Holden Torana – L34 Torana
The new Holden L34 Torana greatly varied from the Vauxhall Viva that had been the humble beginnings of the original Holden Torana. The L34 was a dominant V8 beast that lead the pack of other sports cars at Mount Panorama. This new version of sports car lead to high sales of the L34. Putting a larger V8 motor in a medium size car was not the most efficient design idea, especially when compared to the more agile GTR XU-1 sporting variant of the Torana.
The 308 engine did have a lot of power and torque, but the car was simply too large and heavy to keep up with its predecessors and other competitors. The goal was to have the car run on a quarter mile track in under 16 seconds. This simply was not possible in a 2,700 pound car despite its 240 bhp at 4800 rpm motor with 315 pounds per foot of torque. By this point, the new SL/R 5000 was available with the exceptional XU-1 like handling making the L34 no match.
Upon the initial release of the SL/R 5000 initial marketing releases revered how impressive its track speed and handling was. However, once again this Torana still did not quite hit the nail on the head. It still did not match the other high level sports cars out there even though the car had some additional features. The SL/R 5000 added some rollbars, a spoiler, a 5.0 litre engine, but the interior stayed the same. The point of the spoiler was to add some down-thrust when averaging over 100 mph. Initially the release of the new car did not quite meet what people wanted look-wise. Although today many find the car muscular and mean looking, back then it did not meet expectations and would not meet with success at Mount Panorama. New modifications would need to take place to win or at least make the podium.
In fact, Holden had a spec developed for the XU-2 which included 300 bhp and 4-wheel disc brakes. This would be the highest performance car Torana had ever developed and would be good enough to beat the Falcon GT, unfortunately, due to the super car scare in the 1970s this car would never hit the streets and a model never made it into production. So, the L34 308 High Compression engine would be used, but in a more advanced improved manner. The SL/R 5000 used the L34 engine at Bathurst with an engine cooler, large camshaft and vacuum carburettor with some other modifications to make it race ready. The modifications made the L34 come to life like never before.
The L34 SL/R 5000 made some significant changes creating a high profile race car that included an upgrade to the engine block, new bearings, pistons, connecting rods, cap bolts, a polished head with 1.95 in inlet valves and a fantastic 1.61 in exhaust. The new race car had push rods with guide plats and needle bearings with a twin point distributor include twin coils, a machined intake manifold, a carburettor adaptor, anti-surge baffles, a bigger fuel pump with a larger line, a better radiator, the flywheel was lighter and the clutch was much stronger with a manual choke.
The new L34 SL/R 5000 also improved its drive handling by improving the shaft, axle tube, suspension, brakes and adding sports wheels. The look and feel of the car was very distinct because it did not have any special emblems or badges to distinguish it as an L34 SL/R 5000; however, it did have wheel guards and it looks like a mean machine. The new car was valued at $6,200, which was quite a lot at that time. Even if you could find the money to purchase it, not many were produced. They were specifically designed for racing.
At Bathurst in 1974 the L34 SL/R 5000 ran about four seconds faster per lap in qualifying than it did during the actual race. Unfortunately, the Falcons won again with Goss and Bartlett Falcon Hardtop winning with the L34 SL/R 5000 in second place, third place and fourth place. Still a good run, but not what Holden wanted. However, in 1975 Peter Brock came back with a vengeance and won the Bathurst in a dominant manner with the L34. The same was true in 1976 and many other Torana’s carried on the tradition in other races during this time period. The SL/R 5000 has a big place and made a significant contribution to the Torana racing history.