SIX-PACKED

MATT WATTS GIVES THE MIGHTY HOLDEN SIX IN BLO202 A FRESHEN-UP

STORY BORIS VISKOVIC PHOTOS CHRIS THOROGOOD&SIMON DAVIDSON

THOSE of you who love burnouts should be no stranger to this car and its 29-year-old driver, Matt Watts. Matt has been cruising and abusing Torana ever since he got his licence. Inspired by photos he’d seen of his dad’s LC XU-1 as a kid, Matt dragged this one home from country Victoria at the tender age of 16 and proceeded to hot it up, firstly with a very tough, circuit racing-spec naturally aspirated combo before upping the ante and adding a blower about four years ago.

“Everything I’ve focused on has been to make it go better, Matt says. “When I was 20 I built the first engine for it, a pretty cracking naturally aspirated set-up with triple carbies – a full touring-car, race-spec engine – but after going to Summernats a few times, I got the bug to step things up a bit more. There weren’t a lot of blown sixes getting around – which liked because like being a bit different – only really Adam Slorach’s NUMNUTZ and Benny Falk’s SIXPOT. There’s a Street Machine photo of a red Torana that used to get around Sydney with a blown six in it. I had a picture of that on my wall [see sidebar, p. 111]. was just so taken by it as a kid because it was so different.

All those improvements worked well for close to 11 years – six of those with a blower – before the old combo finally cried: ‘Enough!’ at Brashernats earlier in the year. Still, it was pretty amazing it lasted that long with nothing more than Starfire rods and a set of ACL race pistons doing all the heavy lifting. “I was never trying to push it too far, always kept things fairly safe and never tried to make a horsepower number, Matt says. “It was reliable as all hell up until then; I’d only ever been towed off a pad once before because I broke a blower belt.

Understandably, Matt wanted to make sure the new combo was built to withstand whatever he threw at it. To make a Holden six live at high rpm you’ve got to worry about the oiling side of things more than anything, so Matt turned to the guys at Octane Alley in North Geelong, who handled all the machining and assembly and are old speedway gurus.

“They know their way around an old Holden do with the oil pump and oil flow through the block, Matt says. “A bottom-end girdle is a big thing as well, as Holden sixes like to separate main caps.

AFTER GOING TO SUMMERNATS A FEW TIMES, I GOT THE BUG TO STEP THINGS UP A BIT MORE

“The main difference from the old combo is that the bottom end is totally built for boost, he continues. “It's a blue block with Spool H-beam rods, custom CP forged pistons and a little bit of grout in the block. I didn’t want to throw too much in it, because doing what we do with the burnouts, you want every bit of cooling you can get.

WHY CHANGE WHAT WORKS? IT WILL HOLD TOP GEAR ON THE LIMITER AT ANY PAD IN AUSTRALIA

“The other problem you can run into with too much grout is the oil returning back down the block. Holden sixes have a tendency at high rpm to pump all the oil to the top and starve down the bottom, so to prevent that we’ve put restrictors in the pushrods and every oil gallery has been drilled out or polished or the edges cleaned up to promote oil flow throughout the block. That’s one of the big reasons why mine lives. It’s still a Holden crank; there are people that make billet ones now, but cost-wise I don’t see the benefit, because the biggest weakness is the block. The valvetrain and head is pretty much the same as before.

One other area that involved a lot of development was the intake manifold. As you can see, it’s pretty impressive – both in design and size – and was designed and fabricated by Brett at BNR Engines.

TO MAKE A HOLDEN SIX LIVE AT HIGH RPM YOU’VE GOT TO WORRY ABOUT THE OILING SIDE OF THINGS MORE THAN ANYTHING

MATT WATTS 1973 LJ TORANA

DONK

Type: 3.3L Holden

Inlet: Custom alloy by BNR Engines Carb: Holley 685cfm

Blower: GM 4/71, Fisher end plates

Head: Holden 12-port, custom valve seats and porting

Valves: Stainless SBC

Cam: Clive Cams custom-grind

Pistons: Custom CP forged

Crank: Holden 202

Conrods: Spool H-beam

Radiator: Modified R31 Skyline

Exhaust: 17/8in primary headers, 3in system

Ignition: MSD coil, Holden dizzy, Mallory HyFire VI ignition box

SHIFT

’Box: Trimatic, fully manualised

Converter: Dominator 4000rpm

Diff: Narrowed BorgWarner, full spool, 31-spline Strange axles, 3.89:1 gears

THANKS

Octane Alley Performance; Penrite Oil; Tassie Ainley; Scotty Moreland; Chris at Dalton Automotive; Geelong Tyre & Auto; Dad and my partner Jess

BLOW NAWAY MATT was inspired to head down the blown six route by Matty Arnott’s BLO006 LC Torana, which we ran in Readers’ Rockets in the March 1995 issue of Street Machine, and it was also featured in Torana Mania. “I had a picture of that car on my wall; was just so taken by it as a kid because it was so different,” says Matt.

We’re happy to report that after parting ways with the car a long time ago, Matty Arnott has bought it back and is in the process of restoring it to period-correct glory. We’ll keep you in the loop with its progress.

“It’s a bloody good design and it really does work, Matt says. “There was a lot of trial-and error with the 4/71 getting even distribution to the ports. With an aspirated six-cylinder you tend to lean out number one and six cylinders, but with the blower on top it seems to push the air and fuel to the outside, so the outer runners seem to get favoured. The design with the middle runner coming off the bottom of the plenum and being the same length as the end runners, I’ve never had an issue with lean-outs and I get really good, even mixtures across all cylinders.

Matt did consider stepping up the camshaft and maybe getting some more revs out of it, but he didn’t want to step away from how reliable the old motor was. “Why change what works?” he reasons. “It will hold top gear on the limiter at any pad in Australia, and I’ve been able to push the little six up into finals against Masters-quality cars and been able to push s the big boys in the V8s.