Holden UC Torana

The introduction of the UC Torana in March 1978 saw the demise of V8 power and the cessation of the sporting SL/R variant in the Torana range of cars. The UC series featured a significantly modernised frontal appearance and a completely new interior dash layout. Torana was now rationalised to a choice of two equipment levels and two six-cylinder engines, the 2.85 litre and the 3.3 litre. A 'Deluxe Pack' was an option that allowed the UC Torana SL to compete with Ford's TE Cortina Ghia ... this comprised laminated windscreen, tinted side and rear windows, intermittent wipers, radio/cassette player, cloth trim, sports instrumentation and bumper overriders.

The Holden Sunbird was also updated to UC specifications and continued to sell well as a 1.9 litre four-cylinder car, sharing its body architecture with the UC Torana sedan and hatchback. The UC Sunbird expanded into three trim levels: base (manual only), SL and SL/E. It did very well in New Zealand, where it was assembled, particularly in fleets where it competed with the Ford Cortina and a variety of Japanese models. SL/E trim was also available in NZ. The UCs had square headlamps and a smoother front end. LX and early UC Sunbirds were fitted with a 1.9 litre Opel engine. Later UC models had a 1,892 cm³ 'Starfire' engine that was also installed into the Australian-produced versions of the Toyota Corona. The Hatchbacks were deleted in 1979, leaving only the sedans for the 1980 model year. The last Sunbird was built in September 1980. The Sunbird was replaced initially by a four-cylinder version of the Holden Commodore, before the arrival of its natural successor, the Holden Camira, from 1982.

There was at one point design consideration of a five-door hatchback version of the UC Torana, which had a similar side profile to the Rover SD1 and rode an extended wheelbase. The idea never got past the clay modelling stage, probably in most part due to the impending introduction of the GM V-Car, the Commodore.

After release of the VB Commodore in November 1978, it soon became clear to GM-H that the Torana was too similar in size when compared to the more modern Holden Commodore. As a result, the UC Torana was soon dropped from the Holden range in 1979. The UC Sunbird continued through 1980 with a new locally manufactured 1.9 litre 'Starfire' engine (based on the 2.85 litre six) replacing the imported Opel unit.

For a while at least, there was talk of further extending the Torana/Sunbird's production life beyond 1980, with a facelifted 'UD' model, of which prototype models of the sedan and hatchback were actually built - featuring frontal styling similar to the Opel Ascona B. However, due to the car itself being outdated when compared to the new Japanese opposition (notably the Chrysler Sigma, Datsun Bluebird and Mazda 626), Holden decided on an easier route by simply introducing the 'Starfire' engine into the VC-series of Commodore sedans and wagons.

Ultimately, the title of four-cylinder mid-size Holden was taken over in 1982 by the Camira, Holden's version of GM's front wheel drive 'J-Car'. However, for another two years, the 'Starfire' engine did remain available into the run of the VH-series Holden Commodore.

Just over 55,000 UC series Toranas and Sunbirds were produced.

Source: Wikipedia, 2011

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