Falcon GT Marketing Info

Ford Falcon XR GT
1967 – 1968
Engine:   Windsor V8
Capacity:   4.7litre V8
Transmission:   4 spd. man
Number Built:   697

In 1967 the XR model began the legend that was to be the GT. This family car muscled out 225HP thanks to the 289 Windsor V8.

The start of the Falcon GT’s was only sold in one colour – Gold. 596 of these made it into production. The GT versions of the Falcon are probably the most famous of the breed, and certainly the most desirable and collectable today.

What inspired Ford of Australia to produce such a car can be reduced to a single word: Bathurst. In its early years, the annual 500 mile race at the mountain road course of Mount Panorama, Bathurst attracted many entrants driving a wide variety of foreign and domestic cars, including the first purpose built local Ford ‘race’ car, the Cortina GT500.

In 1967, however, Ford were keen to showcase their current image car, the Falcon, and with the arrival of the XR model, which for the first time in the Australian Falcon was available with a V8 engine, they set about planning something different. In many respects, the development of the XR GT benefitted from the gathering of several happy coincidences. First was having the right men at the right place.

Bill Bourke was the then Assistant General Manager of Ford Australia and he was passionate about racing, and, inspired by the success of racing V8s, both in Australia and in his native U.S. he felt sure that a sporting XR Falcon could be a winner.

He passed the idea over to Harry Firth, who was Ford’s tuner and race car preparer and had been so successful in developing the GT500 Cortina and who had been working on beefing up the XR after a request from the Victorian police for a heavy duty pursuit vehicle.

Firth saw that, taking the best bits from the police package and introducing some more horsepower in the engine, a sporting Falcon GT could be developed. At the same time, the news and media, especially live television, were focussing on the annual Bathurst event and creating a valuable and unique advertising opportunity for any manufacturer willing and able to win the race by lasting the 500 miles.

And finally, Henry Ford II, had set Ford on its ‘Total Performance’ track. Motor sport dominance was his aim. If in the U.S. that meant Nascar and the dragstrips, and in Europe it meant forest rallying and Le Mans, in Australia it meant touring cars and conquering the Mountain.

Ford Falcon XT GT
1968 – 1969
Engine:   Windsor V8
Capacity:   302ci 4.9 ltr. V8
Power:   230bhp
Transmission:   4 spd. man
Top Speed:   217 kph
Number Built:   1415

Introduced in May, 1968, the XT GT was a continuation of the theme although it was available in a greater range of colours, and introduced driving lights to the grille, a feature that was to become a trademark for all subsequent GTs.

Mechanical changes were made too, engine size increasing to 302ci (4.9litres) raising power output to 230hp, and a limited slip axle was available to put the power to the ground.

Wider tyres and revisions to the suspension made the XT a taughter, but more comfortable drive than its predecessor. 1415 XT GTs were produced.

The XT GT was more refined and faster than it’s predecessor, however both the XR and XT had 11-inch front discs and drum rear brakes, although this model used a dual hydraulic system.

Producing 230hp thanks to a 4.9L 302 Windsor V8. 1415 of these were built.

Ford Falcon XW GT & GTHO
1969 – 1970
Engine:   Cleveland V8
Capacity:   5760 cc
Power:   290/300 bhp 216/224 kw
Transmission:   4 spd. man
Top Speed:   217 kph
Number Built:   2,287/662

In May 1969 the first of the XW GTs rolled off the Broadmeadows assembly line. Ford upped the ante with the XW by fitting the 351 cubic inch (5.8 litre) Windsor V8 with an output of 290 bhp (217KW) and 385 ft/lbs of torque. With bigger brakes, a final drive ratio of 3.25:1, a huge 36 gallon (164 litre) fuel tank and suspension mods to take the extra power and torque, the XW seemed to be the ultimate grand tourer.

But more was to follow. The HO variant, which arrived two months later, was a real street racer. HO stood for “Handling Option” in Fordspeak but most of the modifications added by Ford racing boss Al Turner were to the engine, which now developed 300bhp (225KW).

The 351 got a bigger (600 vs 450cfm) carburettor, hydraulic valve lifters, revised camshaft, heavy duty alternator, alloy inlet manifold as well as a three-inch heavy duty tailshaft, heavier front roll bar, beefed-up coils, stiffer shocks and a new rear roll bar.

In its first appearance at the 1969 Bathurst race an XW GT HO came in second in spite of wrong tyre choice which saw the works cars pitting for unscheduled stops throughout the day.

The GT HO also saw the debut of the “Super Roo” emblem, the tyre burning kangaroo. Production of the XW model resulted in 2,287 GTs from May 1969 to October 1970 and 662 GT HOs from Juty 1969 to October 1970. Ford further refined the XW GT with a Cleveland 351 engine, still with 300bhp.

The Phase II GT HO which appeared in August 1970 sported a 750cfm Holley carburettor and improved gear ratios with a high 3.5:1 rear axle. Allan Moffat won Bathurst in a Phase II after leading from lap 2.

Ford Falcon XY GT & GTHO
1970 – 1972
Engine:   Cleveland V8
Capacity:   5800 cc
Power:   300-370 bhp
Transmission:   4 spd. man
Top Speed:   229 kph
Number Built:   1,557/800

In 1967 when most Australians were driving sedate family sedans and small two-door cars, the Ford GT Falcon took to the streets — a local sedan with muscle under the bonnet. The Holden Monaro GTS and Torana XU1 and the Chrysler Valiant Charger soon followed.

They were built in limited editions by mainstream manufacturers who wanted the prestige of winning production car races, especially the annual Bathurst 500 mile race.

GT Falcons like this one were raced in unmodified showroom condition. (These days Holden and Ford still make ‘Bathurst’ cars, but for racing they are stripped of sedan car comforts and modified for more speed.)

The Phase Three Falcon took the first three places in 1971’s Bathurst car race. It was the world’s fastest four-door production car for many years. Only 200 were ever made and so, like other muscle cars, they have become highly collectable.

It boasted 380 bhp, compared to the mere 40 bhp of the Toyota Corolla of the time and the 208 bhp of today’s 4-litre Falcon.

With a top speed of over 140 mph (230 kph) — it can do 400 metres in 14.6 seconds from a standing start thanks to the Cleveland 5.7 litre V8 engines large port high-compression heads, a Holley four-barrel carburettor, full extractor system and close-ratio gearbox.

Cosmetic improvements included front and rear spoilers and a large ‘shaker’ bonnet scoop. Today, the XY GT Falcon is seen by many Australian car collectors as the definitive “Aussie Muscle Car”.

Ford Falcon XA “Superbird”
1972 – 1973
Engine   Cleveland V8
Capacity   302ci
Transmission   4 spd. man / 3 spd. auto
Number Built   700

The Superbird started life as a one off show special, designed to attract attention at the Melbourne and Sydney motorshows. It was such a success however that Ford decided to release a limited run of Superbirds.

They toned down the graphics of the showcar, limiting it to a much smaller bird on the rear wings than the large bird featured on the special, which covered the rear quarter panel, door and part of the front guard!

The car was available in three different paint schemes, white and blue, lime and green and yellow and brown and each was fitted with a louvre for the rear window.

Mechanically they ran the 302ci V8 engine with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions and featured a plush interior and GT instrumentation.

Approximately 700 Superbirds were made in all three colour schemes, 500 with automatic and 200 with manual gearboxes.

Ford Falcon XA GT
1972 – 1973
Engine:   Cleveland V8
Capacity:   5.7ltr
Power:   260bhp / 195kw
Transmission:   4 spd. man / 3 spd. auto
Number Built:   1868 (4 door) / 891 (Hardtop)

The XA GT was the first Australian designed Ford, and the GT version was a more refined car than its predecessors (which had been designed more as road going race cars than true Grand Tourers).

Ford hoped to change this with the XA, but in so doing lost some of the raw appeal that had endeared the XR-XY to the public.

The XA’s, while fitted with the same 351ci Cleveland V8, appeared not to be as quick. Ford, however, had a plan and waiting in the wings was the four door XA Phase 4.

Sadly, a wave of media hysteria over Super Cars and government interference led to the cancelation of the new HO. Whatever the perception was of the road going XA GT’s performance, in racing hardtop guise, it remains the only Falcon to win twice at Bathurst.

Marketed under the ‘Born on the Wind’ slogan, the XA was a great success for Ford of Australia and a confident statement of its independence.

Ford Falcon XB “John Goss Special”
1975 – 1976
Engine:   Cleveland V8
Capacity:   302ci
Power:   240bhp / 180kw
Transmission:   4 spd. man / 3 spd. auto
Number Built:   260

John Goss became famous racing with Kevin Bartlett around Mount Panorama at Bathurst in the 1970’s.

Alongside “KB”, he won the James Hardie 1000km race at Mount Panorama in 1974 in a very close race, and in August, 1975 Ford released a run of XB based John Goss Special limited edition hardtops.

Powered by the 302ci V8 with either an automatic or manual transmission, the car was available in two different paint schemes, blue and white, or green and white.

Despite the choice of only two colors there were many selections of stripes and decals. Color coded front and rear bumpers (similar to the GT) and rally-pack type wheels could also be optioned. Some individual dealers took it upon themselves to introduce other special components to the John Goss Special like front and rear spoilers and interior options, all this at a hefty cost to the consumer.

Sports handling suspension was fitted, as was a rally instrument pack.

Ford Falcon XB GT
1973 – 1976
Engine:   Cleveland V8
Capacity:   5.8 ltr
Power:   260bhp / 195kw
Transmission:   4 spd. man / 3 spd. auto
Number Built:   1950 (4 door) / 949 (Hardtop)

Introduced in September, 1973 the XB offered a minor but succesful restyling of the XA,with its colour keyed bumpers and recessed grille offering a cleaner and tidier presentation.

The XB featured a slight restyle of the previous model, featuring a cleaner but more aggressive front end with a forward sloping bonnet and a wide set, ‘egg-crate’ split grille. The design was very reminiscent of the 1971-73 U.S. Mustang. The tail lamps were also neatened.

The 351ci Cleveland V8 engine remained, now solely manufactured in Australia rather than imported and in a major development, four wheel disk brakes were fitted as standard.

The XB ran out the GT line, existing until June, 1976 after which there were no more GT’s.

While it suffered from falling performance at the hands of emission regulations, it excelled in the Grand Tourer role, being comfortable and refined, with good handling, great brakes and V8 performance.


Ford Falcon XC Cobra
1978 – 1979
Engine:   Cleveland V8
Capacity:   302ci / 351ci V8
Transmission:   4 spd. man / 3 spd. auto
Number Built:   400

While it is true to say that today the XA/XB/XC hardtops are classically desirable cars, at the time they proved to be hard sales for Ford, as the Australian motorist has always preferred four door cars to coupes, even when it is a high performance car.

When they decided that the XD Falcon would be a four door model only, Ford found themselves near the end of the XC production run with 400 unsold hardtop body shells. To sell them, to create maximum marketing exposure and to end the line on a glorious high note, they created the Cobra, and in so doing created an instant classic.

The Cobra allowed Ford to create an above standard road car that passed the homologation regulations for racing, while catering for the enthusiast that wanted a coupe just like the one Allan Moffat was racing.

There were many people at Ford involved in the decision to get this car onto the street, but ultimately credit went to the then Deputy Managing Director, Edsel Ford II who was on a tour of duty in Australia at the time.

Introduced in August, 1978 and sporting a unique and dramatic white paint scheme with blue stripes, each of the 400 was serialised and fitted with a sequentially numbered dash plaque. The first 200 were fitted with 351ci V8 engines and the remainder got the 302ci V8. Automatic or manual transmission was available with four wheel disk brakes and limited slip axles. Mounting 15” Bathurst Globe wheels and fitted with spoilers front and rear, the interiors sported seats in black with blue inserts.

The first 30 cars were even more desirable. Known as Option 97 to differentiate them from the ‘standard’ Option 96 cars, and in the tradition of the HOs of they past, they were fitted with optional parts to allow homologation for the race track. Twin thermostatically controlled fans, an engine oil cooler, Sheel racing seats and a large rear opening bonnet bulge were among some of the additions.

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