LLooking at Adrian Haynes’ elite-level, LS3-powered, six-speed LX Torana hatch, you’d never believe it came into his life as a basket case at all.
First published in the December 2022 issue. Street Machine
Canberra-based Adrian and his father, Robert ‘Blue’ Haynes, picked up the hatch 10 years ago from an owner who realized he had bitten off more than he could chew. In addition to being riddled with rust, the car was stripped from the rear and subjected to one of the world’s fastest repair jobs. “A quarter panel was placed on top of the original quarter panel, leaving all the spot welded parts in place,” says Adrian. “It was badly bent out of shape and had to be put on a rack and pulled straight.” A second bare shell provides much needed rust cutting and repair parts. “After looking at mine, I should have bought a better shell, but LX shells are so hard to come by that we had to,” explains Adrian.
Just 12 months into the build, Robert was diagnosed with rapid-onset dementia, which Adrian says brought things to a screeching halt. “But my father wanted the project to continue and be a part of it as long as he could, so we pushed on.”
Panel gaps are 5mm everywhere you look. The taillight openings have been heavily modified to fit flush with the lenses, and the front flares are one-off, 140mm wide pieces to match the A9X rears.
Jason and Glenn Coburn of Exclusive Customs were drawn to bodywork and paint, and although they moved their business from Sydney to the Gold Coast, they stayed committed despite the distance. Local help came from Peter at Mobile Car Restorations, who guided Adrian through the metalwork and initial gap-setting process, and stepped in when things got too involved. Barry Thompson from Split Decision Restorations also got involved in sorting out the metal and bodywork to bring the once sad hatch to elite levels.
The LS3 and the TR6060 six-speed manual that Torey now drives were both mated to a battered VE Club Sport and only had 20,000km on the clock. According to Adrian, it always had three paddles. “I only had manual cars,” he says. “It’s more fun to drive when you’re steering and changing gears.”
The LS3 was sourced from the VE ClubSport, as was the TR6060 gearbox, while the 9in rear has 3.89 gears to take advantage of that double overdrive box. With hard-launching acceleration and team highway revs, it’s an effective combo.
After getting the donkey fitted and running, Adrian pulled it out and sent it to Perfection Automotive in Hume to give it some love. The bottom was left stock, while the heads were port-matched and polished. A Crow 227/224 cam was slotted with LS7 lifters. It’s all fed by a Plasmaman billet intake and 102mm throttle body, which is lined with custom piping.
The car has yet to receive a final dyno tune, but it should make between 450 and 500hp at the rear. “The gearbox can handle it comfortably, and it’s quite quick in a light car, but still drivable,” Adrian enthused. “You can get into it and drive to Perth and you won’t have a problem.”
Adrian did a lot of research on his ideal wheel setup, eventually ordering these wide bows clutch hoops from the States to complete the look. They are 18×9 and 18×11.5 combo shod with 245/35 and 295/35 rubber respectively.
Adrian’s day job as a high school teacher didn’t stop him from working on his own. “Whatever I could do, I tried to do it myself,” he says. “Like most builds, the first time didn’t go quite right, especially when it was in Canberra. Usually, it was a bit of an experiment, like the interior, which I built myself.
There were things that I played around with until I got it right, and if I couldn’t get it right, I got the guys from Exclusive to fix it. I went up there from Canberra six or seven times to work on it with them – taking it apart, putting it back together, refining the pieces, whatever I could.
He’s particularly proud of his work fitting the driveline, which included grafting much of the VE tunnel to make room for the TR6060 box, a custom two-piece tail with integrated slip joint. is attached to the shaft.
Adrian also built a new firewall, deleted the engine bay drip gutter and radiator support lips, and tapped new chassis rail sections to achieve the symmetrical look he wanted. “I was probably more involved than he should have been, but to get the body and paint to an elite level, it had to be done by the experts,” he says. “These are next-level skills, not a slap-up streetcar type thing.”
Along with the engine and box, Adrian also dragged the hatch’s steering and stopping smarts into the 21st century. The front end packs QA1 coil-overs, with King springs and Munro double-adjustable shocks at the rear, while four-pot Wilwoods hold 320mm discs all around. Adrian’s brother Scott also used his skills to iron out any engineering gremlins.
Sadly, Robert passed away in 2020, a few months before Adrian and Glenn finalized the exclusive paint color. In a “very emotional” moment, they chose to dub Huey HHH Rouge after Robert’s business, Triple H Motors.
Its interior was designed by Adrian before Trims by Sean decked it out with Lamborghini Gray leather, Alcantara and Bullet inserts. The front pews are modified Recaros
The paint itself uses a custom two-tone blue and purple basecoat, with a custom red clear on top. It echoes the classic two-tone Torana look but replaces the black with another shade of red.
Glenn completed extensive color sanding and buffing to debut the LX at this year’s Sydney Hot Rod and Custom Auto Expo on May 26. “It was one of those classic stories of the car ending up late at night and being put on the trailer at dawn the next morning,” laughs Adrian.
The full steel dash and inserts are all custom, and house a set of Speedhat gauges. A column is a piece of billetwork attached to a billet specialty wheel.
The hatch was followed by an appearance at Color Rides Live in Wollongong, where Adrian took home nine trophies including Car of the Show, Best Street Machine, Best Coupe/Tudor and Best Paint.
Adrian says he has a few other potential projects in the pipeline. “But I’m in absolutely no rush to start anything new,” he clarifies. “This is for dad.”
Here’s Adrian (left) and his father Robert Adrian with the four-door Torana they built together. The pair also started building the LX hatch together, but sadly Robert didn’t live to see the Elliott level spectacular.
1976 Holden LX Torana
|paint:||Custom Spy Hacker Permahide|
|include:||Plasma main bullet manifold, 102mm bullet throttle body|
|Fuel System:||GM in the tank|
|Cooling:||PWR, twin 12in fans|
|Emissions:||Twin 3in system|
|Gearbox:||TR6060 six-speed manual|
|Clutch:||VE Club Sport|
|Difference:||9in, 3.89:1 Truetrac|
|Suspension and brakes|
|in front:||QA1 Coilovers|
|Back:||King Springs, Monroe Shocks|
|Master Cylinder:||Wilwood booster lace|
|Wheels and tires|
|codes:||booze clutch; 18×9 (f), 18×11.5 (r)|
|Rubber:||Kumho 245/35R18 (f), Pirelli 295/35R18 (r)|
Glenn and Jason Coburn at Special Customs; Barry Thompson; my brother Scott; Everyone else played their part in getting the car to where it is today. DCS Backlot Studio in Canberra.