Will This 1977 Holden Torana A9X Sell For $1,000,000?

Sometimes the cosmos throws us an amazing piece of symmetry, and for me, that is the case with this 1977 Holden Torana A9X. As you will see, the fact that this car landed on my desk is quite astonishing, but not as astonishing as the predictions about its upcoming auction price. I can remember in my younger days being astounded when Australian classic cars started to command five-figure sale prices and nearly needing to sit down and take a deep breath when those same vehicles jumped into six-figure territory. Well, (drum roll please) this Torana is expected to hit A$1,000,000 before the hammer falls on this auction. The Torana has been listed for sale here at Lloyds Auctioneers and Valuers for online bidding. The action has already heated up, with the current price sitting at A$280,000.

We will have readers who will be looking at this A9X and wondering what on earth makes it worth a million dollars. The secret rests in this tag. The Body Number is listed as “GMP&A,” and that is hugely significant. The Torana A9X was produced by Holden as a homologation special for motor racing. Holden had one eye on success in the Australian Touring Car Championship, but their main focus was on winning the annual Bathurst 1000. Vehicle eligibility was pretty strict, with the racing conducted under a set of rules known as Group C Improved Production. Group C was open to a wide variety of vehicles, but all of them had to be based on production road cars. The regulations allowed limited modifications to engines, along with suspension and tires, but the cars had to retain their basic mechanical configuration. These cars also had to be built in specific minimum numbers, and in this case, Holden produced 405 examples to ensure that they met the requirements. However, that figure is open to interpretation. Technically, Holden produced 438 examples of the A9X, and that’s where this tag fits into the equation. The initial production run of 405 (305 sedans plus 100 hatchbacks) was intended for sale as road cars. Some of these cars were transformed into race cars, but not many. That was because the remaining 33 were something a bit special. Each of these bodyshells was walked down the Holden production line, where they received the royal treatment. Sound deadening material was not applied, and any unnecessary brackets were left off the shell to save weight. Extra welds were placed at specific locations, and captive nuts were welded in to facilitate the later installation of roll cages and other safety equipment. All of these bodyshells carried the GMP&A Body Number, which stood for General Motors Parts and Accessories. All bar two of these shells eventually saw racing duty, except for this car and one other. Those two remaining shells were built into road cars. This is one of them, and the other was a Torana that I wrote about in this feature in 2018 as my very first article with Barn Finds. That’s the lovely piece of symmetry that I mentioned earlier.

For our Australian readers, this Torana holds a further piece of historic significance. As well as Holden’s own factory effort, several leading privateer teams campaigned the A9X. Chief among these was a team formed by prominent Holden dealer, Ron Hodgson. His team built two race cars and using the pair on a rotating basis, driver Bob Morris beat factory rival the late Peter Brock to win the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1979. As well as the two race cars, the team held a third GMP&A bodyshell as a spare to be built into a race car if one was destroyed. When the racing regulations outlawed the A9X at the end of 1979, the Hodgson team transformed the spare shell into the road car that you see in these photos. The work was performed by legendary engineer and engine builder Peter Molloy, and the car has essentially remained untouched since those days. It has managed to accumulate a genuine and documented 475 kilometers (295 miles) since 1979. Naturally, the white paint still shines beautifully, with no signs of any blemishes or problems. The panels are laser straight, there is no rust, and all of the distinctive A9X aero additions like the spoilers and fender flares remain intact. This Torana is fitted with a genuine 120-liter (31.7-gallon) aluminum “drop” fuel tank. These were specifically designed for the race cars to lower the center of gravity and were never fitted by Holden to any of the road cars. Once the basic bodyshell was completed, it was shipped to Bill Patterson Motor for the installation of the tank, along with the scoops and flares. The 6″ steel wheels which were a part of the A9X package have made way for a set of three-piece Simmons alloys. These were often used by race teams at that time, so their inclusion is in keeping with this car’s character and heritage.

There can never be any questions raised about whether this A9X is numbers-matching because its heritage makes that question irrelevant. As this car was produced as little more than a bare shell, it never had an engine assigned to it. When Peter Molloy transformed the shell into a road car, the instructions were to build it to basically match the specifications of the race car. As such, it would feature the L34 version of Holden’s 308ci V8. In standard tune, this engine was good for about 220hp. However, in its ultimate race guise, this figure soared north of 400hp. It isn’t clear how closely Molloy aligned this engine to the race units, but the external oil cooler and cold air box nestled below the reverse hood scoop suggest that it might not have lagged far behind. The transmission would be a 4-speed manual, but it could be either an M21 or a T-10. That 4-speed fed the power to the rear end, and this was where the A9X was a major step forward when compared to its predecessor. The earlier racing Toranas were lumbered with a “banjo” differential and rear axles with all of the strength of spaghetti. Rear-end failures were common, and drivers needed to be gentle when applying the V8’s impressive power. For the A9X, the banjo made way for a Salisbury rear end, and the rear drum brakes were ditched in favor of 4-wheel discs. Combine these attributes with the 308’s bulletproof reputation, and the A9X was about as close to perfection as it was possible to achieve within the racing regulations at that point in time.

If this A9X were a regular production version, we would expect an interior trimmed in Black vinyl. However, this one features a beautiful set of Recaro buckets that are trimmed in Black cord velour. The rear seat has been upholstered to match, while the remaining trim is genuine A9X. The upholstered surfaces present beautifully, with no signs of any issues or problems. The carpet appears to be perfect, while the same is true of the headliner. There is no evidence of any wear problems, which is hardly surprising when you consider the odometer reading and this car’s history.

The Group C racing regulations contained a few quirks, and one of the more curious surrounded the question of interior trim and equipment. The rules stipulated that all interior trim and equipment had to remain intact. If your production model was built with air conditioning, then your race car had to have it. Holden knew that a “stripper” with no interior trim or carpet wouldn’t sell, but they knew that they could remove some items to reduce weight. Therefore, the A9X rolled off the production line with no radio, no console, and lightweight carpet with no sound deadening material. Buyers could choose to have the removed items dealer-installed, but many didn’t. This car does have a console, but there is no radio. There are a couple of small gauges mounted below the dash, but these appear to be the only deviations from factory original. Everything appears to be in good order, with no wear on the wheel or dash, and no cracks in the pad.

When I wrote my first article for Barn Finds on a white 1977 Torana A9X road car that was built from a GMP&A bodyshell, I never envisaged that I would have the privilege to write about a car that is not only its twin but also the only other A9X road car that was constructed from a GMP&A shell. A lot has changed since that day, and the demise of the Holden brand has seen demand for their performance derivatives soar. Of course, soaring demand will equate to higher prices. To place it into some perspective: That first A9X that I featured sold for $500,000, and Holden still existed as a brand in its own right. Since that day, General Motors has chosen to retire the Holden brand, and what was once considered “Australia’s Own” no longer exists. This has pushed prices to stratospheric levels. That means that if an A9X can sell for half a million before the demise of Holden, a one million dollar price tag is well within reach for this one.

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Comments

  1. JACKinNWPA JACKinNWPA Member

    Cool looking Vega dude! Sorry I just had to. Seriously cool, rare car and I hope that it makes the A1,000,000. No matter the new owner will have a great piece of Australian history to be very proud of.

    Like 22
    • Vegaman Dan

      It does have a very Vega look to it, and I approve!

      Like 10
    • Steve Makowski

      Monza!!

  2. Steve Clinton

    Will This 1977 Holden Torana A9X Sell For $1,000,000?
    No.

    Like 9
    • Brad J.

      Are you sure about that Steve? Just imagine a 1 of only 2 ever built special Dodge Challengers or Chargers in factory floor condition and virtually no miles on the clock, how much would it make?

      Watch this space! (or follow the auction)!

      Like 1
      • Brad J.

        Just the original SS ashtray is worth around $500 to a restorer!

  3. steve

    That sir, is one expensive Vega

    Like 8
  4. Frank Farrell

    “There has been too much violence, too much pain. None here are without sin. But I have an honorable compromise. Just walk away. Give me the pump, the oil, the gasoline, and the whole compound, and I’ll spare your lives. Just walk away; I will give you safe passage in the wasteland. Just walk away and there will be an end to the horror.

    You will know the vengeance of the Lord Humungus”

    Like 8
  5. Raymond

    It’s a Vega, albeit one we shoulda gotten instead of what we actually received here

    Like 8
  6. Arby

    I’ll probably hold off on this one…

    Like 4
  7. Doyler

    Judging from the comments, it would appear I’m not the only one who thought

    “Vega”

    Like 9
  8. KC John

    I was reading piece thinking I must be crazy. But nope, general agreement from the community….. It’s a Vega. I feel more assured in my sanity now. Thanks everyone!

    Like 4
  9. Chris M.

    It definitely shares alot of design elements with the Vega. As hard as it is to reconcile the high prices of the American built vintage muscle cars, I just can’t understand nor do I see the attraction of these Australian cars or the crazy prices. I find them to be a bit of a “hodgepodge” of somewhat familiar parts with an ending design of something that looks like a mix of a Dodge Dart and a Ford Falcon. The performance in most was lackluster by American standards not to mention some of the most coveted cars are four doors. A million for this thing? I’ll gladly plead ignorance.

    Like 2
  10. Ike Onick

    Who would have thought Oz has a car culture that rivals any area in the USA.

    Like 1
  11. Big_Fun Member

    Okay, consider this Holden to akin of a COPO Camaro in the US; in fact, you could have bought a Camaro5 COPO without a drive train not too long ago.
    Vega and Monza / Torana
    WB: 97″ / 101.8′
    Length: 169 7″ – 179.3″ / 177.5″
    Width: 65 4″ / 67.1″
    Height. 51″- 50.2″ / 52.4″

    …and now we know. Unless it’s a Cosworth Vega, or the occasional Monza Spyder, there is very low collectibility on the our models. The Cosworth was/is a big, “If only…” This A9X is a big , “They did!”
    This Holden is a very rare piece of Austr…, no, *WORLD* automotive history!
    I know what one I want…mate!

    Like 8
  12. Racer-x

    Best car I own is a Holden. GM is stupid.

    Like 8
  13. Car Nut Tacoma

    If I lived in Australia, I’d buy either an LC Torana, or a UC Torana. I find them the best looking cars.

  14. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    A=Australia so how much is A$1,000,000.00 in U.S. $1,000.000.00 I don’t know didn’t look it up, but I bet there’s a significant difference. Besides the steering wheels on the wrong side.
    God bless America

    Like 3
    • Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

      Okay, I looked it up. A million Australian dollars equals about 760 thousand U.S. Dollars. Still a considerable sum.
      God bless America

      Like 3
    • Charles Sawka

      Looks like the steering wheel in on the right side to me.

      Like 3
  15. Howie Mueler

    Put me down for NO.

    Like 2
  16. Kh4fan

    Looks very “Vegaish”. Too bad we didn’t get Vegas like this

  17. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    That has to be the longest write up in Barn Finds history. I had to take a No-Doz to finish it.

    Like 3
  18. John Taylor

    I have a friend who owns the Bill Bourke GT and would want 3 for that he thinks, I suggested the bubble had burst. a year ago I would have said no worries this will run a Mill but today I wonder.

    • Chris M.

      Grammar is not one of your strengths.

  19. Steve Makowski

    Monza!!

  20. 510Again

    Looks like a GM car from Brazil. The Opala.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Opala

    Like 1
  21. Kevin

    Despite all the power,mods,and fluff,it’s basically a glorified Chevy chevette.

    Like 1
  22. Gary

    I’m not too enthused about this car however , I support those whom do .

  23. Mark

    $1,000,000 for this car? A rich sucker is born everday I guess.

    Like 3
  24. ron

    Gm goes to great lengths to hide it;s association with the Vega…..even Australia!
    having had two of these mechanical disasters I don’t blame them one bit, often wondered where they went………is this any way to treat a wartime ally? P.S. the V8 may help but it’s still a vega ……..pardon my French!

  25. Steven Ramos

    Everybody says
    “It looks like a Vega” it looks more like the AMC sprint.

    Like 2
    • Kevin

      I appreciate the information Dave J,that helps to have more respect for the engineering that went in to the car,and its performance etc.

  26. Fossil

    You lot over the ditch have no idea what the Torana means to us Aussie car racing enthusiasts. Sure, they may be similar in looks to other cars, but when you witness one or more of these racing at Bathurst under the control of probably the best touring car driver ever, anywhere, Mr. Peter Brock, you may wish to change your opinion. Go to Youtube to see Bathurst races and you may be surprised at what an event it is. I have taken American friends for a two-wheeled ride around the Bathurst Race Course and they could not believe what they saw. They were not satisfied with one circuit; they had to go around several times to take it all in and even then, they couldn’t believe the speeds reached on this very tricky course. The Holden Torana was perfectly suited to Bathurst.

    Like 3
  27. Dave J

    As an Aussie, it’s good to see this car featured on barn finds, and good to see the write up is pretty accurate on the history of the A9X. The Salisbury diff and rear discs were mentioned, but the detail here that was not mentioned is what makes the A9X so unique. In order to fit rear discs, Holden had to use the entire floor pan out of the upcoming UC Torana, still two years from market. This also gave a redesigned front suspension, that combined was referred to as RTS (radial tuned suspension).
    The brakes, front and rear, (and the 10 bolt diff), were also lifted from the full size HZ Holden sedan, being larger calipers and rotors than fitted to any Torana. They were the performance brakes for a larger car. It’s this combination of components that made the A9X so special.
    Yes, it carries a lot of Vega styling, both GM and Ford shared styling globally. The XB coupe,(Mad Max car), shares many details with the 70-72 Mustang.
    Those that talk down the power output of this car, need to do some research first. In Australia, like Europe, and most of the rest of the world, our racing is on road type circuits, with less focus on strait line acceleration, like drag and oval track. Handling and braking are more important than another 100 horsepower, from a heavyweight big block.
    The success these cars achieved in their career, is not likely to be matched again. In 78 Peter Brock started the 1000 kilometre Bathurst enduro, on pole position, led the race from start to finish and set the lap record time on the final lap, of a 6 hour race. It takes a solid car to do this. That’s why the A9X is a highly sought after machine !

    Like 3
    • Chris M.

      To be clear regardless of the documented success of this particular design and or any other Australian era “muscle car” and I do believe that term to be misappropriated when describing these cars, the overall designs are uninspiring. My passion for vintage cars is pretty broad but I find very little if any redeeming qualities in these Holden designs. Just my personal opinion.

  28. Issa Bendeck

    Not the price of the car guys .. its the price of history lol

    Like 2
  29. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    Since I just found $1 mil in my sofa cushions, I’m concerned that the body tag has been lifted and one of the factory rivets popped off not to mention sprayed over. Seems to me that is the most valuable thing that should have no questionable look to it (due to the provenance described by the seller).

    Like 2
  30. Joe Sewell

    Nice, but doesn’t appeal to me as I don’t understand or have any real knowledge of the Australian car market/history. Baldwin-Motion Performance Vegas still hold great appeal to me.

  31. Oldog4tz Oldog4tz Member

    Sold – $833,000 out the door

    Like 2

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