Damian 'Damo' Worthy doesn't have a long career in vehicle restos, but with a youth spent fiddling with all things LC/LJ, he's now combining his passion with his skills
It must first be said that this Daytona Bronze LC Torana GTR is not owned by Damo Worthy. Instead, it’s the ninth turnkey restoration undertaken by his business, Worthy GTR Restorations. "If you’d told me two years ago that I’d be sitting here talking to you today, I would have laughed," he begins. "I’ve had a long career in telecommunications. I’ve been in senior management at Foxtel and Vodafone, and a high-level manager at the NBN, which was a 57 billion dollar infrastructure project," Damo adds with a chuckle.
So, what prompted the shift from telcos to Toranas? "A colleague of mine saw a car for sale and knowing my background, suggested I should get back into them," he explains. "I rebuilt everything on the cars, but you know the story; around 21 years old I found a girl, bought a house, had the kids; life just moves on." Damo pauses for a second before adding, "Even though I know them intimately, I convinced myself I wasn’t interested in them anymore."
Whether it was the relish of a new challenge or simply a mid-life crisis, Damo isn’t telling, but whatever the case, he bought the Torana. "And it was the biggest, most rusted-out POS you’ve ever seen in your life!" he cracks up. "But it was a valuable lesson on what to look for and what not to do next time." More importantly, it showed Damo where his professional skills could be of benefit. "I was handed a redundancy, so was looking for another job in the corporate world, but after I did my own car,
I launched my Facebook page Worthy GTR Restorations and started getting messages. When COVID hit, everyone started thinking that they should do something about that car in their garage and it just went crazy."
For the most part, Worthy GTR Restorations undertakes only a small portion of the resto work. "I’ve still got a shed full of bits I’ve collected over the years; NOS stuff and good-condition, original stuff," he says. Damo is hands-on with the detail parts, rejuvenating everything from heater boxes to ‘rat trap’ mechanisms, but his primary skill is project management; something he’s adept at after 25 years wearing a suit. Damo says, "Building these cars is a symphony. You’ve got to have all the parts ready at specific times – body, interior, engine, and peripherals. And when you put it all together at once and in the right order, you very quickly have a completed car. If you know that order by heart, the build time tightens significantly."
The owner of this April 1970-build LC Torana GTR, Alan Robson, sat on the car for about four years before contacting Damo about spearheading the resto. "The main thing for Alan is finding someone to trust to get it right," Damo says, before adding, "I’ve only been in the industry two years, but I can already see trust is a big issue for owners. That feeling is as important as the work itself."
Turning towards Alan’s gleaming Daytona Bronze Torana parked on the banks of the Port Adelaide River, Damo launches into the story of his latest customer creation. "It came in from interstate and the bodywork was done, but some things weren’t right."
Damo determined that although the metalwork was good, there were some minor inconsistencies with the paint. "Essentially, the blackouts went up the back, which was an XU-1 thing. And although the ‘Bathurst livery’ stripes were a $10 option, it’s rare to see a GTR without them, so we engaged Adam at Southern Classics and Customs to rectify it all."
While the outside was getting sorted, Damo switched his attention to the innards. "Alan organised the seats, while I sourced carpets and door trims. I supplied a couple of stainless-steel trim items that were missing and are hard to find." The GTR’s lower dash was another part Damo was able to help with. "Some GTRs had black in the lower dash, but in this car, it was Antique Gold, which I, fortunately, had a spare of."
The standard 161ci red motor needed a full rebuild and was mostly complete, with Damo supplying some period-correct bolts and sundries before sending the donk off to Nick at Thess Engines. While awaiting its return, Damo gave the heater box a birthday, albeit not a perfect one. "Someone had gone over it with a rattle can," Damo says. "It’s now got a gloss finish on it, which is not original.
The fibre-infused construction is just impossible to get back once it’s been painted." Always on the hunt for parts, Damo has added an unrestored heater box to his shopping list and will fit it when available.
The previously mentioned symphony came to a crescendo when the engine came back from Nick ready to go. "The sequence can change depending on what’s ready when, but the best scenario is when the motor is one of the last things," Damo says. "That way, the final job is putting the motor in, starting it up and away you go. Of course, there’s a lot of testing that needs to be done, but that’s the simple version."
Damo brought this Daytona Bronze LC Torana GTR from a bare shell to a finished car in just 12 weeks, testament to his ability to get his ducks in a row. "I’ve built replicas, legitimate GTRs and genuine XU-1s, I only work on one car at a time, and I wear thongs in the workshop," Damo laughs. "I wouldn’t trade the Toranas and thongs for a suit again, that’s for sure."
Owner Alan has a reputation for restoring rare local muscle, but he couldn’t do it without a dedicated team of bronzed Aussies around him. It’s a matter of finding the right guy for the job and Damian Worthy was happy to oblige. After all, building Toranas is what he does.
Story: Dave Carey
Photos: Troy Barker