In August 1977, Holden introduced one of the best cars it has ever produced- a car so good that it rewrote our ideas about Australian super cars. A car so good that it would be another four years or so before any of Peter Brock’s production Commodore 308s could surpass it.
This car is the mighty Torana A9X
It was introduced with little fanfare with no full page ads or glossy brochures not even a story on the fact that the A9X was the first Australian car to be produced with four wheel disc brakes. The reason for this is that Holden was still smarting over the super car scare from 1972. With the release of the A9X so obviously superior to any of its Torana predecessors, some of the heavies at Holden were anxious about too much publicity. The A9X was simply a limited run production model incorporating the Bathurst equipment. In Holden speak this was the performance package
While the A9X was actually part of the LX range it pioneered the UC type rear floor pan enabling it to carry Holden’s new Salisbury rear axle plus disc brakes.
So perhaps it makes more sense to think of the A9X as a LX/UC hybrid. Another UC feature that first appeared on the A9X was the steering gear being mounted directly onto the chassis giving the A9X the same sort of feel as the XU-1. The whole feeling of integrity in the A9X gave the car as feeling of a purpose built grand tourer rather than a family sedan with a big engine and go fast stripes.
With the aid of four wheel discs the A9X stopped as well as it went with the front spoiler directing cooling air to the front callipers ( this was comforting to know as speeds of 260KM/H were reached down Conrod Straight.
Because the L34 version of the 308 didn’t meet the ADR27A (Australian design standards in 1976), the A9X had to make do with the old L31. But Bathurst entrants could and did use the old L34 engine because it was already homologated.
The A9X was also the first production Holden to use an electric cooling fan (Davis Craig type), this fan alone was enough to give the A9X quite a performance lift over the stock 5.0 litre motor. There was an option on the gearbox as well you could order a Borg Warner T10 to replace the M21 but this was mainly for competition use.
In essence the A9X scored UC style phase two RTS (radial tuned suspension) as well as new upper control arms revised shocker mountings while at the rear were new upper and lower control arm pivots and shocker mounts.
The interior saw a couple of subtle changes, the seats were mounted slightly higher and the decision not to give the A9X option a radio was acknowledgement alone that this car was a serious performance car. Who needed a radio anyway when you could listen to the magnificent noise of the 308 singing its daunting war cry.
The A9X dominated local racing for a number of years but the pinnacle was Bathurst 1979 when an A9X piloted by Peter Brock and Jim Richards demolished the entire field winning by a never to be beaten 6 laps and smashing the lap record on the last lap while Brock knew Allan Moffat was in the commentary box declaring that Brock would take it easy on the last lap to ensure victory. You can’t get any more dominating than that victory.