Home' V8X Supercar Magazine : Apr May 2016 Issue 92 Contents 28
FALCON WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Some of the Phase IV parts would even
make their way onto a special batch of XA
GTs, but the single-minded HO option was
gone – and with it much of the madness
By the time the XC Falcon rolled around
in 1976, the GT – which had softened
further with the imposition of a pollution-
spec engine in 1973’s XB series – had been
put out to pasture.
In any case, the Falcon name stayed up
in lights on the track through much of the
1970s. Allan Moffat, after winning the
1973 ATCC in an XY Phase III, gave the XA
hardtop a Bathurst win on debut in 1973
and John Goss followed up in his XA in the
big wet of 1974.
1976 brought another ATCC crown for
Moffat in an XB hardtop. 1977, the year
after the GT officially departed the road
scene, was a whitewash for the big Ford,
with Moffat winning the ATCC and leading
home a famous one-two at Bathurst.
Even into the 1980s, when Ford had all
but washed its hands of overt involvement
in the sport, the Falcon – now into the XD
and XE generations, and being steered by a
certain Queenslander called Dick Johnson
would keep on winning. Not for long,
By 1982, Ford had parlayed the Falcon’s
good name to market leadership after
decades of chasing Holden. It was now a
different company with different priorities
and performance cars and racing were no
longer part of its agenda. By the end of that
same year, the curtain on its V8 production
would come down.
This was the death knell for the Falcon
on the track. When Group A regulations
were announced for 1985 that tightened
the relationship between road and race
cars again and required a greater level of
manufacturer involvement, Ford was left
holding the can.
The Falcon, without a V8, was never
going to be a competitive proposition, and
Ford racers like Johnson were forced to
look overseas for Mustangs and Sierras.
It would take until 1992 for a Falcon
touring car to reappear on Australian
tracks. By then Ford had done an about-
face on its no-V8s/no-performance-cars
policy and wanted back in with the sport
that had helped make the Falcon’s name.
It would get its wish, and the Falcon
would once again make its presence felt
on the Bathurst and ATCC honour roll, but
that’s another story.
Fred Gibson, along with Harry Firth,
brought the Falcon GT its first Bathurst
success in 1967. His racing career is inex-
tricably linked to the Falcon, but when the
XR GT first appeared he had no idea of the
significant role this new performance car
would be play in his career. Like any petrol-
head of the day, though, he was bowled
over by it.
“It was the first of the muscle cars, wasn’t
it?” he says.
“Everyone was like, ‘Wow!’ They had
the 289 in the Falcon bodyshell and that’s
what it was all about. For Australia to have
a V8 in a normal road car, a family car, was
“I think Ford took a pretty big gamble to
do that... and it really paid off.”
Gibson only found out he’d be driving for
the factory Ford team at Bathurst a fort-
night before the event when Frank Matich
had to pull out and his name was put up as
a substitute. It didn’t leave much time to
get acquainted with his new ride.
“They leant me one to virtually drive
around the block... and that was the first
time I ever drove one at all,” he says.
“I didn’t sit in the race car until the first
practice session at Bathurst.”
Even then he suspected the new Falcon
was going to be a pretty competitive pros-
“I drove a gold road car and I thought,
‘Wow, what a good car this is to drive’,”
“Then you thought about the name Harry
Firth. Anything he seemed to do back in
the day right through to the Monaros was
going to be a winning package; he had the
expertise for doing that thing.
“So I knew there was a chance the car
would go pretty well if it would last the
As it turned out, Firth was right on
the money and Gibson would finish the
weekend with a Bathurst win next to his
Fred Gibson and Bo Seton’s
legendary XY Phase III at
Mount Panorama in 1971.
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