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First Torana A9X auction

To be auctioned by Shannons at Sydney's Meguiars MotorEx on July 25, the Bathurst homologation special is expected to fetch close to $300,000.  The Palais White A9X, serial number J590981, was the very first of just 100 two-door hatch and 305 four-door Torana A9X sedans built for sale to the public between August and December 1977.

It was initially one of two Holden press and promotional vehicles before being acquired by leading Sydney Holden dealer and racing driver Ron Hodgson.  And it has covered just 16,000km since new in the hands of a series of careful collector/owners.

Created as an improvement of the previous L34 racing Toranas, the A9X was actually a Performance Equipment Package available on a range of LX models fitted with the 5.0 litre, 308-cid engine.  It was introduced in August 1977 to ensure its eligibility for that year's Bathurst 1000 race and was priced at a now-bargain $10,600 for the four-door Sedan and $10,800 for the Hatch.

Yet surprisingly the A9X was a slow seller, leading GM-H to broaden the model's colour palette to clear stocks.  While race versions were equipped with the L34 engine, T10 gearbox, roll cage, wide wheels and long-range fuel tanks, new Australian Design Rules and Emission laws dictated that all A9X Toranas rolled off the assembly line in the same, more basic specification — fitted with Holden's stock L31 5.0-litre V8.

The A9X was the first Holden to be fitted standard with rear discs and its Salisbury differential also meant the extra tall 2.60:1 final drive ratio could be used to advantage on Bathurst's long Conrod straight.  The cars were clearly identified by their new rear facing, bonnet-mounted carburettor induction scoop, one of the 100 or so differences that set the A9X apart from standard LX Toranas.

The rest is history.  Although failing to spoil Fords’ Moffat Dealer Team 1-2 party at Bathurst that year, the A9X went on to become the most successful , ever built by Holden.