WHEN we caught up with Summernats ambassador Carolyn O’Brien for a People Like Us yarn in the October issue of Street Machine (on sale now), she was busily turning spanners on her project car: a street and strip Torana she’s building for X275 with her partner, pro street legend Mark Hayes. Here’s the goss on what will no doubt be a super competitive and well put together car:
What was the car like when you bought it, Carolyn?
It was full grandpa-spec – rust free, with a 173ci six-cylinder and a T-bar auto. It took three months to get a hold of it because I had a price in mind that I wanted to pay and I wasn’t going to pay any more. We went backwards and forwards for a few months before the guy called and said, ‘Ok, you can have it for the money you want to pay.’
We drove straight to the Central Coast and picked it up as a fully registered and driveable street car, and drove it home with no problems. It was completely stock standard, and probably a country car, with very few dents. It was a very good starting point and it seemed a shame to take it home and cut it to pieces, but that was always the plan for the car and that’s exactly what happened.
What’s the plan for the car mechanically?
It’ll be a 415ci small-block Chev with a Wilson plate nitrous kit. We’re not sure how big a shot it’s going to get yet, it just depends on how it handles it and how quick it goes. The main deal with the car is to keep it light so we can get the numbers that we we’re chasing out of a full steel street car. It’ll run a Powerglide and a nine-inch rear end with 275 pro radials for the track and 295s for the street.
I have Billet Specialties beadlock wheels for the race wheels and a set of Welds for the street. We’ve kept the standard pick-up points in the rear end but with fabricated control arms and Strange coil-over shocks. It runs enlarged factory tubs, and Wilwood brakes all ’round.
How’s it going to look?
I’m looking at wrapping the car as an alternative to paint for now, but I’ll probably paint it down the track. I want it to be as subtle as possible. It’s not going to be some out-there, in-your-face, big-time race car. It’s going to be a car that people see run and say, ‘Wow, I didn’t expect that’. That’s what I want. Above the window line, the ’cage will be tucked in behind the hoodlining and the pillars. It will be fairly invisible from the outside of the car; it will only be the intrusion bar and the taxi bar that will be able to be seen.
What kind of ET goals do you have in mind?
The small motor with the nitrous plate should run high eights. By the time I get back in the car it will have been a couple of years since I’ve raced, so when the car is settled and I’m settled and comfortable and I know the car, then we’ll pull the small-block out. It will be set up so we can just pull out the small-block and put the big-block in. The engine plate and everything is getting done now.