TORANA TRIBES

THERE’S A LOT MORE TO IT THAN JUST THE CARS!

Unique Cars - - CONTENTS - GUY ALLEN

FOR THOSE of you who are won­der­ing, this is the first of three very spe­cial edi­tions, mark­ing the end of lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing for the once mighty Holden. Sure there will still be lo­cal skills em­ployed and the brand won’t dis­ap­pear, but it will not be the same.

So, this is­sue we’re talk­ing Torana, next we mess around with Monaros and then, in is­sue 406, we pull to­gether the grand fi­nale.

For this mag, we got to­gether a dozen To­ranas, rep­re­sent­ing ev­ery­thing from the first-gen Vaux­hall Viva-based car, through the hero GTRs and SL/Rs, right up to the last rel­a­tively tame six­pot sedans. It’s not un­til you put a gath­er­ing like this to­gether (and our eter­nal thanks to Sharon Chap­man for her gen­er­ous as­sis­tance) that you start to un­der­stand the sheer scale of the mar­ket niches cov­ered by that one name­plate – Torana.

It started with nim­ble lit­tle run­abouts, and any­one out there with an ex­otic Brab­ham HB should be pretty damned pleased with them­selves. I was re­ally taken with the SL that turned up. Re­ally light, re­ally sim­ple, with enough poke to make it a ball to drive.

Then you walk through the long-nosed LC and LJs with their op­tional straight sixes. To me, th­ese are hugely at­trac­tive pack­ages. Com­pact and nar­row lit­tle cars with pow­er­plants de­signed to haul full-size fam­ily truck­sters. Per­fect.

And the mighty eights? Truly im­pres­sive pieces of ma­chin­ery. I’ve been in Un­cle Phil’s A9X tribute re­cently, and it’s a re­ally ‘to­gether’ per­for­mance car. Plenty of muscle in a pack­age that’s de­signed to be thrown around with con­fi­dence.

The ma­chin­ery is a lot of fun, but it’s the own­ers that re­ally got my at­ten­tion. There was an un­de­ni­able pride in their lo­cally-made prod­uct, even though they ac­knowl­edged th­ese weren’t per­fect cars.

Some­how they still formed con­nec­tions across the gen­er­a­tions. Sto­ries of two gen­er­a­tions be­ing in­volved in the same car were not un­com­mon. Oth­ers were lit­er­ally buying back their child­hood, remembering cars their par­ents had. Some had the kids in tow, who were clearly en­gaged with the whole thing.

It’s some­thing that’s easy to for­get with all the dis­cus­sions of pro­duc­tion his­tor y, spec­i­fi­ca­tions and big­ger pis­tons: that there is a whole tribal as­pect to own­er­ship of th­ese old cars. Peo­ple’s mem­o­ries and fam­ily his­tory be­come en­twined with them. Oth­ers see the ve­hi­cle, and even restor­ing it, as a jour­ney that in­tro­duced them to a whole new sub­cul­ture and the friends who come with it.

You’ll see some of those tales un­wrapped in this is­sue. Rather than cover his­to­ries of all the cars, we’ve re­stricted that to the hero models. Af­ter all, much of it is ter­ri­tor y we’ve com­pre­hen­sively cov­ered be­fore. In­stead we’ve sat back a lit­tle and got own­ers to talk about what their toys mean to them. That, for many is the real story. So, which tribe do you be­long to?

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