In the world there are those who think a burnout is as simple as selecting a gear and standing on the gas, and for some that is true. But how about building a vehicle that is capable of doing burnouts to compete in National and International events whilst retaining street drivability¦ That is an entirely different story, and that is this story.
The LH Torana featured is owned by Ryan, driven by Liz, and powered by much more than a supercharged, nitrous-breathing iron lung. It is also powered by an enormous amount of pride, which is reflected in the well considered components and engineering mastery.
Ryan has owned the LH for 11¯years now and counting, having purchased it from his uncle. It rolled off the production line powered by a Starfire 1900cc engine. The LH¯Torana was a vehicle with much potential, as proven by the SLR5000. History has shown that while there was nothing wrong with the Starfire 1900cc engine, the car had so much potential that the engine might as well have been cast with the words “candidate for transplant”. Like many of its kind, this LH received new breathing capability in the form of eight cylinders in a beautiful V-shape.
This is a car that has evolved over time, progressing from a single carburettor set-up, to a twin carburettor tunnel-ram set-up, to the mechanical and chemical supercharged wonder we see today. A trusty Chevrolet 350ci (5735cc) V8 and five-speed manual transmission soon found their way into the LH — and Ryan started tinkering (as you do). A Holley 600 cfm carburettor and Mr Gasket scoop were installed, along with the obligatory (and necessary) larger rims and tyres. This combination would satisfy most people, but not Ryan. The next phase in the evolutionary process was an Edelbrock tunnel ram with twin Holley 450cfm carburettors (to satisfy Ryan’s desire for an engine protruding out the bonnet). And then came the story of the 406 and the supercharger¦
The LH would soon have some serious muscle in the form of power. Having already sent numerous gearboxes, clutches, differentials and axles to the automotive graveyard, Ryan and Liz came to the conclusion the LH deserved a strip-down and rebuild, with a view to strengthening the major structural components. Holden had never imagined that the skeleton of its original car would have to cope with being transformed into something bionic!
As the strip-down progressed, with each component carefully cleaned and weld-strengthened, it became rather obvious the strengthening route was the correct way to go. The poor LH had a stress fracture (read tearing apart) of the firewall!
Holden had manufactured a well-designed chassis for the Torana, and the factory concepts were extended by Eel (with Ryan is assistance) to form an immensely strong and aesthetically impressive boxed-frame extension.
The decision was made to step up to the world of the 400ci (6555cc) small block V8. Unfortunately the first engine purchased was not quite up to standard for what was planned. The crankshaft bearings were showing signs of stress, a crack was discovered in the block, and there were no engine mounts — they had been removed as a result of a previous custom installation. It would have taken a wad of cash to resolve these.
A DART little ‘M’ 406ci (6653cc) block complete with supercharger was available, and research showed this was indeed a realistic option from a financial (and owner stress) perspective — the deal was done. The DART features include priority mains oiling, four-bolt splayed mains caps and extra-thick cylinder walls.
Sitting on top of the DART block, making sure the LH does not run out of puff, is a glorious GMC 6-71 supercharger by Garry Peterson that was expertly rebuilt by Al from Al’s Blower Drives. This set up utilises a triple rotor and custom rear bearing plate, and runs nine per cent under-driven. With the street exhaust it provides 10lb boost — in competition (or any other time the cravings take over) it provides 13lb boost.
Not so obvious at first glance are the custom fabricated plates that allow sideways mounting of the twin Barry Grant Mighty Demon carburettors — this was done to allow improved linkage operation, and thus removed the need to machine grooves into the blower casing. There are also custom-fabricated plates for optimum throttle operation, and a very impressive plate on the front of the engine that features a bearing assembly to compensate for pulley vibration. Also fabricated was a custom scatter-shield that fixes to the enlarged transmission tunnel — a very sensible investment from an occupant safety perspective.
The internal components purchased to go with the DART block are of the highest standard. An Eagle stroker crankshaft spins Eagle rods and JE forged pistons, while an ISKY roller camshaft lifts Competition Cams pushrods that pivot Crane Gold roller rockers and Ferrea stainless severe duty valves in the Pro-Topline 242 Iron Lightning cylinder heads.
A phenomenal amount of time was spent on research to identify components. The services provided by Rob Penman and Eel in this respect were invaluable. The knowledge and skill of these men should be considered close to that of specialised surgeons — one turning spanners, the other turning steel.
A Tremec T56 six-speed manual transmission mates up to the engine with a Ford nine-inch custom limited slip differential out back that was built by Diffs¯R¯Us — and its sponsorship, support and continued involvement in this LH is invaluable.
Now that this car had plenty of get-up-and-go consideration was given to reining in the power. The brakes were upgraded at the front with DBA cross-drilled and vented rotors, whilst the rear received HQ drum brakes — and a Wilwood brake bias was thrown in for good measure.
Dressing it up
The detailed engine, complete with braided hosing and anodised fittings, is the most obvious feature of the LH. Looking beyond the obvious you note the panels on this car are straight and clean. The Panther Mica paint applied by Cam at Diamond Autofinish has incredible depth, although there is now an array of scratches in the paint at the rear of the car; these scratches can be considered trophies (of the many steel-belted tyres that have been defeated by the LH). The graphics are expertly applied, and there is just the right amount of chrome to glisten through the ‘occasional’ smoke screen.
This vehicle was built to break traction — not gain it. I was lucky enough to join Liz as she put the LH through its paces. What I observed was an education, what I experienced was like nothing before, what I left with was complete admiration. It all started rather passively with a sideways smile from Liz, and undetected pressure on the gas¦ Then the immense iron lung began to sing its song and Liz’s workplace became rather busy.
She became less concerned with the comfort of her passenger, focusing instead upon the myriad of gauges, flicking her left wrist from first through second, third and into fourth whilst her bare feet controlled the pedal movements with the precision of a concert pianist (on acid). Her right wrist was flicking; the car threw graceful arcs as the billowing smoke enveloped the LH.
From my vantage point, the smoke seemed surreal — it was like time was in slow motion — the smoke was rolling ever so slowly around, almost embracing us. Looking further out the window I realised what I could see, essentially from the eye of the storm, was multiplied many times as you gazed further and further from the LH. By the time Liz had finished, it is entirely accurate to say she had more tread on her feet than what remained on the rear tortured tyres!
There is artistry to a burnout, and the quality is dependant on many factors including driver skill, vehicle, and choice of tyre. One of the initial goals was to build a car to flame the tyres — yep, the LH went there and did that! In the competition world of burnouts you need to consider things such as elapsed time, i.e. you must perform within an ideal window of two-and-a-half to three minutes. You must also produce quality smoke, which is dependant upon your choice of tyre as each brand has its own burn characteristics. You have to consider and measure the revs to pull in each gear in order to reach optimal burn temperature. You also have to consider vehicle movement, as the swinging arcs of the vehicle help to present a consistent, and consistently growing, display. We hit 8200rpm during the performance — to put that in perspective, at 7400rpm in fourth gear the rear wheels are doing 140mph, or 225kph!
Sunday afternoon smoko
On one hand, this LH is a competition bruiser; on the other hand it is a street cruiser. A lazy Sunday was recently spent cruising around central and suburban Auckland. The Auckland motorway opened my eyes to the sheer power of the LH, which displayed massive straight-line power when demanded. In suburban traffic it behaved very well — and I just love the idle of supercharged cars!
The ride was extremely comfortable thanks to the upgraded suspension, featuring KYB gas shock absorbers and SLR5000 springs. This car’s interior is very tastefully done, the front seats are AutoSport items and the rear is factory that has been custom upholstered to match the front. Liz had the cheek to say, “but it doesn’t have an interior” a short while ago. Well I was tempted to say, “Bollocks to Liz!” on that one — but I won’t, because this car does not have power steering and Liz might hit me!
Stubbing out the opposition
Ryan and Liz set more than just rubber on fire with this LH — they have almost burnt out their opposition. With Liz as pilot, in over 20 burn out competitions, the LH has only twice not finished in the top 3. This car has also won “Best Presented” ¦ Ryan won that — and he has a prized vacuum cleaner for his efforts (nice one)!
Ryan and Liz have the won the Skidfest competitions season 2000 —2003, placed 2nd in the Skidfest Nationals in Christchurch in 2002, and won the Hamilton National burnout championship in 2003 while taking out first at Mere Mere on both occasions. Ryan jumped behind the wheel at a comp in Huntly ¦. And got first! 2004 and 2005 saw Ryan and Liz focus on International competitions and have shipped the LH twice to the Summer National Events in Canberra. On both occasions they have placed in the Top Ten of the World Burnout Masters and were also picked to participate in the hallowed Super Cruise.
Promoting good habits
Proof of the street-ability of the LH is the fact that, at the time of writing, it has just driven back from Tokoroa, where Ryan and Liz put on a display as part of a promotion to encourage safe driving practices.
Please do not view this article as glamorising smoking — we all know how dangerous that habit is, it simply seemed a suitable theme for a vehicle that smokes ’em up regularly. It is fair to say this is probably the only vehicle I will write about for NZV8 that I would feel comfortable smoking inside (for obvious reasons). It would be incredibly funny to have the LH officially declared a smoke-free workplace environment — I wonder what OSH and ASH would have to say? I know what Liz would say — and I can guess it would not be three-letter words. What we can say — and print — is that Ryan and Liz have a car, and a great many achievements that they can be immensely proud of. And just for the record, the Nitrous Oxide System has never been turned on!
‘EV1L 8’ LH TORANA
- 406 cubic inches (6653cc) DART ‘Little M’ dyno-proven 557hp (415kW) at the wheels with 550lb/ft (745Nm) torque, compression Ratio: 8.2:1, GMC 6-71 triple rotor supercharger (custom rear bearing plate, 9¯per cent under-driven), twin 750cfm boost referenced Barry Grant Mighty Demon carburettors, twin plate Cheater N2O system, JAZ fuel cell, twin Mallory fuel regulators
- Exhaust: Tommy T racing headers three-inch collectors;
- Street system — 2.5 inch custom twin crossover with FlowMaster mufflers
- Burnout system — Three-inch custom exhaust with Forza mufflers
- Iron alloy block, Pro-Topline 242 Iron Lightning heads, Edelbrock B10 custom modified intake manifold to suit heads, Eagle 4130 406 stroke steel crank, Eagle 1000+hp L19 upgrade H¯beams rods, JE forged custom specification pistons, ISKY racing roller-cam
- Crane Gold roller rockers, 1.6:1 ratio with Crane stud girdle and Crane rev kit, Ferrea stainless steel inlet valves — severe duty 2.125¯inch, Ferrea stainless steel exhaust vavles— severe duty 1.6¯inch, Aussie Desert Cooler radiator with four Davies Craig electric fans, CSI electric water pump; Mocal oil cooler, custom modified sump
- Tremec T-56 six-speed ex-1997 Pontiac with USA Pro-5.0 shifter
- Ratios: 1st, 2.66:1; 2nd 1.78:1; 3rd 1.30:1; 4th 1.00:1; 5th 0.74:1; 6th 0.50:1
- Yella Terra explosion-proof flywheel with McLeod variable clamp pressure plate, Wilwood master hydraulic release bearing Torque converter: A very loud NO THANKS!
- SLR springs and sway bars, KYB gas shocks; Ford nine-inch custom limited slip by Diffs R Us, 3.7:1 ratio, USA axles by Curries Industries, Anaheim Ca.
- Brakes: Front — HQ hubs and stub axles, DBA cross-drilled and vented rotors
- Rear – HQ drum, Wilwood brake bias
- Street — Momo 17×9-inch polished Arrow; Burnout — not fussy on rear
- Tyres: 255/40/17 Bridgestone Grid III
Owner: Ryan — Age: 21 4 eva!
Driver: Liz – Age: sweet 16
Occupation: Builder / operations manager
Build time: This LH continues to evolve
Length of ownership: 11 years and counting
Thanks to: Rob @ RPM Motorsports, Lee aka Eel, Mike @ Mullins Tyres for supplying countless rear tyres, Cam @ Diamond Autofinish, Lee @ Diffs R Us, Jaydene @ Mag and Turbo North Shore and Tauranga, Bob Dayal @ Alert Electroplaters, Cannon @ Cannon Signage Concepts