While the HB Torana was the first small Holden, it was not GM-H’s first small car, as they had previously assembled and marketed the Vauxhall HA Viva. When the HA was due to be replaced with the HB Viva in 1967, GM-H decided to increase the local content and badge it as a Holden. The word ‘Torana’ means ‘to fly’ in an Aboriginal language and was the first Aboriginal name used by Holden. The Series I tag was not official GM-H coding but was used to differentiate this car from the later 1969 Torana.
Externally, the main difference between the English HB Viva and the Australian HB Torana was Vauxhalls use of rectangular headlights and matching grille (the Holden’s headlights were round). The car showed its European heritage with two rear number plate lights (to accommodate the wider UK number plates), secondary km/h scale on the speedo and the multi function stalk with horn, headlight flasher, high / low beam and blinkers.
The model range consisted of one body style only, a two door sedan, in three trim levels: the Torana, the Torana S and the Torana SL. The basic Torana was the price leader and was fairly spartan (similar to the larger standard Holden), although it was equipped with front bucket seats and seatbelts, an external rear view mirror, Holden’s Sadlon vinyl upholstery and black rubber floor mats. The Torana S added rear ashtrays, a parcel tray, assist straps, coat hooks, courtesy light door switches, door armrests and colour matched rubber floor mats and steering wheel. The SL was like a mini Premier with wood grain finish on the glovebox, instrument fascia and horn bar. A heater was standard as was a boot light, a glovebox light and lock, carpet and a temperature gauge.
Powered by an 1159cc four cylinder OHV engine, transmitting through a four speed floor shift all synchro gearbox, it was quite a good little performer by 1967 standards and was very well received when introduced. The suspension was another first for Holden, with coils all round, a four link setup and rack and pinion steering up front (also Holden’s first). The body was of the contemporary ‘coke bottle’ design with ample interior and boot space.
When the HB series was first introduced, the 56bhp engine was the only powerplant available. This was remedied in late 1967 with the addition of the Brabham version and early in 1968 with the Series 70 engine option.
The Brabham was an option package available for both S and SL models and was equipped with twin carbs. It was a 79bhp version of the same basic 1159cc Vauxhall four cylinder engine. Other inclusions were power front disc brakes, wider (four inch) road wheels and 6.20 x 12 red wall tyres and a lower ratio (4.125:1) differential. Brabham Toranas were identified by a broad centre GT style stripe, blacked out rear tail light panel, small Brabham badges on the front guards and a mahogany gear knob with the Brabham motif (auto transmission was not available with this engine).
Exterior changes were limited to badgework, some relocated and some new. A coachline pinstripe was used on the SL model and only one number plate light was fitted to the rear bumper (previously there were two). Interior changes were more obvious, with the introduction of a collapsible steering column and steering wheel (similar to that on the HK) and new round, recessed instruments. Basic trim was Sadlon vinyl, while Griffin grain was used on S and Brabham models. Wyvern grain was exclusive to the SL, with Castillon weave nylon fabric as an option. A major safety upgrade was the use of dual circuit braking.
The Brabham model for the Series 2 was revised with a stripe across the nose and along the sill as well as blacked out window frames and tail light panel. Comprehensive instrumentation including a tachometer as well as oil pressure, fuel, water temperature and amp gauges completed the package.
MINOR FEATURES – SERIES 1
Front guards were welded, not bolted, on.
Bonnet catch external (no cable release).
Temperature gauge fitted to SL and optional on others (no temp warning light on any model).
Heater / Demister (standard on SL) had no blower fan.
Vinyl roof (black) was optional on SL only.
Radio mounted under (not in) dash.
Fuse box mounted under bonnet.
Brabham engine had two CD Stromberg sidedraught carburettors.
MINOR FEATURES – SERIES 2
Windscreen wipers now two speed.
All models now have 12 x 4 inch road wheels.
Production Dates and Numbers:
May 1967 – Oct 1969: 36,561