1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2

By: Guy Allen, Photography by: Guy Allen

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1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2 1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2 1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2
1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2 1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2 1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2
1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2 1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2 1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2
1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2 1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2 1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2
1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2 1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2 1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2
1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2 1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2 1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2

We send it to the strip joint

1972 LJ Torana XU-1: Project Purple part 2
Project Purple - Torana XU-1 part 2

 

1972 LJ Torana XU-1

It was one of those awkward moments. Editor Ponch is peering over the shoulder of art boy Ange, admiring the pic above right, of the Torana in all its purple glory. "They do a good job, don’t they?" he opined. That’s when we had to break it to him gently. Er, mate, that’s the old paint, the stuff we’re about to strip off...

You could see his point. The mighty XU-1 looked fantastic and any normal human being would be perfectly content with its current suit of clothes. But we’re not talking normal here – we’re talking about Uncle Phil and his legendary demands for perfection.

The Phil credo is no project car, let alone a giveaway, is to leave the premises until it’s finished to a standard that would make most factories weep with frustration. He’s right. This will be our show car for six months or so, which means it has to be faultless.

Chris and Demi, the owners of Corporate Auto Body in Thomastown, did their best to hide their surprise when we rolled up with Project Purple. After a quick check that yes, this was indeed the car that desperately needed a respray, the team went over it closely. Sure enough, it failed a more critical inspection. While the body was very solid, some of the panel alignment could be improved and the paint itself was rough in places.


Hunting Rust Fairies

The big drama with buying an old car is that it suffers from the mudguard syndrome: shiny on top, crap underneath. While Uncle Phil is pretty good at dodging disaster, he’s not psychic. So we kind of held our collective breath as the paint crew got stuck into the passenger side with a speed file and some 80-grit.

"We use coarse paper to cut through the clear and show up the highs and lows," explained Chris. "The blocking stage is our ‘eyes’ – you can sight along the panels, like a lot of people do, but this process shows you more."

 

 

It’s the phone call any owner dreads: talking to the panel shop once they’ve had a proper look under the paint. This one started with the usual, "It’s basically good, mate, but..." That last word can cost thousands.

Not so in this case. There was a flaw at the join of the C-pillar and roof skin, where the original lead wipe was done, plus a little rust under the front quarter. "Phil’s done it again," said Chris, "He’s found a gem and has made our job a hell of a lot easier."

That depends on your interpretation of ‘easy’. As the opening pic on this feature reveals, the lads discovered quite a few high and low spots across the panels – normal in a car this age. The causes varied. For example the low above the front wheel is caused by the flaring of the guard, while the unevenness at the leading edge of the door is simply wear as the hinges have shifted over time. Glitches near the quarter window would have been there in the original factory pressing, said Chris.

So what’s the fix? "We go over it and fill with a fine skin of pulling putty," explained Chris, "Then speed file it again with a finer grade of paper.

"We should be able to get rid of 90 percent of the ripples."

Colour Me

Much of the finishing work will be tackled by in-house panel beater Lou, who claims a long history with restoration work. He went all misty-eyed when we first turned up with the car, so it’s in good hands. He then hands the finished shell over to the paint folk, who use a Glasurit system. Chris swears by it.

He reckons the car will get three coats of high fill, after which the sandpaper obsession starts all over again. The lads start with 240 grain, then 320, 400 and then 500, then wet rub all the edges. Finally, it gets booted into the paint booth for colour and clear.

While the panel shop gets the car nice and shiny, we’re off sourcing and researching a lot of the detail that’s needed to make sure the car looks fresh. Finding a reputable chrome plater was a challenge in itself. Eventually Joe at Rare Spares recommended AA Vinney’s in Dandenong. They’re looking after the precious bumpers which, incredibly, are dead straight but in need of freshen-up.

Then we’ll turn our attention to the chassis and mechanicals, which is essentially a tight package but in need of some visual TLC.

Of course, the real challenge will be working out how to snatch the keys off Uncle Phil for a quick lap of Mount Panorama, just for old time’s sake...

Rare Rescue

We can panel-beat the metal and rebuild the engine, but where these resto projects can come unstuck in a big way is fiddly trim like window and door rubbers, mirrors and centre consoles.

That’s where Joe Xuereb (pictured below in the centre of the group) from Rare Spares did his best cavalry impersonation. He raided the corporate toy box and came back with all the gear needed to bring Project Purple back to showroom standard.

A crucial part of the exercise was test-fitting the new door seals before we started on the strip. New seals are always going to be fatter than a 30-year-old flogged-out set.

According to Chris, this ensures you have the doors hanging right before you apply that expensive new paint – worth doing.

Rare Spares Revival Tips

01 Nothing beats starting with a solid car. In most cases, the condition of the mechanicals should play second fiddle to the state of the body. A poor shell can take literally hundreds of hours to set right.

02As part of your assessment, find out what parts are available. For example, Rare Spares sells custom repair panels for many local cars.

03Don’t forget to assess the trim. While it might seem alright now, a fresh paint job will quickly make it look shabby.

04 When shopping for a painter, allow plenty of preparation time in your budget. It will hurt the wallet now, but you’ll have forgotten all about that when it’s still looking good a decade down the road.

05Have you got somewhere sheltered to store it? Decent dry garaging hugely extends the life of your resto work. A good shed often costs less than new paint.

 

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