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
and seeming going virtually unnoticed, the XT GT of
Bill Gates and Jim Bertram won the Rothmans 12 Hour
Classic at Surfer's Paradise
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
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!
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.
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
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
Falcon Race Results 1969
Bathurst Race Results 1969
Bathurst Memorable Moments