When all of us writers here at It Rolls were at Car Lust, we had a grand time with Chevy’s Vega. There were Vega Theme Weeks, individual Vega posts, and other merriment beyond belief at this disaster of a car. So I guess it was just a matter of time until the ribbing continues (witnessed by our masthead), as the other day I found a little
skeleton secret in GM’s Australian Division closet… the Holden Torana.
As an old saying goes, “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck.” So in this case, if it looks like a Vega and is built like a Vega, then it must be a Vega. But is it? l can find no written collaboration to connect these two cars, other than they were both built by the same company at about the same time. This Torana (the 3rd Generation actually) was built from 1974 to 1980, the Vega/Monza from 1971 to 1980. Oh and also, the Torana seems to rust like a Vega.
The grille and headlights of both of these Aussie cars look like the Monza Towne Coupe, which was made at the same time as our featured car. But the interiors of the Torana and Vega were worlds apart. First, the Torana had right-hand-drive, and the dash bore no resemblance to the Vega. And second, the Torana had nicely finished interior door panels, which were very hard to find in its USA “counterpart.” A Vega LX was the closest thing to a “luxury” Vega.
The Torana did one nice thing that our Vega never did… it offered a sedan with four doors. And other than sharing the same front end, it had little resemblance to its hatchback sibling. But its profile, especially the beltline of the doors, looks a little like a ’73 or later Chevy Nova. At least to me. Of course the Vega also offered a wagon, which the Torana did not.
A proposed Torana GTR-X further cements its connection with the H-Body Vega. Those rear quarter windows would appear later on the Chevy Monza 2+2, and they both were lifted directly from the Ferrari 365GTC-4. On a positive mechanical note, the GTR-X holds the distinction as being the first Holden car to have disc brakes on all wheels.
The word “torana” is an Aboriginal word meaning “to fly.” And many of its owners would make it so. The A9X Option, sold on both the 2-door and 4-door Toranas (Shown here in red), would briskly propel the car with its 5.0-litre engine. The car was built for rallies, and raced in 1977, ’78, and ’79 Australian competitions.
So was the Torana just a Vega in disguise? I’m going to say no, because none of their respective specs match. For example, the Torana had a 101.8-inch wheelbase, compared to the Vega’s 97-inch. And I did not find any nightmarish stories about this car that could classify it as “The blunder from down under.” However, it’s suggested that the same designers penned both cars; there are just way too many visual similarities to imply otherwise.
So they may not be siblings, but they sure look like cousins!
Image Credits: The first Holden Torana image was found at PerformanceDrive.com. The rear shot came from AussieMotoring.com. Our front view of the Torana came from Auto-Photo.com. The four-door Torana photo came from CurbsideClassic.com. The GTR-X image was found at ClassicDriver.com. The red Torana A9X picture was found at TradingPost.com. The Torana profile photo came from Openiso.org.