How does a Melbourne bloke shop for a VK Commodore with a LH Torana – from Perth? It wasn’t part of the plan, but it was certainly a silver lining for Slava Todik, who had no intention of ending up with such a tough-looking Torana straighter.
“The VK I wanted, I had my heart set on for a while,” Slav says. “Once I arranged all the money and everything was ready to buy VK, it was over.”
First published in the October 2022 issue. Street Machine
The rear takes in a 9-inch differential and is housed in a 255 rubber. Slav chose not to cut Torana with a full tub. 235 seemed too small. The 255 sits well on it,” he says. “I would have loved to tub it, but Pazzo talked me into it, and told me to keep it as much of a true street car as possible.”
Happily, Slav now has a VK build in the works (see more below), but before that, he needed something special to distract him for a while. “I’ve been looking for a VK for ages. I’ve seen some blue ones with the LS2 and some others, but I like silver. I only have silver or white cars,” he says. “Then I have seen this silver Torana—my fellow Pazo [Daniel Nunziante of PSIDUP Fabrications] Sent me the link. I didn’t like the wheels, but the color was spot on and we thought the car had potential; We can make a good-looking, tough car out of it.”
Perhaps afraid of missing out on yet another project car, Slavo bought a Torana sight unseen and shipped it to Melbourne. It had a 355ci Holden, which he says was “nothing special”, and despite the clean body with no add-ons, it was also running an SL/R 5000 bonnet scoop. “We knew we were going to build an engine for it, so I bought it for the body and interior.”
Slav loves silver painted cars, but you won’t find much silverware on LH. “I’m not a huge fan of a lot of chrome; I’m a two-tone guy – white and black, silver and black,” he says. The Torana stays true to that mantra, with black bumpers and detailing around the windows, grille, lights and welded alloys, and badges removed for a streamlined look.
The custom silver paintwork and smooth body needed very little work, and even the LH’s nose wrap-around window graphic was just the kind of style Slava liked. The badges were removed and the grille and light surrounds were blacked out.
Slaw ordered the very first Kamweld Racing wheels that the car now proudly rides. “I bought the car in November, so I was going to drive around with new wheels for the summer and take it apart later, but things didn’t end up like that – it came apart right away.”
After the welds were applied, a road test changed the game. “We had an oil leak – I think it might have started because of a rear when I first drove it,” Slaw says. “So I sent it to Pazo to cut the front guards to fit the 17-inch Weld wheels, and he took it for a drive and he dropped the engine on it. So, I just got a call from him. Got the message: ‘Engine coming out!’
A broken crank meant the 355 – and the summer – was over, and attempts to salvage parts from it only proved that the old Holden engine was beyond help. Yet Slav’s fortunes were about to change.
Weld racing wheels were the first change Slavo made to the Torana, with a 5/120.6 (HQ) stud pattern for 17-inch fronts and 15-inch rears. Wilwood front discs and rear drum pedals work with shocks and springs and Mickey Thompson rubber for point-to-point capability.
“At the time, who knew anyone from Pro Race Engines that was selling killer bottoms,” Slavo says. “So I got it from him, and then it was one thing after another: I went and bought Higgins Race heads, this and that — I was like, ‘Get this.’ Do it’; I’ve already started eating dirt, so just keep eating dirt!”
The bargain bottom end gave Slav the headstart he needed: a 304 block from a VT Commodore with a COME Racing steel crank, Compstar conrods and CP custom pistons. The top end was where the magic would need to happen. “Whoever wanted to put into it, I told him to just do what he had to do, just make it a killer engine.”
The Torana has a new floor in the boot, taken up by a massive 57L Aeroflow aluminum fuel cell, MagnaFuel ProStar fuel pump and Optima battery. There’s still plenty of room though, as the split-tub rear allows for wider 255 rubber but still retains the LH’s factory rails.
With the engine finished, Slaw took full advantage of repainting the engine bay from black to silver, working with Pazzo on the package that would host the new Holden powerhouse.
The interior also received subtle changes, cleaning up the SL/R-themed cabin and leaving it relatively factory-look apart from some drag-focused mods. “There’s only a few gauges, and transbrake buttons on the shifter and steering wheel so I can use either one, but it’s pretty much it – no stereo, nothing, it’s all so original. “Keep as much as I can,” says Slav.
The original 355 threw the crank and was replaced by a fresh VT-block 383ci Holden V8 with Callies conrods and Higgins heads, all topped off by a 950cfm APD carby on a torque power manifold. It packs 707hp on 98-pump fuel and swallows quarters in 9.73 seconds. Tri-Y pipes and twin 3.5-inch exhausts remove spent gases.
“Some people asked me to put in a digital dash or something, but for a car this old, I think more muscle deserves automatic gauges.”
Slaw wanted the SL/R scope to run – and the 383 with its 950cfm carb atop the torque-power manifold meant it couldn’t stay anyway. A new fiberglass bonnet was built with a reverse cowl, but even that wasn’t enough, cutouts were needed to pack everything in.
With its SL/R trim and three-spoke steering wheel, it’s not a 1974 interior world. You can’t see the thick sound fading under the carpet, but you won’t miss the Autometer gauges and B&M Pro Ratchet shifter for the Powerglide with a 6800rpm stall. There’s no radio or modern bling – just the classic Torana in black and grey.
The 383 stroker was mated to a rebuilt Powerglide with trans brakes, sending power to nine inches and 255 Mickey Thompson rubber. The package was good enough for 707hp on pump fuel, and squeezed out 713hp on race juice and a pass of 9.73@137mph at Heathcote.
“It’s the fastest I’ve ever been in a car – my old VL would probably do a 12-second pass, but that’s going back 15 years fast,” says Slaw. “Torana was a very smooth drive. [on track]The way it was set up in PSIDUP – it was perfectly smooth, didn’t move.
I released the transbrake, just held the steering wheel and it did what it was supposed to do every pass. It didn’t rattle or anything, even the setup was just like how I drive it on the street!”
Despite that nine-second time slip, Slava’s Torana is now a pure Strater. This is the gold standard weekend warrior that has gotten Slav back into the scene so much that he finally bought it long enough for VK!
Finally, Slav has the VK Commodore he’s been looking for when LH comes along. In December of last year, a 1984 VK SL in Asteroid Silver, no less, was parked next to a Torana in the garage. Work has already begun: “I was going to build a blown engine, but we’re building another NA engine for now – I don’t want too much on the road with a big, ugly thing outside the bonnet.” The policeman shouted,” says Slav. “I love driving the streets on a Friday night, a Saturday night, so I think there’s probably a little bit more to it.”
1974 Holden LH Torana
|paint:||Custom silver by Daniel Fox at Avondale Motors|
|Brand:||Holden 383ci by Pro Race Engine and PSIDUP Fabrications|
|include:||APD 950cfm carburetor|
|Heads:||Higgins Race Series VN|
|Valves:||Victory, with ski valve springs|
|Piston:||Custom CP with total seal rings|
|Crank:||Come racing, steel|
|Fuel System:||Magna Fuel Pump|
|Cooling:||Holden V8 three-core radiator, twin AU Falcon thermo fans|
|Emissions:||Custom Tri-Y, 3.5-inch dual exhaust|
|Ignition:||MSD Digital 6-Plus|
|Gearbox:||MDT Powerglide with Transbrake|
|Converter:||SDE Custom 8in, 6800rpm stall|
|Tail Shaft:||GJ Drivelines chrome-moly 3in|
|Difference:||9in, 4.5:1 nodular center, 35-spline billet axle|
|Suspension and brakes|
|in front:||Padders shocks and springs|
|Back:||Padders shocks and springs|
|Wheels and tires|
|password:||Weld Racing V Series; 17×4 (f), 15×9 (r)|
|Rubber:||Mickey Thompson Sportsman SR 26×6 R17 (f), Mickey Thompson ET Street R 255/60R15 (r)|
Daniel ‘Pazo’ Nunzant and the boys at PSIDUP; Con Sagarias at Pro Race Engines to build a killer NA Holden; Chris Puri at RaceWires Auto Electrics to rewire the car. Daniel Fox and Daniel Howe at Avondale Motors for all their help. Peter (Aggie) on SDE torque converters; Matt on MDT for Powerglide; Chris’s different services for different centers; Andy on Extracted Performance Exhausts for Tri-Y Pipes