The Australian automotive industry hasn’t got much of a presence in the classic car scene outside of their homeland. That could have been very different if they had only followed through on the Australian wedge: Torana GTR-X.
The Holden marque was largely – along with Ford – the main Australian car producer for decades. They were founded in 1856 as a saddlery manufacturer, but have been supplying the country with both small and large practical vehicles since 1908 when they made the transition into the automotive industry. Being part of the American GM corporation since 1931 has always influenced their model program, but also being part of the English Commonwealth has equally had an effect. Therefore, Holden have always been quite strong within the medium-class, and several of their models throughout their history share technology with Opel, Vauxhall as well as smaller Chevrolets. Neither on the technological front nor on design have Holden ever quite managed to lift themselves into the higher executive class. Frankly, I also don’t recall having ever seen a Holden imported into Europe as a classic car.
One of Holden’s many models was the Torana. A very common, middle-of-the-road, middle-class saloon which was produced from 1967 through to 1979. In all honesty, the Torana could have just as well been an Opel Ascona or a Vauxhall Cavalier. Only the Holden got its name from the Aboriginal word meaning “to fly”. But Holden had bigger ambitions and in 1970 they dreamt of launching a new top-of-the-range Torana: The GTR-X.
The GTR-X was a very serious attempt at a proper wedge-shaped sportscar with a rear incorporating a practical hatchback opening. The carefully prepared brochure which was made in preparation for its launch boasted:
“Its long, sleek hood is accentuated by a low, wedge-shaped grille. The body line sweeps up at the rear to an elevated tail light assembly. Simplicity is the keynote. It is achieved by concealed headlights, sharp windshield rake, recessed parking and turning lights, and flush petrol filler access and door handles. Front and rear bumpers assume the contour of the body. To identify the car, the GTR-X identification is contained within a crisp black and orange stripe running parallel to the rocker panel.”
Two engine sizes were planned to be available; a 3-litre straight-6 and a 4.2-litre V8 for the adrenalin junkies. The GTR-X would also be the first Holden to offer disc brakes on all four corners.
Sadly though, only three GTR-X were ever assembled, and none were ever sold to the public. Holden got cold feet in the 11thhour and backed out of the ambitious project. Damn those bean-counters…
There’s a simplicity about the GTR-X which really appeals and the proportions are perfectly balanced. But is a fibreglass wedge from 1970 really such a brilliant prospect, or is it perhaps better left as a distant dream? What say you? Had they mass-produced the GTR-X would you have had one parked in your garage today?