Motorsport Legend

MOTORSPORT LEGEND

Motorsport Legend

“With fewer than 39 of the A9X in existence, it is a privilege to come across something that made such an impact in Australian automotive history, let alone own one."

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance of having a rare gem like the LX Torana A9X in their garage? Purchased three years ago after a match made online, not much is explained about the car’s history before Andrew was handed the keys. While many might leave this tucked away under the covers, others would consider it a public service to flaunt this historic vehicle wherever it goes.

FLEXING AUSSIE MUSCLE

The arrival of the LX came in February 1976 after the hit success of the LH, which was viewed as a major step forward for the local arm of General Motors, where for the first time, the Torana was designed and built for the Australian tastes and conditions. Using inspiration from the LH, the LX was given a facelift that replaced the rectangular headlights to rounded ones, side window surrounds were changed from body colour to black, and the Holden marque was enlarged.

The two-door hatchback body was introduced alongside the traditional four-door sedan, a sporty appeal that would distinguish the LX from its predecessors. At a starting price of approximately $6,000, the LX was offered in six- and eight-cylinder engines in both automatic and manual transmissions.

TORAN'S BIG UPGRADE

The celebrated A9X was first introduced as a “Performance Equipment Package” option and was only available with the Torana SS or SL/R hatch and sedan with the mighty V8 engine. Its formulation was purely out of the need to comply with race regulations of the time. Back then, touring car racing was a representation of the car’s performance that manufacturers sold to the public. 

To comply with Group C Touring Car rules, car makers were expected to produce enough roadworthy examples of their competition cars equipped with full racing components, a process also known as “homologation”. The A9X stepped in as the solution to the various weaknesses of the previous Torana race car, the L34, and became one of the greatest Holden muscle cars in the Golden Era of Group C racing. It is the first Holden to install the upgraded Radial Turned Suspension and fitment of the much stronger Salisbury rear axle complete with disc brakes. These major changes introduced to the A9X were quite significant that it could be categorised as a new model altogether.

A COLLECTOR'S ITEM

With fewer than 39 of the A9X in existence, it is a privilege to come across something that made such an impact in Australian automotive history, let alone own one. It’s a good thing Andrew doesn’t keep it hidden away under lock and key but is happy to display his signature orange Torana on the road and at car meets for enthusiasts to take a closer look.

Since this purchase, Andrew has had some restoration works done to revive the LX to its former glory. We don’t know how extensive these restorations were, but from the looks of it you would believe him if he told you it just rolled off the line!

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Resurrection of the Torana LH

RESURRECTION OF THE TORANA LH

Resurrection of the Torana LH

While it lay in slumber, the car’s aesthetics was marred by the natural elements but underneath all that rust lies the powerful Aussie muscle of yesteryear, and Geoff took it upon himself to bring the beast back to life

Geoffrey Moore has always been taken by the Torana. It’s no question why especially when it’s one of Australia’s all-time favourite cars, so what are the chances of him finding one in a backyard? Neglected for years and left unclaimed, Geoff came face-to-face with an incredible piece of history: the 1974 Holden Torana LH. While it lay in slumber, the car’s aesthetics was marred by the natural elements but underneath all that rust lies the powerful Aussie muscle of yesteryear, and Geoff took it upon himself to bring the beast back to life.

THE TRIUMPH OF TORANA

Often referred to as Holden’s best performing sports car, the Torana reigned steadily at the top throughout the 1970s. In March 1974, the first all Australian medium sized car was introduced in the form of a four-door sedan. With all of its mechanical and body parts designed and assembled locally, the LH was the first Holden series to come with four, six, or eight cylinder engines and would be one of the few cars to be built like so. 

At the top of the sporting range was the SL/R 5000, reserved for the sedan version and was undoubtedly the most desirable of the whole series. This new introduction capitalised on its predecessors’ strong points such as good power to weight ratio, good handling, solid build, and reliability. It was also more spacious than previous Toranas with its improved interior and had better serviceability with its sturdier bumpers and bolt on the front sheet metal.

RACE READY

Having produced its fastest car yet, it’s obvious something needed to be done for Bathurst. Holden released a new option package known as the L34 and added it to the already powerful SL/R 5000, transforming the Torana into a racing machine. To accommodate for competition use, the L34 was made to be more powerful and durable with high compression engine and stouter components. Its signature feature was the bolt-on wheel arch extensions, designed to house larger racing rims and tyres. 

The L34 proved to be fast and successful in Australian touring car racing. Only 263 were built in this variant, making this a precious collectable if you’re lucky to get your hands on one.

RUST TO RICHES

For Geoff who’s only ever had Holdens in his garage, owning a Torana is like a second calling. Given the condition it was in, a full ground-up restoration was undisputed. Geoff saw the end outcome before he even got started, and there was no doubt whether he was getting his hands dirty in the process. Looking at where it is today, it is almost unrecognisable with a notably clean bright shade of green and modern rims. “It was built to suit my taste,” says Geoff. Re-building this car is one of his favourite memories and you can just imagine what it must feel like the day he got behind the wheel of his hard work!

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Candy Apple Dream

CANDY APPLE DREAM

Candy Apple Dream

“To be honest, I’ve owned a lot of nice cars, and this is the dream car that I fell in love with some 34 years ago, managed to track it down and now own it."

Have you ever wanted something so badly, you were willing to wait more than a quarter of a century for it? Many would have thrown in the towel, but not Ben Chesterfield. To be more precise, Ben has been tracking the 1969 Ford Falcon XW GT-HO for 34 years! After his first encounter back in 1983, he’s had his eye on the prize ever since. However due to financial circumstance back then, it was placed in his bucket list instead. With already several XW classics in his garage, why was the GT-HO so worth the wait?

BIG, BIG MUSCLES

There’s no denying the GT series is one of Australia’s highest performing automobiles produced. From the time of its launch in 1969, the XW GT made waves across the country and soon everyone wanted to have a peek at this Aussie muscle. The limited production HO variant, with higher powered engine and improved suspension, was released two months after the mainstream models. 

Externally, it may look almost indistinguishable from the standard GT, except for the lower front spoiler, but this new and improved design was a homologation special built for racing. The HO package also included a rear anti-roll bar, stiffer front anti-roll bar, and heavy duty tailshaft with taller gearing and a 3.25:11 diff ratio.

BEN'S ARM CANDY

An avid car enthusiast and member of the Gold Coast GT Club, Ben’s garage is home to an original 1969 XW GT, a factory V8 XW ute, a second-owner XW ute, a windowless XW Panelvan, a matching numbers XW GS V8 wagon, a 1962 Studebaker GT Hawk (his first car) and a Mustang. “I guess I can’t help myself!” he laughs.

For someone with a shiny collection, his latest and most sought-after addition is more than just another addition to his mantel. To make way for the HO, Ben has had to make some sacrifices to get what he’s always wanted. He sold one of his favourites, the XY Falcon GT-HO, more endearingly known as the ‘Dirty HO’. “To be honest, I’ve owned a lot of nice cars, and this is the dream car that I fell in love with some 34 years ago, managed to track it down and now own it,” he beams.

RUST TO RICHES

His latest GT is deemed one of Australia’s legends and Ben has got a more practical approach in flaunting his new fav. “I have never entered it into a show for judging, that’s not my thing. I’m here to enjoy the car and what other people think is of no real concern to me,” he dictates. Instead, Ben finds use of all his cars for family get-togethers and social events.

“… it’s more about the weekend family drives, pubs and lunch, a park up and a yarn – just what I believe these cars are all about.”

Although competitions and shows aren’t really his cuppa tea, Ben has entered his GT-HO in the upcoming 2019 GT Nationals in Adelaide, because why not? We’ll have to wait and see how this Aussie muscle fares!

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Aussie Bullet

AUSSIE BULLET

Aussie Bullet

"The Bullet is definitely a head-turner and many would agree it has made its own mark in the Australian automotive industry."

At first glance, this sleek looking sports car looks like your standard Mazda MX5; but there’s more to it than meets the eye. This car is one of 26 units ever built and would be one of the first few roadsters modified from its original form by the renowned Bullet factory. It’s a truly unique car to possess, and owner Robin Storey has the honour of being it’s first ever registered driver.

TAKING IT UP A NOTCH (OR TEN)

Established in 1998 as a kit car manufacturer, it didn’t take long for the Bullet company to build a name for itself specialising in performance upgrades. They’ve taken the base and exterior of the legendary Mazda MX5 and replaced everything within it to create the high-performance Roadster SS.

Of its many extensive refurbishments, those to take note include the lightweight and stronger tube chassis, a modified and refined Supercharged V8 engine, Brembo brakes, and KONI adjustable suspensions. 

AUSTRALIAN DESIGN AWARD

The pre-production prototypes between the years 2000 and 2002 became the Roadster and Roadster SS. The Bullet was nominated for an “Australian Design Award” and became the first to comply with Australian Design Rules (ADR), making it the first low production locally-made sports car to do so.

These cars came at a hefty price with just the base model starting at approximately $100,000. Despite the sting in its cost, Bullets are still much admired by car enthusiasts that enjoy a good kick in their drive.   

A LIMITED COLLECTABLE

Robin’s got a keen eye for cars and has several widely popular ones under his belt, namely the XWGT, XTGT, and the Pontiac Trans Am. He also had an earlier model of the Bullet, so he’s no stranger to its showmanship.

His current Bullet, purchased in 2014, has not had any modifications made to it. Robin is impressed by its power and handling and its ability to accelerate from 0 to 100 in just under 5 seconds earning the title of Australia’s fastest production Supercar in 2003.

With limited units ever to be made and the distinguishable roar of its engine, Robin has no doubt this Aussie pride will one day become a true collectable. “Handling is exceptional and open-roof driving is the ultimate [experience],” he beams. 
The Bullet is definitely a head-turner and many would agree it has made its own mark in the Australian automotive industry.

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