The GTR-X was a fascinating concept from the get-go; A fibreglass body, over a steel “ladder” chassis, which may seem exotic to an Australian market, but GM had been successfully using that technique with its iconic sports car, the Corvette, from 1953’s C1. Come 1969, the Corvette had evolved to the swoopy C3 guise, featuring independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes and wild 427 L88 spec’ motors. Along that 16 year passage, the Corvette’s early mistakes became improvements and a smooth, fast sports car evolved, with a chassis and body that complimented each other in many ways. GM Europe were also utilising the technique with the Opel GT; a pretty coupe, that featured Ferrari 246 Dino and C3 Corvette design cues in abundance.
Australia’s GM designers and engineers, under the leadership of GM-H legend John Bagshaw, clearly salivated at the opportunity to create their own, Australian variant of a Sports Car for the people and the GTR-X started to take shape. The XU-1 spec’ Holden straight 6, Opel M20 gearbox and diff’ was the obvious choice to propel only 1 tonne (Dry) of aerodynamic GM beauty. A relatively long wheelbase and low centre of gravity, meant a great driving experience was highly likely. It is no great secret that a V8 was tested in the GTR-X and I do like daydreaming about an L34, MC7 and 10 bolt combination, that ‘could’ have been a final evolution spec GTR-X, before ADR 27a came and ruined the party. Anyways, back to reality; and like my daydreams of a weapons grade GTR-X, the car never made it to production stage. Political unrest, fuelled by a very unpopular Vietnam war, helped steer GM-H’s conservative bean counters away from a not-so-conservative two-seat sports car, that featured a factory installed roll cage and a hefty $5000.00 price tag. Sadly, GM-H were probably right; a looming “Supercar Scare” and OPEC fuel crisis, certainly meant a bumpy ride was going to befall this beautiful coupe, had it gone into production.
To cement the GTR-X’s unicorn status, only three cars were built by GM-H, with only two remaining; The 1st was crashed for evaluation purposes and destroyed, the second was the White promotion car that now lives in the Birdwood Museum, SA and the third, the car we are proudly representing here, was a “Lone O’ranger” (Orange) pre-production car, meaning a true representation of what GM-H were intending to sell, so differs in areas from the prototypes.
This particular GTR-X was never finished, as the program was canned and the near complete car was put into storage at Fisherman’s Bend Engineering and then went to the Apprentice Training Centre also at Fisherman’s Bend. The car was eventually put up for tender to GM-H employees in 1987. A GM-H employee, Mr. Mario Turcarelli, purchased the car via an employee internal tender in 1987 on behalf of a family member. The car then sat in a mechanical workshop in the Melbourne suburb of Ormond waiting to be finished. That never eventuated and the car then came up for sale due to business issues, along with the GTR-X molds, which were obtained by the owner of the Ormond workshop via Mr John Sheppard of HDT A9X Torana fame. During this time the current owners were working close by and heard of the car being up for sale. After some negotiations they purchased the car and the GTR-X fibreglass body molds in the early 1990’s.
The GTR-X has been kept in an as-is basis, which will give the new owner the delightful, but difficult choice, of keeping it as Holden finished with it when the program was halted, or finish it and have the only GTR-X privately owned, to cruise around in and probably blow peoples minds. If the new owner decides to make use of the body molds and make a few in Carbon Fibre, or something suitably light and rigid, then I will have mine in the following spec’ please;
* Tuxedo Black with red or orange GTR-X sill stripe.
* Parchment Trim with pepita or houndstooth inserts.
* L34 spec 308, alloy heads and balanced, so she will happily rev to 7.5K.
* X Ratio “MC7” Super T-10.
* 3.36 ratio Ten bolt “salisbury” diff.
* Ohlins shocks, or convince Murray Coote or Glenn Seton to build some.
* Group C spec’ Harrop brakes.
400hp and about 900Kg; What a car that would be...
Anyways, now is the chance to make someone’s GTR-X dream a reality. Please reach out if you want to add this entirely unique, beautiful, Holden GTR-X to your collection and if you are feeling a bit entrepreneurial, create some new, exciting Holden history.