get any better.”
1974 HOLDEN G-PAK LH TORANA
Colour: PPG Sunkist, G-Pak decals
Type: Holden 308ci
Inlet: Weiand manifold, TBS 6/71 blower
Carbs: Twin 750cfm Holley DP
Heads: VN Commodore
Exhaust: Twin 3in
’Box: Two-speed Powerglide with transbrake, 3500rpm Dominator stall
Diff: 9in, full spool, 4.11:1 final drive, 28-spline axles, custom 3.5in tailshaft
Brakes: Wilwood four-piston calipers and 13in Wilwood detachable-hub rotors (f), Ford drums (r); Wilwood master cylinder
Suspension: Rack-and-pinion conversion, Whiteline bushings, Pedders shocks
Wheel: Billet Specialties
Seats: Vintage Recaro LS front seats, tan Italian leather, custom door trims and centre console
Gauges: Auto Meter
Rims: Chip Foose Legend; 18x7 (f), 20x9 (r)
Rubber: 215/35/18 (f), 255/30/20 (r)
My beautiful wife Justine and my girls Jess and Ebs; Mick Robson for panelwork; Scott Polley at Manning Smash; Scott Briggs at Trik Trim; Barry White at Shine Automotive; Brendan Page at Taree Radiators; Joel Butcher at PPG; Jordan Weri at Taree Windscreens; Bill
Collins at Printright; ProFlo Performance
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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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