History of the Holden Torana

2019 marks the fortieth anniversary of the cancellation of an Aussie icon. Originally based on a small and boxy British design, the Holden Torana started as an edgy and squared off two door body shell. The HB Torana was released in 1967 and came powered by a 1.2L four cylinder, with a four speed manual attached. If you wanted a self shifter, a three speed auto was made available as an option.

The HB was very heavily based on the then Vauxhall Viva, with essentially minor cosmetic changes and differences visually. Underneath were drum brakes front and rear, and Holden offered disc brakes up front as an option.

1968 saw an engine boost, under the name of Series 70. Compression was modified, a different carbie was fitted, and power reached the heady heights of 51kW, or 69 horsepower as was measured then. The auto was deleted from the standard engine which produced a mere 42kW/56hp.

Another Aussie icon, Brabham, would be added to the Torana’s history early on. The Series 70 engine which featured a single Zenith-Stromberg carbie, was upgraded to a pair of them capped with sports air filters. Along with front disc brakes, standard with the HB’s Series 70 engine, the Brabham Torana had a low restriction exhaust, wider wheels, and some body styling. Peak power here was 59kW/79hp.

Holden and Vauxhall collaborated on developing a four door HB and September 1968 saw the release of the HB four door. This differed even further from the Viva, with the styling markedly changed from its British cousin. A new collapsible steering column was standard, a redesigned dash with instrument cluster and indicator stalk update, and a steering wheel pinched from the larger Kingswood/Monaro.

A complete redesign was given for the LC, with early versions featuring a close resemblance to the HB but from the A pillar back was completely new. Engines were upgraded to offer a six cylinder for the first time. The 2.6L or 161ci would morph into the 173ci and finishing with the legendary 186ci.

The body was modified from the HB to allow for the bigger straight six, transmissions were a three speed manual or auto, or a four speed manual. The Brabham model was discontinued here. Seats went to bucket seats as standard across the LC range and the British dionated a more powerful 1.6L four, with 60kW/80hp on tap.

But perhaps the standout for the LC was the addition of the GTR. A two barrel Stromberg WW carbie on the 161ci was standard, as were front disc brakes. This would form the basis for yet another Australian automotive icon.

The Holden Torana GTR-XU1 used the 186ci engine, fitted with three Zenith-Stromberg CD-150 carburettors. The engine breathed out via cast-iron headers through a performance cylinder head and camshaft, and a four-speed manual gearbox was sourced from Opel. The car was developed by HDT and “The Silver Fox”, Harry Firth. Visually it appealed, with front guard flutes, a rear spoiler, wider wheels, and had a Monaro like dash with sports dials.

Holden revamped the LC into the LJ. This featured a redesigned grille and three boxes for the tail lights instead of the LC’s horizontal strip. Engines changed slightly, with a 1.3L unit added to complement the 1.2L and 1.6L. The 1.2L was available in the two door body only, the new 1.3L was available in both two and four doors. The 161ci and 173ci, or 2.2L and 2.8L engines, were carried over and Holden transplanted the 3.3L, or 202ci, into the LJ.

That engine would be the heart of the LJ GTR-XU1. With 200hp or 149kW, a M20 four speed manual, and a triple CD-175 Zenith-Stromberg carbie induction, the LJ would be part of history in 1972. The Hardie-Ferodo 500 was won by the up and coming Peter Geoffrey Brock, in a drive that would become the basis for the legend that would become “Peter Perfect”.

Unfortunately, a development of the XU-1, colloquially known as the XU-2, would not see the light of showroom days. Rumoured to pack a 224kW/300hp 308ci V8, the “Supercar Scare” would see Holden, Ford, and Chrysler, bench there hi-po vehicles.

In the early-mid 1970s the Torana would change again. A limited release TA model would be seen for just eleven months. And then, in March 1974, another body change. The LH and LX Toranas were bigger, boxier, four door sedans and would also see the design feature a hatchback.

The LH kicked off with a unique engine range. A buyer could choose from a 1.9L four, the 2.8L and 3.3L sixes, and the thumping 4.2L/253ci or 5.0L/308ci V8s. However, the 308ci was reserved for the SL/R 5000 sedan, which also offered the limited run L34 option. The 263 versions built had engines with stronger internals and higher compression ratings, and the wheel arches outside to fit in even wider wheels and tyres.

Come February 1976 and the updated LX was released. Headlights were back to round after the LH’s squarish style. Prototype hatchbacks from the LH body saw production in the LX, and performance was hobbled somewhat by the introduction of emissions reduction equipment. Power outputs were starting to be officially presented as kiloWatts, not horsepower. The four cylinder engine would see life under the name of the LX Sunbird, with the sixes and eights badged as Torana.

Holden’s then revolutionary RTS, or Radial Tuned Suspension, would also be marketed alongside the Sunbird and Torana. 1977 and a three letter/numerical option would become yet another part of the car’s legend. A9X. The engines were largely untouched but it was the handling and braking packages, and the addition of the huge bonnet mounted air scoop, that made the option a standout. The racing version in the hands of Brock and Jim Richards would win The Great Race at Bathurst in 1978 and 1979.

March 1978 saw the final update, with the UC Torana losing the V8, softening the appearance externally, and revamping the interior. The hatchback didn’t last either, deleted a year after release. The UC revamp also had the Sunbird updated to fit the UC spec. However, Holden saw the VB Commodore in competition with the Torana and the nameplate was retired in late 1980.

Which Torana was your favourite and why? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below this article! 

Touring Car Masters 2018 - Previewing the final rounds

The Australian historic racing car category, the Touring Car Masters, is definably Australia’s premium historic racing cars group. The guidelines are comparatively simple: have three driver categories and have cars of a pre-1976 era. Trackside watchers will see Chevrolet Camaros, BOSS Mustangs, and entrants from Australia’s own automotive vaults of history, the Valiant Chargers, Ford Falcon GTs, and Holden Monaros.

The driver regulations cover ProMaster for professional drivers, ProAm for part time “let’s have fun” drivers, and ProSports. This is something different in allowing a car to be entered by different contestants in order to try and gain extra points for the car in a championship sense.

There are some BIG names in the TCM as they’re known; Phil “Split-pin” Brock, Glenn “The Babyfaced Assassin” Seton, Andrew Miedecke, Jim Richards, Steve Johnson, and Rare Spares Ambassador John Bowe.

The category itself is now in its twelfth year having being born in 2007. The 2018 season has eight rounds and is part of the Supercars overall presence. This year kicked off in Adelaide and has completed five rounds so far. There’s three more rounds to go and all three will be part of the Supercars enduros: Sandown for September 14-16, Bathurst over the weekend of October 4-7, and then the final round in Newcastle for the November 23-25 weekend.

In the overall standings its John Bowe on top, having won three of the five rounds thus far. Steve Johnson is tapping on his rear bumper, with 959 points, just 18 shy of Bowe’s 977. Former V8 Ute drivers Adam Bressington and Jason Gomersall are in third and fourth, with all four in the ProMasters driver group. Fifth overall goes to Cameron Tilley, well known for his driving exploits in a Falcon GT-HO. Cam also leads the ProAm driver standings, with respected Production Touring Cars pilot Jim Pollicina leading the ProSports.

Unless both Bowe and Johnson have shockers over the next three rounds, allowing Bressington, Gomersall, and Tilley a sniff of top two success, the gap they have over the third placed Bressington, currently on 837 and 97 ahead of Gomersall on 744, it’s likely either of these heroes from the DJR historic stable will claim the top step of the podium at the end of the 2018 season. Former Mustang driver Bowe has been driving a Holden Torana once owned by fellow racer Charlie O’Brien in the 2018 season, a car featuring a permanent tribute to the late Jason Richards. Johnson has taken over the wheel of the car Bowe raced and sold a couple of years ago to his good mate Tony Warner. The car is unsurprisingly known as “Mustang Sally”.

Of the 2018 season so far Rare Spares ambassador John Bowe has a few words. “The cars are sensationally difficult to drive. In some cases there’s over 700 horsepower and only 15 x 8 inch wheels and tyres! No wonder they need a bit of caution.”

John has stated that he feels the category’s driving standards may need some scrutiny, “These old classics are way more expensive to fix than modern cars. There’s no doubting that the TCM is popular with the spectators and TV audiences but no one enjoys seeing these cars wrecked.” John himself has been on the receiving end of some of the driving standards he feels needs scrutiny, which makes his 2018 results all the more remarkable.

What’s your thoughts on the Touring Car Masters? Let us know on our Facebook page in the comment section below this article!

Rob's Torana

7. December 2015 12:00 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

We here at Rare Spares eat, sleep and breathe classic cars. It’s not just a job, it’s a passion. So, what do we do when we leave the office after helping Rare Spares customers restore their cars? We restore our own of course.

Our Graphic Designer, Rob Mackey, is a case in point. His beloved 1971 LC Holden Torana two-door that still presents in its factory Rally Red hue and Sandalwood trim, is not just a car to him; it is part of the family.

Originally sold in 1971 from Reg Hunt Rhodes in South-East Melbourne, Rob stumbled upon “Cherry” on eBay some 34 years later during the Easter weekend of 2005. With $2000 in hand (and $2000 in his shoes!) he eventually purchased the car from a well-known drag racer in Thomastown for $3800 and jumped straight on the boat back to Tasmania.

Still running its original 161 motor and trimatic gearbox, Rob quickly swapped this out for a 186 that would eventually make way for the worked 202 red motor that still powers the old girl to this day. Not content with a standard 202, many of the original parts have been replaced. Rob rebuilt the motor himself into a classic Hot Street Combo including all the usual upgrades, such as; Stage 3 Yella Terra head, Roller Rockers, aftermarket cam shaft, Starfire rods, extractors, electronic ignition and a 38DGMS Webber carburettor off a V6 Ford Capri.

Next on the “to do” list was the transmission, which was changed from the original column shift Trimatic transmission to a floor shift Celica five speed gearbox. At the same time the original 2.78 Banjo was replaced with a lower ratio 3.55 limited slip version.

The suspension has all been upgraded with improved springs and shocks, coupled with front and rear sway bars to firm up the ride, while the brake booster, callipers, rotors and 13X6 Sprintmaster wheels were upgraded to LJ GTR XU-1 spec.

Inside, there’s a Bond half alloy roll cage. Rare Spares came to the rescue for the next addition, supplying the reproduction steering wheel and centre console from a LC GTR Torana.

Cherry sat then for several years while Rob worked and travelled overseas. Rob, who does all the mechanical work himself, recently cut some rust out of it and welded in new bits which came from RSP and is getting painted as I type this blog.

Due to the odometer, which is off a 1973 LJ Torana, only going to 99,000km, its mileage is a bit of an unknown, but Rob thinks he’s done about 30,000km in it in the past 10 years. Cherry is Rob’s third Torana, and is bringing it back over from Tassie to its spiritual home of Victoria in January. His first  car was a 1970 LC S four door, followed by a 1973 LJ SL four door. (Guess where his current speedo came from?)

Rob says he’ll never sell this one, even though he estimates it is worth in excess of $20,000. He would like another one… but also always had a bit of a soft spot for early Monaros.

Rob is also an long-time member of the www.gmh-torana.com.au  internet forum which is proudly supported by Rare Spares.

Old's Cool Car Cruise

The Combined Torana Car Club of WA, with 55-60 members, has been gathering monthly for the last 27 years to share their passion for the classic Holden Torana.

With the support of Rare Spares and Rare Spares Perth, the club held their annual event, the Old’s Cool Car Cruise on Sunday the 30th March. All vehicles were welcome to attend the event which started at Tomato Lake in Kewdale, WA from 9:00am and wrapped up in Swan Valley.

Old’s Cool Car Cruise has been a staple event for the Combined Torana Car Club of WA for the last 11 years. Despite poor weather the night before the event, 75 entrants were on show in total and participated in the 1 ½ hour cruise through Perth, and an estimated 300 people attended the event in total.

The day started off with a show n’ shine, then at 10:30, cruisers gathered for a safety briefing before setting off on their cruise, which included a question based competition. Entrants had just over 60 observation based questions to answer along the way, with the top three entrants who got the highest number of correct answers, down to the spelling, winning a trophy and Meguiar’s polish pack.

The event wrapped up with another Show n’ Shine in Swan Valley with a raffle, a sausage sizzle, a bar and a big screen TV with motorsports and other sporting games on in the venue club rooms.

Club President, Rob, has been a member for the past 25 years and the club president for the last five.  He was ¾ of the way through restoring a Torana when he joined the club, partly to learn how to enter his show car in events and shows. His car won a number of ‘Best Custom Paint’ and ‘Best Sedan’ awards back when it was first restored 21 years ago.

“We’re a pretty good club. Because we’re small and we’re a close-knit group of guys, we tend to socialise a bit more outside of the club as well. Everyone’s friends with everyone else and I’m still friends with a lot of guys that were in the club years ago that have since left,” said Rob.

The club meets on the first Tuesday of every month and they make appearances at other club events at least once or twice a month, weather permitting. In the cooler months, the club gather for Go-Karts, pool nights, bowling and similar indoor events.

Other events they have recently attended include the Auto One Classic Car Show and the All Aussie Car Day in the last few weeks.

“We have two banners from the Rare Spares Loyalty Club, which we display at events like these, and we’re currently saving the rest of our points for a new Marquee!”

 

Roxburgh Park Sound Off Event

Roxburgh Park Auto One/Rare Spares played host to a very successful sound off/show ‘n’ shine on Friday 15th November.

Weather was fantastic ensuring a large turnout for the event, which was complete with a free sausage sizzle, promotional girls collecting donations for the local CFA, door prizes and exclusive store discounts. The BBQ was going all night and the in-store promotion offered a 20% discount store-wide and an extra-special 30% off audio products for the sound off.

“We had over 300 cars turn up on the day and raised $760 for the local CFA,” said Brad De Pasquale, Store Manager.

Awards were given to the best cars in the JDM, Muscle Car, Aussie Tuner and Audio categories.

“There were a number of high quality cars like the Toyota Supra which won the ‘Showstopper’ award. Other winners included an LJ Torana and a yellow Maloo Ute.”

Many Auto One suppliers were in attendance and available for guests to speak with including MotorActive, Penrite, National Auto Parts, SP Tools, Auto Concepts and more.

Rare Spares and Auto One are looking to make the sound off an annual event as it was a huge success and a great opportunity to bring car enthusiasts together to share this passion. Some incredible cars and sound systems were on display as you can see from the event footage - click here to view.