For 1970, the XW series of Falcons continued in production
and the GTH0’s continued to be raced in the ever-increasing
number of series production events appearing on the
motor sport calendar. By now the sedans had become
the biggest spectator draw-card of all the classes
of racing and race promoters and sponsors were quick
to realise the potential of these cars.
retail group of Grace Brothers and the shirt manufacturer
Toby Lee combined to sponsor a series for series production
cars at Sydney's Oran Park Raceway. This attracted
a great deal of interest and enthusiasm and ultimately
was won by Fred Gibson and his Falcon GTHO.
had a successful year in 1970, taking out several of
the major races including the 2UW Trophy at Warwick
Farm (Allan Moffat
); the Endeavour Trophy at Bathurst
at Easter (Fred Gibson), and the Hume Weir 1000 (Fred
As the time for Bathurst neared, speculation
arose on what particular form the various cars would
take. Holden surprised everybody by dropping the big
Monaro as its Bathurst car and replacing it with a
hot version of that company's new six-cylinder Torana,
a car considerably smaller and lighter than the Falcons.
Torana GTR XU-1 featured a 3048 cc 186ci engine complete
with triple Stromberg carburetors, a 10.5 to 1 compression
ratio and a tricky cam and exhaust system, all of which
combined to produce 160 bhp at 5200 rpm and 190 lb.ft
of torque at 3600 rpm. Weighing in at 2430 lb (some
800 lb lighter than the Falcons), it was sure to give
them some hurry-up, although it was still an unknown
Chrysler, too, had a new car for the 1970
race. Called the Pacer, it was based on the Valiant
range of sedan cars and featured a 4 liter 245ci straight
six with a four-barrel carburetor. The car was developed
under the guidance of Leo Geoghegan and, although slightly
larger in size than the Falcon’s, it was, like
the Torana, lighter, but did not feature servo-assistance
for its disc/drum brakes.
Another apparent handicap
was the three-speed gearbox, which made first gear
rather high - but it did have a 35-gallon fuel capacity,
only one gallon less than the Falcon, and it featured
better fuel consumption due to its lighter weight and
more economical six-cylinder motor.
Ford announced the
Falcon GTHO Phase 2 in late August and, though it looked
identical to the first HO, there were a few significant
changes. Firstly, Al Turner had introduced a new version
of the 351 engine. The Cleveland was a much later design
than the Windsor motor fitted to previous Falcons,
and featured such things as solid lifters and other
features which would increase reliability and power.
Because of the new engine, engine revs could have higher
limits than before.
For example, a series production
Windsor engine would run out of steam at not much more
than 5500 rpm on Bathurst's Conrod Straight, whereas
the Cleveland would rev to over 6500 in a race without
causing too many problems, although a working red line
of 6200-6500 rpm was normal practice.
The Phase 2 cars
also featured a bigger 780 cfrn Holley four-barrel
carburetor and revised gear ratios, but Ford, despite
all these modifications and revisions, still only quoted
300 bhp at 5400 rpm and 380 lb.ft. of torque at 3400
rpm. Also, a rather high final drive ratio of 3.5 to
1 was standard equipment.
The performance, however,
was getting to the incredible stage. The GTHO Phase
2 could accelerate from a standstill to 100 mph in
only 17 seconds, a full 13 seconds faster than the
original XR GT. Top speed was reputed to be between
135 and 144 mph, depending on final drive ratios (and
which road tests were worth taking notice of) and in
the lower gears 50, 75 and 100 mph were attainable.
The price; $4790.
Although John French had successfully
debuted the Phase 2 a few days earlier at Surfer's
Paradise, the Sandown 250 was the first real test of
the new car. No fewer than nine Falcon’s fronted
the starter for this event, which was regarded as being
an indicator for Bathurst, Not only the new Falcons
were there, but also the Holden Torana XU-1s and the
In the early stages of the race, Falcon’s
held the first six places, but gradually problems started
to plague them and four cars retired with various problems,
while two others finished at a walking pace. Allan
Moffat in the No.1 works car had an untroubled victory,
but the next Falcon home could only manage sixth, this
being the second works car of Bo Seton and Fred Gibson,
six laps down.
Despite Moffat's apparently easy win,
the Ford camp was concerned with the troubles experienced
by the other drivers. In particular the new Cleveland
engines were not proving to be as reliable as they
should have been. Ford went into the 1970 race with
14 Falcons and an air of uncertainty about their engines,
their brakes and the potential of the opposition, particularly
the Torana’s, which had done very well at Sandown
In practice, Allan Moffat won pole position with
a 2 min. 49 sec. lap, and the other works-entered Falcons
filled positions two and three on the grid. But practice
did not increase Ford's confidence as the Torana’s
had run all day with problem, whereas the Falcons had
suffered a lot of engine troubles and overnight rebuilds
were the order of the day for quite a number of them.
first lap of the race gave heart to the Holden supporters
as Colin Bond, who had already worked up from fourth
on the grid, dived under Allan Moffat under brakes
to take the lead in his Torana XU1. It didn't take
Moffat long to re-pass Bond, however, and the Canadian
stayed in the No. 1 spot for the remainder of the race.
Behind him, however, a lot of Falcons were in trouble.
The works car of Fred Gibson and Barry Seton had its
differential seize and Bruce Hodgson, Gary Rush, David
McKay, Kyrn Aunger and Bob Beasley all suffered engine
failures. Bruce McPhee, also in a works car came in
second on the same lap as Moffat, but the next Falcon
home was the car of John Goss and Bob Skelton, who
had driven a good race to come in seventh, theirs being
the first non-works Falcon to complete the distance.