Racing Special: 1977 Holden Torana A9X

About 125 miles west of Sydney in New South Wales is a town called Bathurst. It is a pretty place, and outside that town is a hill called Mount Panorama. The events that have taken place on that hill since 1963 have had a major impact on the Australian muscle car scene. Draped over Mount Panorama is a torturous racing circuit, and the annual 1,000km motor race that is held on this track has been the obsession of fans, drivers, and manufacturers since the first event in 1963. Manufacturers stuck firmly to that old maxim of “win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” It is this belief that shaped the muscle car scene, and the results have been cars like this 1977 Holden Torana A9X. Make no mistake about it, because while this may be a road car, it has been treated by Holden to a raft of upgrades with one single goal in mind, and that was to win at Bathurst. This car is located in Carss Park, New South Wales, Australia, and is listed for sale here on eBay. This Australian legend has been listed with a BIN price of A$198,990, but the option is available to make an offer.

One of the great misconceptions about the A9X is that it was built by Holden as a stand-alone model. In fact, it was a “Performance Equipment Package” that was available with the LX Torana SS or SL/R when equipped with the 308ci V8 engine. Most of what this package brought was hidden under the skin, but it did bring with it some obvious external upgrades. The fender flares, and the front and rear spoilers were part of the package, and especially on the sedan version, made the A9X difficult for most people to differentiate from the previous LH Torana L34 competition model. I mean, there were cosmetic differences between the LX Torana and the previous LH model, but the majority of the population missed these. What stood out to most people was the rear-facing hood scoop, which was a new addition on the A9X. This wasn’t about appearance, because it was functional. On most road-going A9Xs, the inner part of the scoop where a hole had been cut in the hood was blanked off. If you were serious about performance, you removed that blanking plate, because that allowed the engine to ingest the cold, dense air from the low-pressure region at the base of the windshield. This particular A9X is finished in Jasmine Yellow, and while it isn’t the most startling of colors, it is one of only seven standard colors to grace the A9X range. There were other colors available by special order, but those are a real rarity. I think that this car has had at least a partial repaint at some point in its life, as I can see some inconsistencies in the color, with this being especially obvious on the rear spoiler. The rest of the car looks to be in quite decent condition, with no real issues to note. People who are unfamiliar with the A9X often comment upon the skinny wheels that are fitted to the car as standard, and how they fail to fill out the wheel arches. Those steel wheels were fitted by holden to keep the cost of the vehicle down as far as possible because the A9X was an expensive car in its day. For racing purposes, those wheels were ditched in favor of 10″ wide racing wheels, and that made an A9X look seriously tough.

The interior of an A9X was a pretty bare place. The seat upholstery was nothing fancy, a radio was optional, and even the floor console as fitted to this car would have been an optional extra. The racing rules that prevailed at the time meant that the cars had to essentially be presented in production form, so there was no room for luxury items. Due to the fitment of aftermarket exhaust systems for racing purposes, many racing teams would remove the carpet to prevent it from igniting due to radiant heat. Because it was part of the original production package, teams often used to roll up the carpet and stuff it in the car’s trunk. So, what you got on a production A9X was a pretty spartan interior with a decent steering wheel, a floor shifter, and an array of gauges to monitor the car’s engine health. The interior of this car is largely original and in good condition. As I said, the floor console is a factory item, but it would have been an optional fitment. The car is fitted with an aftermarket stereo with speakers in the rear parcel tray, but this could soon be removed to return the car to its standard specifications.

The competition predecessor to the A9X was the LH Torana L34. This was a potent package with a very special version of the 308ci V8 Holden engine, and in the performance stakes, it lacked for nothing. What the L34 lacked was strength, which caused a legion of reliability issues under racing conditions. The A9X was designed to address these issues. Due to tightening emissions laws, that special engine was not carried over from the L34 into the A9X road cars, but it was still eligible to be used in race conditions. The road car had to make do with a detuned version, but this was still good to produce 250hp in road-going form. The weakest point on the L34 had been its rear end and brakes. Broken rear axles were a common problem, along with issues with the differential, and as racing speeds increased, the front disc/rear drum brake configuration couldn’t keep pace. The standard LX Torana rear floor was modified to allow the A9X to be fitted with a Salisbury rear end, which brought with it 4-wheel disc brakes. Racing regulations also allowed the Torana teams to use an alternate transmission, so the A9X competed fitted with a 4-speed Super T-10 transmission. Being a road car, this A9X is fitted with its numbers-matching 308ci V8 engine, 4-speed M21 transmission, along with the Salisbury rear end and 4-wheel disc brakes. The owner doesn’t provide any information about how well the Torana runs and drives, but if it has been properly maintained throughout the last 42-years and 212,000km (132,000 miles), then it should remain strong, as this combination was nothing if not robust.

Holden produced 405 examples of the Torana A9X, of which, 305 were sedans the same as this car, with the remaining 100 cars being 2-door hatchbacks. They were built with one single purpose in life, and that was to win at Bathurst. In 1977 the car was too new and untried, and they were soundly beaten by the factory Ford Falcons. In 1978 the A9X made amends, with the A9X not only winning, but filling 6 out of the top 10 places. The A9X had its swansong at Bathurst in 1979, and this was less of a win than an annihilation. The A9X not only filled the first 8 places, but the winning car driven by Peter Brock and Jim Richards won by 6-laps and broke the lap record on the last lap of the race to rub salt into the wound. To put that into perspective, could you imagine someone winning the Daytona 500 by that many laps? While it may bare a passing resemblance to some GM product from around the globe, the Torana A9X was a 100% Australian designed, developed, and built car, and today, it has become the stuff of legends. This one appears to be a clean example, and while it is far from being a cheap car, it is still a long-way short of the recent auction record price of A$275,000 for a Jasmine Yellow Hatchback. They are a car that has proven to do nothing but appreciate in value, and that is a trend that will almost certainly continue well into the future.

Like This? Get Our Daily Email

Comments

  1. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Excellent read, Adam! And it amplifies the sense of loss all true gearheads have regarding the cessation of Australian car manufacturing. When this car (and it’s drop-dead gorgeous 2door cousin) were built the Chevy Nova struggled to get 140 HP from its 305 ci, and this had 100 HP more from essentially the same size motor..
    Australia designed and built stuff we all can appreciate here in the US. It’s truly a shame another chapter in performance engineering is gone due to the “almighty” bean counters..

    8
  2. Chris M.

    I sure hope B.F. isn’t starting a trend of covering Australian design “muscle cars.” These designs are nothing short of boring and uninspired. I realize they have a following who pay crazy money for what is essentially a four door Falcon/Dart cross. I’ll pass on these Everytime.

    3
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      We have featured the occasional Australian muscle car since the very beginning because they are interesting and we have a large following in the land down under. Don’t worry though, with over a dozen features everyday, you can focus on the ones that interest you the most.

      21
      • Chris M.

        Wasn’t worried in the least lol.

        2
    • stillrunners

      Like you’ve bought something before ?

      3
      • Chris M.

        @stillrunner…Pardon me?

  3. Car Nut Seattle

    Overall, it’s a good looking car, and I’m sure with a good driver, it’s quite a monster on the race track. I don’t find the front end of this gen Torana very attractive to look at.

  4. Steve

    I think these cars are very cool. What I find the most interesting is the use of the parts bin. The rally II wheels and the formula steering wheel especially look like interesting touches.

    1
  5. Dave Australia

    Anemic and way over priced, and I’m from Australia. A muscleless muscle car

    3
    • Chris M.

      Cheers to that Dave!

    • David Ulrey

      Dave Australia. Really? That’s a bummer to hear. Love the looks of this and certain Falcons too. I used a money conversion chart and saw they aren’t giving away cool cars in Australia either. Lol. Adam Clarke. I don’t have a problem with you listing them in Australian dollars but can you also list them in American dollars too for those of us not familiar with the currency rate of exchange and too lazy to want to look them up too often? Lmao!

  6. stillrunners

    Like we say about most – overpriced…..or dang sure not what I have in the bank !

    Enjoy the differences – either British – German – Jap or our down under stuff.

  7. CCFisher

    “that allowed the engine to ingest the cold, dense air from the low-pressure region at the base of the windshield”

    The base of the windshield is a high-pressure area. That’s hoiw cowl induction works.

  8. Leaney

    BF is a fantastic page. But the worst thing about this site is the people bagging everything out. If you dont like it scroll, not everyone is into corvettes how boring would it be if it was just pages of the car you like. Get a life outside of being a boring unpaid low level auto critic.

    1

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks. Don't post your car for sale in the comments. Click here to get it featured on the homepage instead.

*

Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.