Holden Torana Tribes - Revcounter 404

By: Guy Allen

Presented by

torana torana

There's a lot more to it than just the cars!

Last issue of Unique Cars (#404) was the first of three very special editions, marking the end of local manufacturing for the once mighty Holden. Sure there will still be local skills employed and the brand won’t disappear, but it will not be the same.

Now in the current issue we mess around with Monaros and then, in issue 406, we pull together the grand finale.

For our Torana feature, we got together a dozen cars, representing everything from the first-gen Vauxhall Viva-based car, through the hero GTRs and SL/Rs, right up to the last relatively tame six-pot sedans. It’s not until you put a gathering like this together (and our eternal thanks to Sharon Chapman for her generous assistance) that you start to understand the sheer scale of the market niches covered by that one nameplate – Torana.

Torana -group -shot

It started with nimble little runabouts, and anyone out there with an exotic Brabham HB should be pretty damned pleased with themselves. I was really taken with the SL that turned up (see Daniel Thresher's HB SL Torana here). Really light, really simple, with enough poke to make it a ball to drive.

Then you walk through the long-nosed Torana LC and LJs with their optional straight sixes. To me, these are hugely attractive packages. Compact and narrow little cars with powerplants designed to haul full-size family trucksters. Perfect.

And the mighty eights? Truly impressive pieces of machinery. I’ve been in Uncle Phil’s A9X tribute recently, and it’s a really ‘together’ performance car. Plenty of muscle in a package that’s designed to be thrown around with confidence.

The machinery is a lot of fun, but it’s the owners that really got my attention. There was an undeniable pride in their locally-made product, even though they acknowledged these weren’t perfect cars.

Somehow they still formed connections across the generations. Stories of two generations being involved in the same car were not uncommon. Others were literally buying back their childhood, remembering cars their parents had. Some had the kids in tow, who were clearly engaged with the whole thing.

It’s something that’s easy to forget with all the discussions of production history, specifications and bigger pistons: that there is a whole tribal aspect to ownership of these old cars. People’s memories and family history become entwined with them.

Others see the vehicle, and even restoring it, as a journey that introduced them to a whole new subculture and the friends who come with it.

So, which tribe do you belong to?


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