When first released in early 1976, the LX was a mild facelift of the LH sedan with the addition of a stylish new three door hatchback body style to complement the four door model lineup. However, many upgrades and additions during its production run made the LX a much superior car to its predecessor.
Mechanicals were as before but trim changes were made to the interior and exterior of all cars, and badgework was repositioned. The new hatchback came as an SL and an SS (an S version available for export only). The SL had a trim level equivalent to that of the SL sedan while the SS was the hatch version of the SL/R with engines optional up to the 5.0 litre V8.
All SSs, even the 3300 six cylinder version, had the front spoiler from the SL/R 5000, but had different striping, wheel covers and centre console. The LX SL/R 5000 sedan now had a black painted bonnet and bold identifying black out lettering across the boot spoiler and alone the lower half of the doors. The hatchback equivalent to the SL/R 5000 (ie. the SS hatchback with a 5.0 litre V8 fitted) had no such adornment. It was differentiated from the smaller engined SS hatchbacks simply by the ‘5.0 litre’ badge on the hatch. The front spoiler was slightly smaller than that used on the LH SL/R 5000 and the L34 option was not offered
The three speed T-bar Trimatic was now available on the 5.0 litre engined cars. Interiors had orange instrument graphics and the sports models (SS & SL/R) had a silver finish dash fascia. A new headlight flasher and dimmer stalk was fitted to all models in lieu of the old floor mounted item which dated back to the 1948 model Holden. The bucket seat moulding shape was improved and all models had seven inch round headlights with the SS hatchback gaining quartz halogen inserts.
In July 1976, the XT4 engines were fitted across the range to comply with the new ADR 27A exhaust pollution laws, and power outputs were altered accordingly. Modifications were made to distributors, carburettors, camshafts and compression ratios to meet the new regulations, and the engines were basically the same as those used on the HX series.
Late in 1976, the Torana 1900 sedan was replaced by the new Sunbird. This had the same body and powertrain as the 1900, but new interiors and the addition of RTS (radial tuned suspension) set it apart from the Torana. RTS was a major upgrade in suspension design and geometry. Springs and dampers were recalibrated and anti roll bars were added to the front and rear suspension. The overall result for the Sunbird was a much improved, better handling car, aimed squarely at the Japanese market threat. Externally, it differed from the Torana 1900 with colour coded grilles, new wheel covers and ‘Sunbird’ badging.
A Fashion Pack option was available with plaid cloth seat and door trim inserts which were available in three colours, coordinated with the exterior. Bumper bar rub strips were added.
The Sunbird hatchback was released in mid-1977. RTS was added to the six cylinder and V8 Toranas a around the same time, making these cars vastly superior to their predecessors. All LXs with RTS had 13 x 5.5 inch wheels and steel belted radials.
Late 1977 saw the arrival of the A9X option, perhaps the most desirable Torana of all. This package was available on all SL/R 5000s and 5.0 litre SSs built from September 1977 onwards, and once again was introduced to homologate these improvements for touring car racing and, in particular, Bathurst. The main improvements for the A9X were the much stronger 10 bolt Holden Salisbury type differential and the addition of rear disc brakes. Available in both sedan and hatchback body styles, it had the L34 type wheel arch flares, 14 x 6 inch sports road wheels and a large rear facing bonnet scoop with provision for cold air entry to the carburettor. Ducting was fitted from the front spoiler to provide cooling to the front brakes.
The A9X’s entire rear floor panel pressing was new to accommodate the new rear axle assembly with the upper trailing arms mounted further apart. The steering rack was mounted solidly to the front crossmember, not on rubber bushes as before. The engine and gearbox were the standard issue L31 5.0 litre V8 and M21 (Australian) four speed manual, however some cars were fitted with the Borg Warner Super T10 four speed manual (option number MC7) in lieu of the Australian gearbox. Also fitted to the A9X were a heavy duty radiator, a thermo controlled electric engine fan and a radiator overflow reservoir. To match the new rear brakes, HX allot front brake assemblies were used and a new PBR master cylinder with integral proportioning valve and plastic reservoir was fitted. The radio and centre console were deleted as were the SL/R 5000 paint outs on sedans.
These vehicles with RTS, four wheel disc brakes and 5.0 litre engines were probably the best road cars offered by GM-H in the 1970s. Differential ratios up to a tall 2.60:1 made them very good open road touring cars. Even though they did not win their inaugural Bathurst in 1977, they totally dominated touring car racing throughout 1978 and 1979 with Peter Brock winning the 1979 classic by a record six laps (37km).
Power front disc brakes all models except S.
SL identified by bright trim surrounding tail lights.
SL sedan wheel trims different from SL hatch (SL hatch used SL/R wheel covers).
Four cylinder grille different from those on six cylinder and V8 cars.
Auto sedans used T-bar shift lever and auto hatchbacks had new ‘pistol grip’ lever.
A9Xs used HQ – WB stud pattern wheels.
Hatch Hutch tent sold as a camping accessory for hatchback cars.
Split fold down rear seat backs in hatchbacks.
Radio fitted in centre console in hatchbacks, in dash for sedans.
New ignition lock January 1978 to meet ADR 25A law.
RTS models identified by badges on front guards and glovebox lid.
Engine output figures now quoted as gross kW.
Production Dates and Numbers:
Feb 1976 – Mar 1978: 65,977