Toranafest!

Upfront

WORDS & PHOTOS SAM MACLACHLAN

THUNDERSTORM AFTER THUNDERSTORM COULDN’T WASH AWAY THE SMELL OF TORANA AT MAITLAND SHOWGROUND

T o non-Torana fans, the thought of filling a paddock with identicallynamed cars and calling it a car show might seem a little odd. But for lovers of the mountain-taming, legend-making, aboveweight- punching Holdens, one weekend in September holds a special place in their hearts – Toranafest!

It was once an annual event, until the dedicated mob at Hunter Valley Torana Club cited exhaustion as one of the reasons it would shift to a bi-annual fixture following the 2013 event. In 2014, Toranarama filled the void – to the relief of local Queenslanders who would ordinarily have made the trip south – but for 2015, the distinctive smell of Torana washed over Maitland.

Toranafest was back!

Maitland Showground, a fresh Toranafest venue, hosted the Show and Shine on the Sunday, but not

before a monster Saturday Cruise took place first.

Toranafest isn’t just a static show!

“We had 156 cars in the cruise this year, a real achievement given the weather!” explained a very satisfied event co-ordinator, Pete Morris. “The threat of rain may have dropped a few out, though Torana owners tend to be a resilient bunch – they drive anyway.”

This fact was proved as 339 cars rolled into Maitland Showground through mud, rain squalls and wheel-eating puddles. By 9:30am, most of the cars were in place, and surrounded by all manner of spectator, including owners, former owners, wannabe owners and owners of non-completed project Toranas, such as yours truly.

Many clutched showbags including the latest Unique Cars issue.

The format for the Sunday is reasonably standard, the main difference being: one, every car there is a Torana of some description and; two, even when the heavens opened for lunchtime, it

wasn’t a mad scramble for the exit – most cars and spectators stayed put, waited for the rain to cease and then casually resumed action.

A time-honoured Toranafest feature is the starting – and revving very loudly – of cars in memory of members of the Torana community no longer with us. As it had longer with us. As it had just poured with rain, the response was unusually tepid, however that all changed when Brad Sullivan fuelled, primed and then fired the monster Big Block in his LX hatch drag car. Three of his fellow Canberra Torana Club members had their Top 60 Summernats cars sitting in the rain all day… The sheer noise of that car rattled the windows of the numerous HB four-cylinder cars on hand, set off a deep humming from the sheet metal adorning the array of genuine L34, A9X and XU-1s present, and reverberated off the paint of the numerous street machine-spec cars.

It even shook the rust off

some of the old warhorses present, fully registered representatives of what Toranas looked like when birthed around 40 years ago (1969 – 1980).

By the afternoon, the sun By the afternoon, the sun was back out, no one cared much about the mud (though they would undoubtedly be spending a lot of time on the pressure washers that night) and the likes of VIP Guests Bev Brock, Jim Richards and Ian Tate were still smiling. As the roads around Maitland filled with the magic sound of everything from old-school four-pots to supercharged sixes to mental gear-driven Big Blocks and the magical Thong-clappers (253 V8s) heading home, many Torana-nuts were left with big smiles, ideas for their own cars and a slight aching for September 2017 for the next Toranafest. This car show just keeps getting better!

Winners are grinners! WWg

Best HB – Paul Taylor Best LC – Scott Hudson Best LJ – John Wernicke Best TA – Bailey Johnstone Best LH – Easy Mike Lonie Best LX – Adam Pay Best UC – Colin Aynsley Best HB/LC/LJ/TA competition – Adam Buffet Best LH/LX/UC competition – David (unable to read surname) Furthest Distance Travelled – Steve Harvey 3952 km one-way Encouragement award – Katie Moy Best Individual display – Barry Gavin Best Club Display – Canberra Torana Club Neville Bridges memorial Shield – Mick McCardle Tony Mattingly Award – Bev Brock BBBBBBBBc Bc( FT 3E