Holden Torana Generations - 50 Years of the Torana

By: Dr John Wright, Guy Allen, Cliff Chambers, Photography by: Cristian Brunelli, Nathan Jacobs, Coventry Studios

Presented by

torana production torana production

Pint-sized runabout, compact family car, mid-sized cruiser and genuine giant-killer race car. We look back through the generations of the Torry timeline


50 Years of Holden Torana:

1967 Holden HB Torana

Holden -torana -hb

Torana 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 Holden LC Torana

Holden -lc -torana

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 Holden LJ Torana

Holden -torana -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 Holden LH Torana

Holden -torana -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 Holden LX Torana

Holden -troana -lx

Here comes the hatch. While the Torana 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 Holden UC Torana

Holden -torana -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.


Torana Tough

Holden -torana -book

Ignore the fuzzy cover shot, this tome by Norm Darwin (who also authored Monaro Magic) is a very handy reference for the Torana enthusiast and would-be owner.

It lays out the series in chronological order (handy for anyone prone to mixing up their LHs and UCs), with a number of special sections on the development of each generation.

Restorers will love the colour charts and guides for paint and trim, along with various options lists. This is a good way to settle a few of those interminable arguments over what the factory did and when.

Produced in Ballarat by H@nd Publishing (no, that’s not a typo!), it costs around $60. We got ours from Motor Book World.

Spotlight on Holden Torana LH-LX

Holden -torana -book -2

Assembled by Tony Davis, this offers a potted history of the 1974-78 series, along with a host of photos and period road tests from Modern Motor magazine (now Motor magazine).
It’s a useful reference put out by Marque Publishing. Ours cost $35 at Motor Book World.


Sign up to our free weekly newsletter for more unique car reviews and features plus see the latest unique and classic cars for sale.

Subscribe to Unique Cars magazine
- Print edition
- Digital edition