This article on Nikki's Torana was first published in the January 2019 issue of Street Machine
YOU MAY remember seeing photos of Nikki Bourke's mud-spattered face at Chopped, from tearing up the dirt circuit in her topless ’25 Dodge. She’s also kept her very first ride, a genuine LC GTR Torry!
When did you get the LC?
I bought it in 1982 for $1200. All I wanted was a two-door Torana, and I wouldn’t settle for anything else. After looking at 12 of them, I saw this and I knew that it was the one. In hindsight I should’ve bought the cream XU-1 that I looked at as well!
Do you spin spanners on it?
I’ve always been mechanically minded and working on the Torana was my pastime. I’d pull things apart to see how they worked; I’m constantly interested, but not so much as to wreck anything. It’s thanks to my dad, as he fixes everything, and I love spending time with him. When I was young, if he went to the tip or wreckers, I was there!
What’s in the GTR?
The factory 161ci S motor and an Aussie four-speed, as it’d gone through four Opel gearboxes. I had the seats reupholstered and added new carpet, but everything else is all-original. It was my daily for 15 years, then babies came along; my son was actually brought home from hospital in the LC. But negotiating baby capsules, car seats and prams in a two-door was just too hard. So, the Torana was put in the shed for 15 years.
That’s great that you kept it, though.
I thought about selling the Torana; then I watched Love The Beast and Eric Bana said that his car was the thread that held his life together – I knew then that I couldn’t sell it. So, four years ago I got it out again. I replaced the water pump and that was it – off I went. Now it’s like I’m 18 years old with my blonde spiral perm and my packet of Winnie Blues on the dash; I’m absolutely transformed into my heyday.
So, when did you get the ’25 Dodge?
About four years ago. It popped up for sale and I like that it’s different, plus I wanted a car to take to the hot rod and traditional events. I went to Chopped one year without a car and it sucked.
Done any mods to it?
I’ve rebuilt the suspension and carbies, had it painted and reupholstered. It has a 225ci Chrysler motor, late-60s Valiant auto and diff. Now that it’s finished I get to as many events as I can. I’m not a fair-weather driver though, I just get out and do it; bugs, sunburn or the freezing cold.
What or who are the Betty Rumblers?
We’re a group of like-minded women who enjoy getting out in their cars. We’re very inclusive; the only real criterion is chrome bumpers. We go to events, each other’s houses or out to lunch, and if someone needs work on their car we all band together to help out.