|Car:||Holden TE Gemini|
It all began about two years ago when we spotted a poxy looking TE Gemini on the side of the road. The sign in the window said $750. It had badly faded red paint, a light brown interior, 13” globe mags and not much going for it. It still had a couple of months rego on it and the 1600 motor and 5 speed seemed to be far from new condition but acceptable. A test drive and a chat with the owner saw us driving away with it that day for $500.
The car was driven as it was for a while then received a set of polished 14” SLE wheels and a severe lowering. With the bodywork in need of some attention, the car was originally cut and polished to try and revive the existing paint and some rust repairs done. It was driven like that for almost a year. In the mean time two other Gemini’s were bought to donate parts and panels. With 2 front guards and 4 doors to replace the existing items on the car some preparation was done ready for a ‘quick paint job’ so that we could sell the car as its reliability was becoming questionable.
With a company car available for only a two-week period, the Gemini was pulled off the road for its ‘quick paint job’. At this stage we still don’t know wether to thank or curse the two mates who helped bring the body up to the current spec. The quality of the finish of paint and panel making us decide to give the interior a spruce up too. The end result of two very busy weeks was a TE Gemini with TG front and rear bars, TG rear lights, clean straight lines with no rust, and the magnificent sting red paintwork. While we were about it all external locks were removed from doors and boot, the air vents in the c pillars smoothed, aerial removed and all plastic strips, and badges shown the bin. Inside, the dash and console were painted charcoal grey; the door trims in matching charcoal and light grey, new charcoal carpet and some grey seat covers. The roof lining and sun visors got painted in a mid grey as well. All new door and window seals were added to help seal and complete the fresh look.
It is around here that it all got out of control. With the ‘quick paint job’ supposedly finished, the end result was let down by the polished 14” wheels that used to be the best thing about the car. So we contacted Heath at Avon Tyre Service in Surrey Hills who looked after us. With a set of 17 x 7” rims on the car with 205 45 tyres it looked a million dollars. It was like this when we took it to Spring Car Nationals in Shepparton in November 2003. Kath drove the car like it was stolen in every event she put her hand to and with the help of her friend Liz took second in the Female spear a spud as well as giving the go-whoa a red hot go as well. All this on the 1600 motor that had been in it since the day we bought it.
On the way home from Shepparton the lil 1600 cried enough and just managed to cough, splutter and rattle its way home. At this stage a second hand 2.6lt Rodeo motor was sourced. With some minor mods some frustrating hold ups and a bit of trial and error it was bolted up to the existing 5 speed. We bought it less the injection set up in favour of the manifold and carby of the similar 2.3 for ease of fitment and a set of extractors were provided with the motor. As everyone knows there is risk in buying second hand stuff and we lost on the gamble! The motor we had purchased was low on compression on number 1 piston and blew excessive amounts of smoke on start up. With no cash left in the budget it was driven as it was for around three months as it slowly deteriorated.
We decided to race it at the annual Eastside Cruisers Drag Day in March of this year and the car ran low 16’s to high 15’s all day with a best of 15.8 @ 82.8 mph. After this event we decided enough was enough. The motor was pulled out and sent to McCurdy’s Engine Reconditioners for a full rebuild. Additional to all the standard stuff we had the motor fully balanced and a mild cam added to give it a bit more go. While we were at it we have ditched the Nikki carby from the 2.3lt in favour of a 32/36 Webber, as the other was too small. With the engine out we finally stopped long enough to paint the engine bay the same color as the rest of the car and hide most of the wiring. The rocker cover was smoothed and colorcoded and all parts cleaned prior to reassembly to bring the entire engine bay up to scratch with the rest of the body.
With the motor still in the running in period no final figures or times are available but we can say that the car feels lots stronger now. The car should be fully tuned by the middle of August and will definitely be at Spring Car this November.
We would like to extend a massive thanks to Paul, Gordz and Dave amongst others, for their hours of work, assistance and advice. Heath at Avon Tyre Service, Gayle at McCurdy’s Engine Reconditioners, Paul at Fernglenn Panels, Rod at Unique Exhausts and Eric and Wendy from Goodguys Performance for their service and advice.