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1967 HB HB – NOT QUITE THE VAUX­HALL

HOLDEN’S FIRST Torana, as­sem­bled at the Aca­cia Ridge plant in Queens­land from May 1967, started as a mildly mod­ded veri­son of the HB Vaux­hall. It was pitched as a lively com­pact with the range ex­pand­ing to in­clude a four-door. As the se­ries de­vel­oped, it gained greater lo­cal con­tent and in­flu­ences, with the most de­sir­able early ver­sion be­ing the ‘sporty’ two-door Brab­ham. Pro­duc­tion con­tin­ued to 1969.

1969 LC HERE COMES THE SIX

THIS IS where the Torana very much be­came its own car, tak­ing a se­ri­ous de­par­ture from its Vaux­hall her­itage. It was now longer and more sub­stan­tial, in part to ac­com­mo­date a big range of six-cylin­der en­gines. While you could still get a four in the nose, the ba­sic six was a 2250cc unit. You could op­tion up to a more pow­er­ful 2600. This is the gen­er­a­tion where we see the emer­gence of the leg­endary per­for­mance models: the GTR and GTR XU-1. Pro­duc­tion ran from 1969 to 1972.

1972 LJ MORE RE­FINE­MENT

WHILE THE cos­metic dif­fer­ences (par­tic­u­larly the grille) are the give-away for this se­ries, it picked up some re­fine­ments in­clud­ing some use­ful chas­sis im­prove­ments over its life­time. Four four-pot and three six-cylin­der en­gines were of­fered over the life of the LJ, with the hero pow­er­plant be­ing the 3300cc six – or the 202 out of the big­ger HQ range. This was the se­ries (in XU-1 form) which de­feated the dom­i­nant Fords at Bathurst in 1972. Pro­duc­tion ran from 1972 to 1974.

1974 LH BIG­GER AND BOXIER

NOW THE Torana be­comes a full mid-sized fam­ily sedan – a long way from where it started in its Vaux­hall days. While you could still get a four (a 1900cc Opel unit), sixes were the dom­i­nant pow­er­plant in 2850 or 3300 form. Though GMH had toyed with a pro­to­type V8 in the pre­vi­ous LJ se­ries, this was the first time we saw one in a Torana. Your choices were the 4.2lt (aka 253) and the 5.0lt (aka 308). It was ver­sions of the lat­ter that went on to power some leg­endary models, in­clud­ing the SL/R 5000 and the first se­ries of A9X. Pro­duc­tion ran from 1974 to 1976.

1976 LX HERE COMES THE HATCH

WHILE THE LX four-doors were es­sen­tially a facelift of their pre­de­ces­sors, the big news was the in­tro­duc­tion of a three-door hatchback. This trans­formed what started as a boxy-look­ing car into a nicely-pro­por­tioned coupe. Four, six and eight-pot en­gines con­tin­ued to be of­fered, but new emis­sion rules led to some mi­nor stran­gu­la­tion. Of course this is when we saw the in­tro­duc­tion of the limited-run race-in­spired A9X hatchback, which is now a $250,000 car. The LX se­ries also saw the in­tro­duc­tion of the Sun­bird name for an up­dated four. Pro­duc­tion ran from 1976 to 1978.

1978 UC THE FI­NAL YEARS

IT SEEMS as though, with the UC, the Torana set­tled into some kind of au­to­mo­tive mid­dle age. Gone were the V8s, while the four-cylin­der Sun­bird out­lasted them all – even the sixes. The cars had a mod­ernised ap­pear­ance in­side and out, while the good news was you could still get a six-cylin­der hatchback which, with the 3300, was eas­ily the pick of the range. With the ap­pear­ance of the Com­modore – which was more com­pact than an HZ – there was con­sid­er­able doubt over the role of the Torana range. In the end this was a short run. Pro­duc­tion started in 1978 and the sixes were phased out in 1979. The Sun­bird fol­lowed in Septem­ber 1980.

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