The decision was made in 1968 to grid up a special version of the upcoming LC Torana to replace the hulking 350ci Monaros. Harry Firth alias the Silver Fox was given a GTR and told to go to town on it. Harry was not only a brilliant racer and a shrewd Team Manager but he knew where to go for expert advice and that was Dyno Dave Bennett from Perfectune. Harry placed an initial order of 250 cylinder heads from Dave.
The rest of the blurb occupied little space. But the specs themselves demanded five times as much paper space. Fitted with three carburettors 186ci engine, the XU-1 is in fact a higher performance version of the GTR sports sedan. The XU-1 has been developed to meet strong demand for such a vehicle from motoring enthusiasts. An initial batch of 700 will be produced to meet initial demand, to be followed by further production if subsequent demand re-warrants. The increased engine capacity of the XU-1 has resulted in numerous refinements designed to improve overall handling and performance. Front and rear suspension modifications, larger disc brakes with an increased capacity brake booster, front and rear spoilers and a greater radiator cooling capacity are the major items.
The XU-1 is fitted with a 17 gallon fuel tank to increase the car’s touring range. Principal external features are the rear spoiler, GTR XU-1 decals, and exclusive bold colour range. Nowhere is mention made of Mount Panorama, nor does it say many of the motoring enthusiasts would want to race their XU-1s. While the XU-1 was a purpose built race car Holden was not about to admit this to the general public. That was back in 1970.
Every aspect of the XU-1s design cried Bathurst from the 17 gallon fuel tank to the design of the front spoiler, which not only added stability but deflected air onto the front discs. The standard LSD was 3.36, ideal for pulling up Mt Panorama but a more relaxed 3.08 was optional. In 1970 GMH still did not have its own 4 speed box so the XU-1 had to make do with the Opel box that was prone to failure. If the LC XU-1 had one weakness it was the gearbox. At 125 MPH the Torana was still 400 rpm short of the red zone. Zenith supplied the triple 1.5” side draught carbies, giving the Maximum power of 160bhp at 5200rpm, while torque was 190ft/lb at 3600rpm. With still more scope for development Harry Firth masterminded some mods just in time for the 1971 Hardie-Ferodo. These included a heavier clutch and thicker front brake discs. A reworked head, new pistons and a trickier bump stick (cam) enabled the motor to produce an extra 20hp at a sky high 6000rpm.
Only five months after the introduction of the 1971 Bathurst special, came the LJ model. Naturally it was changed in styling and interior details to match the other LJ Toranas. It’s exterior was cleaner, crispier and less boy racer than the LC’s. The interior was also neater, and you could even order hounds tooth check cloth trim. However the big news was all of a mechanical nature. In place of the 186ci the LJ acquired the HQ’s 202ci. But this application was more serious than in the family Kingswood. The compression ratio was 10.3:1 which was .03 higher than the Bathurst 71 LC version. Triple 1.75” Stromberg's were used instead of the Zeniths. Straight out of the box this model, this model developed 190 horsepower at 5600rpm and peak torque was 200ft/lb at 4000 rpm.
In the early 70s many competitors drove their series production race cars to the track. The LJ XU-1 could tackle the trip from Melbourne to Bathurst in relative comfort. It was more civilised, less rough around the edges but just as fierce in performance, handling and braking. It was a billy cart you could live with.
Bathurst 1972 meant squeezing more life out of the old ever-loving red six, HX camshaft, light flywheel, alloy wheels, revised suspension, balanced and blueprinted saw 212 horsepower come from the trusty six. This allowed Peter Brock to notch up his first Bathurst victory.
The Hot Ones!
Club Patron - Colin Bond