Torana Muscle on the Murray 2023

Toranas of all stripes - and colours - gathered in Albury-Wodonga for a weekend of fun at the third Torana Muscle on the Murray event

Photographers: Luke Hunter

Even casual Street Machine readers will likely be aware that the twin towns of Albury and Wodonga host Chyslers on the Murray each March, Australia’s largest event for Moparphiles. This year’s 30th-anniversary event attracted almost 1000 entrants from all over the country. What you may not know is that Albury-Wodonga is also home to a similar shindig for the more Holden-inclined hot-car fan, Torana Muscle on the Murray (TMOTM), which returned for its third running in September.

While a single-model show like TMOTM obviously has a smaller target market than the many and varied brands welcomed under the Chrysler umbrella, it’s still quite a sizeable event, this year attracting around 150 examples of Holden’s most versatile mid-sized product.

What’s more, the Torana event is centred around the Street Machine team’s favourite motel on the Hume Highway, the legendary Siesta Resort in Lavington. Now, the Siesta gets points for great service, an excellent breakfast buffet and having loads of car space for trailers, but where it really shines is in its commitment to its Mexican theme, including concrete cacti around the pool and a giant sombrero-shaped indoor spa!

This year’s TMOTM was run by Stephen and Sharon Brown from the Expatriates Auto Club Griffith. “The event is what we like to call a Torana social gathering,” Sharon explained. “From the time the cars first roll into the Siesta Resort for entrant registration, we aim to make everyone feel welcome and relaxed.”

That was exactly the vibe that greeted us when we drove into the Siesta on Friday. The joint was packed with Toranas from HB to UC, with grandpa-spec survivors rubbing shoulders with highly modified street cars. The event registration process gave way to an impromptu bonnets-up car show and barbecue. Bliss!

The real action kicked off Saturday with an observation run curated by the Siesta Resort’s owner, Steve Jones. Steve employed his local knowledge to devise a 150km route through picturesque scenery to the local historic gold township of Yackandandah, before returning to Wodonga for lunch at the Blazing Stump Hotel.

After lunch, the convoy headed back to Yackandandah for a spot of bench racing at the local pub. By sundown, the crew were back at the Siesta, where they were treated to a roast dinner, along with raffles and a silent auction raising funds for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

Sunday’s show ’n’ shine was held at the Table Top Hotel (formerly the Ettamogah Pub) in Albury, the iconic venue offering a perfect backdrop for entrants to show off their rides. The event was well supported by several of the major Torana clubs, including the Sydney Torana Club, which set up an awesomely colourful display of LX hatchbacks.

Among them was Kerry Thomas’s pink hatch that she drove down from Sydney. “My mum died of breast cancer and this is a tribute to her – hence the [car’s] colour and ribbons,” Kerry said. “The hatchback was bought as basically a bare rolling shell around 10 years ago, but it sat around for a number of years until we could get around to building it. It runs a Holden 308ci engine and auto transmission. My husband Gary and I own Colonial Smash Repairs in North Richmond, so it was done in-house.”

A crowd favourite at the show ’n’ shine was the ex-Garry Rogers LX A9X Torana hatchback that placed fifth at Bathurst in 1979. The iconic piece of Aussie racing history has been under the custodianship of Mark Fiddyment since 1990. “I had the paintwork restored back to the original livery in 2004 by Tilley’s Corporate Smash Repairs, where it was rebuilt,” Mark explained. “We kept as much of the original stuff as we could. All the original race running gear is still in place bar the engine block, which had been replaced. It’s been a great weekend, and I’ll be back again next year for sure!”

And so will we! If you’re keen as well, mark down 20-22 September 2024 in your calendar, and we’ll see you in the spa.


1. Kim Wilson brought his SS hatchback over from South Australia. “I had a ’76 SS hatch back in the 80s and always wanted another one, so I bought this one basically as-is,” he said. “It’s got a 355-stroked 308, T5 BorgWarner five-speed manual, and a banjo rear end with an Eaton Truetrac centre.”

2. Kerry Thomas was one of a large contingent of members of the NSW Torana Club who made the journey down to the border for the weekend event. Her bright pink LX hatchback was one of the standout cars on display.

3. Wayne Cameron’s LX hatch runs a 383ci small-block Chev with alloy heads and a roller cam, backed by a Turbo 350 and BorgWarner 31-spline diff. “It’s a replica of a car I had 35 years ago. Back then, the old car’s number plates were QWIKLX,” Wayne said. “I only finished the build about a year ago; it was all built at home in the shed.”

4. Perry Bullivant’s LX SS hatch looks old-school, but it’s powered by an LS mill with GM Motorsport heads, a Shaun’s Custom Alloy individual-throttlebody intake and Holley EFI.

5. The 1977 LX sedan of Canberra’s Tony Hurditch started life as a factory 253 V8/four-speed SL. These days it runs a 355ci Holden stroker, Aussie four-speed and factory banjo rear end. “The car had a bare-metal respray back in 2018 and is painted in late-model Mazda Soul Red,” Tony said. “The paint and bodywork were redone in 2021 after a hailstorm took out the roof of my shed and totalled the car.”

6. The Longest Travelled award went to Tom Martin from Ipswich, Queensland, who drove his 253-powered LX SL sedan on a 2700km round trip for the event.

7. Steve Hodges took out Best LX SS with his LS-powered hatchback. The donk runs a Manley crank and rods, 11.5:1-comp pistons, ported heads, twin throttlebodies and a Holley Dominator EFI ECU. Gearbox is a T56 manual, while a 31-spline Strange Truetrac 9in sorts the rear end.

8. The former Garry Rogers A9X Torana race car placed fifth at Bathurst in 1979. Mark Fiddyment has owned the car since 1990, and had it on display at TMOTM.

9. Chris Doonan originally built his UC sedan in 1984-’85 with a 510hp small-block Chev, Turbo 400 and A9X diff (SM, Mar ’89). It had spent 33 years in storage until Chris pulled it out and fitted a new 400ci SBC combo.

10. Rennie Berto and his 14-year-old son Max enjoyed TMOTM with Rennie’s Zodiac Blue LJ GTR, which runs a 308 and M21 four-speed.

11. Mike Holland is a sprightly 78 years old and has had his Torana that he calls ‘True Blue’ for 20 years now. The Torry offers a mix of old and new, with a Vortech-blown, twin-throttlebody 6.0L Holden V8 sitting under an old school-style bonnet with XB-XC Falcon scoops grafted in.

12. Michael Garzia’s 1973 LJ coupe is a cool little streeter, powered by a Holden 355ci stroker motor with COME Racing alloy heads. “I’ve owned it for around 10 years now; it used to be a drag car back in the 80s and 90s but has been tamed down for street duties these days,” Michael said.

Check out more photos in the gallery below: