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1972 Holden Torana GTR XU1 engine spec rebuild in Sydney

The owner of this classic 1972 Holden Torana GTR wanted his engine rebuilt to XU1 specifications, a new thermatic fan and more. See what we did

Torana engine rebuild in Sydney

  • A workshop in Sydney for Holden Torana engine rebuilds
  • Holden Torana mechanical maintenance, repairs or upgrades.
  • Torana nut and bolt restorations are possible
  • Torana race car or barn find recommissions

Peninsula Sports Cars is a classic car workshop in Brookvale, Sydney, that can do an engine rebuild for Australian muscle cars like a Holden Torana using the knowledge and experience provided by Mike Dyer Engines. The owner of this LJ Torana GTR wanted to;

  • Get the engine rebuilt to XU-1 specifications
  • Replace the gear selector
  • Adjust the bonnet hinges 
  • Install a thermatic electric fan.

For owners of Torana GTR’s its possible to make it look and feel like an XU-1 by getting the engine rebuilt, buying the badging or even changing the body panels. Can you believe that a genuine 1973 LJ GTR XU-1 Torana sold for more than $300,000 at a Burns & Co auction in 2021. 

The LC and LJ Holden Torana models are well known amongst classic car enthusiasts in Australia. It was a mid-sized car that was manufactured by Holden from 1967 to 1980. While the volume models were very typical family sedans, as we all know, Holden released the LC Torana GTR XU-1 in 1970 which had a performance-focussed drivetrain and handling attributes. It was an upgrade from the standard GTR’s and built to go touring car racing at the time.

From that moment through to the release of the Holden Commodore, the Torana GTR in its various specifications remained Holden’s most successful sports performance vehicle in their range. This small car secured loads of victories in rallying and circuit racing. 

If you haven’t seen it already, take a look at the L34 SLR5000 we recommissioned.

One of the legends in Australian muscle cars, the Torana GTR XU-1 was equipped with a 160 hp (119 kW), 186-cu in (3-litre) six-cylinder engine, fitted with three Zenith-Stromberg CD-150 carburettors, cast-iron headers, a performance cylinder head and camshaft combined with a heavy-duty Australian-designed four-speed manual gearbox (available in a number of different ratios).

To support the powerful engine was an underbody front chassis air dam, a rear bobtail spoiler, wider steel wheel rims, and front disc brakes as standard equipment which meant the Torana GTR XU-1 proved to be a strong performer on both the road and track due to its favourable power/weight ratio. 

It was so good that in Australian motor sport it successfully replaced the V8 Monaro GTS 350 as Holden’s leading race car in 1970, winning many touring car and rally events, Genuine LC or LJ versions of the XU-1 are very rare indeed & quite expensive to buy. The reported production runs are estimated to be just 1,633 x LC XU-1’s and 1,667 x LJ XU-1’s. 

Just like Ford GTHO’s or Torana SLR5000’s, there are quite a few Torana GTR’s that are made to look like XU-1’s. In many respects this is a sensible approach given the costs involved (and risks) of owning a genuine XU1. Our classic car workshop can help modify a standard Torana and can do things like;

  • Body resprays
  • Adjust or change body panels
  • Remove and rebuild the engine
  • Change suspension or brakes
  • Do interior restorations
  • Add a spoiler or decals
It’s possible to either simply maintain a Torana from the 1970’s-1980’s or modify it to suit your needs.

Torana engine rebuilds to XU1 specification

  • Torana engine rebuilds
  • Engine rebuilt to XU1 specifications
  • Removal, rebuild and installation

As we mentioned a little earlier, the cost to buy a Torana ranges from $20,000 to over $200,000 depending on the model, specification and originality. It’s possible to take a standard LJ Torana or even a GTR spec and modify parts of the car to create the look and feel of an XU-1.

For this Torana GTR the scope of work for the engine rebuild included;

  • Removing the engine from the vehicle
  • Sourcing and fitting the required parts to bring it to XU1 spec
  • Running & testing the rebuilt engine
  • Refitting the engine

Given we aren’t dealing with an original XU-1 there is less pressure to be period correct with every part or element that is installed as part of the engine rebuild. So it means an owner can pick and choose what specification they’d like the engine built to.

In the period, the things that made the XU1 competition-bred engines different included;

  • 186 cylinder head with higher compression
  • A more aggressive camshaft profile
  • A trio of larger Stromberg CD-175 side-draught carburettors.
Back in the day, it meant the LJ XU-1 was factory rated at 190 bhp (142 kW) at 5600 rpm and 200 ft/lbs (271 Nm) of torque at 4000 rpm. With a kerb weight of just over 1,000kgs it packed a punch with a top speed close to 200km/h. If reporting is to be believed the fully blueprinted and balanced motors from the likes of the Holden Dealer Team were capable of nearly 220 km/h. 
Let’s not forget in 1972 there was a special ‘Bathurst’ batch of cars built that were fitted with uprated springs, 13 x 6-inch Globemasters alloys, Detroit Locker diff, 3.55:1 final drive ratio, a lightened flywheel and an even wilder camshaft with a power output to 225 bhp.
If you own a Torana GTR we can use some of the historic information as inspiration to modify and upgrade your existing motor, even replacing it completely so that you have a high performing muscle car that is reliable but still has that old car feeling.

Get a HB, LC or LJ torana serviced in Sydney

  • Servicing for old Torana classic cars
  • Restorations, recommissions or repairs
  • Aftermarket product installations

We help classic car owners in Sydney to keep their vehicles maintained, usable and ready to drive. Depending on the reason for ownership this might be;

  • Regular servicing and pink slip inspections
  • A recommission if the vehicle hasn’t been used for a long period
  • Restoration
  • Rust repair
  • Replacing or repairing original items to maintain the vehicle’s originality


The choice of using original parts, remanufactured replica parts or sourcing modern equivalents is up to the owner, we give you complete freedom to keep your car maintained as you like. For most of the classic car owners we deal with the priority is to maintain usability and safety. 

Thermatic radiator fan installation
For this LJ Torana one of the products we installed was a thermatic electric fan. This type of radiator fan can provide a consistent and reliable form of cooling, especially for older cars. They consume less engine power which can help with fuel efficiency too. Some models can be controlled by a thermostat or a fan controller to make them very efficient even on the hottest days.

Gear selector replacement
We also replaced the gear selector on this LJ Torana that was becoming quite worn due to its age. Fortunately places like Rare Spares and other companies provide a wide range of reproduction parts for an LJ Torana which makes it easy to maintain older cars.

Bonnet hinge replacement
The last piece of work we had to complete was to replace the bonnet hinges and adjust the alignment so it would close easily.

The original pieces of equipment can be retained in case the vehicle is to be sold or needs to be returned to original condition. Alternatively parts that have failed or are worn can sometimes be refurbished. The choice comes down to how worn or broken the part is then deciding between maintaining originality vs the cost of labour required to return the part/s to usable condition.

Maintaining a Holden Torana in Sydney

For anyone considering buying a classic Holden Torana, we can make ownership really easy so that you can buy, own and regularly use this type of old car around Sydney. 

Whether it is a standard road going version or a collectible like this LJ GTR, we can do car restoration, repairs, servicing or even track preparation if that is what the car will be used for.. 

Our team of classic car mechanics in Sydney are not only experienced but they all own classic cars themselves, so you get to deal with like minded enthusiasts who are as passionate (or more maybe) than you are.


Enquire about getting work done to your vehicle

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Peninsula Sports Car Services
Peninsula Sports Car Services

A team of passionate car enthusiasts providing a range of services and support for the local classic car community in Australia

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