ORIENT EXPRESS

ANTHONY GHINIS’S PRO STREET LC GTR RETAINS A DISTINCT FACTORY FLAVOUR, BUT IS KNOCKING ON EIGHTS WITH TURBO NISSAN POWER

STORY ANDREW BROADLEY PHOTOS TROY BARKER

SHOCK horror! In a move that will no doubt draw the ire of self-professed ‘purists’ Anthony Ghinis has fitted a Nissan motor to a genuine LC GTR Torana. But in many ways, sticking an RB30ET three-litre inline six in an LC makes far more sense than the more-favoured small-block Chev, LS or even the homegrown Holden 308 V8.

For starters, an RB conversion doesn’t require modifications such as steering relocation like a V8 swap does, and a lighter-weight, alloy-headed six would do far less harm to the revered, Bathurst-winning agility of an LC/J. Furthermore, opting for an RB over a V8 retains that legendary six-pot ‘feel’ for which GTR Toranas are known, not to mention the fact that the Nissan-sourced RB was indeed factory-fitted to a Holden almost two decades after the LC was first released. After all, it has Holden written on the rocker cover, does it not?

Twelve or so years back, the Torana was owned by one of Anthony’s dad’s mates, and as soon as he laid eyes on it he fell deeply in love with it. He tried to buy the car but the owner refused his advances, and eventually Anthony’s dad bought it for him as the best 20th birthday present ever!

Anthony received the car as a running, going concern, powered by a 202ci Holden six and fitted with a nine-inch rear end. At first he looked to a blow-through turbo set-up on the factory-spec red motor, and inevitably ended up holing a piston. Still on apprentice wages at the time, Anthony stockpiled his pennies and had a full-house bottom end built, but it was all in vain when it spat a rod through the block on the dyno. Needless to say, he was devastated.

“A mate said I should start looking for RB30 engine mounts, and at first I wasn’t keen, but ended up coming across a set of mounts and chucked one in, Anthony says. “The first time I got it dynoed, I left the workshop, turned onto South Road and I gave it some shit; it just lit up and changed lanes! It was an animal – I’d never been in anything that fast before and I couldn’t believe it.

IT HOOKS BEAUTIFULLY, SO MUCH SO THAT THE BIGGEST PROBLEM ANTHONY FACES AT THE TRACK IS KEEPING THE FRONT WHEELS ON THE DECK

FLASHBACK

THIS is the second time Anthony’s Torana has graced our pages. The first was the October 2008 issue when it appeared still sporting a 202 with a blow-through carby turbo set-up and Center Line wheels. It was quick for its time, but a long way shy of the 658rwhp and 9.08@145.6mph it’s capable of these days.

We’re not surprised, because the little RB is handy for a truly impressive 658hp at the tyres – big power in such a light car. The standard RB30 crankshaft remains, with Rev H-beam conrods and CP flat-top pistons added to build a boost-ready bottom end. The combo retains the factory three-litre, single-cam head, with port work and an aftermarket camshaft supplied by Sydney-based RB gurus Maatouks Racing. An N1 oil pump keeps the whole show lubricated, while the pan is a VL Commodore item that’s been modified to rear-hump configuration to suit the Torana crossmember.

INTERIOR: The original interior was retrimmed by Dan at Trimworx. The factory GTR steering wheel and instrument cluster remain, albeit with some necessary additions, namely a transbrake button and a full complement of Auto Meter Carbon Fiber gauges. The bolt-in chome-moly ’cage was built by Chris at CK Racing Developments, while a B&M Stealth Pro Ratchet shifter grabs gears and a Pioneer DVD head unit and 6in rear speakers provide cruising tunes

EXTERIOR: The car was painted some 30-odd years ago by the previous owner, and is still in remarkable shape considering. Anthony would like to freshen it up when time and money allow, but for now he’s having too much fun cruising and racing it to pull it off the road

ANTHONY GHINIS 1970 HOLDEN LC GTR TORANA

Paint: Red acrylic

ENGINE

Brand: Nissan RB30ET

Induction: Custom intake manifold, 85mm throttlebody

ECU: Autronic SM4

Turbo: Modified Garrett GTX35/40

Head: Ported single-cam

Camshaft: Maatouks Racing ‘temper’ cam

Conrods: Rev H-beam

Pistons: CP flat-top

Crank: Stock

Oil pump: N1

Fuel system: Twin SX 1000hp fuel pumps, Aeromotive reg, Bosch 1750cc injectors

Cooling: Custom Jonny Tig radiator, SPAL 3000cfm thermo, custom Jonny Tig intercooler

Exhaust: 6boost turbo manifold, 4in exhaust system with Magnaflow muffler

Ignition: LS2 coil packs

TRANSMISSION

Gearbox: C4 with transbrake

Converter: 5000rpm

Diff: 9in, Strange centre, 3.7:1 gears, Moser 35-spline axles

SUSPENSION & BRAKES

Front: King Springs, Koni adjustable shocks

Rear: Strange double adjustable coil-overs, anti-roll bar, chrome-moly tubular trailing arms

Brake: Leyland P76 discs and HQ calipers (f), drums (r) Master cylinder: Wilwood

WHEELS & TYRES

Rims: Weld AlumaStar; 15x3.5 (f), 15x10 double beadlock (r) Rubber: Nankang 165/80/15 (f), Mickey Thompson ET Street R 275/50/15 (r)

THE LITTLE RB IS HANDY FOR A TRULY IMPRESSIVE 658HP AT THE TYRES – BIG POWER IN SUCH A LIGHT CAR

BOOT: A Carter lift pump tops up the boot-mounted surge tank, and a pair of twin SX 1000hp fuel pumps feed the engine. The pumps are overkill, but Anthony had them kicking around and figured he might as well use them

But the trick to screwing big power out of a turbo combo is all in the bolt-ons, and Anthony opted for a custom intake manifold with an 85mm throttlebody, with boost supplied by a Garrett GTX35/40 atop a 6boost manifold. The turbo could be considered small for this application, but Ben from ProCharge Turbochargers has modified it with a larger 67mm wheel, and as we go to print, the turbo is back off the car to be fitted with a larger exhaust housing. “I’m going to see what I can get out of it with the little turbo because it’s so good on the street; it’s just so responsive, says Anthony.

The intake charge is cooled by a custom-built Jonny Tig intercooler, and the engine management is handled by an Autronic SM4.

The transmission is an Al’s Race Glides-built, transbraked C4, which bolts up to the RB via an adapter ring that Al’s also supplied. The nine-inch was already fitted when Anthony acquired the car, and while it still runs the same diff housing, it’s been significantly shortened and braced as part of a complete rethink of the arse-end by CK Racing Developments. There are also adjustable chrome-moly trailing arms and Strange double-adjustable coil-over shocks fitted. The car was tubbed to accommodate 15x10 Weld AlumaStars wearing 275/50/15 Mickey Thompson ET Street Rs, and it hooks beautifully. So much so that the biggest problem Anthony faces at the track is keeping the front wheels on the deck.

“Chris from CK Racing Developments is a good mate of mine, Anthony says. “He trialled a lot of things on the car, and all it wants to do is backflips! It’s good for a photo but not much else; we’re going to make some changes to keep the front end down and head back to the track.

I ONLY REALLY BUILT IT TO RUN NINES, BUT WHEN YOU’RE THAT CLOSE TO AN EIGHT, YOU HAVE TO GIVE IT A SHOT

The 275/50/15s fit without needing to stretch the rear quarters, allowing Anthony to preserve the still flash-looking 30-year-old paintjob. If he ends up painting the car, Anthony will likely stretch the quarters and upgrade to a 275/60 radial. “The paint still looks a million bucks, but up close there are imperfections, he says.

So how does it run at the track? Pretty damn well as it turns out – 9.08@145.6mph in a nasty headwind, in full street trim, driven to and from the track. With some further chassis tweaks and the aforementioned turbocharger upgrade, the car is almost certain to run into the eights, and Anthony is pretty keen to make it happen.

ENGINE: Textured-finish powdercoating is used throughout the engine bay. It looks good and is hard-wearing and low-maintenance. Jonny Tig Industries is responsible for the custom intercooler and radiator

EXTERIOR: The LC GTR is a beautiful distinctive model, and with blackouts, bold striping and prominent GTR badging, it has attitude in spades. Tubbed and slung low over a set of Weld AlumaStars, Anthony’s car is a stunner

“I only really built it to run nines, but when you’re that close to an eight, you have to give it a shot, he says. “I go out cruising all the time with my wife and kids, and over the years we’ve entered a lot of shows and won many trophies. We have even won a drag racing bracket at the Four, Six & Rotary Nationals a few years back. I am so happy with how the car has turned out, and apart s from giving it a fresh coat of paint one day, I wouldn’t change a thing.

THANKS

Chris from CK Racing Developments; Jonny from Jonny Tig Industries; Jason from Tuff Mounts; Clint from Faustune; Ben from ProCharge Turbochargers; James and the boys from Outlaw Speed Shop; Dan from Trimworx; Karl from Next Level Auto Electrical; Michael from Sign Colour; my brother-in-law Alex and another best mate Blake; my dad and mum; most importantly my wife Chantal and my kids Amaliyah, Ariella and Anton for always being so understanding when it comes to the car, and always being there to support me with whatever I do. I love you guys