This is an original Holden Torana LC GTR-XU1, and if you’re not from Australia or New Zealand, you may never have seen one before.
The Torana would become a legend in its own lifetime, known as a giant killer, and winning Australia’s most prestigious races against the considerably more powerful Ford Falcon GT-HO.
Fast Facts – The Holden Torana LC GTR-XU1
- The Holden Torana, initially launched in 1967 as a compact family car, underwent a significant transformation with the introduction of the LC GTR-XU1 in 1970. It was developed by Holden, a General Motors subsidiary in Australia, specifically targeting the growing demand for smaller performance-oriented vehicles and the competitive Australian Touring Car scene.
- The LC GTR-XU1 was equipped with a 3.0 liter inline-six, fitted with triple Zenith-Stromberg CD-150 carburetors. It was capable of 160 bhp and 190 lb ft of torque – this engine, combined with the car’s low curb weight of 1,030 kgs (2,270 lbs), resulted in excellent performance and handling, making it a genuine competitor in road, track, and rally racing.
- The pinnacle of the Torana’s competition success was almost certainly the wildly popular win taken by Peter Brock at the 1972 Hardie-Ferodo 500 in his LJ Torana GTR XU-1. He finished well ahead of a stack of Ford XY Falcon GT-HO Phase IIIs and Chrysler VH Valiant Charger R/T E49s.
- Approximately 3,300 examples of the GTR-XU1 were built between 1970 and 1973, it’s not known exactly how many original cars have survived however they now sell for prices well into the six figures. A significant number of replicas have been made, built on the base model Torana, so buyers need to ensure they’re not inadvertently buying a copy.
The Story Of The First Holden Torana
In the 1960s the diminutive British Mini Cooper had taken to race tracks and rally stages around the world to show the world that a small, lightweight car could oftentimes outperform much larger, more powerful machinery.
In the late 1960s when Holden, an Australian automaker and subsidiary of General Motors, needed a new more affordable family car they made the unusual decision to go against the grain and create something smaller and lighter.
They took the preexisting Vauxhall Viva HB and essentially created a face-lifted version of the car that they would release in 1967 as the Holden Torana HB. This would be succeeded by the LC Torana in 1979, and this is where things began to get very interesting – from a motor racing perspective anyway.
It would be the LC-series Torana that really put the model on the map, specifically it would be the performance versions that began with the Torana GTR, then hit their stride with the lighting-fast LC GTR XU-1.
Due to the GTR XU-1’s low curb weight of 1,030 kgs (2,270 lbs) and its relatively high power output (for the time) of 160 bhp and 190 lb ft of torque, the car proved to be a genuine contender on track against the much larger, more powerful, and 400 kg (882 lb) heavier Ford XY Falcon GT-HO.
Various Torana models followed the LC, including the LJ which took the baton and ran with it, going so far as to win the 1972 Hardie-Ferodo 500 with Peter Brock at the wheel finishing well ahead of its more powerful rivals – the Ford XY Falcon GT-HO Phase III and Chrysler VH Valiant Charger R/T E49.
The Holden Torana LC GTR-XU1
The Holden Torana LC GTR-XU1 was released in 1970 after having been developed at Holden by Harry Firth of the Holden Dealer Team and his engineers. For homologation purposes it had to be road legal, and it had to somehow skirt GM’s racing ban that was in place at the time.
They took a standard two-door Torana LC and fitted it with a reworked 3.0 liter straight-six which was given triple Zenith-Stromberg CD-150 carburetors, some head work, a hot cam, an increased compression ratio, and performance headers.
In street tune the LC GTR-XU1 was capable of 160 bhp and 190 lb ft of torque but in race trim that horsepower number was up far closer to 200 bhp. The car was also given uprated brakes and suspension, but even with all of these modifications it must have seemed like a hopeless task considering the fact that its key rival on track, the Ford Falcon GT-HO was producing 300 bhp and 380 lb ft of torque.
The key to the success of the GTR-XU1 was its power-to-weight ratio and the fact that its brakes and suspension were put under far less load – the car was also far more economical and could compete in endurance races like the 500 mile races at Bathurst with just two fuel stops.
On the balance of it, the GTR-XU1 turned out to be more than a worthy competitor, and the car’s underdog status cemented it as a favorite across Australia – a nation well-known for its love of a good underdog.
The Toranas would race head-to-head with the Falcon and the best of the rest, including the Valiant Charger of course. Toranas would take a stack of wins at races and rallies from coast to coast, capped most memorably by the aforementioned outright win at the 1972 Hardie-Ferodo 500 – the forebear of the modern day Bathurst 1000.
It’s believed that only approximately 3,300 examples of the GTR-XU1 were built between 1970 and 1973 including both the LC and the later LJ series. It’s not known how many have survived, good original examples can now sell for well into the six figures – a far cry from their original $3,214 AUD sticker price.
The 1970 Holden Torana LC GTR-XU1 Shown Here
The car you see here is a first-year, Brisbane-built 1970 Holden Torana LC GTR-XU1 which now benefits from a full restoration using a selection of hard to find new old stock parts.
Under the hood you’ll find the correct 100X Prefix six-cylinder engine with its triple Zenith-Stromberg CD-150 carburetors, 2815843 Xu1 head performance camshaft, and the heavy-duty 4-speed manual gearbox.
This Torana is finished in Rally Red with Black sills, chrome bumpers and body trims, a red grille stripe, a black rear end, and black 13 inch wheels.
It’s now being offered for sale out of Tuggerah in New South Wales, Australia on Collecting Cars and you can visit the listing here if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid.
Above Video: This is the original coverage of the 1970 Hardie-Ferodo 500. In this film you’ll see ample footage of the Holden Torana LC GTR-XU1s in action – they nearly won the race outright but had to settle for a class win on this occasion.
Images courtesy of Collecting Cars
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