The LC Torana
was being designed
with clay models back in 1966
, and while on the drawing
board the designers tried over 60 different grille and headlight combinations
before they settled with the final product. The new model was finally released to dealers on October 28th 1969
, with the XU1 appearing a little later.
The real news upon the LC's launch was the 6 cylinder engine, which came in two varities, the 138ci version of the 161 Red Engine
, along with the 161 2640 engine as fitted to the HT Holden.
The latter engine had a respectable power output of 114 bhp @ 4400 rpm, and torque of 157 lb. ft at 2000 rpm, and it was this unit that naturally found its way into the GTR.
At just $2778 the two-door only GTR also came standard with an Opel floor mounted four-speed box, front disc brakes, heavy duty suspension (firmer springs, shock absorbers and an front
anti-roll bar), full instrumentation, striking stylistic details which included louvres on the front
fenders, handsome two-piece wheel covers and bold paint
In theory, the GTR was to the LC Torana what the GTS 186S was to the Monaro. The 186S was of course a re-worked 186 with dual throat carby and more efficient cylinder head. However the re-working of the 161 for the GTR was arguably a better job, allowing it to fight well above its station, and even managing to embarrass the 253ci V8 model Monaro.
A dual throat downdraft carby replaced the
single throat unit, although both were Bendix-Stromberg, the air-cleaner had a new low-restriction design, there were twin exhaust manifolds, the manifold was water-heated and a higher lift bumpstick and superior exhaust valves were fitted. While these changes were near identical to what was done to the 186S engine, Torana aficionados will tell you the results were far more spectacular.
The GTR was able to complete the standing quarter in 17.2 seconds, and top speed was a respectable 105 mph, with third gear being able to take you to 90. The maximum power of
125 bhp came at 4800 rpm, and torque (which was less than the stock 161) came at 2800 rpm - which meant that you needed to use the gears more to extract all the extra mumbo the worked 161 had to offer.
The constabulary soon got wind of the performance Torana's, and for a time used them as pursuit vehicles, the fuel economy of the GT Falcon's
being deemed to be too poor. Harry Firth
(ex Ford team manager) was employed by GMH to build a
Bathurst winning package that was not expensive to manufacture.
The Monaro would need major work to help it handle
and brake over Mount Panorama
- although it had the raw
power of the 350 chev.
Power alone was not enough to take the checkered flag,
so with a bit of a play around with after market and
factory six cylinder bits and pieces, Harry and his
team of engineers started to develop the XU-1, even
though at the time GM world wide had a "no motor racing" policy.
They covered this technicality by leaving any racing to
the Holden Dealer Team (HDT) as they had been doing with
the very successful Monaro's. Just the thought of a 186ci
six cylinder car trying to match the 351ci V8's would
have probably been laughed at by the white collars of
the day but if they could just extract a bit more power
it may be possible!
The first car was built early 1970 and raced in the sports
sedan class by Anthony (Tony) Roberts under the guise
of the HDT with a 186ci engine (it had a small chamber
blueprinted 161ci head to increase compression, and had
triple Stromberg carburetors).
GMH liked what they saw and with the price being $3148
the Torana GTR XU1 went on sale in 19th August 1970. With
a weight of 1100 kgs, stiffened suspension, hot motor,
rack and pinion steering it was not everyones favorite
car to go cruising but if you decided to push this car
to the upper limits then you would have a smile as wide
as your face, as this car loved nothing better than to
be thrashed down a winding country road.
Don Holland proved they were on the right track making the podium at the Bathurst 1970 Hardie-Ferodo
with a first up third and a win in Class
C.. The XU-1 was on track to become a legend...