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Concept Corner: Liz and Ryan Gracie’s show skidder

11 August 2016


Liz and Ryan Gracie are no strangers to tough cars, and this concept — based on their own Holden Torana — takes tough to a whole new level!

The Gracies’ first-ever NZV8 cover car took the spotlight over 10 years ago, on the cover of Issue No. 4 — a Holden Torana LH sedan, powered by a blown small block Chev. It’s a car they still have in their stables, and one that is next on the list for the mother of all rebuilds. While most of the cars shown on our Concept Corner page are pure imagination, this could be one of the few that’s likely to be built exactly how you see it here. 

“We’d start with a Holden Torana LH sedan,” Liz tells us, “with the body shaved, so no door handles or mirrors, but retaining the drip rails, and the front and rear bumpers will be frenched, to sit very tight against the body. The sills would be lengthened to give a visual perception of a lower ride height, without compromising ride quality, and all four guards gently massaged to allow 20×8-inch and 20×9.5-inch Simmons OM wheels, in black with a polished lip. 

“For the rear doors, we’d remove the quarter-glass, replacing it with a one-piece winding glass window, and the front and rear windscreens would be flush-mounted with ceramic edging.
“The front end would have a custom billet grille insert and headlight bezels, with halo projection headlights and clear indicators to give a full clean look. The tail lights will have custom clear frosted lenses fitted to the Torana frame, with the lights recessed to sit flush with the rear quarter line.

“Paint would be a crazy bright Candy Apple Silver, looking almost clear, with a matt grey highlight line running above the bodyline,” she says, so it’s sure sounding like the recipe for a tough Torana, and that’s before we’ve even gotten to the oily bits … 

“For the power plant, we’d go for a 430ci small block Chev for huge revs — think 10,000rpm — with iron heads, and black-anodized TBS 8-71 blower, and a carbon-fibre Big and Ugly injector hat running mechanical injection. All of this would run through a Tex T101 four-speed manual dog box, and a beefed-up nine-inch diff. 

“I think that building a car that can be a show pony, dyno monster, track car, and competitive skid demon is something that can be achieved — you can have a car that does it all!” 
It sure sounds that way, and this sounds to us like the perfect rebirth for the Gracies’ iconic ‘EV1L 8’ Torana. Watch this space … 

LVVTA’s view

Justin from LVVTA says: “Almost everything on the list for this build is great, but we do hit a couple of snags when we get to the supercharger. Shaving your door handles, removing external rear-view mirrors, and frenching the bumpers are all pretty straightforward mods; just make sure that you follow the ‘Body Modification & Construction’ requirements in the NZ Hobby Car Technical Manual (HCTM) requirements for the door opening, external projections, and body modification.

The headlights and tail-light mods all need to meet the applicable LVVTA lighting requirements; generally lights need to conform to recognized lighting standards, and there are some mods (such as fitting a high-intensity discharge (HID or Xenon HID) conversion kit) that can’t be approved unless the complete light assembly is a purpose-built or matched unit.

A tail-light assembly is also required to meet a standard, so whilst a custom lens might sound straightforward, the lens material itself will probably need to be taken from a ‘compliant’ lens assembly. Full details on lighting modifications can be found either in the LVV Lighting Equipment Standard (available free for download from, or from the Lighting Equipment chapter of the HCTM. In a similar vein, all glazing needs to meet an approved standard, so any glazing you replace or modify needs to meet the requirements from the Glazing & Vision chapter of the HCTM.

Like lighting requirements, glazing rules are dictated by the NZ Land Transport rules, which do set the bar high in terms of compliance, however the LVV requirements provide scope for modification, provided the compliance of the component isn’t affected.

Now to the fun part — the blower! LVVTA is sometimes given the rough end of the stick over this requirement — there are plenty of people around who would love to have a monster of a supercharger akin to a ‘muscle machine’ or Top Doorslammer poking through the hood. While we’re sure that many ‘poo poo’ this rule, the blower and hat set-up that you’re proposing will without a doubt be unable to meet the sight-line requirements stipulated by the LVV External Projections standard.

While we know that some people remove components (carb spacers, scoops, and filters, even reducing to single-carb set-ups) to get their cars through compliance before reinstalling them, LVVTA has, due to many discussions with law enforcement and in-service (WoF) inspectors, started recording the height of the projection on the certification plate. That means if you’re pulled over by law enforcement, and they confirm that your ‘projection’ height is different from that which is recorded on the cert plate, you could face infringement notices, or could have the car ordered off the road.

Remember that the requirement is there to ensure that pedestrians aren’t put at risk, and also so that the driver is able to clearly see the road and other road users — and having the allowance we currently have is without a doubt better than having no allowance at all!

Although there are a few hurdles with the build in its proposed form, the car could be built if a suitable blower set-up was chosen — it might not achieve the cartoon-like looks of the many burnout cars we see over the ditch, but when you want something street-legal there often needs to be a compromise. All the best for your build!

To see more of Ash’s art, visit his website here.

Grab the September issue of NZV8 to see the full feature on Liz and Ryan Gracie’s cover car: