Falcon GT By The Years: 1969

Send This Page To A Friend

Ford Falcon XW GT
Ford had lost a lot of prestige following their sound thrashing at Bathurst, so with the release of the  1969 range of Falcons, it was hoped that some of this could be regained with the new – XW GT.

Meanwhile, and seeming going virtually unnoticed, the XT GT of Bill Gates and Jim Bertram won the Rothmans 12 Hour Classic at Surfer's Paradise in January.

The new Falcon GT was restyled and, more importantly, introduced the 5760cc/351ci "Windsor" engine to the car. This massive engine was quoted as producing 290 bhp at 4800 rpm and 385 lb.ft. of torque at 3200 rpm, and the compression ratio was increased to 10.7 to 1.

Other improvements included the fitting of larger 1125in ventilated disc brakes on the front, a new final drive ratio of 3.25 to 1, an enormous 36 gallon fuel capacity and slight suspension changes.

On paper the car appeared to be as near as practical (or legally allowable) to a racing car, but in August, 1969, Ford took everyone by surprise by announcing the Falcon GTHO. The HO, short for “Handling Options", really was a racing car! Harry Firth had left Ford to manage the Holden Dealer Team, and so a lanky American named Al Turner came on to the scene to run Ford's competition division.

And the GTHO was his baby. The car featured bigger 650 cfm Holley carburetor, hydraulic lifters, a revised camshaft, a three-inch tail shaft, an alloy inlet manifold and a heavy-duty alternator. Despite all these changes, Ford still quoted the same power figures for the GTHO as it did for the "standard" XW GT, although they did claim improved torque in the lower rev ranges.

In the suspension department, the GTHO featured a heavier front roll bar, coils and shock absorbers, and an anti roll-bar was fitted to the rear end. While they were at it, Ford's advertising department embraced a true motor-sport feel, introducing the wonderful "Super-Roo" badges on the front guards of Falcon and Capri GT’s which showed a kangaroo between two fat tires with appropriate amounts of smoke and flames coming off them; Get yourself into a Ford Super-Roo!

The final touch to the GTHO was the addition of a front bumper spoiler designed to keep the nose down at high speed. It isn't certain how effective it was, but it certainly looked good. The GTHO Falcon made its race-track debut in the Datsun Three-Hour at Sandown Park in September, 1969. Eight cars started - and the result was a convincing Falcon 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

The winning driver was one Allan Moffat, driving a works-entered car with John French; Moffat and Ford being a combination which was to prove to be a winning one in the years to follow. Actually, these three were the only Falcons classed as finishers - the Bruce MCPhee/Barry Mulholland car was excluded, the cars of David McKay/Kevin Bartlett and the Geoghegans all crashed, and Peter Lamer's Falcon blew its engine.

As it turned out, this blow-up was also a pointer to the future.Ford were understandably confident of their chances at Bathurst in 1969. The GTHO's looked like winners and 14 of them contested Class D ($3100-$4500) against seven of Holden's new 300 bhp, 350ci Monaro GTS 350’s. Three works cars were there again, headed by Moffat and Alan Hamilton, plus the Geoghegans, and Fred Gibson and "Bo" Seton together again.

Carnage At The Crest...
The race started in an extremely spectacular, if unfortunate, manner when at Skyline on the first lap, Bill Brown's Falcon, while lying seventh, appeared with everything locked up, hit the dirt bank and flipped upside down onto the middle of the track, with no way around it.

Cars ran into cars as drivers came around the blind corner. Before the thing was sorted out, all except the first dozen cars were affected, if not damaged, or even put out of the race (see: Bathurst Memorable Moments).

It was not to be a good day for the Falcon's. Al Turner had decided to use untried racing tires for the first time and it proved a disastrous mistake as Falcon after Falcon came in to the pits to change tires.

Barry Seton respected Bill Brown's roll-over trick when, while lying in second place, a tire blew at McPhillamy Park and the Gibson/Seton works car's race was over.

The eventual winner was a Holden Dealer Team's Monaro GTS 350 driven by Colin Bond and Tony Roberts, while the McPhee/Mulholland GTHO saved some face for Ford with its second place on the same lap as the Monaro.

The Moffat/Hamilton GTHO came in a creditable fourth, with the Geoghegan brothers one place behind them. The fastest lap of the day went to the Gibson/Seton Falcon at 2 min. 52 sec. (average 81 mph) and the MePhee/Mulholland Falcon was fastest on Conrod Straight at just under 136 mph.

Also see:
GT Falcon Race Results 1969
Bathurst Race Results 1969
Bathurst Memorable Moments
Unique Cars and Parts USA - The Ultimate Classic Car Resource