Wednesday, September 29, 2010

When The Torries Come To Town

The was time in the motoring life of Australia that the small to mid size market was dominated by Holden Torana. The Torana's were based on existing Vauxhall/Opel designs and were extensively modified from their British/German heritage (especially in the engine department) to suit the harsher Australian driving conditions. Not only were they successful in the showroom, but they virtually dominated the Production/Touring Car races throughout the 70's, making drivers like Peter Brock, Colin Bond, Alan Grice and Bob Morris virtually household names by their exploits on the Australian racetracks.
HB 4 cylinder with automatic transmission

The first Torana, the HB series were introduced in May 1967 and were basically a facelifted Vauxhall Viva, with 4 speed manual transmissions and underpowered 1.2 litre engines. From these humble beginnings grew the mightiest Torana of the all  .... the A9X.

The A9X, of which only 405 were ever made, were powered by the fearsome 5.0 litre V8 (L34 spec.), with an unbreakable 'T-10' 4speed gearbox, 4 wheel disc brakes and was completed with a  rear facing air induction bonnet scoop, this Torana  looked like it meant business! When in the hands of the late Peter Brock, the A9X Torana dominated the touring car seasons of the late 70's, winning the 1979 Australian Touring Car Championship series and the 1978 and '79 Bathurst 1000 races, making it quite the formidable touring car of its time.

Colin Bonds LC XU1
A change of heart at Holden saw the Torana model gradually phased back and when the UC Torana was released in March 1978, the V8 option was dropped. In 1979 the hatchback version ceased production and the brand struggled on until 1980, now only in 4 cyl form, until Holden, mercifully axed the Torana brand from the Australian motoring landscape.  (Holden however continued racing with the newly launched V8 Commodore in 1980, a tradition that continues today)  

Now we in Newcastle have a special fondness for the Torana and each year we hold a car show on The Foreshore to showcase all that is wonderful with these iconic cars, from the very mild, to the radically wild. I also have my own Torana connection, owning three little beauties, a 4cylinder, 2 door HB, a 4cylinder, 2 door LC and my favourite a 6cylinder, 4 door LC model.

Peter Brocks A9X  
This year I attended Toranafest, making sure I was armed with my little friend the Sanyo 1275s and spent over an hour just wandering around the exhibits, admiring the work that the Torana enthusiasts put into making sure their cars are perfect for the event.  And reliving my youthful past!

So if your ever in Newcastle in September, make sure you check out the Newcastle Toranafest and take a step back in time when the mighty Holden Torana was the undisputed King of the Mountain.    


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