GTR XU-1 Torana: The Underdog of Australian Motorsport

Born in the heat of competition, the Holden Torana GTR XU-1 has carved out a name for itself in the annals of Australian motorsport. Developed by Holden alongside Harry Firth of the Holden Dealer Team, the GTR XU-1 was introduced in 1970 as the first genuine performance Torana. Its legacy, however, extends far beyond its birth year, cementing its status as an icon of Australian racing.

Birth of the GTR XU-1 Torana

Holden, which did not officially back racing, decided to build a Torana variant that could compete on the racetrack. Named the ‘GTR XU-1’, it was released to the public on August 19, 1970. This car was more than just a souped-up version of the road-going Torana; it was a purpose-built race car disguised as a road car.

Performance and Power

The GTR XU-1 was powered by a 3.3-liter inline-six engine, equipped with Zenith-Stromberg triple carburetors. This powerplant churned out an impressive 149kW, a feat that was nothing short of extraordinary at the time. Despite being considerably smaller and less powerful than its V8-powered rivals, the nimble Torana used its weight advantage and superior handling to challenge for victories.

Dominance on the Track

The GTR XU-1 made its mark in one of the most grueling races on the Australian motorsport calendar, the Bathurst 1000. Despite facing off against more powerful competition, the Torana proved its mettle on the mountainous circuit. It was the downshift that started a racing revolution, proving that you didn’t need a big V8 engine to win races.

In recent years, the GTR XU-1 continues to be a popular choice in historic racing events. For instance, a #41 Holden Torana GTR XU1 competed at Sydney Motorsport Park, as part of the Bathurst 2021 racing event.

Legacy and Impact

The GTR XU-1 Torana is more than just a race car; it’s a symbol of Australian tenacity and ingenuity. It challenged the established order, proving that David could indeed take on Goliath. Today, it is a sought-after classic, revered by collectors and motorsport enthusiasts alike.

The GTR XU-1 Torana’s contributions to Australian motorsport are immeasurable. It not only put Holden on the map in touring car racing but also captured the hearts of the Australian public. Its underdog story continues to inspire, reminding us that in racing, as in life, it’s not always the biggest and the most powerful that prevail.

GTR XU-1 Torana

This 1972 LJ Torana XU-1 GTR is a striking shade of green known as ‘Lime Green Metallic’, with contrasting, and apparently rare, Chamois interior.
This XU-1 retains its original 3.3lt inline-six with Zenith-Stromberg triple carburettors, a powerplant that was good for 149kW, which was mighty impressive in 1972.
The engine is mated to the factory close-ration M20 four-speed manual transmission and this example has the original Sprintmaster wheels.
This is the car that for Peter Brock, that helped to establish a long and often colourful career and contributed to the Holden Torana’s racing history.

Below is a sales brochure for the LC GTR XU1. LC GTR XU1 Brochure

LC GTR XU1 Brochure 1

Footage of Pater Brock in his GTR XU1

1971 Year Of The Torana
1971 Year Of The ToranaTorana


GTR XU-1 Classifieds ad

GTR XU-1 Classifieds ad