1 Mar 1974
As the mid 1970s approached the LJ Torana’s narrow HB-era platform was looking decidedly narrow against the wider Ford TC Cortina and Datsun 180B, so Holden went for an all-new and wider base for the second-generation LH model.
Allegedly the strongest vehicle ever made in Australia to date, this roomiest-ever Torana was not-coincidentally the same size as GM-H’s hitherto all-time bestseller, the 1963 EH Holden.
Although a rakish two-door coupe and four-door wagon were planned and produced to prototype stage, the LH was only ever sold in sedan guise.
Underpinned by four-coil suspension and rack-and-pinion steering, this Torana’s dynamics weren’t up to European standards despite the clean styling.
It is also one of the handful of (mostly American) cars worldwide to have offered four, six and eight-cylinder engines.
There were the Opel-sourced 76kW/156Nm 1.9-litre SOHC four-cylinder 1900 models (S, SL) 88kW/224Nm 2.8-litre and 101kW/263Nm 3.3-litre OHV six-cylinder units and 138kW/355Nm 4.2-litre and 179kW/427Nm 5.0-litre OHV V8s.
Three and four-speed manuals (the former using column-shift) and a three-speed auto were the gearboxes used. Models were S (still with drum-only brakes, vinyl trim and bench seats… the EH lived on!), SL, sporty SL/R and SL/R 5000.
The latter – although fitted with anti-roll bars, firmer suspension, a sportier cabin, loud spoilers and fat wheels – never achieved the credibility of the LJ GTR models it replaced.
However the hot SL/R 5000 L34 was the Bathurst racing special it included bolt-on wheel arches, a highly reworked 5.0-litre V8, uprated suspension, gearbox and steering, and the round headlights reserved for the Torana 1900 (the rest featured square headlights – a first for a Holden).
More mundane were the ’75 “G-Pak” (3.3, four-speed manual, front disc brakes, sporty instrumentation and trim), as well as the similar ’75 “Plus 4” pack – aimed at lifting slow 1900 sales. 70,184 LH models rolled off the production line.