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Home built LX Torana

Two heart attacks didn’t stop Jason Hannamn building his dream Torana


Jason Hannam is a down-to-earth-bloke with a true-blue, give-it-a-go attitude. It’s with that mindset he garnered the skills to birth this crisp LX SL/R 5000 tribute.

Jason’s day job involves laying paint for Hills Autobodies, which came about through his deeply entrenched love of cars and doing things himself. “I took on an adult apprenticeship at 35 years old, after rocking up to my mate’s work in my freshly painted Barbados Green LX Torana,” he recounts. “The panel shop boss saw the car and asked if I wanted a job! I had a family at home to think about, but up to that point I was just doing shit-kicker jobs. As I’ve always had a passion for cars, I took the offer.”

While Jason’s self-taught abilities helped him elevate the Torry to trophy-hauler status, it was a far more personal situation that rocketed the project to life. “I had two heart attacks: one when I was 40 years old, and another two years later,” he says. “So I thought, ‘Now’s the time to build the Torana!’ It gave me a kick in the arse to do it.”

Jason had bought the LX SL as a rolling shell for a mere $500, and it had been relegated to the back of his shed until the keenness to see it to fruition hit. “I built the car in 18 months, starting in 2019,” he says. “That was before Covid, so I had some time off work to really get into the project.” The brief was for a tidy pro tourer, upping the ante on his last build. “I’d done a quick respray on my green LX Torana and added some running gear, but this one I wanted to do properly – exactly how I wanted,” Jason explains.

Once down to a bare shell, the whole car was sandblasted and bolted to a rotisserie. “I wanted everything smoothed to remove the factory ugliness,” Jason says. That included removing the factory boot floor to insert a flat one, thoroughly smoothing the undercarriage and engine bay, and eliminating any unwanted holes. While he was at it, he also welded in chassis connectors to handle extra grunt in the future.

The panel work was always going to be the car’s standout feature, thanks to Jason’s talents in the body department; even the door skins were removed for the rusted frames to be rebuilt. Once the panels were re-hung, the gaps were set just-so before the body was filed and smoothed in readiness for prep and colour.

After Photoshopping the Torry into a wide array of colours, Holden’s Sting Red became Jason’s chosen hue, so it was dragged down to Hills Autobodies. He laid three coats of two-pack colour before sanding it back, then masking out and laying the blackouts. Three coats of clear finished up proceedings.

It was then time for the powerplant insertion. “The driveline came out of my green Torana; I just freshened it up,” Jason says. “The Holden 355ci was built 15 years ago for that car – when I sold it, I kept the engine. I had my mate Paul Farrow recondition it and add all the usual horsepower stuff. I’d estimate it makes 500 to 520hp, but now I need more power!”

Behind the lion is a Trimatic sporting a manual valvebody, backed by a BorgWarner M78 third member, though this combo will soon make way for beefier arrangement.

“Now that The Bend is just up the road from me, I want to race the Torana and go fast,” Jason says. “So, this year I’m going to update the running gear to a 383ci stroker with four-bolt mains, forged pistons, a roller cam and a tunnel ram with injection. Behind will be a TH350 and a nine-inch; I’m hoping for over 650hp which should get it into the 10s. It might be a total rebuild of the car – we’ll see what happens!”

Many of the smoothed and painted suspension items will remain, given they were bolted in with pro touring performance in mind. United Speed Shop tubular upper and lower control arms and coil-overs feature underneath, along with HQ and VN discs fore and aft, fed by a Wilwood one-inch master cylinder.

Jason reckons the project went smoothly, and he’s rightfully happy with his home build. “I built everything but the engine; it only left the shed to go to the exhaust shop,” he smiles. “And while I know the paint is pretty good, I can still pick things on it. The first thing people ask at car shows is, ‘Who did the paint?’ And when I tell them it was me, they head straight over to pick on it!” People, eh?

Despite that, judges have bestowed the Torana with accolades at every show it’s been to, including Street Machine Summernats 35 and the recent Kindig Custom Car Show in Adelaide. “My theory is, if you’re thinking of having a go – have a go,” Jason says. “If you stuff it up, then you learn!”


Story Carly Dale

Photos Troy Barker

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