Holden Torana LC-LJ 1969-1974 - Buyer's Guide

By: Cliff Chambers

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holden torana lc lj holden torana lc lj

Holden reckoned it was a no-brainer that Aussies in love with sixes would love them in the compact Torana as well. Spot on

 

Holden Torana LC-LJ

When Holden’s larger and more aggressive LC Torana appeared in October 1969 the range included  models  aimed deliberately at buyers in the under-30 age range. While four-cylinder versions still sold well it was the six-cylinder engine that would keep Torana sales surging in the face of Japanese competition.

Holden was the first Australian car-maker to put six-cylinder engines into a medium-sized body. The smaller, lighter Torana used less fuel than a full-sized Holden, yet with bench seats front and rear could still accommodate six decent-sized occupants. 

 Even with the lowest-spec 2250cc engine, the Torana Six delivered 70kW through its three-on-the-tree manual transmission. The 2.6-litre ‘161’ engine produced 114hp (85kW) and could be specified with a four-speed manual change or Holden’s new Trimatic.

| Read next: Bathurst legends - Holden LJ Torana GTR XU-1

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After two years and selling almost 75,000 cars the LC was mildly restyled and re-labelled as the LJ. With a plastic grille and three-piece tail-lights the revamped Torana drew inspiration from the North American Chevrolet Camaro and full-sized HQ Holden range.

Engines were enlarged again and although the 3.3-litre ‘202’ was reserved for GTR and XU-1 models the 88kW ‘2850’ SL still delivered decent performance, especially when fitted with four-speed transmission, optional disc brakes and wider GTR wheels. A new range of colours helped boost the Torana’s appeal to younger buyers and sustain used values.

Road testers complained about the nose-heavy understeer, exacerbated by steering that was heavy, slow and imprecise. However, the Torana’s diverse motor sporting record provides ample evidence that the factory-spec chassis could be significantly improved.

| Reader Resto: 1971 Holden Torana LC GTR tribute

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Trim quality and longevity were also concerns for Torana buyers and subsequent owners. The seats even from new were flat, slippery and uncomfortable; a situation that could only be remedied by spending big on some after-market ‘sports’ seats. Ventilation was another issue and lack of airflow was pretty unforgivable in an Australian car. Two-door ‘S’ and ‘SL’ models have been endangered ever since the 2005 boom in performance car values made ‘replica’ XU-1s a worthwhile thing to own. Of course, this trend also had the effect of bolstering demand for untouched cars. Owners who refused to compromise their Toranas’ authenticity reaped benefits as values increased substantially.

Top-quality examples of both series will exceed $40,000 and even neglected cars needing full restoration manage $15,000.

VALUE RANGE TORANA (LJ SL 2850 4-Speed)

FAIR: $13,500
GOOD:
$22,000
EXCELLENT: $34,000

(Note: exceptional cars will demand more)

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BUYER'S CHECKLIST

BODY & CHASSIS

Increasing values during the late-1980s saw a lot of two-door SL Toranas turned into GTR or XU-1 replicas. Others were subjected to cheap and nasty restoration jobs which saw them scrapped or cost subsequent owners a lot of money. The Torana body in its entirety is a rust-trap which needs on-hoist inspection by a professional body repairer. However,  before sending it there, look at the lower edges of panels, the boot and driver’s side floors, windscreen surround and sills. Some replacement panels and rust repair sections are available which will help with restoration costs. Used and reproduction bumpers are available but they cost almost $500 each.

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ENGINE & TRANSMISSION

‘Red’ Holden engines haven’t been manufactured since the 1970s yet new parts exist in abundance. Maintaining an original block will help with the long-term value of your Torana but crack repairs and reboring can get expensive . If keeping the numbers aligned isn’t an issue,  just pop down to your local reconditioner and spend $3000-4000 on a completely  refurbished engine.  Transmissions of all types can be reconditioned or replaced with an exchange unit. Most expensive is likely to be a rebuilt M20 manual which cost $1500-1800 plus installation. Fit a new clutch before installing the transmission to save money later.

SUSPENSION & BRAKES

Everything underneath a Torana is pretty simple, cheap to replace and available. Complete steering racks are available at $500 exchange, with kits of new front suspension components (excluding springs and shocks) at less than $300. Re-rated coil springs and shock absorbers are best supplied and installed together by a suspension specialist to ensure you get a ride/handling mix to suit your needs. Some cars might survive with their original all-drum braking system but if you’re going to spend money replacing drums, a front disc conversion isn’t a great deal more expensive and will make the car more pleasant to use. New brake boosters sell for around $400, with rebuilds from $250.

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INTERIOR & ELECTRICS

Sagging seat springs afflict a lot of Toranas. So does split vinyl that after many years has become brittle. Some cars have cloth or velour inserts which make for greater summer comfort but look a bit tacky. The factory headlights even by 1969 standards were appalling and  a lot have acquired halogen inserts or separate driving lights. Make sure the fan works so you get some demisting flow, however there isn’t much that will cool a hot Torana cabin. 

1969-1974 Holden Torana LC-LJ specs

Number built: 74,627 (LC) 81,453 (LJ)
Body: integrated body/chassis two or four-door sedan
Engine: 2250, 2640, 2834 or 3048cc in-line six cylinder with overhead valves and single downdraft carburettor
Power & torque: 88kW @ rpm, 227Nm @ 2000rpm (2850)
Performance: 0-96km/h: 10.2  seconds, 0-400 metres
18.8 seconds (2850 4-speed)
Transmission: 3 or 4-speed manual, 3-speed automatic
Suspension: Independent with wishbones and coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers, anti-roll bar  (f); live axle with coil springs, locating links and telescopic shock absorbers (r)
Brakes: drum or disc (f), drum (r) with power assistance
Tyres: A78L13 crossply BR70H13 radial

 

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