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For some car fanatics, it's all about building a pristine show car. For others, it is the engine and the way it performs at the track that counts. And then there are those who want a dressed-up street car. But Torana owner Ian Williams decided to cover all bases.
“My favourite thing is I can actually drive it on the street and do other things with it as well,” he says. Williams has transformed a 1976 LX Holden Torana into a real beauty. His interest was sparked years ago when his sons got their licences and he bought both a Torana for about $2000 each. That began their passion for the old-school Holden and, before long, they were modifying their cars and buying more. Then Williams succumbed to the muscle-car craze.
“I said, `Boy, they're nice cars, I'm going to do one up one day too',” he says.
When the perfect car presented itself in 2002 Williams couldn't resist.
“My wife's son in Queensland had the car we have now,” he says. “He wanted to sell it 'cause he wanted his garage space back, so my wife bought it for me for $10,000.”
While the LX Holden Torana had already been modified, Williams wanted to go further.
So he stripped it down, pulled out the motor and completely rebuilt the car from scratch over the next four years.
“There's nothing from the original Torana other than the body, and doors. Everything else has been replaced or modified,” he says.
“The whole car is pretty much a new car. If there was late technology to put in it, we did.”
The 58-year-old says he always admired the A9X models but as they came out in 1977, they fell under new emission regulations. So Williams was in search of a car released prior to then to give him more freedom in what he could do to the engine.
He started with the 1976 LX model and added some Bathurst heritage, with A9X character traits, as well as integrating modern motorsport technologies to make the ultimate jack-of-all-trades Torana, which now proudly wears the number plate 2TOUGH.
And with a 536hp (400kW) V8 engine, Brembo brakes, 17-inch wheels, a 100-litre fuel tank and a $13,000 paint job, among many other changes, it really does live up to its name.
“I wanted a car that was completely legal, so I got the engineers involved to ensure that it was,” he says. “In my younger days I used to get pulled over by the police and get defected all the time, I don't want to go through that again.”
Williams says the car has had about $80,000 worth of work, including the recent replacement of the manual transmission with a four-speed automatic, improving its track time.
“We think it is a bargain. It can now out perform most modern factory sports sedans, and retains the eye-catching, classic styling of what we believe is the best Bathurst muscle car ever built,” he says.
Williams says you could spend your money on a new Monaro or SS Commodore, which might be as quick around the race track, but there are more benefits to owning a Torana.
“Monaros are more reliable and have better fuel economy, but everybody's got one,” he says. “The A9X-looking car is rare. Everywhere you go you get looks. You don't get that in a new Monaro or SS Commodore and that's all part of the enjoyment of having a cool car.”
Williams says while it can't be the best show car, race car and street car all in one package, the Torana still has “the capability to not embarrass itself” on the track and also manages to attract a whole lot of attention.
And it gets the thumbs up from the previous owner, Williams' stepson.
“I took him for a drive in it and he was stoked, he was really happy about it,” he says.
While Williams loves his Torana and enjoys Holdens, he says he appreciates good engineering, no matter what make or model.
“Cars are like people, there are a variety of cars and a variety of things people do to them, it all adds to the rich tapestry of life,” he says.