By 1971, the American Ford Falcon was dead, but the Australian Falcon was still going strong. This week, the second part of our history of the Falcon down under, including the birth of the first all-Australian Falcon, a classic one-two finish on Mount Panorama, and a shot at international movie stardom as we look at the Ford XA Falcon and the subsequent XB, XC, XC Cobra, XD, and XE.
THE BIRTH OF THE ALL-AUSTRALIAN FORD FALCON
Around the time the Australian XT Falcon went on sale in March 1968, executives back in Dearborn were signing the death warrant of its North American counterpart. Sales of the American Falcon had dropped off sharply after the debut of the Mustang in April 1964 and never really recovered.
By 1968, the Falcon had become virtually invisible in the American market and Ford was already preparing a replacement, the Maverick, for a spring 1969 debut. Ford initially denied any plans to discontinue the Falcon, but it would disappear very early in 1970; for the remainder of the 1970 model year, the nameplate would be transferred to a de-contented version of the midsize Torino. After that, the American Falcon would be gone for good.
The Australian Falcon, however, was in good shape, having finally surmounted its early image problems. Two consecutive Car of the Year awards from Wheels, combined with the racing exploits of the XR GT, had contributed to a healthy increase in sales, while the Falcon-derived Australian Fairlane (only loosely related to its American counterpart) was good for an additional 10,000 or so units a year. In the U.S., the Falcon was a comparatively minor part of the Ford lineup, but it was the cornerstone of Ford Australia. Ford senior management in Dearborn and Oakville, Ontario, Canada, decided that after 1970, Australia would go it alone with an all-new Falcon platform.
While Ford had a small styling staff in Geelong in the mid-sixties, most major design work was still done in Dearborn, which had more stylists and far more extensive facilities. The contributions of Ford Australia’s local designers were generally limited to items like grilles or trim, although Geelong was responsible for ‘productionizing’ new designs. The third-generation Falcon would change all that.
In May 1968, Ford Australia chief stylist Jack Telnack and designers Brian Rossi and Allan Jackson flew to Michigan to work with their U.S. colleagues on the next-generation Falcon. According to automotive writer John Wright, the American designers envisioned the third-generation car as a sort of truncated version of Ford’s upcoming 1972 Torino line. (We don’t know if that would have meant abandoning the Falcon’s monocoque construction; Ford’s U.S. intermediates switched to body-on-frame for 1972.)
The cut-down Torino concept got as far as the full-size clay model stage, but the Australian team was not thrilled with its awkward proportions or sanguine about its likely prospects in the Australian market. Interestingly, those concerns echoed those of former Ford Australia managing director Charlie Smith, whose disdain for the proposed Zephyr Mark IIA a decade earlier had led directly to the birth of the original Australian XK Falcon.
Keen to demonstrate his designers’ abilities, Jack Telnack initiated a new design proposal, which his team worked many hours of overtime to complete before they flew home in October. Their work was amply rewarded: Not only did Telnack win management approval for his team’s design, its success allowed managing director Bill Bourke to secure permission to launch a full-fledged Australian design center. For his efforts, Jack Telnack was promoted to a more senior role in Ford’s European operations in 1970, becoming its styling vice president in 1974. Former Studebaker designer Duncan McRae succeeded him as chief stylist for Ford Australia.
THE XA FALCON
The car that Telnack and his team designed in the summer of 1968 finally made its debut in late February 1972 as the XA Falcon, replacing the XY Falcon, whose platform had dated back to the 1966 U.S. model. Although the XA had no North American counterpart, it nonetheless bore a strong family resemblance to contemporary U.S. Ford models, particularly the Mustang and Torino. It also looked significantly bigger than the previous XY Falcon, although the actual increase in dimensions was modest.
Engines and running gear were much the same as before, with a choice of 200 cu. in. (3,280 cc) or 250 cu. in. (4,102 cc) sixes and 302 cu. in. (4,942 cc) or 351 cu. in. (5,765 cc) V8s. A heater was finally standard across the line and front disc brakes were standard on all but base and 500 models.
To match the rival Holden Monaro and Chrysler Valiant Charger, a two-door hardtop coupe rejoined the Falcon line for the first time since the 1966 XP. Designed by Brian Rossi, the new hardtop was 2.0 inches (51 mm) lower and 2.7 inches (69 mm) wider than the sedan, with fat rear fenders and a racy, semi-fastback roofline. The coupe was identical to the sedan from the cowl forward, but the revised proportions made the hardtop look considerably sportier. Despite what you might expect, the coupe was actually about 35 lb (16 kg) heavier than a comparable sedan, presumably thanks to the extra structural reinforcement required by the pillarless roof.
The most muscular XA Falcon was the new Falcon GT, once again powered by an imported 351 cu. in. (5,765 cc) Cleveland V8 with 300 gross horsepower (224 kW). While all previous GTs had been four-door sedans, the XA GT was available as in either sedan or hardtop form, both sporting air intakes on each front fender, a pair of NACA hood scoops, and dramatic black bonnet stripes. The GT hardtop was arguably better-looking, but GT sedans actually outsold coupes by nearly 2 to 1.
Although it was potent enough by Australian standards, a stock XA GT was actually somewhat slower than the hotter Valiant Chargers with their Six Pack Hemi sixes and the Falcon GT’s performance was only slightly better than that of the smaller Holden LJ Torana GTR. Continuing the Falcon’s winning streak at the Hardie-Ferodo 500 at Bathurst would fall to a new homologation special: the XA GTHO Phase IV.
XA FALCON GTHO PHASE IV AND THE SUPERCAR CRISIS
When Australia’s “Great Race” first began in the early 1960s, it was contested by essentially stock production sedans, which in the early days could have a list price of no more than AU£2,000 (about US$4,500). By the early seventies, however, the tremendous publicity value of the Hardie-Ferodo 500 had led to an arms race between the leading Australian automakers and an array of formidable “Bathurst specials” developed specifically for racing homologation.
Ford had launched the first Falcon GTHO in June 1969 and the hotter GTHO Phase II and Phase III had brought works team driver Allan Moffat back-to-back Bathurst victories in 1970 and 1971. By mid-1972, Ford, GM-Holden, and Chrysler Australia were preparing their ultimate weapons for a rematch that October.
Like its predecessors, the GTHO Phase IV was developed by Ford Special Vehicles, then managed by Howard Marsden. The emphasis this time around was on durability and handling, addressing the reliability problems that the Phase III cars had suffered in competition. The Phase IV engine, still the 5,765 cc 351 Cleveland, kept the Phase III’s big Holley four-barrel carburetor, but a revised intake manifold and re-ported heads provided stronger mid-range performance while a new baffled sump reduced the risk of oil foaming in hard cornering.
Taking advantage of the XA’s wider track and revised rear suspension geometry, the Phase IV dispensed with the previous car’s rear anti-roll bar, providing more neutral handling. New 15 x 7-inch (381 x 178mm) Globe alloy wheels wore fatter ER-60H tires while a Detroit Locker differential with a 3.00 axle ratio permitted a higher top speed. The previous car’s oversize fuel tank was retained, with a capacity of 36 Imperial gallons (43.3 U.S. gallons, 163.8 liters), although the Phase III’s front and rear spoilers were deleted.
Years later, Ford Special Vehicles engineer Don Dunoon, who had worked on the original XR GT, characterized the Phase IV as a straightforward evolution that was only incrementally quicker than the Phase III. At the time, however, the new GTHO’s performance was big news. Wheels editor Mel Nichols, who tried one of the first Phase IV cars to be assembled in June 1972, reported that it could top 150 mph (242 km/h) with very little difficulty. Marsden later claimed that 170 mph (273 km/h) was achievable in full racing tune.
The 1972 Hardie-Ferodo 500 promised to be an epic battle, with the GTHO Phase IV squaring off against the new Chrysler VH Valiant Charger E49 and a planned V8-powered Holden Torana. Months before the race, however, these latest Bathurst specials ignited a public controversy that would bring about the end of Australia’s hottest production cars.
The flashpoint was a feature story in the Sunday, June 25, edition of the Sydney Sun-Herald with a provocative headline announcing that Australian car makers would soon be offering 160 mph (258 km/h) cars for public sale. A description of the new homologation models was accompanied by the outraged reactions of former Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies and New South Wales transport minister Milton Morris, who decried such cars as irresponsible and called upon the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) to reconsider its homologation rules.
The newspaper article was not the work of a Ralph Nader-style safety crusader, but of new Sun-Herald motoring editor Evan Green, a well-respected rallyist who had driven a works Austin 1800 in the 1968 London-to-Sydney Marathon. According to Green’s friend Harvey Grennan, then Milton Morris’s press secretary, Green had only sought comment from Morris in hopes of pepping up an otherwise-straightforward back-pages article on the latest Bathurst specials. If that was Green’s goal, it succeeded beyond expectations. The story was a sensation, attracting widespread public attention and prompting an outcry from safety advocates and police officials.
Ford Australia’s initial reaction was to place an angry call to Morris’s office to complain about the minister’s public remarks. It was the wrong response. The controversy soon escalated into a stand-off, with the Australian government warning that it would no longer purchase fleet vehicles from any manufacturer who offered such homologation specials. This threat sat ill with auto industry executives (particularly Howard Marsden, for obvious reasons), but the prospect of losing an important chunk of the fleet market was not something automakers could afford to ignore. The GTHO Phase IV was canceled, and for a time, Ford dealer bulletins denied that any such model had ever existed in the first place.
Since the Phase IV was never homologated, the Ford works team fell back on the older XY GTHO Phase III at Bathurst on October 1. The results were not auspicious: Although Ford driver John French eventually managed second place, Fred Gibson’s car was disabled by a rollover, while other works drivers, including Allan Moffat, suffered a host of mechanical problems. While the Holden Dealer Team’s Torana GTR XU-1s fell short of the Falcons in outright performance, they made up the difference with greater reliability. HDT driver Peter Brock took first place by a five-lap margin; Charger E49s managed third and fourth.
THE LAST BATHURST SPECIAL: RPO83
Despite the cancellation of the Phase IV, Ford built one final XA homologation model, the 1973 GT Special. Known on the order form as RPO83, the GT Special used some but not all of the modifications developed for the Phase IV. Unlike prior GTHOs, the Special was available with either manual or automatic transmission. Some RPO83 cars also had four-wheel disc brakes, which were added to late-model XA GTs to help meet the 250-car homologation minimum. Ford ultimately built only 259 GT Specials. Production cars were split almost equally between sedans and hardtops, although works racers now favored the latter.
The “Great Race” of October 1973 was renamed Hardie-Ferodo 1000 and extended from 500 to 621 miles (805 to 1,000 km), reflecting Australia’s transition to the metric system. The additional laps put a greater strain on both drivers and cars, but this time the Falcon GT Specials had the edge in reliability. Both Fred Gibson and John Goss were DNF, but Allan Moffat and co-driver Ian (Pete) Geoghegan took first place, Moffat’s third Bathurst victory.
It would be the last hurrah for the Ford works team. A few weeks after the event, the Yom Kippur War led to the first OPEC oil embargo and a worldwide energy crisis. In the U.S., Ford Motor Company had already withdrawn from racing to focus on emission controls; Ford Australia followed suit in late January 1974. The works team was dissolved, although its drivers continued to race with other sponsorship.
By then, the XA Falcon was already out of production, replaced by the facelifted XB. The XA had been quite successful, selling more than 152,000 units in 16 months. The related ZF Fairlane accounted for an additional 17,000-odd cars. The XA still fell short of the popular HQ Holden, but it sold better than any of its predecessors.
While the XA undoubtedly owed some of its success to the work of Jack Telnack and his team, the car’s good fortunes also reflected the continuing growth of the Australian market. According to the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, total new car registrations in Australia had risen from around 267,000 for the 1962 fiscal year to more than 400,000 for 1973. More significantly, the ratio of motor vehicles to population had risen from 285 vehicles per 1,000 people in 1962 to nearly 440 per 1,000 at the end of 1973. That still fell short of the U.S., which topped 525 vehicles per 1,000 people in 1970, but Australia was catching up fast.
XB FALCON: THE LAST GT
The restyled XB Falcon debuted in September 1973, retaining the XA’s body shell, but sporting a new front-end treatment that added 3 inches (76 mm) to its overall length. Mechanical changes were minor; the two-barrel 250 cu. in. (4,102 cc) six was dropped and the optional V8 engines were both made in Geelong rather than imported from the U.S. An all-synchro three-speed gearbox and front disc brakes finally became standard on low-end models. The additional equipment was some consolation for buyers suffering sticker shock. A base Falcon sedan now started at AU$3,236 (about US$4,600), up almost AU$500 from a comparable XA, while the XB Fairmont ran to more than AU$4,000 (nearly US$5,400).
The XB GT, now equipped with standard four-wheel disc brakes and the locally made (H-block) version of the 4V 351 Cleveland (5,765 cc) V8, looked thoroughly aggressive, although performance was not quite as muscular as the GT’s appearance suggested. Moreover, the GT was now the hottest factory XB; thanks to the previous year’s scandal (and changes to the CAMS touring car regulations), there would be no more GTHOs or GT Specials. In the late sixties, there had briefly been discussion of offering Ford’s big block engines in the Falcon, but it was no longer a serious production possibility. Nonetheless, in 1975, Ford designers Wayne Draper and Peter Arcadipane installed a pair of borrowed 427 cu. in. (6,981 cc) crate motors in their personal XB hardtops.
A Falcon was once again victorious at Bathurst in October 1974, but it was a year-old XA GT, driven by John Goss and sponsored by McLeod Ford, a local dealer. Second, third, and fourth places went to the new Holden Torana L34, powered by a locally made 308 cu. in. (5,044 cc) V8. The Toranas would dominate Bathurst for the next three years; privately run Falcon XB GTs failed to even finish the race in 1975.
Fortunately for Ford, the XB’s showroom performance was considerably more heartening. Despite the energy crisis, which sent many buyers scurrying to smaller cars, the Falcon did quite well throughout 1974, actually outselling the big Holden for the first time. The XB still couldn’t match the total production of the outgoing HQ Holden, but it made a good showing against the subsequent HJ. The final tally for the XB’s 33-month production run was around 220,000 units.
The XB’s popularity was not reflected in increased GT sales. XB GT production totaled only 2,899 cars, of which only 949 were hardtops. The main reason for the sluggish sales was cost. Australian muscle cars were falling victim to the same dilemma that had undone their American counterparts: The young buyers for whom they held the strongest appeal were hard pressed to afford the cars, the petrol, or the insurance premiums. A Falcon 500 with the GS Rally Pack and one of the lesser engines was a more realistic proposition for many customers. While we have no production figures for the GS pack, we suspect that take-up was fairly high, mirroring the new breed of tape-and-decal pseudo-Supercars that were becoming common in the States in the same period.
Again paralleling the U.S. market, Australia in the mid-seventies saw a new vogue for customized vans and utes like the HJ Holden Sandman wagon or Ford’s similar Surfsider and Surferoo packages. Ostensibly aimed at surfers and campers, they quickly acquired the same dubious connotations as American custom vans, but they suited the tenor of the times and they were easier to insure than muscle cars.
THE XC FALCON AND THE AUSTRALIAN DESIGN RULES
The restyled XC Falcon debuted in July 1976. The final redesign of the third-generation body shell, the XC toned down the XB’s upswept beltline and bulged fenders, adding larger side windows and a squared-off front clip. The Fairmont now had fashionable rectangular headlights, further distinguishing it from lesser models; the mid-line Futura series was dropped. More notably, the XC was the first Falcon designed to meet Australia’s latest safety and exhaust emissions standards.
Despite the Supercar crisis, Australia’s safety and environmental advocates lacked the political momentum of their American counterparts and Australia’s adoption of safety and emissions standards was comparatively gradual. The first Australian Design Rules for motor vehicles were drafted in the early sixties, but they did not start to become legally binding until January 1, 1969. Until 1989, they still were administered separately by each state and territory.
The earliest ADRs to take effect covered items like back-up lights, turn signals, and seat belts, followed in turn by requirements for energy-absorbing steering columns and shatter-resistant glass. Standards for side door protection went into effect in January 1977, but U.S.-style barrier crash standards and passive restraint rules were still years away.
The first standard for exhaust emissions, ADR26, effective January 1, 1972, was similarly modest, imposing a limit on carbon monoxide (CO) emissions as a percentage of total exhaust volume. ADR27, which took effect two years later, established maxima for both CO and unburned hydrocarbons (HC), measured over a 13-minute, 15-phase static test period. While both standards required some engine modifications, they had relatively little effect on performance. ADR27a, which took effect July 1, 1976, was more challenging, setting new grams-per-kilometer maxima for CO and HC emissions and adding new limits for oxides of nitrogen (NOx). Meeting those standards with carbureted engines was troublesome, and Australian drivers soon got their first taste of the drivability problems that plagued many contemporary American cars.
The XC Falcon, which debuted just as ADR27a went into effect, coped better than some. Ford developed new cylinder heads for most of its engines, allowing them to meet the new standards without completely undermining power drivability. Output of the redesigned sixes changed little, but the Geelong-built 302 cu. in. Cleveland engine (now advertised as 4.9 liters) now had a four-barrel carburetor and a rating of 202 hp (151 kW). The 351C (now advertised as 5.8 liters) had a net rating of 217 hp (162 kW).
Critics generally found the Falcon’s engines better sorted than those of the rival HX Holden, which relied on add-on emissions control devices. The difference probably contributed to the XC Falcon’s sales success; the XC outsold the HX Holden and did well against the facelifted HZ, introduced later in the year.
The XC hardtop did not arrive until December 1976, nearly five months after the sedans, perhaps to give dealers a chance to clear their stocks of XB hardtops, whose sales had been disappointing. The Falcon GT did not return at all. Former Ford stylist Wayne Draper later told Australian Muscle Car‘s Mark Oastler that Ford had wanted to continue the series, but insurance costs had become so prohibitive that there seemed little point. The sportiest XC model was now the Fairmont GXL, which was pitched as a luxury sports sedan in the mold of the upscale European brands then enjoying a newfound (and ultimately short-lived) popularity in Australia.
FORM FINISH: MOFFAT FORD DEALERS AT BATHURST
With no XC GT and the XC coupe still two months away, Allan Moffat’s new semi-official Moffat Ford Dealers team was forced to rely on a trio of XB GTs driven by Moffat, John Goss, and Murray Carter, with co-drivers Vern Schuppan, Jim Richards, and Ray Winter. While Allan Moffat eventually drove his own and John Goss’s Falcons (the latter borrowed after Moffat’s own car was damaged by fire) to a 1976 Australian Touring Car Championship title, Bathurst was a disappointment. The Moffat Falcons posted strong lap times at Mount Panorama, but all three cars were felled by engine or driveline failures, although only the Moffat/Schuppan car was officially listed as DNF. The race was dominated by the Holden Torana L34, which took the first seven places. Victory went to Bob Morris and John Fitzpatrick, driving a Torana sponsored by Ron Hodgson Racing.
For 1977, John Goss and Murray Carter went their own way, and the Moffat Ford Dealers team fielded only two cars, one driven by Allan Moffat and new co-driver Jacky Ickx, the other by Colin Bond and Alan Hamilton, who had dismayed many Holden fans by defecting from HDT to the Ford camp. Since the new Falcon coupe had now been homologated, Moffat’s team, like many racers, traded its XBs for a pair of race-prepared XC GS hardtops. In all, there were seven XC Falcons and four XB GTs at the starting line of the Hardie-Ferodo 1000 on October 2, facing 19 Holden Torana LXs.
All the racing Toranas were the new A9X model, which Holden had introduced with little fanfare in August 1977. A throwback to the earlier Bathurst specials, the A9X was specifically designed for racing homologation, combining the Torana LX body shell with the rear floorpan of the forthcoming UC Torana, which allowed allowing room for a beefier rear axle with rear disc brakes. All A9Xs had a 308 cu. in. (5,044 cc) V8, but while the street cars had the detuned, emissions-compliant L31 engine, racers used the hotter L34 (which was already homologated, even though it was no longer available to civilians). Either way, the A9X was fast. Even the street cars were capable of 130 mph (210 km/h) while the taller-geared racers could top 165 mph (265 km/h).
While the pole position went to Peter Brock, driving a Torana sponsored by Bill Patterson Holden, the Moffat Ford Dealers Falcons quickly took the lead and held it throughout the race. While only one non-Moffat XC and one XB made it to the end, Moffat and Bond’s cars suffered no problems until the final laps. Realizing that his brakes were almost gone, Moffat radioed the pit with instructions for Bond to drop behind him for a formation finish. The two cars came down the final straightaway side by side, with Moffat crossing the finish line a tenth of a second ahead — a spectacular finish that recalled Ford’s 1-2-3 victory at Le Mans in 1966. For Ford racing fans, it was the Falcon’s finest hour.
XC COBRA: THE LAST HURRAH
The Falcon’s dramatic 1-2 finish at Bathurst in 1977 failed to revive interest in the XC hardtop. Big coupes had never really caught on in the Australian market the way they had in the U.S.; the two-door Holden Monaro was already gone, phased out in 1976. While the rest of the XC Falcon line was doing quite well, sales of the hardtop had fallen to fewer than 1,000 units in 1977 and many dealers were loath to even order them.
While cancellation was the obvious solution, managing director Sir Brian Inglis was reluctant to write off Ford’s stockpile of unused components, which was sufficient to build more than 500 coupes. Faced with a similar problem two years earlier, GM-Holden had sold its final two-door HX Monaros as well-equipped special editions, the luxury-oriented LE. In a similar spirit, Ford Australia’s new deputy managing director, Edsel Ford II — son of company chairman Henry Ford II — proposed marketing the final XC hardtops as Cobras, a storied nameplate Ford had recently revived for the North American Mustang II.
The first of 400 XC Cobras went on sale in September 1978. While they were every bit as ostentatious as any of the earlier GTs or GTHOs, sporting big Cobra decals on the front fenders and a white-and-blue color scheme intended to evoke Ford’s GT40 racers of the mid-sixties, about half had the mild 302 cu. in. (4,942 cc) engine; the rest had the 351C (5,765 cc). Thirty of the cars, however, had specials modifications for racing homologation, including rear-facing cowl scoops (in addition to the standard twin NACA ducts), extra chassis bracing, a transmission oil cooler, and a heavy-duty cooling system with an electric fan.
Despite those improvements, there would be no repetition of the previous year’s Bathurst triumph. Murray Carter and co-driver Graeme Lawrence managed third place, but both Moffat Ford Dealers cars were DNF, Colin Bond and Fred Gibson due to engine trouble, Allan Moffat and Jacky Ickx due to brake damage suffered in an earlier pit fire. The victory went to Peter and Phil Brock, who, like all the top finishers in 1978, drove a Torana A9X.
The loss at Bathurst capped a disappointing season for the Moffat Ford Dealers team and it left the sponsoring dealers somewhat disenchanted. The team was dissolved in early 1979, with Colin Bond departing to join the Ford Escort rally team, amid widespread — and, according to Moffat, entirely false — rumors that Moffat had sacked him. Moffat returned to Bathurst in October 1979 with the Camel Filters cigarette brand as his principal sponsor, but engine failure forced him and co-driver John Fitzpatrick to retire after 136 laps. By then, the XC was already extinct, production having ended earlier in the year.
Not long before production of the third-generation Falcon ended in March 1979, director George Miller and producer Byron Kennedy wrapped filming on the movie that would make it an icon. Produced on a very limited budget, Mad Max was a sort of post-apocalyptic blend of Two-Lane Blacktop and Walking Tall: a violent drama about a vengeful cop hunting down a marauding biker gang in a vaguely defined dystopian future. It ultimately grossed more than US$100 million worldwide, making an international star of a young Australian actor named Mel Gibson and spawning an even more successful 1981 sequel, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. A third film, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, followed in 1985. [Author’s note: A fourth film, Mad Max: Fury Road, followed in 2015.]
As far auto enthusiasts were concerned, the films’ most interesting feature was their array of Australian cars, which few outside Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa had ever seen. Most of the cars deployed by the first film’s fictional Main Force Patrol were XA or XB Falcons, at least one of which had previously been an actual police car in Melbourne. The title character’s ill-fated family had a modified HJ Holden Sandman van.
The most famous of the film cars, of course, was Max’s black Falcon coupe, featured prominently in both the first film and The Road Warrior. Originally a 1973 XB GT, the Falcon was customized with side pipes, a simulated Weiand 6-71 supercharger, fender flares, roof and decklid spoilers, and a “Concorde” front clip (a popular aftermarket piece originally developed by Ford stylist Peter Arcadipane).
Some of these modifications were removed after the filming of Mad Max because they ran afoul of the state of Victoria’s compliance (licensing) requirements, forcing the filmmakers to recreate the changes for the sequel. For the second film, the car also received a number of other modifications, including the addition of auxiliary fuel tanks to reflect the continuing disintegration of Max’s world. The original car was eventually sold for scrap, but it was subsequently purchased and restored by collector Bob Fursenko and is now on exhibit at England’s Cars of the Stars Motor Museum in Keswick.
BLACKWOOD: THE XD FALCON
The fourth-generation Falcon bowed on March 28, 1979, a mere two weeks before the premiere of Mad Max, and was shaped in no small part by the same events that had inspired the film: the chaos following the 1973–74 OPEC embargo.
Even before the embargo and subsequent energy crisis, there had been some concern that the continued growth of cars like the Falcon and the big Holdens would eventually take them out of Australian buyers’ comfort zone in size, price, and thirst. Although sales had remained surprisingly good throughout the crisis, as GM-Holden and Ford Australia looked toward the end of the decade, both gave serious thought to downsizing.
As in the U.S., where GM downsized its big cars for the 1977 model year, Holden was first unto the breach, launching the new VB Commodore in November 1978. Developed at a cost of more than AU$110 million (approximately US$125 million), the Commodore combined familiar Holden running gear with a body shell based on the Opel Rekord E. The Commodore was 5.4 inches (137 mm) shorter, 6.7 inches (170 mm) narrower, and about 270 lb (122 kg) lighter than the big Kingswood, splitting the difference between the HZ and the compact Torana.
While Ford Australia considered a similar adaptation of one of the corporation’s North American or European models, they opted instead for an extensive makeover of the XC platform, code-named Blackwood. The Blackwood, later christened XD, retained the XC’s floorpan and most of its suspension (which had been redesigned in May 1978 to accommodate newly standard radial tires), but most of its body shell was new.
Although it was developed at Ford’s design center in Campbellfield, Victoria, the XD looked decidedly European with its low beltline, large greenhouse, and sharply creased lines. Adding to the effect were a flush grille and rectangular headlights borrowed from the European Ford Granada. Engines were largely carryover, but the XD benefited from an ambitious weight-reduction program that made extensive use of aluminum and plastic components, among them a plastic fuel tank, a first for mass-production cars. In most respects, the XD looked like an all-new model and was scarcely less expensive to develop — a reported AU$100 million (roughly US$113 million).
The model lineup was also new. The previous base and 500 were consolidated into a single GL series, while the top-of-the-line Fairmont GXL was superseded by the new Fairmont Ghia, taking its name from the venerable Italian coachworks that Ford had acquired earlier in the decade. There were no more coupes or GTs, although both the 302 (4,942 cc) and 351 (5,765 cc) V8s remained available, now down to 188 hp (140 kW) and 200 hp (149 kW) respectively. Nonetheless, performance and fuel economy were somewhat improved, in large part because the XD was more than 250 lb (115 kg) lighter than the XC. An XD sedan with the big engine and four-speed gearbox could reach 62 mph (100 km/h) in around 8.5 seconds and a top speed of more than 125 mph (200 km/h), sprightly for the time.
Much to the disappointment of Ford fans and the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, Ford Australia announced that it had no intention of racing the XD Falcon. Prior to the announcement, however, Ford stylist Wayne Draper and aerodynamicist David Edwards had quietly developed a race-oriented body kit, dubbed “Phase V,” that trimmed the XD’s drag coefficient by more than 25% with a commensurate reduction in lift.
Draper and body shop owner Robert McWilliam, the brother of a Ford modeler, secretly formed a new company, Phase Autos Pty Ltd., to manufacture a small number of Phase V body kits — toned down somewhat in response to objections from CAMS — and partnered with racing driver and builder Murray Carter to sell them. Although only a handful of Phase V cars was actually built, all powered by high-output 351 cu. in. (5,765 cc) engines with a claimed 302 hp (225 kW), Carter was nonetheless able to homologate them for competition.
According to Draper, it was not until the 1980 racing season was under way that Ford management grasped what was going on. Fortunately for him, the XD’s performance at the Hardie-Ferodo 1000 that October was strong enough (despite the fact that none of the eight cars finished the race) to persuade Ford to reexamine their attitude about supporting competition — and to overlook Draper’s unauthorized extracurricular activities.
Ford management may also have been swayed by the sad plight of driver Dick Johnson, whose XD Falcon was destroyed by track debris on the 17th lap at Bathurst. After the race, fans began a campaign to buy Johnson a new car, an effort to which Edsel Ford II announced Ford Australia would contribute. Buoyed by that public show of support and armed with a fresh XD Falcon, Johnson and co-driver John French emerged victorious at Mount Panorama in 1981, although that event was marred by a multi-car wreck that ended the race after only 121 laps.
Overall, the XD Falcon proved to be a similarly sound investment for Ford Australia. It was visibly smaller and more modern-looking than either its predecessor or the outgoing HZ Holden, responding to buyer concerns about fuel economy, but it was bigger than the comparably priced VB Commodore, making the Falcon seem a good value. XD sales totaled almost 207,000 units in 36 months — not a record for the Australian Falcon, but quite good nonetheless.
AUSTRALIA’S #1: THE XE FALCON
The XD was superseded in March 1982 by the new XE Falcon. Although the XE had a new slatted, wrap-over nose treatment and a reshaped boot, it was more than a facelift: XE vans and utes retained the XD’s semi-elliptical rear springs, but the sedans traded Hotchkiss drive for a new trailing-arm rear suspension with coil springs and a Watt’s linkage for lateral axle location. It was not yet an independent rear suspension, which the Falcon would not offer until 1998, but the new layout offered a significantly more comfortable ride with no sacrifice in handling.
With its Continental shape and tidy exterior dimensions, the XE Falcon seemed to have left its American roots far behind it. Also gone was the previous generation’s muscular image, although the Fairmont Ghia ESP, with standard four-wheel disc brakes and performance suspension, made a fair European-style sport sedan, particularly with the optional big V8.
The V8s would not survive for long; both the 302 (4,942 cc) and 351 (5,765 cc) engines were discontinued less than nine months after launch. The big six had long been more popular with Falcon buyers than either V8, and higher oil prices following the 1979 Iranian revolution had further depressed V8 sales. Ironically, fuel prices had already peaked and begun to fall by the time the V8s were dropped, but at the time Ford decided to cancel the big engines, conventional wisdom in the auto industry was that the V8’s days were numbered.
Anticipating an exclusively four- and six-cylinder future, Ford Australia had invested heavily in upgrading the Falcon’s sixes. During the XD’s production run, Ford commissioned Honda to develop new aluminum cylinder heads for both the 200 cu. in. (3,280 cc) and 250 cu. in. (4,102 cc) sixes, trimming about 50 lb (22 kg) from their all-up weight and offering incremental improvements in power, torque, and drivability. For the XE, both engines received new Weber ADM carburetors, bringing them to 121 hp (90 kW) and 141 hp (105 kW) respectively. In February 1983, Bosch LE2-Jetronic electronic fuel injection became optional on the big six, bringing it to 149 hp (111 kW) and 241 lb-ft (325 N-m) of torque. Unfortunately, only the smaller engine was offered with a Borg-Warner five-speed gearbox, a new option for the Falcon.
The deletion of the V8 had little impact on the XE’s popularity. The XE was a great commercial success, selling 193,890 units in 18 months and finally wresting the title of best-selling Australian model from Holden for the first time since the forties. Admittedly, GM-H had to some extent withdrawn from the fight — since the demise of the HZ in 1980, Holden’s biggest sedan had been the Commodore SL/E, which was perceptibly smaller (and far more European) than the Falcon. Chrysler had abandoned the field as well, selling its Australian operations to Mitsubishi in 1980. (The final CM Valiants, no longer badged as Chryslers, were gone by the end of 1981.) Regardless, the restyled XF Falcon, launched in October 1984, maintained the XE’s status as Australia’s No. 1 car.
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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- Outfoxing the Fox: The Fox Mustangs and Mustang SVO
- The Salesman and the Statistician: Robert McNamara, Lee Iacocca, and the Ford Falcon