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1971 Ford XY Falcon GT sedan. at the 2012 Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival, Kurri Kurri, NSW. PM

1971 Ford XY Falcon GT sedan. at the 2012 Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival, Kurri Kurri, NSW. by Paul McCurley - Flickr.com

The Ford XY Falcon GT is an Australian built muscle car based on the Ford XY Falcon. Released in 1970 with the GTHO Phase III released in 1971. 1,557 units were produced from September 1970 to December 1971 with 300 GTHO Phase III's produced from May 1971 to November 1971. It was the fourth in the initial series of Ford Falcon GT muscle cars.

With the rev limiter disabled it was capable of 250|km/h and would pull 7,000+ rpm in 4th gear. The rev limiter was set to 6,150 rpm.

Technical details

The 351 Cleveland 4V engine produced:

  • torque 380 lb·ft (520 N·m) at 3400 rpm
  • brake horsepower
    • XY GT 300 bhp (224 kW; 304 PS) at 5400 rpm
    • XY GTHO Phase III 370 - 390 bhp (276 -291 kW) at 5400 rpm
  • Four-speed all-synchromesh manual with three-speed FMX automatic available
    • The XY GTHO Phase III was four-speed all-synchromesh manual only

GTHO Phase III

1971 Ford XY Falcon GT-HO Phase III sedan, at the 2011 NSW All Ford Day, at Eastern Creek Raceway. PM

1971 Ford XY Falcon GT-HO Phase III sedan, at the 2011 NSW All Ford Day, at Eastern Creek Raceway, by Paul McCurley - Flickr.com

The Ford Falcon GTHO Phase III was a modified version the Falcon GT built in 1971 with a heavily modified engine, a 4 speed top-loader gearbox and Detroit locker 9" differential.

It was also equipped with special brakes and handling package, plus a 36 US gal (136 L; 30 imp gal) fuel tank.

Winner of the 1971 Bathurst 500, driven by Allan Moffat, the Phase III has been described as "...simply one of the best cars in the world, a true GT that could take on Ferraris and Astons on their own terms..." by Sports Car World.

The GTHO's 351 Cleveland engine produced over 380 hp (283 kW) which, back in 1971, was grossly underrated to 300 hp (224 kW). Initial cars were equipped with an electrical rev limiter which came into effect at 6,150 rpm. With the rev limiter disabled, the engine was reputed to pull in excess of 7,000+ rpm, even in 4th gear. The "HO" portion of the name stood for "Handling Option", these options included bigger brakes, stiffer suspension, a front spoiler, a choice of 3 differentials and an optional close-ratio gearbox making the production GTHO very similar to the race version.

The Phase III was the worlds fastest four door production car for many years and in 1971 it won the Bathurst 500 motor race in the hands of Allan Moffat, however at the time the Chrysler Valiant E49 Charger held the Australian 1/4 mile record. In 1972 the 3.3 L (202) 6-cylinder LJ Torana GTR-XU1, driven by Peter Brock, defeated the GTHO to win Bathurst after brake problems and wet weather put paid to the GTHO challenge.

Value

The Phase III GTHO is in incredibly high demand with collectors and investors worldwide. Good examples have been sold for prices in excess of A$700,000. Due to this demand, a small production run, and 'fewer than 100 remaining' there been a flow on effect into values of the lesser XW and other XY Falcons, particularly genuine GS and 'standard' GT models. Other models that have also benefited from the appreciation of the GTHO include the XA and XB GT hardtops, the earlier XW GTHO Phase 1 and 2 and the XC Cobra.

A Falcon XY GTHO Phase III was sold at by Bonhams & Goodmans at auction for A$683,650 in March 2007. The car had just 40,000 km on the clock. The buyer of the car said it will be garaged, and that it won't be driven, but that he will be "keeping it as an investment". The sale price set a new auction record for Australian muscle cars. Whilst in June 2007 another Phase III sold for A$750,000. Shannons national auctions manger Christophe Boribon blames the global financial crisis for the collapse in values. "We reached an artificial high a couple of years ago but then the GFC hit. Now it is back to reality, " he said. "There is only a limited number of buyers out there for a car like that. "The car is a very rare car. The car is the holy grail of Australian muscle cars."Falcon GTHO Phase III

Price new 1971: $5300 Value 2007: $683,500 Value 2008: close to $1 million Value 2010: $331, 000

The Phase III GT is one of the few cars ever made that appreciated in value from the moment it left the dealership - even in 1975, four year old Phase IIIs were fetching prices equivalent to or higher than the on-road price of brand new XB GTs from Ford dealers.

Alternative names

The name of the car is often abbreviated to GTHO Phase III or even just Phase 3. Sometimes it is even referred to as a Hoey. It was also known as the Shaker because of the air intake scoop that protruded out of the bonnet and shook with the motion of the engine.

Race record

Of greatest significance, the Falcon GT-HO Phase III succeeded in an outright win at Bathurst in the 1971 Hardie-Ferodo 500 and also secured the 1973 Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) title; in both instances the cars were driven by Allan Moffat.

Moffat had great success with the Phase III in Australian production touring car racing where it scored many race wins from the latter half of 1971 through to 1973. One of the Phase IIIs driven by Moffat is now owned by Bowden's Own, an Australian car care products company. This particular example was a replacement vehicle fettled in September 1972, the original 1971 Bathurst winning car having been badly damaged at Adelaide International Raceway in the opening round of the 1972 Australian Manufacturers Championship; this particular GT-HO was subsequently driven to a number of victories by Moffat and enabled him to secure the overall 1973 ATCC honours:

  • 1st 1972 Australian Manufacturers' Championship, Round 4, Phillip Island
  • 1st 1972 Australian Manufacturers' Championship, Round 5, Surfers Paradise
  • 1st 1973 Australian Touring Car Championship, Round 1, Symmons Plains
  • 1st 1973 Australian Touring Car Championship, Round 2, Calder Park
  • 1st 1973 Australian Touring Car Championship, Round 3, Sandown Park
  • 1st 1973 Australian Touring Car Championship, Round 4, Wanneroo Park
  • 1st 1973 Australian Touring Car Championship, Round 7, Oran Park

Successor to the GTHO Phase III

In 1972, the XY series Falcon was replaced by the XA Falcon range. Production of approximately 200 XA-based Falcon GT-HO Phase IV cars was originally scheduled to take place in June/July 1972, but this was terminated at 'the eleventh hour' due to what became known as "The Supercar scare". The Sun-Herald newspaper had run this as a front page lead article (with banner headline in large capital letters) on Sunday 25 June 1972: "160mph 'Super Cars' Soon". A copy of that front page is shown at the start of a Phase IV documentary.

Only one vehicle had been completed when production was cancelled. Three standard GTs were also at various stages of conversion into GT-HO race cars for the Bathurst 500 in October 1972. These four vehicles were later sold to specific individuals and/or dealers by Ford Australia. The Phase IV was never officially released.