IN THE current issue of Street Machine, we have a fun story that sees Andrew Broadley and his mates painting his wife Kirsten’s LC Torana entirely with spray cans.
This completes a build that began with a secret thrash to get the LC ready in time for Andrew and Kirsten’s wedding last year.
With less than two months before the nuptials, Andrew and his mates got the LC up and running as a rat-style cruiser. Andrew tells us how they did it here.
“WHEN you find a partner who not only understands and tolerates your passion for cars, but also shares it, they are to be treated like the rare and precious commodity that they are. That’s why, when my girlfriend Kirsten returned from a holiday in Japan back in 2007, I surprised her with her very own LC Torana sedan as a stablemate for my own LC GTR.
“It was an honest, rust-free little roller with its fair share of shopping trolley dents, but it was her very first street machine and she was suitably stoked. We got as far as having a shortened VL Turbo diff and a new front end built, complete with big brakes, as well as buying up a few bits and pieces, before life got in the way and resources began to run in short supply. Reluctantly, we decided to shelve the project and stash the car at my parents’ place in the country for a rainy day.
“Six years’ worth of rainy days had come and gone, and I was several beers into the telecast of the 2013 Bathurst 1000 when, with a bit of lingering inspiration from an encounter with Josh Baldwin’s budget-built ‘Rusty’ VB Commodore, I concocted a harebrained scheme to finish the Torana on the sly as a surprise wedding gift for the missus. She’s long been a fan of period-inspired hot rods, fashion and culture, and I figured that if I could give the Torana a low-cost retro makeover, it’d really make her day.
“However, considering that I’m a well-meaning amateur on the spanners at best, I knew it would be nigh on impossible – the wedding was less than two months away. So I picked up the phone and ran the idea by a couple of good mates, fully expecting them to tell me what I already knew – that I was dreaming. On the contrary, not only did they think it was a great idea, but they were keen as mustard to help out.
“Damien ‘Chubby’ Lowe volunteered Lowe Fabrications HQ as the venue for the rebuild, and another mate, John Spinks, loaned me his car trailer and instructed me to retrieve the car and any parts we might require at once. Both of these blokes have screwed together elite-level cars in record time, and although we were striving for a look that was decidedly less, erm, ‘polished’ than an elite-level show car with the Torana, their skills, talent and enthusiasm for the project proved invaluable.
“When the Torana was first dragged out of the storage shed in Mudgee, it was in a fairly sorry state. It was covered in dust and fish oil, with no motor or gearbox, and the interior and boot were a mess and crammed full of spares. The first stop was my mate Tim’s place, where we chucked it up on the hoist, fitted up the remaining Pedders suspension hardware and assessed the scope of the job at hand. By this stage there were only five short weeks to turn the sorry-looking roller into a running, driving street machine, and the odds were stacked against us.
“I towed the car down to Lowe Fabrications the next morning, where John and I cleaned up the body and removed the unsightly fish oil. There was no shortage of bumps and bruises, but otherwise the exterior cleaned up okay. Given the time and budget at our disposal, it would have to do.
“Conversation soon turned to the powerplant, and while I was reluctant to further complicate matters with an engine conversion, John had a 253/Trimatic-equipped LH sedan gathering dust nearby, and it just made too much sense. The LH was promptly relieved of its thong clapper and it was cleaned up ready for fitment to the LC.
“The requisite steering modifications were carried out, and since the budget couldn’t stretch to an aftermarket sump, Chubby did a stellar job of modifying the LH item to suit the LC front crossmember. By some streak of sheer luck, he also happened to have an LC/Trimatic gearbox crossmember in the corner of the workshop – score! The standard LH engine mounts were retained and we even managed to shoehorn the radiator in – just.
“The extractors from the LH wouldn’t fit though, so to expedite the process, I nabbed a pair of factory HQ cast headers off eBay for $50. The factory fuel line hooked straight up to the mechanical pump on the 253, so the fuel system was a cinch, but the tank was found to be rusting from the inside out. Luckily, fellow Sydney Torry nut Matt Arnott had one in the shed, and donated it to the cause.
“Woody at Muffler Mart & Tyre Penrith sorted the exhaust, using an old 2½-inch single system and muffler I had lying around, to help keep costs at bay. The dearest part of the conversion was the tailshaft, which ended up costing around $400, but it’s a quality item that will go the distance should we ever upgrade the engine.
“With the mechanicals sorted, it was time to address the all-important styling side of the equation. The car already had front and rear brake upgrades, and was Commodore stud pattern all ’round, with modified 15-inch chaser wheels and brand new rubber, but achieving a vintage look was essential. I hit up eBay for some Atlas whitewall flappers, chrome dress rims, bullet wheel nuts and Rat Fink valve caps, and my mate Liam, who was also there for the duration of the build, sprayed the chasers with a custom-mixed pressure-pack knocked up by VG’s Auto Paints.
“Kirsten had already bought a brand new venetian for the rear screen many years beforehand, but the boys and I figured it really needed a pensioner peak, too. Gong from the gmh-torana.com forums came through with the goods, fishing one out of the shed and posting it down for a price that was more than fair. A hot rod-style peep mirror I had in the shed from another project completed the picture.
“With funds drying up rapidly, I had to watch my pennies when it came to the interior, but luckily enough the stock trim was in reasonable nick, if a little bit dirty. Liam hooked in and plenty of elbow grease brought it up nicely, and in went a brand new moulded carpet which had been purchased for the car yonks ago. A second-hand B&M MegaShifter off eBay cost $90 and had just the right amount of patina, and some Speco gauges were kindly donated by a mate.
“All that remained was joining the dots, and sparky extraordinaire Deano Sammut put in a monster effort with the wiring, while Andrew from Motorsport Connections plumbed the brakes.
“One of the trickiest aspects of the build was constantly coming up with fanciful new excuses as to why I was always disappearing out to Chubby’s to do ‘car stuff’ while the missus was up to her neck in wedding planning, and she was starting to get fairly suss by the end of it! John picked up the slack and there were plenty of instances where he was out there wrenching on the car by himself while I was tied up with wedding-related duties.
“Given the superhuman effort he invested in the car, it was only fitting that John had the first steer of it. Just two nights before the wedding it fired happily into life, clicked into first gear, shifted forward under its own steam and was promptly thrown into a flurry of smoky hoops – success!
“The great unveil took place just five short weeks after the build commenced, out the front of the reception venue at Luna Park. To say Kirsten was rapt with her wedding gift is something of an understatement. ‘I was just so blown away by the car,’ she said. ‘I genuinely had no idea it was even being built, and I still can’t fathom how it came together in time. It made the best day of my life even better. Thanks so much to everyone who helped out with the build.’
“I might only be new to married life, but I’m pretty sure I’ve racked up enough brownie points to last a while!”