A NEW ERA
The Australian Falcon story certainly doesn’t end with the XE and XF — it continues through the current FG series [Author’s note: which sadly was discontinued in 2016] — but we’ll draw the curtain there, leaving the rest for another day.
Thanks to their racing pedigree and movie career, second- and third-generation Falcons continue to enjoy an avid following. Never produced in large numbers, authentic examples of the performance models are particularly sought after even among a few ambitious overseas collectors — reader John Cox recently spotted an XC Cobra in Pensacola, Florida, of all places. Some fans have settled for clones, converted from 500s and Fairmonts with varying degrees of accuracy. There are probably as many ersatz GTs on the road today as Ford ever built.
The XE was not the last V8 Falcon; the 302 cu. in. (4,942 cc) V8 returned in the 1991 EB line and the GT was reborn in 2003 after two brief revivals in the nineties. Nonetheless, the XD and XE V8s were the final direct descendants of the muscle car lineage begun by the XR GT in 1967. They also marked the fulfillment of Ford Australia’s original ambitions for the Falcon more than than 20 years before. The models that followed, whatever their virtues, became something quite different, and while they were often very popular, they don’t yet command the same affection or loyalty.
The epitome of that loyalty may be Australian actor Eric Bana, whose XB Falcon coupe became the subject of Bana’s 2009 documentary Love the Beast. Having watched the Falcon’s Bathurst exploits (and Mad Max) as a boy, Bana bought a rusty six-cylinder Falcon 500 hardtop as a teenager, eventually fortifying it with an almost entirely new body shell and a host of aftermarket components, including a competition suspension, big AP Racing brakes, a Tremec five-speed gearbox, and a bored-and-stroked 400 cu. in. (6.6 liter) Windsor engine with 590 horsepower (440 kW). The coupe was nearly written off after Bana crashed it at the 2007 Targa Tasmania, but he eventually decided to rebuild the car, which he has owned since the age of 15.
Bana and his friends, who have helped him keep the “Beast” alive over the years, admit that little remains of the battered hulk he originally brought home, but its spirit survives — a still-formidable relic of a memorable epoch for Ford, auto racing, and the Australian motor industry.
I would once again like to extend a hearty thanks to reader John Howell, both for his encouragement and insights and for allowing me to use some of his photos for these articles.
Special thanks are also due to Matt Baker, John Cox, Paul McCurley, Helen Sanders, 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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34 CommentsAdd a Comment
A beautifully researched article as per usual! Looking forward to something similar on Holden. Thanks again…
Great article and good research are you going to continue? Ford had already spent money in preperation to the XA being released by beefing up the suspension on the XY model the XA being really a reskin other than the gearbox tailshaft lengths mechanically the are the same. The first NEW floor pan is the EA and parts interchange all the way thru. Thank god Ford didnt go with the Torino.
There was more to it than a reskin, as the suspension track width increased for one. A new ‘top hat’ would be a better way to describe it. Then there was a new rear floorpan for the Watts linkage on the XE which carried through with minor revisions in the E-series. The Falcon is certainly a ‘Grandpa’s axe’ car.
Great article again Aaron.
Also, because the Falcon has always been monocoque, a new body shell was an expensive undertaking (especially at Ford Australia’s smaller volume), even if the running gear and a lot of the suspension and brake hardware were more or less carryover.
Wow, another great article. Any plans on doing the Valiant Charger Hemi (slant) 6-pack? Or are you Aussied out?
It would definitely be an interesting story, although I don’t have plans to do it immediately, for purely practical reasons — this was a really daunting piece to do, and I think I’d have to work up to doing another quite so ambitious!
It’s easy to see this was a lot of work from a site (which is just you) that does a lot of work. I guess it’s my love of Mopar and my lust to own one in California. I can’t afford to get one with my current travel plans (still need to ride across Europe and Russia) on my ’65 Ducati. They rank high on my list of cars to own. One day…
Admittedly, the Chrysler Valiant would be less daunting to do now, because I have more context for the contemporary Australian market than I did when I embarked on this one. The tricky bit with cars that have never been sold in the U.S. at all is inevitably images. Any article where I don’t have at least a baseline of photos of my own to work with becomes exponentially more difficult, and where I have none — well, without the help of the folks mentioned in the Acknowledgments, this article would have been barren-looking indeed.
Great write up, although you missed the Landau.
I came here for the Kaiser-Frazer and Nash, but couldn’t stop reading this site, awesome work.
i’ve got a 1974 gs ford falcon panel van no side back windows, gs stripe up both sides and two back doors opening outwards i can’t find any info on it. she’s original except for the motor. its been in the family for abt 27 yrs.
can anyone help.
Ford has just announced plans to cease production of cars in Australia in October 2016. Australian-market Fords after that will be imported.
I saw that earlier this afternoon — a sad day for Australian enthusiasts.
Awesome article, as always. I’ve always found the Australian cars of the 70s more attractive than the American cars of the 70s.
Just one update. There were two Interceptors in Mad Max. The yellow XB sedan that Max drives and the yellow XA sedan named March Hare that Sarse and Scuttle drive. It eventually hits the Tardis and is rolled.
Thanks for the clarification! It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen the film (which I must admit is not my cup of tea).
Hi ! I would appreciate if anyone can help.
I need exterior height measurement for the XB PANEL VAN.
I can see the sedan & hardtop measurements in my searches, but not the panel van.
Where can I look or ask?
Thanks & regards
I don’t have any information that detailed, sorry!
From the XB sales brochure… 63.5″
Awesome article. I’ve always liked Australian cars. I don’t know why, since I’m not from Australia, nor have I ever lived in Australia.
Australian cars can be a fun subject for Americans because (to my view) the cars often seem familiar enough to be alternate-reality versions of U.S. cars. By contrast, a British or German car (much less a French or Japanese one) generally seems foreign to American eyes, a product designed for different conditions and different tastes. A Holden or Australian Ford or Chrysler is like the automotive equivalent of seeing a cousin you’ve never met, but who clearly looks like you.
We briefly got the Holden Monaro in the States, badged as a Pontiac G8. The automotive equivalent of your cousin coming to the US and fitting right in.
Aaron, Thanks for the great article. The similarities and differences between US and Australia can be fascinating and old cars are a great example.
American cars of this period have a huge following in Australia, probably for similar reasons you find the Australian car interesting. For many Australians, old American cars are familiar but more flamboyant and unusual at the same time.
Sadly the Australia car manufacturing industry is ending, in addition to Ford, GMH and Toyota planning to close their plants. The death of the Falcon and Commodore also means the death of big cheap rear wheel drive sedans. The differences that once characterised US, Australian and European cars are disappearing. Comparing cars is not going to be as interesting if we all end up driving Camrys!
There are many reasons for the demise of the Australian car manufacturing industry. Australian made cars like the Falcons discussed here faced less competition in the past because of import protection policies but these have been gradually stripped away over the last 20 years. The need for locally developed models has also gone as Australians mostly now drive imported medium sedans, cross-overs and utes or pickups the same as many other countries.
Australian motor sport will need to adapt. The Australian Touring car series was based on modified production cars like the GTHO Falcons. The current V8 Supercars have become a silhouette type formula, kind of Australian’s version of NASCAR. It will be interesting to see if this series can retain popularity as Ford vs Holden rivalry reduces with the V8 Falcon and Commodore road cars passing into history.
The demise of the Australian native industry is regrettable, although considering that it was heavily dependent on protectionist trade policy, it’s not terribly surprising from a political standpoint. There are good reasons for protectionism, from an economic standpoint, but there are also a lot of powerful forces that find it inconvenient and troublesome, which in today’s world tends to paint a big bulls-eye on it.
I recall seeing an article that had a xw or xy falcon factory prepared with a 428 or 429 big block. In essence it was for one of the big executives in Ford Australia. he may have been an American on secondment to Australia . For some reason i thought Lee Iacocca was involved. It was a factory assembled big block Australian falcon. I wonder if anyone else has seen or heard of this 1 off Falcon.
It was an XW built for Bill Bourke, then Ford Australia’s managing director — it’s mentioned in Part One of this article. It had a 428 (presumably a 428CJ or something close to it), not the 429.
Moffat’s 77 bathurst winning car is an XBGT with XC front panels and dash, you show a picture where it was running up the hill at Goodwood, i also saw it there confirmed JG66 vin number along with the Bathurst mechanic who said it was indeed a XBGT.
Thanks for the note — you’re likely right, but I will do some checking when I have a few minutes to spare so that I can correct the text and caption appropriately. (It’s not that I doubt you, I just want to make sure I don’t create new errors in the fixing.)
The car is listed on the entry list as a Ford XC Falcon GS500 Hardtop, but it is quite common for race cars to be updated (where possible) to the latest model/specs and used for several seasons.
There is a history of the car at this link: http://www.v8supercars.com.au/news/championship/saturday-sleuthing-moffat-s-1977-bathurst-1-2-winner
Thanks, John! I will take a closer look at all this when I’m not running on three hours’ sleep.
Stumbled across this history in a link to a Jalopnik article. Fun stuff! Reads like “50 Years of Holden” I received when I was in Oz 20 years ago! I appreciate finally learning more about Ford Australia. Although I worked mainly with GMH at the time, I do have the diff from an XY under the back of my 39 Ford Roadster. Cheers
I literally stumbled on this Australian Falcon article. How wonderful and it is a walk down memory lane. Can you believe that I still chat with Jack Telnack and Brian Rossi (Ross) . We’re all retired now, Jack in Michigan, Ross in Florida and i’m In Washington State in the small town of Poulsbo. Great nostalgia, thanks. Alan Jackson. Car Designer.
The XD Falcon was based on the U.K Ford Granada
The XD was not based on the Granada Leon, it was styled in the late 70s Ford design (like the Granada & Cortina) but apart from the headlights they are completely different mechanically.
Are you referring to something specific in the text? The article doesn’t say the XD was based on the Granada, but rather on a made-over and weight-reduced XC platform.