While the North American Ford Falcon quietly disappeared in 1970, its Australian counterpart went on to a long and eventful career that continues to this day. This week, we take a look at the birth of the Australian Ford Falcon, including the 1960-1972 XK, XL, XM, XP, XR, XT, XW, and XY Falcon, the Falcon GT, and the beginnings of a storied racing career.
FORD IN AUSTRALIA
The history of Ford in Australia begins not down under, but rather in the Canadian town of Walkerville, Ontario, now part of Windsor. In January 1904, Gordon McGregor, the president of the Walkerville Wagon Company, decided that his firm should enter the emerging automotive business. Seeking a partner, McGregor approached Henry Ford, whose new Ford Motor Company had been incorporated the previous year. That summer, they established the jointly owned Ford Motor Company of Canada, which held the rights to manufacture and distribute Ford cars and trucks in Canada and other British territories (excepting Ireland and Great Britain itself). Production of Canadian Fords began that October, some for local sale, some for export to markets like South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.
Australia soon emerged as Ford of Canada’s largest export market, with the first car arriving in Sydney in 1904. Although a regional sales office was established in Melbourne in 1909, Ford engaged separate distributors in each Australian state, beginning with Victoria’s Tarrant Motor Company. In the early days, each distributor generally dealt directly with the Canadian headquarters, and it was not until March 1925 that Ford of Canada established a formal Australian subsidiary, Ford Motor Company of Australia Ltd., in Geelong, Victoria.
Although their running gear was manufactured in Canada, the bodies of many early Australian Fords were made locally by coachbuilders like T.J. Richards and Sons or Holden’s Motor Body Builders (which merged with GM Motors Australia to form GM-Holden in 1931). By the twenties, Ford was importing complete knock down (CKD) kits for local assembly, first by outside agencies, later in Ford’s own factories in Geelong, Adelaide, and Brisbane; Ford was the first major automaker to have its own assembly facilities in Australia. As we discussed in our earlier article on the Ranchero, in the mid-thirties, Ford Australia also developed a unique body style, the coupe-utility, or “ute,” which became an Australian staple.
THE BIRTH OF “AUSTRALIA’S OWN CAR”
The motorization of Australia was a gradual process. According to the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, total car and truck registrations in 1924 numbered only 221,285, compared to more than 650,000 in Great Britain and over 15 million in the United States. By 1939, total vehicle registrations had grown to around 820,000, with new car and truck registrations for the 1938 fiscal year totaling about 76,500. By the outbreak of World War II, however, Australia still had fewer than 130 motor vehicles for every 1,000 people, compared to about 243 vehicles per 1,000 people in the United States. Only about 25% of Australian households owned an automobile.
While there had been a few small-scale efforts to develop a truly Australian car going back to at least 1899, it was not until the late thirties that the prospect of locally manufacturing complete automobiles began to seem economically viable. Earlier in the decade, the Australian government had imposed new tariffs and import restrictions intended to spur local production of automotive components and replacement parts. In 1939 and 1940, those efforts culminated in controversial legislation that would have given Australian Consolidated Industries Ltd. (ACI) an effective monopoly on native automobile manufacture.
The ACI deal subsequently collapsed in a flurry of debate over its constitutionality, but by 1944, the Labor government of Prime Minister John Curtin was looking for ways to bolster the Commonwealth’s industrial base, hoping to maintain wartime levels of production and employment after the conflict ended. In October 1944, the Department of Post-War Reconstruction’s Second Industry Commission invited major automakers to submit proposals for postwar manufacture of a truly Australian car.
The Australian government eventually received proposals from five automakers: the Nuffield Organization (Morris/Wolseley/MG), Standard-Triumph, Chrysler, GM-Holden, and Ford. Ford’s plan called for a complete line of V8-powered cars and trucks based on the 1942 Mercury, a proposal that was apparently more grandiose than the Cabinet had in mind. The Second Industry Commission had determined that local production would only be sustainable with an annual production volume of at least 20,000 units, which would require something more affordable and fuel-efficient than the big Fords. Ford managing director Hubert French may also have erred by asking for AU£850,000 (US$1.7 million) for tooling costs — more than the government was prepared to invest. Subsequent negotiations failed to produce a mutually agreeable figure and the Cabinet finally accepted a proposal from GM-Holden for a more modest six-cylinder car, based on a prototype previously developed (and discarded) in Detroit.
The result was the Australian-made Holden 48/215, launched in November 1948 in a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Ben Chifley. The new Holden quite overshadowed Ford’s lineup of locally assembled imports, which at the time included the English Ford Anglia, Prefect, and Pilot as well as a smattering of bigger Canadian Ford V8s. Offering an appealing combination of size, performance, economy, and patriotic pride, the 48/215 quickly won the affection of a generation of Australian motorists. By 1950, it accounted for about one in every seven new car sales in Australia.
FROM FORD ZEPHYR TO FALCON
The Australian market expanded rapidly after the war. According to the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, new car and truck registrations for the 1950 fiscal year totaled nearly 250,000, a new record. Responding to the increased demand, by the end of 1952, Chrysler, the Nuffield Organization, and Standard-Triumph had all established their own Australian assembly plants. The added competition took its toll on Ford’s market share, but it did little to slow the growth of GM-Holden, which by decade’s end would control more than half the Australian market.
The Holden 48/215 and its successors, the FJ and FE, were not GM-Holden’s only products during this era, but much of the company’s strength came from the Holden’s status as “Australia’s Own Car.” Aside from its obvious nationalist appeal, local manufacture had definite economic advantages; a six-cylinder Ford Zephyr, for example, cost around 10% more than a comparable Holden. To seriously challenge Holden’s dominance, rivals would need ‘dinkum’ Australian cars of their own.
In June 1950, Charles A. Smith, who had previously worked in Ford’s Canadian and South African operations, replaced Hubert French as Ford Australia’s managing director. Smith soon began pushing for an extensive overhaul of Ford’s Australian business, including plant modernization and, inevitably, the introduction of locally manufactured products. By 1955, Smith had finally convinced his superiors in Oakville, Ontario (where Ford of Canada had moved its headquarters in 1953) to authorize AU£18.5 million (around US$41 million) for facilities and tooling for local manufacture. In April 1957, Ford Australia purchased 400 acres (161.8 hectares) of land in Broadmeadows, outside Melbourne, which had a larger base of skilled workers than did Geelong. Construction on the new factory began the following February.
The central question, of course, was what car the new plant would manufacture. Initial plans involved an updated version of the six-cylinder Zephyr Mark II, which had bowed in 1956. It was a logical choice, since the Zephyr was Ford’s closest competitor to the popular Holden in size and performance. Local manufacture would also help to bring the Zephyr’s price more in line with that of its GM foe.
Although the Zephyr Mark IIA was to be Ford’s first Australian-made car, styling was still the province of the corporate headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. In July 1958, Charlie Smith and engineer Brian Inglis flew to Dearborn to view a full-size model of the new Zephyr. To the dismay of his American colleagues, Smith disdained the mock-up, declaring frankly that it would be no match for its Holden rival. It was not an especially politic response, but Ford Australia had a great deal riding on the new car and a warmed-over version of a model for which Australian buyers were not exactly queuing up wasn’t what Smith had in mind.
Fortunately, Ford of Canada executive vice president Theodore Emmett, who had invited Smith to Dearborn in the first place, stepped in to suggest an alternative: the compact Falcon, then in development for the North American market.
As we’ve previously discussed, Ford had seriously considered introducing a compact U.S. model in the late forties, but the planned “Light Car” was ultimately consigned to the European market, becoming the French Ford Vedette. Ford Division stylists had been toying with compact and subcompact designs since the mid-fifties, but it was not until 1957 that a new small car for the U.S. market became a serious production program, thanks in no small part to the support of Robert McNamara, then group vice president of the car and truck group.
The new compact was initially code-named “19XK Thunderbird” (or just “XK-Thunderbird”); it officially received the name “Falcon” in April 1958. By the time Charlie Smith arrived in Dearborn later that year, it was close to its final production form and its engineering was on the fast track for an October 1959 introduction.
The Falcon was more to Charlie Smith’s liking than the mooted Zephyr Mark IIA. While its styling was unlikely to set many hearts aflutter, it was much more modern than the Zephyr and it looked more American than English — something Smith thought would appeal to Australian buyers. Although the Falcon was marginally larger than the Zephyr Mark II, it actually weighed less and it promised to be cheaper to build.
While Brian Inglis had some doubts about the Falcon’s suitability for Australian roads, Smith was sold. Even before he and Inglis returned home, Smith cabled his office to cancel tooling and parts orders for the Zephyr Mark IIA.
THE FIRST AUSTRALIAN FORD FALCON: THE XK
The new Broadmeadows factory was completed in August 1959, coming online in time to assemble the final Australian-built Zephyrs; Mark II production ended October 22. The engine plant in Geelong, meanwhile, was tooled up to produce the Falcon’s all-new lightweight six.
Pilot production of the first Australian Falcon, dubbed XK, began in June 1960. By then, managing director Charlie Smith, the Falcon’s greatest champion, was already gone, having retired at the end of 1959. His successor was John McIntyre.
The XK Falcon was presented to the press at Melbourne’s posh Chevron Hotel in September 1960 and went on sale shortly thereafter, about 11 months after its U.S. counterpart. The wagon debuted a month later, with the panel van and coupe-utility arriving the following May.
Although it was available only in four-door form, the initial Australian XK sedan was nearly identical to the early North American Falcon, with a modest 144 cu. in. (2,365 cc) engine, 13-inch (330mm) rims, and a decidedly Spartan standard of trim. Starting price was AU£909 (about US$2,025 at the contemporary exchange rate), or AU£1,337 with tax (about US$2,540) — roughly AU£30 (US$67) more than a basic FB Holden.
In its favor, the XK Falcon had more modern styling, greater space efficiency, and a better power-to-weight ratio than the FB Holden, although some buyers nonetheless complained that it was underpowered. The Falcon also returned reasonable economy for a family sedan even with the optional two-speed Fordomatic, an AU£119 (US$265) option, and offered easy steering and a cossetting, big-car ride.
Unfortunately, the XK’s hasty development (and Ford Australia’s lack of a dedicated proving grounds) had left little opportunity for testing in local conditions. The Falcon’s commendably light weight had been achieved by ruthlessly optimizing every component for typical American use, which meant gentle driving on smooth, level roads. Smooth pavement was still scarce in Australia in 1960. According to official statistics, less than half of Australia’s publicly accessible roads were paved even with gravel and only about 10% were concrete or modern sealed bitumen. In typical Australian use, the Falcon’s soft suspension tended to lose its composure, its slow steering was too vague, and the traction and load capacity of its skinny 6.00 x 13 inch tires left much to be desired. Dust sealing was also inadequate, something that was seldom a concern in middle America, but of considerable relevance to Australian owners.
The Falcon soon developed a reputation for fragility, as well. Even in the U.S., early Falcons were prone to front suspension problems in hard use; on rough Australian roads, customers soon complained of ball joint failures and other front-end ailments. Clutch problems were another frequent complaint, as was premature rust. Some historians maintain that the XK’s mechanical woes have been exaggerated, but Ford officials like Max Gransden, then the regional sales manager for New South Wales, admitted that the early cars’ service issues were a major problem, not least in terms of public perception.
Early Falcon sales were disappointing. Although most Americans considered the Falcon a cheap small car, the XK was a largish sedan by Australian standards and its price was a bit rich for economy-minded buyers, even without the negative word of mouth about its reliability. While the FB Holden looked comparatively dated — a bit like a mid-fifties Chevy sedan that shrank in the wash — it was a known quantity, it was somewhat cheaper, and it had a significant edge in brand loyalty. Not helping matters were a 1961 credit crunch and a dramatic increase in the national sales tax, which had a chilling effect on the entire Australian market before it was hastily rescinded the following year.
Ford Australia eventually built 68,455 XK Falcons through June 1962. That was better than the 11,000-odd R- and S-Series Valiants Chrysler Australia sold during the same period, but well behind the FB Holden, which accounted for nearly 175,000 sales between 1960 and 1962. On a brighter note, the Falcon did markedly improve Ford’s Australian market share, which rose to more than 19%. By the end of 1961, Ford had committed more than AU£15 million (about US$33.5 million) to expand its total Australian production capacity from 50,000 to 90,000 units a year.
(We should note that the introduction of the XK Falcon did not mean the end of local assembly of imported CKD kits. Ford continued to offer locally assembled models like the English Ford Anglia and Consul (and later the Cortina), along with a modest number of U.S. or Canadian Fairlanes and Galaxies.)
THE FALCON SHAPES UP: XL AND XM
The second Australian Falcon, the XL, arrived in August 1962. Externally, the most obvious change was a new convex grille, but under the skin, various components were beefed up in response to the earlier complaints. Since the plusher Falcon Futura had been a big hit in the States, a similar model was added to the XL line, featuring a more formal roofline and bucket seats.
Thanks to an improved economy — and the fact that Broadmeadows was now supplying Falcons for right-hand-drive export markets like Hong Kong, Malaya, Fiji, and Japan — XL sales were up about 10% from those of the XK. However, Ford of Canada remained dissatisfied with its Australian subsidiary’s financial performance.
In mid-1963, Ford dispatched a new managing director, Wallace Booth, and a new deputy marketing director, American-born William O. Bourke, to bolster Ford Australia’s profit margins. At the same time, Ford sought to make its Australian-built cars more suitable for local conditions, investing AU£750,000 (about US$1.67 million) in a new 1,730-acre (700-hectare) proving grounds in You Yangs, west of Melbourne.
The XM Falcon, introduced in February 1964, diverged more from its North American counterparts than either of its predecessors had. While the U.S. Falcon had an all-new body for the 1964 model year, the XM carried over the original body shell with revised trim, a new grille (based on that of the 1964 Mercury Comet), and a raised decklid with higher taillights (improving cargo space).
Despite its resemblance to the XL, Ford boasted that the XM Falcon had AU£1 million (US$2.2 million) worth of mechanical upgrades, mostly derived from extensive road testing on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. The suspension was extensively revised, borrowing pieces from the midsize Fairlane and the big Galaxie, while a new seven-bearing “Super Pursuit 200” (3,280 cc) six joined the options list, offering 121 gross horsepower (90 kW). There was also an attractive new pillarless hardtop coupe, a body style common in the States, but rare in Australia.
The new hardtop was the first beneficiary of the structural makeover the XM Falcon received over the course of its short run, which lasted less than 12 months. Like the V8-powered Falcon Sprint, introduced in the U.S. in mid-1963, the hardtop’s monocoque structure was reinforced with heavier-gauge steel in the rocker panels, engine compartment, and floorpan. The latter had extended side rails with torque boxes at each end that would flex slightly in response to impacts — a trick originally developed for the intermediate Fairlane in 1962. While early-production XM sedans, wagons, and utes were structurally similar to the previous XL, by the end of the model run, most XM Falcons had received the same changes as the hardtop.
Since Ford did not publicize those structural improvements, they did little to alleviate the Falcon’s negative reputation and buyers remained wary. Moreover, there was strong new competition from Chrysler’s AP6 Valiant, which offered an optional V8 engine and a three-speed automatic, neither of which was available on the Falcon. XM sales were once again disappointing and Ford Australia posted a AU£4.9 million (US$10.9 million) loss for the 1964 fiscal year, surrendering some of its recently acquired market share to Chrysler. According to some sources, Ford actually considered dropping the Falcon name, hoping to give future models a fresh start.
THE XP DURABILITY RUN
When the XP Falcon arrived in early February 1965, Ford advertising trumpeted its extensive structural improvements (many of which had actually been introduced on late-model XMs) and “road-hugging strength.” Nonetheless, marketing director Bill Bourke recognized that convincing a skeptical public would require more radical steps.
In April, Bourke organized a much-publicized “XP Durability Run” at the new proving grounds in You Yangs. The plan was to run five XP Falcons a total of 70,000 miles (112,700 km) around the rugged test track at an average speed of 70 mph (113 km/h), finally laying to rest any doubts about the Falcon’s robustness.
The nine-day event was a rough-and-tumble affair in every sense. Four of the five cars rolled over at least once, only to be righted and sent on their way. After a few days, Ford ran short of qualified drivers, eventually putting out a frantic call for anyone with a competition license. Nevertheless, all five cars survived the brutal treatment, maintaining an average speed of 71.3 mph (114.7 km/h).
As intended, the Durability Run attracted a great deal of attention, including a brief visit from corporate chairman Henry Ford II. It won the Falcon newfound respect from Australia’s motoring press, including a 1965 Car of the Year Award from Wheels magazine. Sales rose encouragingly, bolstered by the addition later in the year of the upscale Fairmont model with front disc brakes and a three-speed automatic. The XP’s fortunes probably also benefited from public disdain for the awkward-looking HD Holden, although the HD still outsold the Falcon by 2½ to one. The final tally for XP production was just under 71,000 units in 17 months.
THE XR FALCON AND THE FIRST FALCON GT
As the Australian Falcon gained credibility, its North American counterpart was losing ground. Demand for American compacts, which had been strong at the beginning of the decade, was fast evaporating, as buyers turned to larger, more powerful intermediates or compact sporty cars like the Ford Mustang, which soon left the humble Falcon for dead.
Bowing to those trends, when Ford redesigned the U.S. Falcon for 1966, it gained greater stylistic kinship with the Mustang and substantial structural commonality with the midsize Fairlane. In some respects, the new Falcon was a cut-down Fairlane; it was 1.9 inches (48 mm) wider, 2.7 inches (69 mm) longer, and 165 lb (45 kg) heavier than the 1965 Falcon and now shared the same 58-inch (1,473mm) tread width as its midsize cousin. The Falcon’s new look, meanwhile, aspired to Mustang-like long-hood, short-deck proportions, with a distinct rear fender kick-up. Ironically, however, the two sportiest body styles, the two-door hardtop and the convertible, were both dropped, victims of poor sales.
The Australian XR Falcon, launched in September 1966, once again followed the template of the North American version, but it sported unique front and rear clips. The Pursuit 170 (2,780 cc) engine and 14-inch (356mm) wheels were now standard across the board, but, as with the U.S. Falcon, the hardtop coupe was discontinued. The big news was the arrival of an optional V8, Ford’s familiar 289 cu. in. (4,728 cc) small block. The 289, with a two-barrel carburetor and 200 gross horsepower (149 kW), was actually the mildest of Ford’s U.S. V8s, but it made quite an impression on the Australian market. Even with the optional three-speed Cruise-O-Matic, a V8 Falcon was capable of reaching 60 mph (97 km/h) in less than 12 seconds, brisk performance by Australian standards. The new engine quickly won enthusiastic fans among local police forces and attracted considerable interest from race builders.
It was not lost on Bill Bourke, now Ford Australia’s deputy managing director, that performance-oriented image cars were becoming big business in the U.S. Thanks to the burgeoning youth market, the Mustang had been a huge success, as were the new breed of high-powered intermediates, typified by the Pontiac GTO. Most Australian cars of the time were rather bland porridge, but Bourke thought Australia was ready for a similar performance boom.
At the time, Ford Australia’s Product Engineering Department was developing a specially tuned XR Falcon for the Victoria Police, featuring a heavy-duty suspension, front disc brakes, four-speed manual transmission, and the hotter four-barrel 289 offered on U.S. Mustangs. Bourke saw it as a natural starting point, so he proposed offering it as a production model.
Bourke said later that his idea was greeted with considerable skepticism in Dearborn. Ford’s last attempt to make a sporty car out of the Falcon, the V8-powered Sprint, had been a commercial flop despite respectable performance in European rally competition. The idea of making a credible performance car out of the four-door Falcon sedan — the XR Falcon line no longer included a two-door hardtop, a convertible, or even a pillared two-door sedan — seemed more than faintly ludicrous. Undeterred, Bourke went ahead with what became the first Falcon GT.
The Falcon GT went on sale in March 1967 with a hefty list price of AU$3,890 (about US$4,330), compared to AU$2,226 (around US$2,500) for a basic six-cylinder Falcon sedan. Although it was not a big seller, the GT was nonetheless a great image builder and a statement of intent. Ford eventually sold around 600 of them; the most commonly quoted figure is 596. An equally important sales milestone was 260, the total required to homologate the GT for Australia’s most important motorsport event — the Gallaher 500 at Bathurst.
THE FALCON AND THE GREAT RACE
The event that became Australia’s “Great Race” was first held at Phillip Island, Victoria, in November 1960, a 500-mile (805-km) race sponsored by the Armstrong shock absorber company. The Armstrong 500 remained at Phillip Island through 1962, when track damage led the race to be relocated to the Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit in Bathurst, New South Wales. Mount Panorama was a challenging 3.9-mile (6.2-km) circuit, rising more than 570 feet (174 meters) from lowest to highest elevation. There was little run-off space and there were no barriers other than barbed-wire fences; even seasoned racing drivers like Stirling Moss expressed alarm at the circuit’s lack of safety features.
Privately run XL Falcons had made a good showing at the 1962 Armstrong 500, but Ford’s locally made Cortina had won the Bathurst race from 1963 to 1965. Rules changes subsequently put the Cortina out of the running and the 1966 race, now sponsored by the Irish cigarette company Gallaher, had been won by Rauno Aaltonen and Bob Holden, driving a Morris Mini Cooper S. The arrival of the Falcon GT gave Ford Australia a chance to reclaim the crown and build its nascent performance image.
Although conventional wisdom still maintained that cars the size of the Falcon or the big Holdens were too large for the tight Mount Panorama circuit, the Falcon XR GT dominated the 1967 Gallaher 500 with average lap times more than 7 seconds shorter than those of the previous year’s winning Mini. Unfortunately for Ford works drivers Harry Firth and Fred Gibson, a scoring snafu initially awarded the victory to privateers Ian and Leo Geoghegan, an error that was not rectified until weeks after the event. For Ford marketing, it was a win either way: the Geoghegan brothers were also driving a Falcon GT.
Although GM-Holden was bound by the same anti-racing policy as the rest of General Motors, GM-H was not oblivious to the considerable publicity value of the GT and its Bathurst victory. The new HK Holden, introduced in January 1968, offered its own V8, a Chevrolet-designed 307 cu. in. (5,035 cc) engine with 210 horsepower (157 kW). Not to be outdone, Ford’s facelifted XT Falcon, launched in March, countered with a stroked 302 cu. in. (4,942 cc) V8 with 230 horsepower (186 kW). GM-Holden then trumped the Falcon XT that July with the addition of a sleek hardtop coupe, the Monaro, which could be ordered with a 250 hp (186 kW) Chevy 327 (5,354 cc) V8.
Inevitably, Holden’s sporty Monaro GTS 327 found its way to the racetrack, both in private hands and with David McKay’s new Holden Dealer Racing Team, which fielded three cars at the Bathurst event — now called Hardie-Ferodo 500 — in October 1968. On the Mount Panorama circuit, the Holden’s superior power-to-weight ratio translated into consistently better lap times and GTS 327s took first, second, and third place. The XT GTs of the Ford works team could do no better than ninth, falling behind a private XR GT driven by Ken Stacey and Bruce McIntyre, which managed seventh.
In 1969, the short-lived Holden Dealer Racing Team was replaced by the quasi-official Holden Dealer Team, now led by former Ford driver Harry Firth. Although not technically a works team, HDT would benefit from considerable factory support. The stage had been set for a dramatic racing rivalry.
BATHURST BOUND: THE XW FALCON GTHO
While a third-generation Falcon was in development by the summer of 1968, it was not slated to debut for another three years. In the interim, Ford Australia made do with several successive makeovers of the existing Falcon platform. The XW, which replaced the XT in June 1969, had an extensive facelift and and a new interior, making it look almost like an all-new car. To capitalize on the image value of the GT, the XW was available with a new GS option package, which added some of the GT’s cosmetic features without its mechanical upgrades. The Futura series also returned, positioned between the mid-level Falcon 500 and the plusher Fairmont.
The XW Falcon still didn’t offer a two-door hardtop body style to rival the Monaro, but the new GT, now sporting ostentatious racing stripes and “Super Roo” decals, had Ford’s 351 Windsor (5,765 cc) V8 with a four-barrel carburetor and 290 gross horsepower (217 kW). The fitment of an oversize fuel tank made it clear the new GT was intended as much for the track as the street.
About a month after the GT’s introduction, Ford added an even hotter version, the GTHO, developed by engineers Peter Thorne and Barry Nelson with the help of new works team driver Allan Moffat. Intended specifically for Bathurst, the GTHO had a retuned suspension, upgraded brakes, stouter driveline components, and an even 300 gross horsepower (224 kW), courtesy of a hotter camshaft, bigger carburetor, and other engine modifications. “HO” ostensibly stood for “Handling Option,” but it might just as well been short for “homologation,” which was its real raison d’être.
While the Falcon GTHO now had the power to challenge the Holden Monaro at the 1969 Hardie-Ferodo 500, its chances of victory were undone by the last-minute addition of specialized racing tires, which proved a serious tactical error. Two of the three factory cars suffered blowouts that Allan Moffat attributed to the drivers over-stressing the unfamiliar tires. While Moffat had no such problems, team manager Al Turner, understandably concerned after the previous tire failures, ordered him to pit for a preemptive change, a delay that may have cost Moffat and co-driver Alan Hamilton the race. The final victory went to a Monaro GTS 350 driven by HDT’s Colin Bond and Tony Roberts, although Ford drivers Bruce McPhee and Barry Mulholland managed a close second.
In June 1970, Ford unveiled an even hotter race-bound GTHO, dubbed “Phase II.” Its engine, actually introduced on some of the previous GTHO cars (known retroactively as “Phase I”), was now an imported 351 Cleveland V8, featuring taller decks and bigger ports for better breathing. The Phase II engine, developed by former Repco Brabham engineer Ian Stockings, added a wilder solid-lifter cam and a bigger Holley four-barrel carburetor. Although its rated output was unchanged at 300 horsepower (224 kW), it was significantly more powerful than the standard GT.
Formidable as it was, the GT-HO Phase II was not the hottest XW Falcon. Bill Bourke, now managing director, had his personal XW sedan fitted with the big 428 cu. in. (6,997 cc) FE-series engine offered in U.S. Mustangs. According to stylist Wayne Draper, who borrowed the car for a short but memorable drive in 1970, it had enough torque to spin its wheels at 100 mph (161 km/h), but Draper found its handling was rather alarming. Around the same time, Ford Special Vehicles also built two lightweight, fuel-injected GTHO Super Falcons for Australian Touring Car Championship competition, producing 620 hp (462 kW) at a screaming 9,600 rpm. Unfortunately, reliability problems and cost overruns soon curtailed the Super Falcons’ racing career.
Fans hoping for a rematch between the XW Falcon GTHO and the Holden Monaro at Bathurst that October were in for a disappointment. While the Monaro GTS 350 remained available for civilians, the Holden Dealer Team switched to the smaller six-cylinder Torana LC GTR, trading the V8’s raw power for tidier dimensions and better handling. Another rival was Chrysler’s Pacer, a sporty version of the VG Valiant powered by a high-performance version of Chrysler’s new Hemi six, making 235 horsepower (175 kW) from 245 cu. in. (4,018 cc). Neither the Chrysler nor the Torana was a match for the GTHO Phase II. Even after suffering mechanical problems, works Falcons took both first and second place, giving driver Allan Moffat his first Bathurst victory.
While the GT and GTHO accounted for only a fraction of total Falcon sales — the totals were 2,287 GTs and 662 GTHOs — the GTHO’s performance on the racetrack undoubtedly added luster to the workaday cars. The XW set another sales record for the Falcon line, selling nearly 106,000 units in all and helping to boost Ford’s Australian market share to more than 21%.
THE XY FALCON: LAST OF THE OLD
The XY, introduced in October 1970, was the final iteration of the second-generation Falcon platform and the first without a North American contemporary; the U.S. Falcon was discontinued before the start of the 1971 model year. The XY Falcon’s launch came on the heels of an equally significant milestone for Ford Australia. In August, Bill Bourke became president of the newly established Ford Asia-Pacific & South Africa, Inc., turning over his former duties to Brian Inglis, who became Ford Australia’s first Australian-born managing director.
Structurally, the XY Falcon was an evolution of the previous XW, distinguished chiefly by its new grille. However, in sharp contrast with the American Falcon, whose options list had been steadily pared down as it neared the end, the XY enjoyed a proliferation of new features and new powertrain options. The 200 cu. in. (3,280 cc) six was now standard and a new 250 cu. in. (4,092 cc) version was optional, offering a choice of single- or two-barrel carburetors and up to 170 gross horsepower (127 kW). If that wasn’t enough, both the 302 (4,942 cc) and a mildly tuned two-barrel 351C (5,765 cc) V8 were now available on the bread-and-butter sedans, making up to 250 hp (186 kW). There was even an ambitious but unsuccessful 4WD version of the Falcon ute.
The new XY GT was very similar to the previous GTHO Phase II, with the 351 Cleveland engine and a claimed 300 gross horsepower (224 kW). With its dramatic stripes and loud paint — the most popular hue was the vivid red-orange worn by the works racers, which Ford dubbed Vermillion Fire — the new GT would have been hard to miss even without its most dramatic feature: an obtrusive “shaker” hood scoop. Although the XY GT sold only 1,557 copies, thanks in part to a lofty base price of AU$4,250 (about US$4,780), it quickly became an Australian muscle car icon.
The hottest XY was the new GTHO Phase III, now sporting front and rear spoilers; heavy-duty brakes, clutch, and driveline components; and a much hotter engine. Ford claimed the same 300 horsepower (224 kW) as the standard GT, but the retuned V8 was probably as powerful, if not more so, than the conceptually similar 351-HO in the North American Mustang Boss 351, which claimed 330 gross horsepower (246 kW).
Ford built 300 Phase IIIs for homologation and 13 XY GTHOs competed in the 1971 Hardie-Ferodo 500 that October. Although five of those cars failed to finish the race, the Phase III’s performance was enough to earn Allan Moffat his second Bathurst win. Phase III Falcons also claimed second, third, fifth, and sixth places. The Chrysler Valiant Charger E38, the Falcon’s main rival in Class E, managed no better than seventh place while Colin Bond’s Torana GTR XU-1, competing in Class D, earned fourth place overall.
The XY’s racing exploits helped to make it the most popular Falcon to date, selling almost 119,000 units during its 15-month run.
In part two of this article, we’ll pick up the story with the introduction of the all-new third-generation Falcon, and the “Supercar Crisis” that rocked the Australian auto industry in 1972.
# # #
Setting aside the editorial ‘we,’ I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to reader John Howell, who not only encouraged me to move this story from the “Yeah, I should do that one of these days” category to the top of my list, but also graciously allowed me to use some of his photos and offered many valuable insights into the shape of the Australian motor industry.
Special thanks are also due to Ford Australia historian Michele Cook and Ford Archives and AV Assets manager Dean Weber for their assistance in gathering images for this story.
NOTES ON SOURCES
Background on the early history of the Australian motor industry and Ford Australia came from “Australia’s Year of Prosperity: G.M.-H. Chairman’s Review,” Cairns Post Saturday 11 August 1951, p. 5; “Biography: Gordon Morton McGregor” (July 2004, Ford Motor Company, media.ford. com/ print_doc.cfm?article_id = 18790, accessed 14 January 2011); Mary Broker, “Investment Guide: This Week: The Motor Industry,” The Australia Women’s Weekly Wednesday 18 December 1963, p. 10; M. Ann Capling and Brian Galligan, Beyond the Protective State: The Political Economy of Australia’s Manufacturing Industry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 197-217; “Car Manufacture in Australia: Case for Compensation,” The Argus Wednesday, 9 May 1945, p. 6; “Car Production in Australia,” Broken Hill Barrier Miner Wednesday 15 November 1944, p. 8; Jon G. Chittleborough, “Motor Vehicles,” Wilfried Priest, Kerrie Round, and Carol S. Ford, eds., Wakefield Companion to South Australian History (Kent Town, South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2001), pp. 363-365; David Chantrell, “Duncan & Fraser Ltd. 1865-1927: Ford Sales Structure in South Australia” (May 2009, www.duncanandfraser. com/ ford%20sales%20structure.html, accessed 19 January 2011); Ken Gross, “Stovebolt Six with an Aussie Accent: 1948 Holden,” Special Interest Autos #49 (February 1979), pp. 26-33, 62; “Highlights of Ford Australia” (press release) (2001, media.ford. com, accessed 30 January 2011); “In Australia, Motor Trade Development Employs Thousands,” The Argus Motor Show Supplement 18 May 1938; “Making of Cars: Opposition to Monopoly: Legal Aspect,” The Argus Wednesday, 3 January 1940, p. 1; “Popularity of Automobile: Great Progress in Australia,” Brisbane Courier-Mail Monday 23 October 1939, p. 11; Graham Robson, Cortina: The Story of Ford’s Best-Seller (Dorchester: Veloce Publishing Limited, Second Edition, 2007); “The History of Ford Australia” (no date, Fordspec, www.fordspec. com.au/ specifications/ history.php, accessed 13 January 2011); John Weinthal, “Ford Galaxie 500,” Australian Motor Sports June 1965, reprinted in Ford Galaxie & LTD 1960-1976 – Gold Portfolio, ed. R.M. Clarke (Cobham, England: Brooklands Books Ltd., ca. 2003), pp. 70-72; “What Went Wrong?” (December 2008, The Mini Experience, miniexperience. com.au/ back-issues/issue-16/ factory-what-went-wrong.html, accessed 12 January 2011); Mary Wilkins and Franck Hill, American Business Abroad, Ford on Six Continents (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1964); Stephen Yarrow, “Motoring the 1950s” (no date, Australia on CD, www.australiaoncd. com.au/ motoring_50s.htm, accessed 2 February 2011); Stephen Yarrow, “Motoring the 1970s” (no date, Australia on CD, www.australiaoncd. com.au/ motoring_70s.htm, accessed 28 February 2011); the Wikipedia® entries for Ford Motor Company of Australia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Motor_Company_of_Australia, accessed 10 January 2011) — which draws heavily on Peter Begg, Geelong: The First 150 Years (Globe Press, 1990) — the Ford Zephyr (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Zephyr, accessed 20 January 2011), and Ford Motor Company of Canada (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Motor_Company_of_Canada, accessed 12 January 2011); and an email to the author from Ford historian Michele Cook, 21 February 2011. John Howell’s remarks on Australian model designations in Part One are excerpted with permission from an email to the author on 22 December 2010.
Some statistical data on Australian roads and motor vehicle registrations came from the Official Year-Book of the Commonwealth of Australia, published annually by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics (now the Australian Bureau of Statistics) and archived on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website (www.abs.gov.au, last accessed 2 March 2011). We consulted Nos. 18-1925, 32-1939, 38-1951, 46-1960, 52-1966, 57-1971, and 60-1974. For comparison to the United States, we consulted the United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration’s Highway Statistics Summary to 1965 (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1967) and Highway Statistics Summary to 1975 (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1977), both of which were retrieved from the DOT website (www.fhwa. dot. gov, last accessed 3 March 2011).
Some additional details on Ford’s Broadmeadows factory came from “Place: Ford Motor Company Complex (Place No. 21)” (no date, Hume City Council, www.hume. vic. gov.au, accessed 2 February 2011).
The starting point for our research into the history of the Falcon itself was John Howell’s three-page timeline of Falcon history, 21 December 2010, and subsequent emails to the author. Detailed information on the Falcon’s various first-, second-, and third-generation iterations came from Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, “1960-1966 Ford Falcon” (13 October 2007, HowStuffWorks.com, auto.howstuffworks. com/ 1960-1966-ford-falcon.htm, accessed 20 January 2011); “Cleveland 4V Engine” (no date, Unique Cars and Parts, www.uniquecarsandparts .com.au, accessed 12 February 2011); email from Ford Australia historian Michele Cook, 23 February 2011; “Falcon: The Ford Falcon Story” (no date, Unique Cars and Parts, www.uniquecarsandparts. com.au, accessed 20 January 2011); Paul Duchene, “Thunder from Down Under: How Australia’s Auto Industry Flexed Its Muscles” (4 February 2011, Hagerty.com, www.hagerty. com, accessed 14 March 2011); Craig Fitzgerald, “The Great Australian Road Car,” Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car July 2010; “Ford Commemorates 50 Years of Falcon” [press release], 29 April 2010; “Ford Falcon GT-HO Phase 4” (9 May 2010, www.gtho4.com/, accessed 5 February 2011); “Ford Falcon XA,” “Ford Falcon XA GT,” “Ford Falcon XB GT,” “Ford Falcon XC,” “Ford Falcon XD,” “Ford Falcon XE,” “Ford Falcon XF Specifications,” “Ford Falcon XW GT Technical Specifications,” and “Ford Falcon XY GT Technical Specifications” (no date, Unique Cars and Parts, www.uniquecarsandparts. com.au, accessed 29 January to 18 February 2011); “Ford Feature: A brief history of the Falcon’s 40 years” (28 June 2000, Fastlane, www.fastlane .com.au, accessed 10 January 2011); “Ford Special Builds: XA RPO83” (no date, Unique Cars and Parts, www.uniquecarsandparts. com.au, accessed 5 February 2011); Joe Kenwright, “History of the Ford 351 V8 Engine: Aussie Connection,” Unique Cars 15 August 2013, www.tradeuniquecars. com.au, accessed 11 March 2018; and “Warner Falcon Sprint V8”, Australian Muscle Car, No. 37, May-June 2008, pp. 44-63; Neil McDonald, “Ford Falcon Turns 50 Today,” Herald Sun 24 June 2010, www.carsguide. com.au, accessed 13 January 2011; John Mellor, “Ford Falcon (XC Falcon)” (no date, Go Auto, www.goauto. com.au, accessed 5 February 2011); Tim Monck-Mason and Quinn Hamill, “1967 Ford Falcon XR GT – The Original Aussie Muscle Car – 205,” New Zealand Classic Car 16 January 2008, reprinted on the web at www.classiccar. co.nz/ articles/ the-original-aussie-muscle-car- 1967-ford-falcon-xr-gt-205, accessed 2 March 2011; Mel Nichols, “New Car Exclusive: Phase 4 GTHO…World’s Fastest Four-Door!” Wheels August 1972, pp. 9-11; Mark Oastler, “Top Secret Superfords,” Australian Muscle Car No. 30 (March-April 2007), pp. 22-39; Traian Popescu, “Fast Fords – Then & Now: The Ford Falcon XY GTHO Phase III and Taurus SHO” (13 May 2001, Sedan Ramblings, www.fantasycars .com/ sedans/ column/ sedans8_ford.html, accessed 31 January 2011); Graham Smith, “Ho, Ho, Ho,” Unique Cars December 1998; Bill Tuckey, “Ford Falcon’s life as a dog,” New Zealand Herald News 12 July 2000, www.nzherald. co.nz, accessed 13 January 2011; “Two Magic Letters” (2 June 2003, Fords, www.fords. com.au/article/ Australian-Stories-in-the-100-year-history-of-Ford, accessed 13 January 2011); “XA Falcon (1972-1973),” “XB Falcon (1973-1976),” “XC Falcon (1976-1979),” “XD Falcon (1979-1982),” “XE Falcon (1982-1984),” “XF Falcon (1984-1988), “XK Falcon (1960-1962),” “XL Falcon (1962-1964),” “XM Falcon (1964-1965),” “Falcon XM Technical Specifications,” “XP Falcon (1965-1966),” “XR Falcon (1966-1968),” “XT Falcon (1968-1969),” “XW Falcon (1969-1970),” and “XY Falcon (1970-1972),” (no date, Falconfacts.xfalcon.com, falconfacts.xfalcon .com/ falcon/xyfalcon.html, accessed 30 January to 18 March 2011); “XC Cobra” (2007, Aussie Coupes, www.aussiecoupes .com/ cobra.html, accessed 13 January 2011; “v8raccar,” “Ford Super Falcon 1970” (1 January 2010, V8Racecar, v8racecar.wordpress .com/ 2010/01/01/ford-super-falcon-1970/, accessed 30 January 2011); “v8racecar,” “The RPO83 – an HO by another name” (31 December 2009, V8Racecar, v8racecar.wordpress .com/ category/australian-muscle-cars/, accessed 5 February 2011); John Wright, “The Final Finest Phase,” Super Ford 1987, pp. 20-27, and “The first Australian Falcon (and what does it mean?),” www.caravancampingsales. com.au, accessed 28 January 2011; and the 1998 video documentary “History of the Ford Falcon GT,” transferred to digital format by Grubco Media, uploaded by Custom Tribute Clips, YouTube, https://youtu.be/ZWRrNyEuPlE (part 1 of 6), https://youtu.be/c6X6pCx0bVk (part 2 of 6), https://youtu.be/lOpMSaWjCJY (part 3 of 6), https://youtu.be/ZYyNcnIiSVI (part 4 of 6), https://youtu.be/VDlM8LvyE9U (part 5 of 6), and https://youtu.be/x6cW11veVN0 (part 6 of 6), uploaded 17 August 2007, accessed 28 January 2011.
Additional information on the 1972 “Super Car Crisis” came from “Author Evan Green dies,” Sydney Morning Herald 17 March 1996; Evan Green, “160 MPH ‘Super Cars’ Soon,” Sydney Sun Herald 25 June 1972; “Mr HDT’s Scrapbook 1” (no date, www.brock05 .com/ scrapbook1.php, accessed 13 January 2011); “Super Car Scare Conspiracy” (14 February 2009, Australian Motorsport Forums, www.australianmotorsportforums. com.au/ forum/ index.php?topic=2571.0, accessed 13 January 2011); “This Webpage is in Memory of a Great – Author / Rally Driver / Gentleman / Friend,” members.ozemail. com.au/ ~groggo/evan%20green.html, accessed 13 January 2011; and Bill Tuckey, “Evan Green had flair as journalist, rally driver, novelist,” Sydney Morning Herald 28 March 1996.
History and information on the U.S. Falcon came from “1970½ Falcon Is Really Fairlane: Not a stretched compact, name changed intermediate,” Road Test May 1970, reprinted in Falcon Performance Portfolio 1960-1970, ed. R.M. Clarke (Cobham, England: Brooklands Books Ltd., ca. 1998), pp. 132-137; “’70 Falcon,” New Cars 1970, reprinted in ibid, p. 131; the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, “1960-1965 Ford Falcon” (30 September 2007, HowStuffWorks.com, auto.howstuffworks .com/ 1960-1965-ford-falcon.htm, accessed 13 January 2011); John R. Bond, “Road Test: Ford Falcon: Congratulations, Mr. Walker. A difficult job well done,” Road & Track November 1959, reprinted in Falcon Performance Portfolio 1960-1970, pp. 14-16. “Car Life Road Test: 1963 Ford Falcon Futura Convertible,” Car Life October 1962, reprinted in ibid, pp. 50-53; “Car Life Road Test: Falcon Futura V-8: A 260-bhp experimental Fairlane V-8 is just the thing to transform the Falcon,” Car Life December 1962, reprinted in ibid, pp. 58-61; “Car Life Road Test: Falcon Ranchero V-8: Ford’s Fancy Funabout Is More than Mere Utility,” Car Life February 1966, reprinted in ibid, pp. 117-121; “Cars 1963 American Classic Award: New Car Classic,” Cars April 1963, reprinted in ibid, pp. 62-68; David Crippen, “The Reminiscences of Eugene [Gene] Bordinat, Jr.” (27 June 1984, Automotive Design Oral History Project, Benson Ford Research Center, Henry Ford Museum, www.autolife.umd. umich. edu/Design/ Bordinat_interview.htm (transcript), accessed 13 January 2011); “Design development of a car – the Ford Falcon,” Canadian Track & Traffic December 1960, reprinted in Falcon Performance Portfolio 1960-1970, pp. 26-28; “Falcon: ’62 Analysis,” Motor Life October 1961, reprinted in ibid, p. 47; “Ford Falcon Futura: With a generous dose of Mustang styling, is the Falcon now a better bargain than the runaway Horse?” Road Test March 1966, reprinted in ibid, pp. 110-113; “Ford Falcon: What is a Falcon?” Road Test March 1965, reprinted in ibid, pp. 102-105; David Halberstam, The Reckoning (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1986); Tim Howley, “Full Dress Falcon: 1963 Sprint V-8,” Special Interest Autos #67 (January-February 1982), reprinted in The Hemmings Motor News Book of Postwar Fords (Hemmings Motor News Collector-Car Books), ed. Terry Ehrich (Bennington, VT: Hemmings Motor News, 2000), pp. 96-103; Robert E. McVay, “Falcons – A Pair: 120-hp V-8, 120-hp 6,” Motor Trend March 1966, reprinted in Falcon Performance Portfolio 1960-1970, pp. 114-116; “Road Test: Falcon Futura,” Motor Trend June 1961, reprinted in ibid, pp. 42-43; and Jim Wright, “MT Road Test: Falcon Sprint,” Motor Trend February 1964, reprinted in ibid, pp. 83-87.
Additional relevant information on the Falcon’s Mercury Comet sibling came from “Car Life Road Test: Comet Caliente: A Finer Filly for Track or Touring Is Posted for Mid-Range Sweepstakes,” Car Life January 1964, reprinted in Mercury Comet & Cyclone 1960-1970 (A Brooklands Road Test Limited Edition), ed. R.M. Clarke (Cobham, England: Brooklands Books Ltd., ca. 1999), pp. 26-30; “Road & Track Road Test: Comet 170: A minor facelift and a larger engine for 1961,” Road & Track January 1961, reprinted in ibid, pp. 14-16; and “Ford Fairlane 260 Sports Coupe,” Car Life August 1962, reprinted in Ford Fairlane 1955-1970 Performance Portfolio, ed. R.M. Clarke (Cobham, England: Brooklands Books Ltd., ca. 1998), pp. 68–71. For comparison with the contemporary Mustang, we also consulted Chuck Koch, “RT/Test Report: End of the Trail: Corralled by squatters on its own range and saddled by too much weight, the Mustang as we know it will disappear next year and a final roundup shows why,” Road Test July 1973, reprinted in Mustang Muscle Portfolio 1967-1973, ed. R.M. Clarke (Cobham, England: Brooklands Books Ltd., ca. 2000), pp. 131-133; Bob Kovacik and Paul Van Valkenburgh, “Showdown at Mustang Corral: Ford Mach 1 Road Test,” Sports Car Graphic October 1969, reprinted in ibid, pp. 90-94; and “Road Test: Mustang Boss 351: It’s possible that stylists can’t work in a sporty medium,” Car and Driver February 1971, reprinted in ibid, pp. 117-119.
Information about the Great Race at Bathurst and the Falcon’s competition career came from “Allan Moffat,” “Bathurst 1000 – The Great Race,” and “Bathurst 1970: Hardie-Ferodo 500” (no date, Unique Cars and Parts, www.uniquecarsandparts .com.au/ bathurst_1970.htm, accessed 13 January to 6 March 2011); Bathurst Regional Council, Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit Bathurst, “Bathurst 1000 History,” www.mount-panorama .com, accessed 28 January 2011; Frank de Jong, History of the European Touring Car Championship, n.d., homepage.mac. com/ frank_de_jong/ Race/ [now www.touringcarracing.net], accessed 5 February to 8 March 2011; “Falcon GT by the Years: 1977” (no date, Unique Cars and Parts, www.uniquecarsandparts .com.au, accessed 7 March 2011); Rich Fowler, “1977 Bathurst Falcons to fly again at 2010 Top Gear Live” (9 December 2009, Motorsport Retro, www.motorsportretro .com, accessed 20 February 2011), and “Moffat and Bond to recreate legendary one-two finish” (12 October 2010, Motorsport Retro, www.motorsportretro .com, accessed 6 March 2011); Beth Hall, “Great Race History” (September 2007, National Motor Racing Museum, www.nmrm .com.au, accessed 13 January 2011); “Hardie-Ferodo 500, Mount Panorama, Bathurst, 1st October, 1972,” “Hardie-Ferodo 1000, Mount Panorama, Bathurst, 1st October, 1978,” “Hardie-Ferodo 500, Mount Panorama, Bathurst, 3rd October, 1971,” “Hardie-Ferodo 500, Mount Panorama, Bathurst, 5th October, 1969,” “Hardie-Ferodo 500, Mount Panorama, Bathurst, 6th October, 1968,” “Hardie-Ferodo 1000, Mount Panorama, Bathurst, 1st October, 1973,” “Hardie-Ferodo 1000, Mount Panorama, Bathurst, 2nd October, 1977,” “Hardie-Ferodo 1000, Mount Panorama, Bathurst, 3rd October, 1976,” “Hardie-Ferodo 1000, Mount Panorama, Bathurst, 5th October, 1975,” and Hardie-Ferodo 1000, Mount Panorama, Bathurst, 6th October, 1974″ (no date, Unique Cars and Parts, www.uniquecarsandparts .com.au, accessed 5—12 February 2011); “HDT Story: In the Beginning” (2009, HDT Official Website, www.hdt .com.au, accessed 4 February 2011); “Mr. HDT” and the James-Hardie Group, “The 1977 Bathurst Race – The Silver Jubilee Year” (no date, The Brock05 Shop, www.brock05 .com/ 77BathurstRace.php, accessed 6 March 2011); Nick Munting, “What Really Happened!” Chequered Flag April 1979, reprinted with permission of the author at www.allanmoffat .com.au, accessed 14 January 2011); Graham Smith, “Allan Moffat and Al Turner,” Unique Cars March 2001, reprinted with permission of the author at www.allanmoffat .com.au, accessed 14 January 2011; Michael Stahl, “To All Intense,” Wheels 1994, reprinted with permission of the author at www.allanmoffat .com.au, accessed 7 February 2011; and the Wikipedia entries for the Ford Works Team (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Works_Team_%28 Australia%29, accessed 13 February 2011) and the Holden Dealer Racing Team (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holden_Dealer_Racing_Team, accessed 5 February 2011).
Information on the Falcon’s most famous movie role — in Mad Max (producer: Byron Kennedy; director: George Miller; screenplay: George Miller and James McCausland; Australia: Village Roadshow Pictures, 1979) and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (producer: Byron Kennedy; director: George Miller; screenplay: Terry Hayes, George Miller, and Brian Hannant; Australia: Kennedy Miller Productions/Warner Bros., 1981) (and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (producer: George Miller; directors: George Miller and George Ogilvie; screenplay: George Miller and Terry Hayes, Australia: Kennedy Miller Productions, 1985), although there are few cars in the third film) — came from Peter Barton, “The History of the Mad Max Interceptor” (no date, Max Max Movies, www.madmaxmovies .com, accessed 13 March 2011); Gordon Hayes and Grant Hodgson, “Behind the Real Mad Max Cars” (2010, Mad Max Unlimited, www.lastinterceptor .com, accessed 5 February 2011). Some general information came from the rest of Peter Barton’s Max Max Movies site, the IMDb pages for Mad Max, Mad Max 2, and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (www.imdb .com, accessed 18 March 2011), and from the Mad Max Wikipedia entry (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad_Max, accessed 13 January 2011).
Also useful was the documentary film Love the Beast (produced by Eric Bana, Matt Hill, Peter Hill, and Brett Hardy; directed by Eric Bana; Australia: Pick Up Truck Pictures/Whyte House Productions, 2009). Additional technical information on Eric Bana’s car came from Ben Hosking, “1973 XB Ford Falcon Coupe – Extreme Makeover,” Hot Rod, April 2007, www.hotrod .com, accessed 5 February 2011.
Information on the Falcon’s leading competitors came from “Australian Hemi Six Engines: 215, 245, 265” (no date, Valiant.org, www.valiant.org/valiant/hemi-six.html, accessed 4 February 2011); Terry Bebbington, “EJ-EH Holden History and Information,” Australian Classic Car December 2003; “Buyers’ Guide: Specifications and Performance,” Australian Motor Manual April 1965, pp. 59-61; “Chronicles: 1977 in Review,” “Chronicles: 1978 in Review,” “Chrysler Valiant Charger,” “Chrysler Valiant Charger E38,” “Chrysler Valiant VG Pacer,” and “Chrysler Valiant VH” (no date, Unique Cars and Parts, www.uniquecarsandparts .com.au, accessed 4 February to 5 March 2011); “Chrysler Valiants, Valiant Chargers, Valiant Pacers, and other cars of Chrysler Australia” (no date, Valiant.org, www.valiant. org/ ausval.html, accessed 21 January 2011); “Golden Holdens: The 48-215 (FX) Holden: 1948-1953” (March 1998, Fastlane, www.fastlane .com.au, accessed 14 January 2011); HD Holden Data (no date, Holden Heaven, www.holden. org.au, accessed 13 January 2011; Holden History, “Holden Commodore VB,” “Holden FB,” “Holden FC,” “Holden HD,” “Holden HG,” “Holden HJ,” “Holden HK,” “Holden HQ,” “Holden HT Brougham,” “Holden HT Technical Specifications,” “Holden HX,” “Holden HZ,” “Holden Torana GTR-X Coupe,” “Holden Torana HB,” “Holden Torana LC,” “Holden Torana LC GTR XU-1,” “Holden Torana LH,” “Holden Torana LH L34 SL/R 5000,” “Holden Torana LJ,” “Holden Torana LJ GTR XU-1,” “Holden Torana LX,” and “Holden Torana LX A9X” (no date, Unique Cars and Parts, www.uniquecarsandparts .com.au, accessed 13 January to 6 March 2011); HoldenTorana.com, accessed 4 February 2011; Andrew Jamieson, “The HR Holden” (no date, Andrew’s Holden Pages, home.austarnet .com.au/ jamieson/hrpage.html, accessed 13 January 2011); Joe Kenwright, “VG Valiant Hemi Pacer 1970-71,” Australian Muscle Car No. 49 (May-June 2010), pp. 80-88; “Monaro History” (1999, Holden Heaven, holden.itgo .com/ monaro_history.html, accessed 5 February 2011); “The A9X story…” (2008, A9X Torana Club of Australia Inc., www.a9xclub. org.au, accessed 5 February 2011); and the Wikipedia entry for Australian Motor Industries (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Motor_Industries, accessed 13 January 2011).
Information on the Australian Design Rules, which establish safety and emissions standards for Australian cars, came from “Australian Design Rules” (19 January 2010, Australian Government: Department of Infrastructure and Transport, www.infrastructure. gov.au/roads/motor/ design/ index.aspx, accessed 14 February 2011) and “Summary of Emissions Requirements for New Petrol Passenger Cars in Australia 1972-2010” (31 July 2008, Australian Government: Department of Infrastructure and Transport, www.infrastructure. gov.au/roads/ environment/impact/ emission.aspx, accessed 5 February 2011). Information on the UNECE Vehicle Regulations came from “Agreement Concerning the Adoption of Uniform Technical Prescriptions for Wheeled Vehicles, Equipment and Parts Which Can Be Fitted and/or Be Used on Wheeled Vehicles and the Conditions for Reciprocal Recognition of Approvals Granted on the Basis of those Prescriptions,” Revision 2, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Inland Transport Committee, 2 March 1958 (5 October 1995, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, www.unece.org, accessed 18 March 2011).
Other background details came from Chris Anderson, “Tin Liz Planned to Replace Asia’s Bullock,” Sydney Morning Herald 23 August 1970, p. 9; “Australia’s PMs” (no date, National Archives of Australia, primeministers. aa.gov.au, accessed 2 February 2011); “Ben Chifley: Prime Minister from 13 July 1945 to 19 December 1949” (no date, National Museum of Australia Canberra, www.nma. gov.au, accessed 10 January 2011); “Ford Forming New Subsidiary,” Pittsburgh Press 19 August 1970, p. 29; “Ford History” (no date, Asia Pacific Ford, www.asiapacific. ford .com, accessed 14 January 2011); “Ford Design VP Jack Telnack to Retire, Ending a Career of Nearly 40 Years” [press release], 15 September 1997; James B. Treece, “Edsel Ford: ‘I Want to Be Judged on My Ability,” Business Week 9 December 1991, www.businessweek .com, accessed 13 January 2011; and the Wikipedia entry on the Australian dollar (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_dollar, accessed 12 January 2011).
Historical exchange rate data for the U.S. dollar and the Australian pound and dollar were estimated based on data from Lawrence H. Officer, “Exchange Rates Between the United States Dollar and Forty-one Currencies” (2009, MeasuringWorth, https://www.measuringworth.org/exchangeglobal/; used with permission). The exchange rate values cited in the text represent the approximate equivalency in U.S. currency at the time, not contemporary U.S. manufacturer’s suggested retail prices. Please note that all exchange rate values are approximate, and presented solely for general informational purposes — this is an automotive history, not a treatise on currency trading or the value of money, and nothing in this article should be taken as financial advice of any kind!
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