Wonder From Down Under: 1977 Holden Torana A9X

The recent closure of the vehicle manufacturing industry in Australia has seen the emergence from hiding of a raft of iconic performance cars Down Under. The Torana A9X is just such a car, and this one which recently sold at auction may be the Holy Grail of Australian Barn Finds.

The Torana A9X was built by Holden in 1977 to compete against the Ford Falcon hardtop in the Australian Touring Car Championship, and to hopefully deliver Holden victories in both the Championship and the annual Bathurst 1000, which it did in both 1978 and 1979. This particular car has an interesting back story, and is one of the rarest variations of the A9X.

If you look carefully at the rear of the car you will notice the Castrol sticker on the right-hand side of the rear hatch. The sticker denotes the fact that this car was actually a give-away in the mid 1980s by Street Machine magazine. One lucky reader was selected and given this car, and the competition was sponsored by Castrol. When the car was given away it had a genuine 14 kilometres (about 9 miles) on the odometer. The lucky winner took delivery of the car and then decided to brick it up in a shed for safe keeping… for the next 30 years. It recently emerged from hiding and went to auction where it fetched a cool $500,000.

What is it that makes this particular car so special (apart from the incredible mileage)? This car was actually built from what is termed a GMP&A body-shell. The GMP&A (General Motors Parts & Accessories) shells were walked down the production line where any surplus brackets were deleted during assembly, along with all sound deadening material. The shells also received additional welds for added strength, and captive nuts were welded in at strategic locations to facilitate the installation of a roll cage for racing. These shells were built specifically for racing, and this is one of only 33 shells known to exist today. Of those 33, only 2 were ever built as street cars, with the rest seeing duty as race cars.

The lucky owner decided to keep the car untouched with the view of later selling it as a form of superannuation. I can’t even begin to imagine the level of self-discipline required to resist driving such an amazing piece of automotive history. I certainly couldn’t have done it. How about you?

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  1. PaulG

    Wow, there’s NO way I could have been so disciplined. Makes you wonder if there had been 2K miles a year (60K miles) on it what the value would have been? Looks like a lot of fun!

  2. CanuckCarGuy

    My wife hides the M&Ms from me, but there’s no way she could do it with a car!

  3. DRV

    Is it Vega’s big brother?

    • Poppapork

      No, its Opel Ascona A’s big brother

      Just kidding i think they’re all one happy family!

  4. John m leyshon Member

    GMPA…? I swore at first glance it was a Chevy Citation (GM X-body). May be a close guess (?). Rear drive V8 , capable car. Pretty cool to see…

    • grant

      Came to say “But…. It’s a CITATION!!!” But this is really cool.

  5. pcgoudie@tpg.com.au

    349hp stock engine

  6. Peter

    349hp in road spec

  7. Beatnik Bedouin

    Here’s a link that will give you more info on the A9X: https://www.tradeuniquecars.com.au/buyers-guide/1701/1977-to-1979-holden-torana-a9x-hatchback-buyers-guide

    They were formidable racers in their day.

  8. UK Paul

    Beautiful thing!

  9. Chris In Australia

    Bathurst 1979. Not a win, but utter domination. First 9 places. The Brock/Richards A9X was the fastest car during practice, started from pole, never lost the race lead, won by six laps and broke the lap record on the last lap. After a 1000 Km. Like I said, domination. This one is way above my pay grade ,alas!
    And yes, definite stying cues from other GM divisions here.

    • Tricky

      I had a genuine SS hatch Chris, in Mint Juniper colour (almost lime green) and black….

      Sold it to a young guy in his 20’s who’s dad had an earthmoving business so buckets of cash. Found out he wrote it off a month later into a telephone pole [sigh]!!

      Formidable car to drive, and oh so sexy to view. Wish I never sold it now!

  10. Howard A Member

    Yeah, an Opel 1900 on steroids. I couldn’t get past that RHD thing, but this car looks downright dangerous!!! 0-60 mph (100 kph) in around 7 seconds, and low 15’s in the 1/4 (@92 mph), this thing meant business. Compared to what we were driving in the late 70’s, I say, well done, mates!

    • Chris In Australia

      You’d get used to it. I manage a LHD Buick in RHD Australia, you’d get used to a RHD car in a LHD country. At least the pedals are in same order, and this Torana has a foot parking brake ( not popular here at the time) so that might be familiar.

  11. Gerard

    Body is rather Opel/Vauxhall Manta B. We in Europe were always envious of Holden’s V8 inserts!

  12. Gay Car Nut Tacoma

    Sweet looking Torana. For some reason, I’ve never been a fan of the mid 70s Holden Torana. Overall, it’s a good looking car, but I’ve never liked its front end appearance. I think the Opel/Vauxhall Manta B has a better looking front end appearance. IMHO, the best looking is the UC Torana. It has the same body shape as earlier Torana models, but with the best looking front end.

  13. ShoelessTrucker

    I’m not sure if I could have resisted driving it for 30 years but it would have a million hours on the engine just from idling and revving it up in the garage as I dreamed of taking it on the road. Lol

  14. ACZ

    You fellas in Australia really got the best cars while we, in the States, had to put up with underpowered sleds. I envy you.

  15. Mitchell Ross

    They still are dominant. Sorry if I contribute to anyone’s addiction. Touring Car Masters


  16. Gerard

    What? Underpowered sleds in the US? In Europe, the base engine for that Opel Manta was a 55HP 1.2 liter four-banger! Another comparison? The largest and most powerful engine for the 2CV Citroen (36HP) had less displacement than one single Chevy small block cylinder!!

    Better not having face wind…

    • Troy s

      Yes, that’s true. But even the top of the line engines back then here in the states were dogs… with fleas. Ha!

  17. douche

    glass looks like vega/monza body?

  18. Ian Collins

    Lovely car ,great road car. The reason its dominant in the masters at the moment they cut the revs down on John Bowes mustang to even up the competition. Still the A9X was a formidable race car and in my eyes a great looking street car, it did need a set of wide wheels like the falcon coupe standard wheels did not do anything for the cars tough looks

  19. Troy s

    One for the experts out there…what makes up a 308 cubic inch V-8? When I saw the 5.0 decal on the air cleaner my mind immediately thought 305, or was it a 307..302? Little research and I come up with 308, interesting and a number I’m not familiar with at all.

    • Adam Clarke Adam Clarke Staff

      I can clarify that for you. The engine is 308ci and is designated as a 5 litre. The actual metric capacity was 5044cc. The engine remained in this configuration until 1985 when the capacity was reduced to 304ci. The reduction at that point was to gain a favorable outcome from the governing body for International Group A racing. Weight limits in that catefory were determined by engine capacity. By reducing the capacity by 4ci, it took the engine below the 5l mark. This equated to a reduction in minimum racing weight of I think (from memory) of about 75kgs.

  20. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    nice it survived nicely….

  21. Collo

    I am pretty shore it was stroked from an aussie GM made 253 cubic inch motor that was around at that time. They were everywhere .

  22. Clayton

    I don’t believe he had any more self-disciplined than the rest of us that’s why it was a brick wall not a locked garage door


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