We truly live in a golden age for our hobby. Making big power has never been cheaper, and having one-off parts fabricated is easier than ever thanks to computers. But there still is a deep-seated love among street machiners for the scene of 30-40 years ago, when petrol was cents in the dollar and street cars had attitude for days.

First published in the January 2022 issue of Street Machine

While the LX sedan shell looks original, it features stretched guards, a full fibreglass 4in reverse-cowl bonnet; flush, smoothed engine bay and firewall; tucked bumpers; and a smoothed-off underbody for a show-ready finish

Fred De Fazio grew up during this period, and it stamped a BFG tread pattern all over his DNA, as evidenced by this LX Torana he’s just completed.

“From the age of 16, my brothers and I were always interested in street muscle cars, with many Friday nights spent watching or drag racing at Calder Park,” Fred explains. “I saw many Aussie muscle cars in our driveway over the years, and that passion continued to grow once I got my licence and bought my own XD Falcon. It did not take long to replace the standard 250 six-cylinder with a 351 Cleveland!”

A tough four-link and 9in diff were built by Full Flight Engineering using a Strange Engineering double-ribbed cage housing, 31-spline axles, Truetrac centre and 3.9 Richmond gears. Wilwood brakes are used all ’round, while Viking coil-over struts keep the sedan’s sills off the ground

Since then, Fred’s had his hand in a bunch of killer cars. His pro street XD was joined by a ’66 Mustang coupe, then a pro street ’78 Z/28 Camaro build, and on to the restored XY GT tribute sitting in his shed today. But the Torana is special, and not just because it represented a new brand for him to play with.

“I was always more of a Ford man, but the Torana started with me helping out a friend, who had owned the car as a roller for a few years,” Fred says. “He had the intention it would hit the road again one day, but after he was diagnosed with MS, the project was destined to be sold. A deal was done for me to purchase the car, and originally we were going to just get it on the road quickly.

“But it took a bit of a turn, as the detail work started to grow and we figured it was too good to stop there,” Fred continues. “Everyone involved loved working on the Torana as if it were their own, which is why the detail, custom work and effort took this build to another level.”

Once the shell had been blasted, Frank Ivancic and the team from Truck Shine Melbourne spent bulk hours getting the body gun-barrel straight and perfecting the bodylines and panel fitment. The engine bay and undercarriage were totally smoothed, while the rear tubs were taken to the chassis rails to house some 80s-style 12-inch-wide meats.

Along with the stout mouse motor, another traditional touch is the 15×3.5 and 15×10 genuine original Center Line Auto Drags. “I wanted the classic Melbourne street car look,” Fred says. “I didn’t want the flares, and I like the old-school appearance”

Frank’s team then coated the body and undercarriage in Ferrari PPG Grigio Silverstone grey, with the inside smoothed and finished in matte-black.

“The idea was to make it look factory, but better,” explains Fred. “I wanted subtle modifications that enhanced what Holden gave us. So, I had Danny from Initial D Racing look after the extensive mechanical modifications, including fitting Viking coil-overs on all four corners and Wilwood brakes front and back. I also went with a custom low-profile EFI drop-tank from Bain Racing rather than a fuel cell, as it gives me 75L instead of 30.”

Along with the Tuff Mounts engine and trans mounts, the engine hardware includes custom 2in primaries, twin 3in exhaust with MagnaFlow mufflers and electric exhaust cut-outs by Boosted Fabrications. Billet rocker covers, bonnet catch and hinges finish the look

The Torry thumps to the tune of a 650hp, 434ci Pavtek small-block Chev. “I didn’t put an LS in this car because I like the old-school 70s and 80s vibe,” says Fred of his engine choice. “But we did put some modern touches on the car like the fuel injection, steering-wheel paddles and custom-made billet pieces.”

The mill is built off a Dart four-bolt block and packed with a Scat 4340 crank, Scat H-beam rods and custom JE slugs for a 10.5:1 comp ratio. A custom-ground hydraulic-roller cam operates the valves in the DRP alloy heads. The 550cc injectors are fed pump 98 by a Holley pump, while a FuelTech FT450 ECU controls the show.

While Fred originally went with throttlebody injection stacks, tuning issues caused them to be swapped out for the Tremaniac Racing NxtGen intake. The plenum style makes sense, as he plans to bolt a ProCharger onto the combo to really add some hot sauce to this burger with the lot.

“The idea is to get to around 750-800hp once the ProCharger is on,” he grins. “Right now, even aspirated, it has enough to wheelspin in top gear when you stand on it at 70km/h. It is scary-streetable, even on pump fuel, so I can’t wait for the ProCharger!”

Fred had the standard Torana seats bolstered and retrimmed by George from Laverton Motor Trimmers. The interior also features a flat-panelled floor, one-piece dash, custom centre console and door trims, electric windows, and bespoke billet buttons and trim pieces. Auto Meter gauges were added for that old-school flair, while a Billet Specialties steering wheel was adapted to the Holden column

Having built a bunch of cars through the glory years of street machining, does Fred think it’s become easier to put a cool rig together? “It’s better today because we have access to more parts both locally and overseas, as well as lots of information,” he says. “The only hard part I found was finding the tradespeople willing to do the work and the ridiculous wait times to get in to have it done.

In the 80s and 90s, I found there was more we were allowed to do, without the current issues of compliance. Still, back in the 80s you would fabricate parts, but today you can get it made out of billet!”

Despite all the smoothed metalwork and custom billet hardware, Fred is keen to do what he’s always done and use the car on Melbourne streets.

“Even though it is really highly detailed, I want to get out and drive it,” he says. “I might take it to the races, but I haven’t built it for that. I want to keep it a clean, traditional, old-school-muscle street car, like how we used to build them.”

All the attitude of the 80s and the smarts of today – sounds like the perfect cruiser to us!

FRED DE FAZIO
1977 HOLDEN LX TORANA

Paint:  PPG Grigio Silverstone
ENGINE
Brand:  Dart 434ci Chevy small-block
Induction:  Tremaniac Racing billet NxtGen intake, Plazmaman 105mm throttlebody
ECU:  FuelTech FT450
Heads:  DRP alloy
Camshaft:  Custom hydraulic-roller
Conrods:  Scat H-beam 
Pistons:  JE custom forged
Crank:  Scat forged 4340 steel
Oil system:  High-volume pump, High Energy sump
Fuel system:  550cc injectors, Holley EFI pump
Cooling:  Custom Race Radiators two-core alloy radiator, Spal dual fans
Exhaust:  Custom Boosted Fabrications 2in extractors, twin 3in stainless exhaust
Ignition:  MSD crank & cam sensors, FuelTech IGN1A coils, MSD leads
TRANSMISSION
Gearbox:  Manualised Powerglide
Converter:  TCE 8.5in 4000rpm
Diff:  Full Flight Engineering 9in, 31-spline axles, Truetrac centre, Strange Engineering double-ribbed cage housing, 3.9:1 Richmond gears
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front:  Viking coil-overs
Rear:  Viking coil-overs, four-link
Brakes:  Wilwood discs, (f & r)
Master cylinder:  Wilwood
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims:  Center Line Auto Drag; 15×3.5 (f), 15×10 (r)
Rubber:  Nankang 145/70R15 (f), M/T Sportsman 26x12R15 (r)

THANKS
Frank Ivancic at Truck Shine Melbourne for bodywork and paint and for being a great friend for 30+ years; Adam Miraglia for his help on the body; Danny Bresciani at Initial D Racing, who really does stand out from the rest when it comes to street/drag builds; Steve Martin at Boosted Fabrications for the great work; Craig at OC Billet for the custom billet parts; George at Laverton Motor Trimmers; Rocco Curra at Curra Custom Detailing; last but not least, my family and friends

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