Holden LJ Torana GTR XU-1
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 5
The LC Torana GTR XU-1
had set the scene for becoming a formidable foe to the legendary Falcon GTHO's that had dominated The Great Race, however they still had the wood on the little Torana upstart.
Don Holland managed a credible Class C victory in the 1970 Hardie-Ferodo
, coming third outright. But during the 1971 event, and despite some tweaking performed by the "Silver Fox", it was the year of the GT Falcon
. In fact, thirteen GTHO Phase 3’s
lined up for the 1971 Hardie-Ferodo
, led by the
works' cars of Allan Moffat and John French.
Once again Moffat gained pole position, with
a best lap practice of 2:38.9, 10 seconds faster
than 1970, which did not encourage the Torana GTR XU-1
and Charger crews, who then had to hope on a
series of mechanical failures from the big Ford’s
to stand a chance.
Mechanical difficulty did beset the big Ford's, but only enough to strike a line through 5 of the original 13 starters. For the XU-1 it was a case of close...but no cigar. But 1971
was not such a bad year for fans of the General, given the release of the new LJ Torana
. Taking the new 202 engine as fitted to the HQ Holden
, Harry Firth's team then fitted triple 1.75 Strombergs (instead of the LC XU-1's Zeniths), and lifted the compression ratio 0.3 higher to 10.3:1.
Better still, the new donk was mated to GMH
's all new, all Aussie M-21 box, which had plenty of strength to handle the copius amounts of torque on offer. And because there was extra torque on tap, it permitted taller gearing for the indirect ratios. 1st gear was 2.54:1 and made 46 mph @ 6200 rpm, 2nd gear was 1.83:1 and made 67 mph, third was 1.25:1 and made 98 mph.
did spend time on the V8 Torana Project, code-named XU-1 V8, however the timing was wrong given the media scare campaign of 1972
. In any case, the V8 Torana would have been an unlikely starter at the 1972 Bathurst event
. Instead Firth further tweaked the already worked 202, in effect creating a special limited production version that used a wild HX Holden
camshaft, a light flywheel, alloy wheels
and revised suspension
. When balanced and blueprinted, the engine was good for 212 bhp.
The scene was set for the fabulous 1972 Hardie-Ferodo 500
, and Firth
had another ace up his sleeve, an outstanding young driver that had shown plenty of form on previous outings, most notably a 3rd place in the 1969 Hardie-Ferodo
when co-driving a Monaro GTS 350 with Des West.
The decision to stick with the race proven Hot Holden Six paid big dividends, with Peter Brock
finishing the race a whopping 5 laps clear of his nearest competitor, John French's Falcon XY GTHO
. In 1973 GMH
produced another 150 XU-1's, these being equipped with a revised cylinder head
, larger valves
, heavy duty axles and improved brakes. The scene was set for another Holden vs. Ford showdown at the Mount during the 1973 Hardie-Ferodo 1000
, and everyone wondered if the XU-1, and Peter Brock, could retain the crown. Many felt the new race distance, extended to 1000 kilometres for the first time, would prove a bigger endurance test for the more tempremental GT's - no doubt many Torana fans hoped so.
Things were not so easy for the Torana GTR XU-1 privateers who were
using 3.08 to 1 final drives, which meant they
had to use a lot of revs to stay with the Dealer
Team cars which were using a taller 2.78 to 1
final drive. The Dealers Team Torana’s
were pulling 6500 rpm on Conrod Straight for
a top speed of 150 mph. To match this, the lower-geared
Torana’s would need to have revved to around
7000, a speed of revolution at which point things
start to break.
The GT Falcon's were still very menacing, however it looked for a time as though back-to-back victories for Brock, Firth and the Holden Dealer Team was on the cards. But racing is a funny game, and it was not to be. Brock's co-driver Doug Chivas, who had taken over from Brock, ran out of petrol and had to push
the car unaided up to the pits. Inevitably it cost the team the race, allowing Allan Moffat
to take a comfortable lead in his XA GT Falcon
. There was some conselation though, with the XU-1's filling the next 4 positions.
Racing duties for the 1974 Bathurst 1000
would fall to the LH SL/R 5000 with L34 308 V8
. Again success would elude the Torana, although the tide would turn in 1975.