EVERY once in a while we trip over a car and owner combination that just takes our breath away. All the cars in these pages represent untold hours, dollars and buckets of sweat but some just push the envelope, you know? Phil Kerjean’s multi-purpose HB Torana is one of those cars.
This article was first published in the May 2006 issue of Street Machine
Just look at the damn thing — it’s gorgeous! Killer Acid Rush paint over smooth panels, set off by mint-condition grille, lights and bars. All of a sudden Holden’s orphan Torana looks pretty damn sweet.
Pop the bonnet and drink in the super-sanitary engine bay that holds an iron-tough 383 small-block. It’s all quality — the anodized fuel line fittings, aluminium radiator, the gorgeous custom pipes. The interior is a sweet mix of factory dash and tiller combined with hardcore Kirkey race seats, stout cage and body colour removable trans tunnel. Even the boot is sweet, with two fat nitrous bottles and the fuel system all lovingly decked out.
The build quality is so good that GASSED can more than hold its own at the pointy end of the Street Machine Summernats Tuff Street competition, scoring a place in the PWR Dirty Dozen two years in a row and taking out the Street Tuff award at Summernats 19!
So you wouldn’t be surprised if Phil kept the HB locked in a glass case, a piece of automotive sculpture to be admired but never driven. But you’d be wrong. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find another car of this quality that is so comprehensively thrashed at any opportunity as GASSED.
He drags the arse off the thing, running a best of 9.01@146mph. Then there are burnouts — probably the cruellest form of motorsport you could subject a show-quality car to. That doesn’t phase Phil — his aggressive style has landed him wins at Powercruise 3 and the 2004 Boxing Day Burnouts at WSID.
And proving this baby is more than pure grunt, Phil has been competitive in go-to-whoa at Summernats 18 and 19, taking the fight right up to the late-model boys with their ABS-equipped buzz boxes.
Phil came across the HB as an unfinished build.
“My street car at the time was a VC wagon with a 308. I’d run a 10.90 so I had to decide whether to make it ANDRA-legal or start something else.” Then Simon INOCNT Kryger came along.
“Simon bought the HB to put a big-block in it but it wasn’t going to fit, so he had it up for sale. It was a nice car and it was different so I went for it.”
Most of the chassis work was already done and with a job at Top Finish Smash Repairs, the initial build was a quick eight weeks.
“It was such a good car to start with,” says Phil. “We re-chromed the bumpers but everything else is as we found it: the grille, the tail-lights and everything were like new. We just removed most of the badges to keep it smooth.”
Guru spannerman Sam Fenech from Westend Performance in Campbelltown, Sydney, is responsible for the stout 383 Chev.
Chev 383ci V8 was not a standard option on the HB Torana, nor was build quality of this standard
Built to handle a sizeable dose of nitrous, the small-block features an 010 four-bolt 350 block, Eagle crank, six-inch Carrillo conrods, JE slugs and Racer Pro alloy heads. Topping the combo is a Holley double-pumper with a pair of Oz Nos nitrous kits to liven things up.
Static compression comes in at a solid 13.6:1 and Sam reckons the set-up makes around 580 neddies naturally aspirated. Big revs and horsepower are the order of the day so the engine bay packs the lot in the way of go-faster bits: big sump, alloy radiator, custom headers, ICE ignition box and booster, BG400 pump and lots of C16 race fuel.
With plenty of tyre under the arse, the HB runs a two-speed Powerglide with all the bells and whistles, including Vasco input shaft, 3000rpm TCE nitrous converter, transmission shield, manual valvebody and transbrake.
The rear end is all the usual stuff with a four-link set-up, Ford nine-inch diff, Richmond 4.11:1 gears, Romac full spool, 31-spline Moser axles, alloy pinion support and heavy duty tailshaft.
The interior is neat and practical and when it comes to dress-up gear it’s all there: Kirkey seats, Auto Meter gauges, B&M Pro Ratchet shifter, billet steering column, and cage, with splashes of comfort courtesy of P&L Quinlan Upholstery. With near fulltime drag racing duties it has a removable transmission tunnel for easier access.
The sweet fuel cell, puke tank, rocker covers and overflow tank were all fabricated by Leisure Coast Welders.
And because this rig needs to compete in so many arenas, the suspension and brakes received some serious attention. Pedders shocks got the nod for the front with AVO coil-overs in the rear, while Wilwood twin-spot calipers grip the front and Commodore discs and calipers control the back.
Sneakers all ’round are standard drag race equipment, with 15x3.5 Convo Pros on the front and 15x10 rears wrapped in 28x11.5 MT slicks or M&H Racemasters, depending on the occasion.
Phil’s now decided to resurrect his Commodore wagon for burnout duties. “The Commodore will get a blown motor and I’ll save the Torana for racing,” he says. We think she’s earned it.
LIKE it or not, the Torana legend sprang from Britain’s fairly dodgy Vauxhall Viva. Here’s the family tree of first generation four-pot Toranas:
HOLDEN’S introduction into the small car market came with the Vauxhall Viva HA. The HA was a small, rather boxy car with a 1057cc overhead-valve engine. The HA was built in Britain by Vauxhall and sent to GM-H in kit form to be assembled and sold with Vauxhall badging.
HB Series 1 & 2 (1967–1969)
IN 1967 Holden ditched the Vauxhall Viva badge in favour of the Holden Torana name. It was available in only two-door form and powered by an 1159cc OHV four-banger. Originally it was only available with an output of 59hp until the introduction of the 79hp Brabham engine and the 69hp 70 Series donk.
The HB Series 2 was released in September 1968. Appearing almost identical, the updated version featured a few changes with an increase in Australian content. Major differences included the addition of the four-door model, badge work, and the introduction of an HK-style steering wheel and collapsible steering column.
FOR 1969 Holden decided to expand the range to include a six-cylinder engine. This was done by taking the HB, shifting the front wheels forward for more under-bonnet space and designing an all-new outer body. The LC four-cylinder engine range was limited to 56hp and 69hp (70 Series) versions of the 1159cc Vauxhall four-cylinder (the Brabham option was no longer offered) until June 1971 and the release of a 1600cc OHC slant-four.
THE LJ series was released in February 1972.The rear of the car had new modular three-piece tail-light assemblies. The engine choice was increased with the four-cylinder units now available in 1200, 1300 (both OHV) and 1600 OHC varieties. Late in 1972, the 1600 OHC was replaced by the 1760 OHC, a longer-stroke version of the same Vauxhall slant-four.
THE TA Torana was a short-lived four-cylinder built as an interim series between the last of the LJs and the upcoming TX Gemini. The base model was available only as a two-door while the Deluxe came in two or four-door.
The 1300cc OHV engine was the standard powerplant in both models, while the 1760cc OHC was optional on the Deluxe. The TA series was replaced by the TX Gemini in March 1975.
PHIL KERJEAN HB TORANA
Colour: Standox Acid Rush
Engine: Chev 383
Heads: Racer Pro
Induction: Holley with dual NOS kits
Exhaust: Four-into-one with merge collectors
Converter: TCE 3000 nitrous
Rear: Four-link, nine-inch, Moser axles, 4.11:1 Richmond gears, Romac spool
Wheel: HB Torana
Shifter: B&M Pro Ratchet
Gauges: Auto Meter
Brakes: HB discs with Wilwood calipers (f), Commodore discs and calipers (r)
Shocks: Pedders (f), AVO coil-over (r)
Rims: Convo Pro 15x3.5 (f), 15x10 (r)
Rubber: Front runners (f), 28x11.5 MT slicks or M&H Racemasters (r)
Steve’s Speed Shop, Leisure Coast Welders, Top Finish Smash Repairs, Racer’s Choice Exhaust, Gulf Western Oil, Oz Nos, Westend Performance, Bridgestone Wollongong, Northmead Auto Centre, wife Natalie and son Cody, Mum and Dad, brothers Brad and Yannick, mates Simon, Rocky, Macca, Mick, Tomi and more!
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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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