I don't know exactly why I'm so interested in vehicles that didn't make it, but I think it has something to do with hindsight.
At the time, the decision to not produce this svelte Holden coupe was probably cut-and-dried. The company ran the numbers, looked at the car—and its potential market—and decided that it wouldn't enter production. I'm sure a fair number of people were gutted with that decision and enjoyed a comforting steak dinner courtesy of their consoling families that night, but that was it.
When it relates to vehicles, it's often difficult to understand death by fountain pen—"If they had just given it a chance!" enthusiasts often say, obviously with the benefit of hindsight. (In my mind, this just makes the cool cars that did get produced that much more special.)
In the case of the Torana GTR-X, try to contain your hindsight bias when considering how perfect this car may have been.
I think this car is a good reminder of how Australian carmakers often looked to trends in Asia before Europe or the U.S. You may say that the Toyota 2000GT, for instance, is a great copy of the Jaguar E-Type, but before seeing both side-by-side it's hard to believe how different they look. I bring up the 2000GT because it foreshadowed two other notable (and similarly-sized) Japanese coupes in the very late '60s: the Nissan Fairlady Z and C10 Skyline "GT-R".
Whether a direct response to the onslaught from Japan, the Torana GTR-X looked most like the love child between a Maserati Ghibli and Toyota 2000GT, with beautiful "hockey stick" tail lights.
It wasn't a muscle car, owing to its straight-6 engine. And it wasn't European, because by then all of the swoopy cars were mid-engined. You may think that the front view of the car looks similar to that of a Lancia Stratos, Maserati Khamsin, or first generation Mazda RX-7), but the Holden appeared three years before the production Stratos, four before the Khamsin, and eight before the RX-7. To me, it's simply a more wedged Toyota 2000GT.
If Holden had built 500, I can just imagine the auction prices today…
All of the articles on the car today tend to say the same things, like how it would have been the first Holden fitted with disc brakes as standard—who cares? What I care about is that it had a fibreglass body, packed a 3.0-litre inline-6, it weighed 1,043 kg (2,299 lbs), and could hit 210 km/h (130 mph). Holden retains the only working prototype, but its said that one other car and some moulds are kicking around in Australia somewhere.
As impressive as the first prototypes were, I figure that if it was put into production that time, racing, and development would have worked out its imperfections.
Damn, there I go again. Hindsight.
Note: If you'd like high-resolution photos of the car to download, simply visit media.gm.com, linked to in the sources.