1976 Torana Hatch/Sedan - Reader Ride

By: Mike Holland

Gabrielle and Mike are truly passionate Torana owners and have built two special cars to their liking.

1976 Torana Hatch/Sedan - Reader Ride
A solid hatchback Torana is hot property!

Gabrielle Holland is a member of the New South Wales Torana Club and husband Mike, is the treasurer. They’re also members of the Canberra Torana Club.

The LX Torana hatchback was bought from a (now deceased) club mate of Mike’s, as a rolling shell over 13 years ago and was finished for Gabrielle’s 70th birthday.

So, as a septuagenarian lady, the car had to have a few comfort fittings: auto, air-con, power windows and steer, etc. A good sound and seat comfort also featured on the wish list!

The car is designed for easy driving on club outings and smart enough to take to car shows where it has already scored some tinware.

A solid hatchback Torana is hot property!

The idea was to restore the body of an LX Hatchback and upgrade its driveline, suspension, steering and brakes to end up with a modern fettled cruiser, in an iconic body. Park it next to a new Porsche and see where the crowd looks!

The car, a 1976 Holden Torana Hatchback, came with no engine, gearbox or internal fittings, just wheels really – but the tags indicated a 6-cylinder engine was initially fitted. Clearly, this had to be upgraded, given the vacancy in the engine bay.

Body & Paint

Electric Blue as the car came to be known, was stripped and paint removed to reveal bare metal.

Any imperfections were professionally attended to. Modifications incorporated along the way, included Ford XC bonnet flutes (doesn’t that drum up some comments at motor events!), minimal cutting and reworking the transmission hump, to accommodate linkages and the installation of a 4L60-E automatic transmission.


Re-welding of the cut is in accordance with RTA strengthening guidelines.

A Hollandia 700 Series Sunroof was installed by Webasto (the authorised importers and licensed installers).

Other minor changes were to the bumper-bar mounts, disguising the bolts and removal of the petrol filler flap, along with improving the number-plate lighting by a special bumper-bar fabrication.

The side window vents were filled in along with the windscreen-wiper cowl, for a smoother appearance.

Front and rear spoilers and wheel-arch flares, Torana fitments that were fitted by Holden dealerships are affixed with a focus on a quality installation, by ‘nut-setting’ wherever possible.

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All nuts and bolts are of highest quality using high-tensile bolts where strength is required and stainless-steel items where appearance is important.

These include items like the Ford Mustang bonnet stops and billet fender bolt/washers.

The engine bay holes have been filled and smoothed, with many welds and joins also filled over for a smoother appearance.

HRT graphics set off the hatchback.

All the bodywork and painting was performed by licensed repairer, ‘Ink For Cars’ at Ulladulla, NSW.

A new dash fascia was fabricated from alloy and fastened using the existing mounting holes, combined with a custom-made transmission cover-console, to accommodate a VT gear-shift mechanism, handbrake lever and switch gear.

All internal areas have been treated with rust preventive and the undercarriage area painted in black stone-chip resistant material.

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For the paintwork we chose a 2-pack DuPont Fiat colour ‘Azure Blue’ with metal-flake highlights and overlaid with clear coat. Highlighting this is the base silver with metal flakes, also with clear coat.

Chrome rear vinyl graphics were applied by Bay Signs located in Batemans Bay, on the NSW coast.

A 90-litre direct-mount drop tank provides the fuel source and an aero fuel filler lets it in.


A chassis strengthening kit from the Castlemaine Rod Shop has been attached, with a claimed improvement of around 30 to 40 per cent in body rigidity. 

A later-model UC Torana ‘K-Frame’ front suspension and steering column have been installed, gaining the benefits of Radial Tuned Suspension (RTS) handling and improved light/indicator switch gear.

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It also has a beefier custom front cross-member, fabricated by Race Car Technology.

To achieve a more accurate alignment of the rear axle, adjustable top and bottom rear trailing arms from McDonald Bros Racing, are fitted to existing chassis brackets that have been reinforced.

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The engine-mount brackets have also been custom made to suit the Gen-3 V8 engine.

Internally the floor, firewall, footwells  and boot area have all been fitted with high-grade sound deadening material.

Suspension & Steering

Our aim with the Torana hatchback was to maximise ride comfort and road holding.

Drop spindle front hubs are installed to compensate for the increased road height, due to the larger (13-inch to 18-inch) wheels, with reduced tyre aspect ratio of (70-35/40) gives the car a lowered ride height, within RTA guidelines of 100mm ground clearance.

Local specialist Suspension Tuner has corner weighed and selected the spring rates with damper valving.

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The springs are from Pedders, front 7030HD and rear 7024HD with the dampers being QA-1 60 Series, alloy revalvable units.

Only the front has a sway bar, selected by Race Car Technologies. It is a Pedders BHF35/37 with custom rose-joint fittings.

Before their final mounting to the Torana, all the suspension components were sandblasted and colour-code powder painted.

Who has not seen an SL/R6000!

Where possible, the original style rubber bushes have been employed, not polyurethane.

A power steering set-up developed by Axis Truck Repairs, using a Subaru Impreza unit, was modified to bolt straight into the Torana and the pump is from the existing Gen-3 motor.

New or reproduction steering column components are fitted, including column bearings with flexible couplings and knuckle joints.

The existing Torana steering wheel was replaced with a Momo ‘Millennium’ wheel from Autotek and the original 13x5.5-inch steel rims have been flung, in favour of 18-inch ‘Adrenalin’ 3-piece ROH alloy wheels.

The thought behind having different tyres front to back was to garner as similar grip as possible.


The original brake set-up of discs up front and drums on the rear have been upgraded to discs on all four wheels. 

PBR’s M-Series 6-Piston Ultimate Brake kit is a top notch street/track performance brake package that is not only ADR approved, but it will fit all genuine GM and HSV 18-inch wheels.

This PBR Performance brake package is the one originally designed and fitted to the top spec, genuine GM Corvette ZR-1.

A chrome/stainless-steel covered booster and late-model Holden master cylinder were employed by brake technicians to work best with the new set-up.

The foot-operated park brake has been removed and replaced by later model UC Torana centre-console mounted lever, with a VT Commodore handle.


We installed a Gen-3 LS2 6.0 litre (5967cc) V8 giving a modest but very driveable 238kW and 545Nm at the rear wheels.

It’s no dragster, but it is perfect for cruising and we are getting around 10km for every litre it drinks.

We went for the modern Gen-3 engine because it is lighter than the original motor, has fuel injection and delivers quite favourable fuel consumption and lower emissions, compared to the 5.0 litre V8 red motor, which was standard in the top-of-the-line LX-SS Torana Hatchback.

Also using the Gen-3 engine conforms with the RTA’s weight formula of 1213kg (Holden brochure) x 5 = 6065kg. Sealing the engine choice was the serviceability and parts availability for the engine.

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Twin custom-fabricated air intakes leading from multipurpose (radiator overflow, windscreen washer bottle) air boxes, add some bling to the engine bay.

HPC-coated custom headers take the spent gas away culminating in lairy 3-inch stainless-steel end pipes. These mods give a little increase in power over standard.

The engine along and the 460L-E auto gearbox with ratios: 1:3.06, 2:1.63, 3:1.00, 4:0.70 and ECU, was sourced from a Victorian wrecker as a 17,000km old unit. 

The Gen-3 engine required stainless-steel catalytic-converters to be incorporated in the exhaust system.

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Cooling is managed by a custom PWR alloy radiator and Ford fans.

Another custom-made component, from competition-grade materials, is the tailshaft by Sydney Driveline Service. A tailshaft loop is fitted for added safety.

Getting the power to the rear wheels is through a custom Ford 9-inch diff, from McDonald Bros Racing and includes an Eaton Truetrac LSD centre and Moser axles.


A battery box is built into the rear of the car in the existing spare-wheel well and the existing plastic dash removed for a custom alloy unit, incorporating a raft of electronic instruments.

Haltech manages the engine information, Garmin the navigation and Alpine the sound.

The dash is trimmed in crocodile-skin theme vinyl, with the lower dash remaining reasonably standard, while forward of the footwell is smoothed off for the sake of appearance, by way of padded and upholstered panels.

Autometer packed cabin.

The original flat and unsupportive Torana seats were turfed for a pair of
power-operated Holden VE ute pews offering better access to the rear and they’ve been trimmed in custom leather and leatherette.

The seats slotted in the existing seat mounting points and adaptor brackets were fabricated by a local engineering firm.

New colour-coded, retractable Hemco seat belts are in the front and matching three-point items in rear, using the existing mounting points. These were fitted by a qualified engineer.

A padded panel over the alloy transmission tunnel includes a switch-gear panel, the VT transmission gear shifter, with illuminated A/M gear indicator and the handbrake lever.

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Nu-Trim of Batemans Bay were responsible for the interior modifications and trim.

The air-conditioning unit fitted to the Torana is a vintage unit from the period, with Mazda3 series vents directing the air.

For hotter days or longer drives, we have also installed a Waeco fridge/freezer as an optional travel fitment, in the hatchback area.

Mike’s 1976 4-Door Sedan

When I retired from my advertising business, I discovered the ideal hobby to while away my retirement days. Being a ‘petrol head’ in my (much) younger days, it seemed like the perfect fit.

A good friend had just finished building a sweet street machine, in the form of a 1976 LX 4-door Torana and had decided to sell it, at a price that was impossible to say no to.

The car was already a trophy magnet at car shows, so the base to improve and keep it in top order was there, but the problem of deciding what to do to keep the car looking fresh, keeps testing the imagination somewhat!

Over the ensuing 20 years of ownership (my, how time flies), many things have been changed or improved: 

The engine was upgraded to its current state of tune and is almost 6-litre in capacity, fuel-injected, supercharged and intercooled.

XC snouts always strike a conversation.

It was refreshed by Profection Automotive in Canberra in 2022 and beefed up with a main stud girdle, forged pistons, headwork, a crow cam and timing gear, Scat crank and all the good stuff, which sees you taking the bank manager to lunch.

All very necessary to manage the extra weight created by chassis strengthening, heavy-duty everything and sheets of pine board in the trimming.

Yielding a modest 313kW at the rear wheels makes True Blue very driveable without being cranky. However, the monster torque does make the gearbox a tad worried.

Hard working auto engine fans supply a breath of fresh air to the radiator, intercooler and transmission oil cooler.

The engine is fuelled by an 80-litre alloy drop tank. The driveline consists of a beefed-up TH700 (hydraulic) automatic transmission, with selectable overdrive and a 9-inch Tru-Trac limited-slip differential. The brakes and suspension have also been significantly upgraded.

Mike cleaning the four-door.

It now has larger Harrop Performance brakes that work a treat. 

Like the hatchback, the sedan also rolls on 18-inch ROH Adrenalin alloys.

The interior has been modernised with Recaro front pews, an electric Webasto sunroof and all the important information is provided by a cluster of Autometer gauges.

Novelty stuff includes modern LED headlights with day running lights and built-in indicators, the battery has been banished to the boot, there’s keyless entry/alarm, a third brake light, hazard lights and retractable seat belts.

From Unique Cars #486, Dec 2023

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