Holden LJ & TA Torana
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3
The LJ Torana of February 1972 was a facelift of the LC, and offered more refinement with better handling, suspension revisions and greatly improved noise supression. Most obvious was the fact that the LJ had borrowed heavily from the HQ parts bin, items shared between the two cars including the steering column and wheel, adjustable head restraints and impact absorbing sun visors.
The handsome wrap around tail lights introduced with the LC were now seperated into 3 distinct assemblies. The dashboard would receive considerable revision, although the instruments themselves were carried over from the LC. The radio was mounted (more conveniently) in the centre of the dash, while mechanically the suspension springs and shocks were improved to give the LJ a superior ride.
Engine capacities were also increased, the 1300 DeLuxe now sporting a 1256cc engine, although the base four-cylinder unit remained the underwhelming 1159cc wheezer. The "Standard" six remained as the 2250cc, alhough you could now option either a 2600cc or 2850cc engine, while the GTR and GTR XU-1 received the 3300cc 202ci six.
Holden went to considerable effort to increase the safety of the LJ, the dash re-design aimed squarely at making the car safer for the occupants in the event of an accident. The energy absorbing sun visors and adjustable head restraints carried over from the HQ were complimented with the inclusion of better front seats offering greater lateral support, and even the heater controls were redesigned to ensure the driver could better make adjustments while wearing a seat belt.
Most Aussie drivers preferred a six cylinder, but the 4 cylinder versions remained good sellers, and was a market segment the General could not afford to ignore. With GM having then recently taken over Isuzu, the plan was to manufacture a "world car", but this was still some 12 months away. The decision was taken to facelift the 4 cylinder LJ models as a stop-gap measure, thus ensuring continued availability of 4 cylinder models until the arrival of the much anticipated Gemini.
The last TA came off the assembly line in March 1975.
Three New Engines And A Minor Facelift
Three new engines, a minor face-lift and greatly improved comfort were the highlights of the LJ Torana range. The four and six cylinder model line-up remained basically unchanged and there was no move to increase the rather small cabin size. That said, the LJ Torana range boasted no less than eight engines to choose from, starting with the base 56 bhp 1159 to the190 bhp 202 CID XU-1. That was a far wider choice than you would have been able to find on any other small car anywhere – and even today that stands true. Torana fours received a slight grille alteration but the DeLuxe model ran the 1300 engine for improved performance, while the 1200cc unit was on the Torana Standard.
The little 1159 cc engine gave out 68.9 bhp when it was coupled with automatic transmission. By increasing the bore from 3.062 in. to 3.187 in. a new 1256 cc engine was achieved. Standard equipment in the deluxe four, it produced 62 bhp. Biggest of the fours was the slant ohc 1600 introduced in July 1971. The six cylinder range retained the 2250 engine at the bottom of the ladder. The 2850 (173 CID) engine appeared in the LC following the release of the HQ and superseded the old 2600 (161 CID) engine and it continued unchanged in the LC.
The GTR "S" Engines
The GTR went through a series of "S" engines based initially on the 2600 and later on the 2850 engines but with the LJ Torana range it received the standard 202 engine as used in the HQ Holdens. The two-barrel Bendix-Stromberg carby with automatic choke and sports air cleaner, twin exhaust manifolds, high performance camshaft and valves and the water heated inlet manifold were all gone. The 202 engine developed 135 bhp at 4400 rpm and 194 ft/lb torque at 2000 rpm compared to the 2850 "S" engines 130 bhp at 4800 rpm and 160 ft/lbs at 2800 so the LJ GTR was a much milder and torquey machine and with very little appreciable gain in performance.
Thankfully the XU-1 was not watered down. It retained all the performance bits that had made it king of the tight circuits. With the 202 engine it put out 190 bhp at 5600 rpm and 200 ft/lbs torque at 4000 rpm on a compression ratio of 10.3:1. The first XU-1 using the 186 CID engine gave 160 bhp at 5200 rpm and 190 ft/lb torque at 3600 rpm, but an interim model used at Bathurst in 1971
gave close to 180 bhp with the (186 CID) engine. The XU-1 also came equipped with the same close ratio gearbox released for Bathurst. It was the then new locally-built box with a 2.54 first (3.43 on the old box), 1.83 (2.16), 1.25 (1.37) and direct.
Styling Changes In Line With The HQ Holden
Styling changes were designed to give the Torana sixes a greater identity with the bigger HQ models. A bold HQ style cross-hatch grille and separate headlights certainly went a long way towards creating this impression. Three-piece tail lights at the rear, a strip of chrome along the body and a change in badge locations were the only other external mods. But inside the changes were far more significant and started with vastly improved seats. The front seat frames had lower springs with a thicker cushion and squab for firmer seating and greater lateral support. In the GTR and XU-1 the seats were similar to those in the HQ Monaro GTS although they lacked any form of squab adjustment.
The steering wheel on the standard cars was straight from the HQ while the two sporty models were equipped with the three-spoke Monaro GTS wheel. The instrument layout was unchanged but the facia lost its drooping upper padding. That padding was changed such that it ran straight across the car. The radio was located in the centre of the facia - a great improvement because previously it was hung under the facia and looked very much as an afterthought.
An ignition/steering lock located on the steering column was standard and this ensured there was room to the right of the steering column for the heater/ventilation controls. The ashtray was moved from a position on top of the facia to individual ashtrays on either front door. The automatic transmission console was redesigned for improved ease of operation and the glovebox lid lost its protruding knob and instead used a recessed grip for opening. Split three-piece tail lights gave Torana
and Holden aficionados rear model identification. The latest safety requirements for 1971
meant that each Torana was equipped with energy absorbing sun visors, a brake failure warning light and head restraints.
Revised front springs
and front and rear shock absorbers were claimed to improve the ride and handling characteristics. In its first major model change since introduction the Torana had gained a number of important and genuine improvements which were no doubt incorporated in an attempt to hold out the coming opposition from the Ford Cortina 6