1971 Holden LC Torana - Reader Resto

By: Laurie Westbrook with Dave Carey

Presented by

holden lc torana gwen Laurie is all smiles every time she drives ‘Gwen’. Now she’s commuting to work via bus, the Torana is doing daily duties after hours and on weekends holden lc torana gwen
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holden lc torana glovebox While Laurie had ‘Gwen’ on display at the Clipsal 500 she coaxed Colin Bond to sign her glovebox holden lc torana glovebox
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Dear old Gwen was worried her precious 2250 Holden LC Torana would fall into the wrong hands, but under Laurie Westbrook's ownership, her legacy has thrived!


1971 Holden LC Torana Resto

Buying ‘Gwen’ was just one of those things. I wasn’t looking for an original car; I’d just sold an LJ but kept the worked-off-its-face 202, so the plan was to find a decent replacement shell. The one I had was just too far gone in the body; rust, bog and a bird’s nest, it was a mess.

I really wanted another LJ as I hate the LC tail lights; I did then and I still do now! Why is the indicator not at the outside of the lights? They’re backwards! Why? So frustrating!

Holden -torana -rearThe Torana is full nanna-spec with a sunvisor and tin wheel trims. Venetians were added later

Anyway, I’d looked at a few cars that were equally as bad as the LJ, so this brown LC was a backup plan. I was never going to buy it, but when I went to look at it, it was just a stupid-original, honest little car.

| Reader resto: Holden Torana L34

I got it from the grandson of Gwendoline Stone; she had bought the car on 22 March 1972 when it was about six months old. The original owners apparently traded it back in when they decided to go caravanning; the 138 was not going to happen there, so Gwen picked it up.

Holden -lc -torana -3The minimalist respray was money well spent – a fine result

They were asking $8500 for it, which was high at the time. I offered $5000, but told them I would fix it up and not modify it, plus I would bring it back to show Gwen, who had recently had her licence taken away.

That was on 25 August 2008, by early 2009 I had organised a light respray on it. The work was done in a guy’s shed and only cost me $2500; he’s since passed away and I don’t even remember the fella’s name, but it was sympathetic work. The door frames, door jambs and insides of the car are all original paint. I wanted a point of reference, so people could see that I’ve kept the colour correct.

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All my friends in the Holden Torana Club of SA were saying, "Don’t repaint it brown for God’s sake!" but I love it now; I’d never change a thing about it. The 70s was such a high point for colours; Plum Dinger, Strike Me Pink and Lone O’Ranger, and yet they picked Cinnamon Brown! Code 12203. And an Antique Gold interior.

I’m unsure why the owners specified a vinyl roof on an otherwise base-model 2250 sedan. Fortunately, Gwen had the roof re-done in 1992; I found the receipts, of course. I was worried that rust would be hiding under there as I’d found some weird lumps, but they turned out to be excess glue. Whew!

Holden -lc -torana -4Previous owner Gwen had backed into her letterbox a few times. When Laurie had it painted, she also had the bars straightened and re-chromed

Unfortunately, Gwen had subjected the Torana to a few too many dings in her later years for me to get away with keeping it 100 per cent original; she’d backed into her letterbox a few times and scraped the side. I can’t talk; I ended up doing the same thing more recently on my shed door, so since then I’ve had a few more touch ups done by Adam and Jodie at Southern Classic and Custom.

The car hates Adam; a while back, the throttle linkage broke en route to his workshop, so I made him rescue me. Another time, when I had the floors replaced with Rare Spares repros, he sliced his hand open on it and then one of his workers concussed himself on the door frame!

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Anyway, once I’d had it resprayed back in 2009, I was asked to participate in the Christies Beach Christmas Pageant, so I organised for Gwen to come down and see her old car. She was thrilled, especially when I showed her the trophy I had won for ‘Runner Up Best Restored/Original’ at the recent Torana day. She just laughed; she thought it was hilarious! Then she yelled at me, because I’d parked too close to a brick wall for her liking.

Until about 2013 I was hell-bent on it remaining as original as possible and had always planned on keeping the 138, but it got smoky and tired. I knew something had to be done; every time I went up the Southern Expressway, it would just not want to get up there a little bit more than last time.

Holden -torana -engine -2The old 138 in the engine bay, hoping not to be disturbed. Sorry

I woke up one weekend and told my partner that we should take the 138 out, but that I didn’t want to take the car off the road. Typical story; I’d want to respray the engine bay, then I’d want to re-anodise things, then it would just blow out and I’d never finish it.

I had a 186 sitting there at home, so I did the swap, mostly by myself. My partner helped me get the 186 in the car, but otherwise it was me; I was so stoked with myself.

Holden -lc -torana -engineTrick Torco manifold and 186 cuber weren’t part of the original plans, but have turned out to be fun deviations

The 186 was never going to be a permanent thing, but the night I got it running again, I took it on a SMASA cruise and it was so much fun.

I thought about installing a 4-speed when the 186 went in, but only for half a second. Keeping it a 3-speed, I can convert it back to original if that’s how I want to roll.

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Besides, I don’t know why people complain about column shifts; they’re freakin’ awesome! SO much fun. I love it.


1971 Holden LC Torana 2250

ENGINE: Holden 186ci Red (originally 138ci)
TRANSMISSION: 3-on-the-tree
LENGTH: 4380mm
WIDTH: 1600mm
HEIGHT: 1331mm
KERB WEIGHT: 950kg + cats

Length of restoration: 18 months

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The body panels were generally fairly straight for a car its age, allowing a quite good result to be achieved at a modest cost.


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Gwen scraped the side damaging the left-hand doors. But then again, so did Laurie many years later.


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Nanna-dings aside, the ‘accident-free’ Torana showed evidence of a front-end prang and a random towing receipt from 1977. Gwen’s little secret it seems.


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Original paint remains on the tops of the doors and around the frames.


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De-badged, de-dinged and primed Gwen’s well down the road to automotive health.


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The colour’s going on a treat. Let’s hope the plater does the business with all the brightwork and delivers on time.




Vote for Laurie's Torana in the Unique Cars Reader Resto of the Year and you could win one of five $100 Visa gift cards.



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