Falcon GT By The Years: 1968

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Ford Falcon XT GT
Speculation as to what shape or form the 1968 Falcon GT would take began with the release of the XT model Falcons for that year. There was talk of Ford introducing the massive 390ci. engine, but this was dismissed by most people on the grounds of all that extra weight up front causing enormous amounts of understeer.

Others believed the existing 4.7 liter V8 was far from fully developed and that the new XT would feature this engine in a higher state of tune; Racing Car News, for example, predicted twin four-barrel carburetors and 300 bhp.

When it arrived, the XT Falcon did, in fact, feature the 5 liter (302ci) engine, but with an output of 230 bhp at 4800 rpm - only 5 bhp more than the XRGT! Torque was increased to 310 lb.ft. at 3800 rpm.

The compression ratio was increased to 10.0 to 1 and, through the small power increase (ostensibly, anyway) and the new final drive ratio of 3.0 to 1, the new XT proved to be far gutsier than its predecessor. It also had a refinement in its road manners that many believed, quite rightly, had been previously lacking.

Other changes to the new XT GT included (apart from cosmetic exterior differences) an increase in rim width to 6in, although 185 by 14 tires were still fitted, a limited-slip differential, driving lights fitted standard, non-lift windscreen wiper blades, further suspension modifications including a front anti-roll bar, and for the first time, an automatic transmission was available as an optional extra. Also, it was available in a range of colors. Rumour had it that Ford were going to release an XT GT Coupe, but as far as we can tell only one prototype was assembled.

With a top gear giving 24.25 mph per 1000 rpm, the theoretical maximum speed attainable worked out to be 126 mph at 5200 rpm, and drivers believed 130 mph would be within reach on the long Conrod Straight at Bathurst. In the acceleration department 0-100 mph came up in 23.2 seconds, a figure no less than 6.9 seconds faster than the XR GT. In competition the XT GT was not a resounding success.

Surprisingly enough, the car's biggest success came in the field of rallying, specifically the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon, where a three-car works-entered team led by Harry Firth won the team's prize and the Vaughan/Forsyth/ Ellis car finished third. The great strength of the body and the reliability of the engine and transmission had been convincingly demonstrated. The first major track outing of the car was the “Datsun 3 Hour Trophy” at Sandown Park, where an XT GT, in the hands of Don Toffolon and Tom Roddy scored fourth place.

Meanwhile for Bathurst, there was not only a new major sponsor for the race, but new cars from Ford and the General, everything pointed to an exciting event. Holden's entrant was the new Monaro two-door coupe in GTS 327 form.

The Ford's were down on cubic capacity (302ci versus 327ci); horsepower (250bhp versus 275bhp) and, additionally, weighed exactly the same as the Monaro’s. Despite this, seven Falcons contested the race in Class D ($3001 to $4300), including a single XR GT and an XT GT automatic. Of the remainder, three cars were works-entered, these being driven by the Geoghegan brothers, Fred Gibson and Barry Seton, and Jim McKeown and Spencer Martin.

After only 35 minutes of racing the M.Sayva/R.Wilkinson Falcon showed signs of overheating, which did not auger well for the others. In fact, things went very badly for the Ford’s, with brake, tire and overheating troubles. Despite all this, the Gibson/Seton Falcon was in the lead with only 15 laps to go. But overheating struck this car as well, and finally the car blew a piston and the Monaro of Bruce McPhee and Barry Mulholland swept to victory.

The first Falcon home was, ironically, the 1967 XR GT of Stacey and McIntyre, which came in seventh, one place in front of the Brauer/Harrod XT GT. The first works car was that of the Geoghegan brothers, who finished 12th. With a fastest lap of 2 min. 58 sec., the winning Monaro was five seconds per lap quicker than the Falcons were in 1967, and three seconds faster than the Gibson/Seton car in 1968. Also, the Monaro’s were achieving 125-128 mph on Conrod Straight, whereas the Falcons could only manage around 121 mph, 4 mph slower than 1967!

Also see:
GT Falcon Race Results 1968
Bathurst Race Results 1968
Bathurst Memorable Moments
Unique Cars and Parts USA - The Ultimate Classic Car Resource