Holden LH Torana

March 1974 saw the first completely new Torana body, with the arrival of the larger mid-sized LH series, produced in four door sedan style only. Despite the larger external size, the car was relatively cramped by mid-1970s standards. It resembled other GM products of its generation, notably the Opel Ascona. It was unique in that, following the addition of a 4 cylinder option in May 1974, the same body style was available with a choice of inline 4, inline 6, or V8 engines, specifically, 1.9 litre Opel four, 2.85 and 3.3 litre Holden 'red' sixes, and 4.2 and 5.0 litre Holden V8s.

The 5.0 litre engine was reserved for the sporting LH Torana SL/R 5000 sedan. A special build derivative of the SL/R 5000 was the Bathurst-intended 'L34 Option', of which only 263 were built, with a higher compression motor with stouter components for more power and durability in competition use. The most notable external feature of the L34 was the bolt-on wheel arch extensions, designed to accommodate the larger racing rims and tyres.

The L34 proved to be fast and successful, yet fragile, in Australian touring car racing. It was eventually superseded by the evolutionary A9X option made available in the LX Torana series in 1977. The LH Torana in L34 form won the famed Bathurst 1000 touring car race with Peter Brock and Brian Sampson in 1975 and with Bob Morris & John Fitzpatrick in 1976.

Prototype wagon and hatchback versions of the LH Torana were built, but never reached production. Overall, a total of 70,184 LH Toranas were built.

New Zealand assembly got off to a troubled start. GMNZ, which still had a wide four-cylinder Vauxhall Viva/Magnum line on sale, had planned a 2850 six 'S' model with bench front seat and three-speed column manual shift and the 3300SL with bucket seats and four-speed manual or three-speed Trimatic floor shift. But the NZ government imposed a 60% sales tax (a post first oil crisis measure) on cars with engines over two litres just as GM launched the LH in mid-'74 and only a few of each were built. The LH was then withdrawn temporarily and relaunched some months later with the Opel 1.9-litre I4 and floor shift manual or auto (SL only) gearboxes. Six cylinder Toranas would never again be built in NZ and were only very rare imports after this. GMNZ also built a few unique local 'sports' special editions but the changes were only cosmetic.

Source: Wikipedia, 2011

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