45 Years of Holden Torana LX 1976-1978

By: Mark Higgins, Photography by: Unique Cars Archives

Presented by

holden torana lx hatch onroad 2 holden torana lx hatch onroad 2
holden torana lx hatch holden torana lx hatch
holden torana lx hatch 2 holden torana lx hatch 2
holden torana lx hatch 4 holden torana lx hatch 4
holden torana lx hatch engine bay holden torana lx hatch engine bay
holden torana lx hatch glovebox holden torana lx hatch glovebox
holden torana lx hatch headlight holden torana lx hatch headlight
holden torana lx hatch interior holden torana lx hatch interior
holden torana lx hatch interior 2 holden torana lx hatch interior 2
holden torana lx hatch onroad holden torana lx hatch onroad
holden torana lx hatch onroad 2 holden torana lx hatch onroad 2
holden torana lx hatch wheel holden torana lx hatch wheel

LX Torana 45 years on

Starting life based on a Vauxhall Viva with the model designations HB, LC and LJ, the Holden Torana, an indigenous word meaning ‘to fly’, grew into a mid-size vehicle with the LH and then in February 1976 the slightly facelifted LX Series was born.

The LX Torana is remembered for several key milestones, being the debut of the hatchback body and as a beneficiary of the massive overhaul and redesign of the ride and handling of all Holden models with the introduction of Radial Tuned Suspension in March 1977.

holden-torana-lx-hatch-2.jpg

The hatch truly was a stroke of genius and deserved a longer run

It was also the last Torana to be fitted with a V8 and that led to the creation of arguably one of the most successful race cars to wear the lion badge, the A9X.

No matter what your budget or driving enjoyment level was there was a Torana for everyone, though Holden continued to push it towards the youth market as they had the more agile LC and LJ models.

| Buyer's Guide: Holden Torana LX SS V8

The sedan-only Torana S and SL were offered with a 1.9lt four, a 173ci six cylinder or a 253ci V8 engine. The SL/R sedan came with a 202ci six a 253ci V8 or the 308ci V8. The hatchback version of the SL came with the 202ci six while the SS was offered with the same six plus the 253ci and 308ci V8s. Transmissions were a four-speed manual or a three-speed auto and prices started at $4345.

holden-torana-lx-hatch-3.jpg

The A9X option pack had a clear family link to the previous L34-optioned LH model, but like the shaker on a Phase III GT-HO Falcon, the A9X is instantly recognisable by its rear-facing bonnet scoop and underneath rear disc brakes, heavy-duty axle, and a 10 bolt Salisbury differential. The A9X could be bought with either body.

| Read next: Holden Torana LX SS hatchback review

July 1976 saw the introduction of ADR27A emissions legislation sapping the power of most cars and the Torana range didn’t escape. At the same time it was Australia’s introduction to metrification so horsepower became kilowatts. Power losses ranged from 13 to 79 horsepower.

holden-torana-lx-hatch-onroad.jpg

In a bid to boost sales and no doubt restore the sporty image of the Torana, Holden separated the sluggish four-cylinder model from the sixes and V8s in November 1976 with the introduction of the Sunbird name. It sold as a four-door sedan and three-door hatch and stood apart from the LX Torana with its vertical bar grille, chrome wheel covers and ironically, despite being the least powerful car of that body style, was the first to benefit from Radial Tuned Suspension.

| Read next: Holden Torana generations

Overall the body didn’t change much from the LH to the LX with the most obvious changes being to replace the LH’s rectangular headlights with seven-inch round headlights, the window surrounds went from body colour to black and the Holden badge on the front grew in size. The rear spoiler on the SL/R 5000 was now body coloured.

holden-torana-lx-hatch-wheel.jpg

Inside the changes were equally as mild with a notable step up in fit and finish. There were new graphics for the instrumentation and the foot-operated switch for low and high beam headlights was moved to the indicator stalk. However the biggest improvement was to the front bucket seats that had a new shape and greater support for more comfort.

But the big news was the hatch, a first for the General, promoted as offering the best of a sedan and a wagon in one.

holden-torana-lx-hatch-engine-bay.jpg

We finally got to see a V8 in a Torana, with a 253 and 308 on offer

Although the hatchback gave the Torana a very different look and attracted new buyers, it turns out the shallow boot space wasn’t very practical and didn’t take much in the way of cargo. The hatchback gave rise to one of the oddest accessories ever sold, the ‘hatch-hutch’ that clipped onto the opened hatch turning the humble Torana into a tent so the younger amorous LX buyers Holden were aiming the car at could enjoy the great outdoors… Usually from indoors.

The hatch body was a boon for those in Group C touring car racing as it was not only lighter than the sedan, but its slippery shape also boosted its performance considerably which is why the majority of A9Xs to hit the track were hatchbacks.
The A9X was the fastest and finest Torana and the last homologation special. It was built to simply win Bathurst and was the first Holden to feature four-wheel disc brakes. It was also built on a unique rear floor pan to accommodate the meatier rear HX Holden rear axle and rear disc brakes.

holden-torana-lx-hatch-wheel.jpg

MOTORSPORT

However you look at it, the Holden Torana A9X was a remarkable race car. It won three Australian Touring Car Championships in three years, was on pole position at its three Bathurst outings and scored two Bathurst wins – the latter a crushing victory to Peter Brock and Jim Richards by a staggering six laps, with Brock setting a new record on the last lap of the 1000km race.

Twenty months after the first LX Torana rolled off the production line the limited edition A9X made its motorsport debut at the Hang Ten 400 at Sandown Park, the Bathurst curtain raiser. It was Holden legend Peter Brock who took his Bill Patterson backed car to victory and three weeks later he sat on pole position at Bathurst. But while the horde of A9X Toranas ran strongly none could match the might of Allan Moffat’s Ford Dealer team who crossed the line in that famous 1-2 win.

Bathurst-Museum-50-years-of-Holden.jpg

In 1978, after beefing up in the off season the Torana A9X came back bigger and better than ever. Peter Brock and Bob Morris won consecutive Australian Touring Car Championships and Brock won back-to-back Bathursts in 1978 and 79.

| Read next: Allan Grice's Torana A9X 

Brock maintained the Holden Torana A9X hatchback was the greatest race car he ever drove. 

In all 65,977 LX Toranas were produced with the A9X the most valued and lauded of all.

Holden replaced the LX Series Torana in 1978 with the UC model with softer styling and softer performance and no V8. Enthusiast buyers walked away from it and over to the all-new, similar sized and V8 equipped Commodore.

 

 

Subscribe to Unique Cars Magazine and save up to 42%
Australia’s classic and muscle car bible. With stunning features, advice, market intelligence and hundreds of cars for sale.

Subscribe