Let The Journey Begin
Amateurs built the Ark,
Professionals built the Torana.
Torana is an Australian Aboriginal word meaning “to fly”.
Legendary racing car driver Peter Brock notched up the first of his nine wins at Bathurst in an LJ GTR XU-1 Torana. From the late 1960s to the late 1970s, GMH was on a winner with the various Torana models making their mark in Australian motor sport.
In 1979, the idea of a club to meet fellow Torana owners in the Newcastle area came to fruition. The inaugural meeting of the Hunter LH/ LX Torana Club was held at the home of Mark Vane-Tempest parents in Charlestown.
After a few initial meetings at different people’s homes together with a couple of social events, it was decided to branch out and attract others to join and share the passion for this chapter of Australian motoring. An advertisement was placed in the Newcastle Herald with a post office box address at Charlestown. Although PO Box 308 or 253 was sought, the Club had to settle for the low number of 156. At the same time an account was opened with the Charlestown branch of the Newcastle Permanent Building Society in late 1979.
Despite the name of the Club, membership was exclusive, if not limited. Only the LH and LX models were permitted. Even these had to be 6 or 8 cylinders at that, and to the point where the Club sticker had to be displayed on the right rear quarter passenger door window.
So, no LC, LJ or UC models permitted and definitely no 4 cylinder engine capacity. With petrol prices being cheap, there was no reason to have such a small engine, or so was the logic!
The first formal location of meetings took place in a room at the Merewether Beach Hotel. Subsequent members to join at this stage included Carol Beattie, Steve O’Neil, Warwick Smith, Russel Merrick and Richard Walker to name a few.
Amongst the first members, were Mark and Graeme Vane-Tempest, their cousin Garry, Jeff Evans, Neil Bright, Jack Stevens and Kevin Gray. The common thread of enthusiasm and a genuine interest for certain Torana models was evident.
In the first 18 months of the Club’s operation, membership grew to 25. Mark Vane-Tempest vividly recalls seeing 10 to 12 Torana’s parked along the road adjacent to the Beach Hotel.
Current membership of the Club ranges in age from 3 up to the mid 70’s.
Club membership extends from the Central Coast up to Port Macquarie and across to the upper Hunter Valley.
Whilst this membership encompasses a wide spectrum, their sole interest and purpose of being in the Club centres around the Torana motor car.
Minmi, a small town near the end of the F3 is the current venue for monthly members as it is geographically ‘central’ to where most of the Club Members live.
Club runs are the main event of our organisation. Whilst they are mostly for a day to places throughout the Hunter Valley, Central Coast and shows in Sydney, overnight runs also occur including to the Holy Grail – Bathurst.
However, Toranafest is without a doubt our biggest event and drawcard. This occurs during the month of September each year. In recent years, over 400 Torana’s have been on show. Ronald McDonald House is the beneficiary of funds raised throughout this event.
Many of our members have joined the Club after enquiring about us at Toranafest and seeing us on Club Runs.
Our Torana’s are no longer the essential form of transport that they were once intended, but rather, social toys that provide nostalgia of days gone by. We are but proud of this chapter of Australian motoring history.