HOT HATCH

FROM RACETRACK TO STREET, HOLDEN’S A9X TORANA HATCH IS THE KING OF COOL, AND OUR OWN LEGENDARY TRIBUTE COULD BE YOURS

STORY SCOTT TAYLOR PHOTOS CRISTIAN BRUNELLI

THE A9X Torana is one of Australia’s most desirable muscle cars, and our bright orange tribute car is just as cool – and it could end up in your driveway by subscribing to Street Machine.

The LX Torana hatch has been laying boot to butt for the past 40 years; from street to strip to race circuit, it’s been a cultural icon. Wins with Brocky at Bathurst in both 1978 and 1979 (when he famously set the circuit record on the last lap), combined with ATCC wins in those same years – one with Brock, the other with Bob Morris – created a whole legion of fans. Like the Valiant Charger and the Ford Falcon coupe, the Torana hatch’s popularity transcends brand affiliations; it’s a car that any car guy or girl will happily trade a body part for.

It was just over 12 months ago that we first saw our ‘50 Shades of Blue’ Torana hatch. It was a straight rust-free example purchased from the NSW Central Coast, with a 253 V8 and four-speed for motivation and wearing some very ordinary-looking blue paint. The guards already sported a set of A9X replica flares and the requisite front and rear spoilers; throw in a cowl induction scoop, spider gearknob and massive drop tank and it was like a trip back to the 1980s.

Our plan was simple: tart it up with some fresh paint, throw in a nice Holden V8 stroker, shift-kitted auto and nine-inch combo that would be easy to register anywhere in Australia, and throw open the entries for you guys.

As much as we would like to, we don’t have a lot of spare time to build cars anymore, so we subbed the job out to Michael and his team at Glenlyon Motors.

Mick did such an awesome job finishing off our Dodge Dart for us that we reckoned he was the best man for the LX. After a few ‘before’ shots for posterity, the guys set about stripping the hatch down to a bare shell and putting it on a rotisserie for the team at Corporate Auto Body.

Our main concern was that once the paint was stripped back we’d find a whole bunch of ugliness underneath. Thankfully Chris Pearson and his guys didn’t find anything they didn’t expect to see, so they smoothed off the rough edges and got it ready for paint. We wanted something bright and punchy, and it doesn’t get much brighter than Ford Focus Electric Orange with the mandatory black-outs.

THE STANCE IS PERFECT, THE COLOUR IS AWESOME AND THE OVERALL PACKAGE IS SO GOOD WE JUST WANT TO TAKE IT HOME AND HIDE IT

While that was happening, Ray and Russell at McDonald Bros Racing put together one of their killer disc-brake nine-inch packages for us. It’s packing 31-spline axles, 3.5 gears and a Truetrac centre. Combined with some fixed-length tubular lower trailing arms and some adjustable uppers, the rear end sits perfectly on King springs and Koni shocks.

The drop tank was an old unit from Brown Davis, so we took it back to them for a look. It was useable, but not very flash-looking and deemed more trouble than it was worth, so they fixed us up with a brand new unit with EFI capability for our chosen powerplant.

Talking horsepower, we decided to tone this one down. The idea was to make it decidedly more street than strip, but we didn’t want it to be a yawn-mobile either. Mick from Glenlyon sourced a 304 EFI donk and stretched it out to 355 cubes using parts from Precision International.

We dressed it up with bits and pieces from Lowe Fabrications and Reid Speed, and then added a self-learning Quick Fuel EFI system from APD and spark from Performance Ignition Systems. We’ve backed all that up with a BBE Automatics-built TH350 and a 3000rpm stall converter – just to help it get off the line a bit quicker.

With the painted shell back at Glenlyon, Mick and his boys started reassembling the car with a bit of help from Rare Spares and Tuff Mounts.

Aussie Desert Coolers was given the nod to keep the temperature under control, and Glenroy Exhaust built and installed a new twin 2.5-inch system with an X-pipe to match the nicely coated Pacemaker headers.

Inside, Auto Image Interiors has taken us back to 1976, with a full reproduction interior that looks a whole lot better than what we got when we purchased the hatch a year ago. But we still need to fill the hole in the dash with a suitable radio.

Rather than spend a motza on wheels, we decided to stick with the fat Globes that came with the car, and it’s sporting a set of 275/50/15s under the back end.

Mick, Con and Alex have done an awesome job throwing this beast together, and while we miss slinging the spanners ourselves, we certainly don’t miss the associated headaches that come with any car build. We can’t wait until we can jump behind the wheel and drive to the horizon.

It’s so close to finished we can taste it. The stance is perfect, the colour is awesome and the overall package is so good we just want to take it home and hide it.

But we can’t – that’ll be your privilege if you win it. Turn to page 38 to find out how. s

Thanks to our Build Partners

Glenlyon Motors • Precision International • BBE Automatics • Glenroy Exhaust • Corporate Auto Body • Auto Image Interiors Performance Ignition Systems • Aussie Desert Coolers • Lowe Fabrications • Reid Speed • Shannons Insurance Quick Fuel Technology • Koni Suspension • Tuff Mounts • Rare Spares • McDonald Bros Racing • Phil Walker