Ultra-rare stillborn Holden Torana GTR-X prototype for sale

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The Holden Torana GTR-X is the ultimate case of “what might have been” for Australia’s iconic car-maker, but now those with deep enough pockets can help add closure to the story.

In the history of Holden, few cars represent a sense of missed opportunity such as the 1970 Torana GTR-X prototype – and now the only example in private hands is being offered for sale.

Introduced in mid-1970 – just one year after the wild Holden Hurricane concept – the GTR-X was the result of Holden’s design and engineering departments being let loose to create a sports car but with a relatively limited budget, encouraged to use parts from the then-new LC Torana.  

What resulted was a svelte two-door coupe with a fibreglass body on a ladder chassis – akin to General Motors’ popular Chevrolet Corvette overseas – but power from a 3.0-litre (186 cubic-inch) six-cylinder engine, commonly known as Holden’s ‘Red’ motor and sourced from the Torana XU-1.

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The General Motors parts bin also contributed a four-speed manual transmission and differential from an Opel in Europe, which helped to deliver the Red motor’s 119kW/265Nm outputs to the GTR-X’s rear wheels.

While not earth-shattering figures by modern standards, the GTR-X weighed little more than 1000kg – resulting in a power-to-weight ratio of about 115kW per tonne.

Unfortunately the Torana GTR-X never made production, and only three cars were reportedly built – a first car (used for evaluation purposes before it was destroyed), a white promotional car (now in the National Motor Museum in Birdwood, South Australia) and this ‘pre-production’ example.

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Finished in ‘Lone O’ranger’ orange, the sellers of this GTR-X – Ecurie Bowden – say it was never finished before the project was cancelled at the 11th hour, resulting in the chassis and body being put into storage at Holden’s Fisherman’s Bend engineering facility in Melbourne.

After a brief stint in Holden’s apprentice training centre, it was reportedly put up for tender to Holden employees in 1987 and secured by staff member Mario Turcarelli on behalf of a family member.

The Torana GTR-X laid dormant before being sold to the owner of the Ormond worship it was being held in – thanks to input from former Holden Dealer Team (HDT) boss John Shepard.

In the early 1990s, it ended up with its current owners who have now decided to sell the body shell and chassis for someone else to restore.

Price is available upon application, though given recent sale prices of iconic Australian muscle cars, a modernised and restored version of the Torana GTR-X could sell for hundreds of thousands.

What would you do with this iconic piece of Australian motoring history if it was in your garage? Let us know in the comments below.

Jordan Mulach is Canberra/Ngunnawal born, currently residing in Brisbane/Turrbal. Joining the Drive team in 2022, Jordan has previously worked for Auto Action, MotorsportM8, The Supercars Collective and TouringCarTimes, WhichCar, Wheels, Motor and Street Machine. Jordan is a self-described iRacing addict and can be found on weekends either behind the wheel of his Octavia RS or swearing at his ZH Fairlane.

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