YOU’VE no doubt heard of Howard Bell and his legendary LITRE8 Torana; if not thanks to our Legend series (SM, May 2019), then by virtue of the fact that this LX is one of the most enduring and influential Aussie street machines of all time.
This article was first published in the May 2019 issue of Street Machine
The car got its name from its monstrous 479ci (or eight-litre) all-aluminium, fuel-injected Keith Black big-block Chev, which – like the rest of the car – has been the subject of continuous improvement over the years. However, after Howard was doing LITRE8 things with the car at Winton Raceway in 2017, an apparent coolant leak prompted him to pull the heads to investigate. A cracked head and damaged pistons were the result of the post-mortem, prompting a freshen-up by Nankervis Performance Boats that has pleasingly stretched the mill’s already considerable cubic capacity to a staggering 564ci – 9.24 litres!
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The Keith Black KB500 alloy block remains, but most other components have been swapped out in search of greater reliability and yet more grunt. The Manley forged 4340 crank, Molnar rods and 13:1 JE forged slugs account for the jump in cubes, while the cracked Edelbrock heads have been replaced by a set of AFR 335 CNC V2 alloy units with Ferrea 2.30in and 1.90in valves and Isky springs, locks and retainers.
A custom Howard Cams billet mechanical roller camshaft measures up at .765/.765in lift, 265/269@.050in duration and 109 degrees LSA – yep, she’s a big ’un. Bump is conveyed via ProMax solid-roller lifters, 3/8in Trend chrome-moly pushrods and Crower Enduro stainless-steel roller rockers.
A modified Jenkin Bros ‘Deep Throat’ oil pump draws the good stuff from a 12-litre boot-mounted oil tank, while the dry pan was fabricated by AM Raceparts.
The induction system is automotive porn even by modern standards, but in the early 90s, when the car was built it, it was otherworldly. A MoTeC M48 controls fuelling, while a Kinsler crossram EFI manifold sports eight 69mm throttlebodies, and Bosch Motorsport 351 injectors spray the avgas. Ignition duties are handled by a MoTeC CDI, and there’s a 250hp direct-port nitrous system too, if you’re game.
At the other end of the combustion process, custom headers feature huge 21/8in primaries and 4in collectors, and have had to be modified by Howard to fit the engine’s new heads.
What’s it all worth? An estimated 940hp at the flywheel at 6400rpm, and 840lb-ft at 4800rpm on the motor alone. It warms the cockles of our hearts to see one of Australia’s favourite street machines continue to evolve.
Howard bought LITRE8 brand spanking new off the lot in 1976, hotted up the factory-fitted 308, then – somewhat controversially – replaced it with a turbocharged 202ci inline six! The big-block was fitted years later, and itself has been fettled and improved over the years. A good thing can always be made better!
Nankervis Performance Boats,Bendigo, Vic