The last of the Toranas, the UC, and a hatch at that. I always preferred the LX and LH (avoiding the stigma of the "Sunbird" - the 4cyl version of the UC Torana). I never really liked the little LC and LJs. This unit I picked up for AUD$600 in 1991 with rego, but engine knackered and in pieces. I was bargain hunting and to be honest it wasn't really a bargain. Oh well.
I selected a $200 HG Kingswood ute wreck as the engine donor. Was a good ute actually, a bit too much rust, especially in the floorpans, but it was all there. I targetted it specifically for the red 186 it had under the bonnet. I preferred the 186 over the 202 the Torry had under the hood. Yes, really, it was a Torana not a Sunbird ;)
Once it had its new heart bolted up to the 4 speed M20 cogswapper, it ran just magnificently for nearly a year (it was the missus's car). It got her to work, took us on holidays, was a loaner car to my sister in law for a while - all the stuff you'd expect for the missus car. Most importantly, yes, we went to the Drive-ins*, reversed up, popped the hatch and snuggled in the back on a mattress with some pillows and watched a Double-Feature**.
186 HG ute - donor engine.
By 1994 I though I'd get it up to scratch seeing as it the bodywork looked rough. I also plonked on the 350 Holley I had from the Falcon with a cheap Marlows manifold, and took the head off for a bit of a look. One of the lifters was _really_ noisy.
Gave it thorough servicing, threw in a new lifter and rocker (had been dry for a while and got fairly worn) and at the same time I discovered a ring job was in order, but didn't have an oppurtunity to do it. So back together she went, running better but blowing smoke. The lesson of course is "never touch a piston unless you are going to replace the rings". That means leave all the carbon on the top, don't scrape it off.
Dropping the engine in without the right tools
- or safety gear for that matter...
Finally sold it to a young chap and his missus back in 1994, they loved it, but he was better at bartering than me and talked it down to the $600 I originally paid for it. "The engine number doesn't match the rego papers" and other clever approaches. So I was a few dollars out of pocket, maybe a bit wiser, but had a good running cheap car for a year - the missus still has fond memories of it today.
I still like these rusty old pieces of history. You don't see Toranas much anymore. A bit of nostalgia thrown together with some sentimentality; you can keep your "twelve nine ninety drive away no more to pay."
* A "Drive-in" is an outdoor cinema where you sit in your car and watch the
movie on a large screen. People with FM radios could tune their car system in to
listen and those with only AM radios would hook up one of the speakers available
through the window.
** A "Double-Feature" was a marketing ploy to get people to the Drive-ins; they would play two movies back to back for the price of one. Usually one new movie and one older one; often of the horror gendre.