The Australian car industry has produced a number of manufacturers who’ve attempted to reach the top of the mountain. Holden, a well-known brand, developed a memorable car called the Torana. Named after the Aboriginal word that means ‘to fly’, the car was inspired by the British Vauxhall Viva. We’re looking into the history of the Torana to see how it was created.
The Torana started out as a replacement for the HA series Vauxhall Viva in the Australian market. Introduced in 1967, the Torana was an updated version of the HB Viva. It came with a 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine, four-speed gearbox and two-door body. There was also optional Borg-Warner Model 35 three-speed automatic transmission.
In 1968, a ‘Series 70s’ engine option was brought out. The higher compression engine benefited from an output of 69 bhp. This also inspired the ‘Brabham’ Torana, which was named after the respected Australian racer Sir Jack Brabham. The Brabham featured a Series 70 engine, though it was also fitted with twin CD Zenith-Stromberg carburettors. The Brabham offered little change, as it was only slightly faster than previous models.
During the 1970s, the Australian car scene got more competitive. Holden adapted by bringing out the Torana LJ, a six-cylinder car offered as a 1200 cc, 1300 cc or 1600 cc unit. A racing version was also introduced, which produced over 200 bhp. The LT Torana GTR XU-1 won the 1972 Hardie-Ferodo 500.
Eager to capitalise, the Holden team produced a V8-powered version of the GTR XU-1. The V8 participated in Sports Sedan racing, but the car didn’t make it past the prototype stage. This was because of the 1972 ‘supercar scare,’ a political ban placed on Holden, Ford and Chrysler to get rid of their specially built ‘Bathurst Supercars.’
Holden postponed the V8 car until 1974 when the LH was brought out. The third generation Torana came in a sedan style, though the interior was cramped by 1970s standards. Production continued throughout the ‘70s, with the final version of the Torana appearing in 1978.
During its production life, the Torana was popular with an Australian audience. The car was imported to other countries like New Zealand and South Korea, but it was never as popular as it was at home.