The LH Torana, announced in March 1974, was Holden’s first all Australian medium car. Earlier Toranas had varied from pure Vauxhall to Australian variations on the English chassis. However, the new LH Torana series was almost a HQ built on a smaller scale.
With all mechanical and body parts Australian designed and built (except the Opel sourced 1900 four cylinder engine), this series was the first Holden to be offered with four, six or eight cylinder engines. It was also one of the few cars in the world so built. The MGB, Mustang, 1970’s Capri and, later, the Australian V-series Commodore and Chevrolet Camaro were among the others.
The LH was designed as a replacement of the long wheel base six cylinder LC and LJ series and the six cylinder version accounted for the bulk of the sales. The new car capitalized on the previous series’ strong points such as good power to weight ratio, good handling, solid build and reliability. The new, contemporary body gave more interior room than the previous Toranas and also had many improvements in body serviceability with bigger, stronger bumpers and bolt on front sheet metal (previous models had front guards and aprons welded on).
The model lineup consisted of a four door sedan in three trim levels. The entry car was the Torana S, next came the Torana SL and then the Torana SL/R. The S and SL were available with four, six or eight cylinder engines (up to 4.2 litre) while the SL/R came with the 3300 six as standard equipment and both V8s optional. A wagon version of the LH reached the prototype stage, however it did not make it to the production line.
When the SL/R was optioned with the 5.0 litre V8, it was badged the SL/R 5000 and was identified by large front and rear air dams (spoilers) and SL/R 5000 decals on the front guards and on the rear spoiler (note: no wheel arch flares, alloy or sports wheels). This car, in pre-production form, was known as the GTR XU-2. (The XU-2 tag was not used for the stillborn LJ V8, as is commonly thought).
As for the rest of the range, the four cylinder models had seven inch round headlights and a different grille from that of the six cylinder and V8 cars. All the sixes and eights had rectangular headlights except the L34, which had the same seven inch round items as the four cylinder cars. ( see separate article on L34).
The engine lineup consisted of the 1900cc four cylinder cam in head unit, imported from Opel in Germany, through to the Holden six cylinder 2250 (export only), 2850 and 3300 Red engines, carried over from the LJ and HQ (called 173 and 202 in the HQ). The V8s were the 4.2 and 5.0 litre power plants straight from the larger cars (called the 253 and 308 in the HQ), while the L34 5.0 litre was exclusive to the LH.
Manual and auto transmissions were all off the shelf GM-H components from LJ and HQ models. The SL/R 5000 was only available with the M21 four speed floor shift manual. The gearbox initially used behind the Opel 1900 engine was the Australian M20 four speed with an extended shift linkage due to its different mounting location.
This was replaced in early 1975 with the MC6 Filipino built Torquemaster four speed with its internal shift linkage (Australian built manual transmission had linkages that were externally mounted). Differential were all Holden banjo style units, mounted as in the LJ and HQ series with four trailing arm links and coil springs.
The S model had a front bench seat and nine inch drum brakes all round and fairly basic trim and instrumentation. The SL had front bucket seats, carpeting, walnut grain dash, clock, power front disc brakes and rubber bumper bar strips. The SL/R gained full instrumentation, radial ply tyres, rally striping and a four speed floor shift manual (lesser models had a three speed column manual, with the four speed manual and the Trimatic auto both optional).
There were two limited build fixed option packages offered in the LH. Early 1975 saw the Torana G-Pak. This was similar to the HQ SS and came as a Torana S with a 3300 engine, M20 four speed transmission, power front discs, front bucket seats, SL/R instrumentation and wheel trims and exclusive G-Pak striping and badging. It was available in three colours only (red, yellow and green).
Late 1975 saw the Plus 4. this package was introduced to provide sales interest in the four cylinder range and came with front bucket seats, full carpeting, clock and power front disc brakes. It was identified by large ‘Plus 4’ decals on the rear guards and rear panel and ‘Torana’ decals on the front apron and rear panel. It was offered only in red, yellow or green with colour coded SL/R type wheel trims. The front and rear bumpers were painted black to match the wide side striping.
Lion logo (bhadge) features first major redesign since 1948
Torana S model actually had no S badge
Seating featured new foam filled design in lieu of Z springs
Underdash, foot operated parking on all models
New heater / demister design with fan boosted fresh ventilation.
Factory fitted fully intergrated Fridaire airconditioning (HQ Style) optional on all models.
Six and V8 cars had an LJ /TA style Torana badge on rear panel between tail lights and also on left hand lower grille (except Plus 4)
Fuel tank lines inderslung separately and mounted externally for safety
six cylinder manual used HQ style mechanical clutch linkage
four cylinder and V8s used cable type clutch.
Left hand drive cars had a hydraulic clutch.
S and SL used two spoke HJ style steering wheel and SL/R used GTS three spoke item.
Steering column was HQ / LJ design with combination ignition and steering lock.
Glass area increased 35 per cent over LJ.
13 x 4.5 wheels on all models except SL/R.
13 x 5.5 wheels on SL/R (not L34) and optional on others.
14 x 6 inch rally wheels on L34 (these wheels are HQ / HJ GTS units offset one inch further outwards).
HJ style international symbols and graphic on instruments and controls.
L34 gearbox had normal M21 ratios of HQ / HJ 308 four speed, later cars used a closer ratio version with 2.32 1st gear (this box can be identified by the cluster gear part number 9939484).
Six and V8 engines painted regular HK engine red.
1900 engines painted black.
Production Dates and Numbers:
Mar 1974 – Feb 1976: 70,184