Ford introduced a new range of Falcons early in 1971,
but we doubt they would have predicted just what a
cult car the XY would become.
The XY GT version featured
some more external changes over the previous XW model,
one of the most obvious being the addition of a ram-air
duct, called a 'shaker", which protruded through
a hole in the bonnet and force-fed the 600 cfm four-barrel
carburetor with air.
Also, the Cleveland
by now standard equipment on all GT’s, although
Ford still gave figures of 300 bhp at 5400 rpm and
380 lb.ft. of torque at 3400 rpm. The standard fuel
capacity was 16.4 gallons and the larger 36.4 gallon
capacity was available if required.
The XY GT
out to be the most desirable of the whole series, excluding
the GTHO models, because as a road car, it had very
few peers - if any - certainly none among Australian
The XY GT featured a 3.0 to 1 final
drive ratio instead of the previous 3.25 to 1, which
meant that open-road cruising was that much easier,
while the penalty in acceleration was so miniscule
as to be virtually nil with 300 healthy horses coming
from the more efficient Cleveland power plant.
on the racetrack, the GTHO Phase 2 was winning races,
although engine reliability was still proving to be
a problem, but through a painstaking program of development,
during which almost every major component in the Cleveland
engine was modified, the engine eventually achieved
reliability as good as could be expected from any racing
During 1971, a new Falcon star driver was beginning
to emerge. John Goss, who drove his McLeod Ford-sponsored
car to be the first non-works car home at Bathurst
in 1970, was cleaning up in New South Wales, particularly
in the Grace Brothers-Toby Lee series at Oran Park,
where he won the first two rounds and came in second
in the third, also winning the Bars Leaks Marathon
and numerous other events.
His exuberant driving style
made him a crowd-pleaser and his results must have
kept his sponsors happy. As it turned out, bad results
in the final two rounds of the Grace Brothers-Toby
Lee series put him back to third overall, but the winner
turned out to be Fred Gibson in his GTHO Falcon with
two wins, two seconds and a third place over the five
race series, this victory being his second in two years.
The year 1971 also saw the championship for series
production cars, which was contested over five rounds
at various venues around Australia.
The first round
at Bathurst at Easter was a good start for the Falcon’s
with the works cars of Moffat and French coming in
first and second respectively. Round 2 at Warwick Farm
was not so successful, as the first Falcon home was
Moffat, in third place and the best anyone else could
manage was Barry Sharp in his Jack Brabham
XY GT, the first of the new Falcons to appear on the
race track. During 1971, a couple of interesting "improved" Falcons
appeared on the tracks, the first being Allan Moffat's
full-house car which had actually appeared in practice
for the last round of the 1970 Australian touring car
championship but had not started.
However, the car
(now modified to look like an XY Falcon) was raced
in the fourth round of the 1971 touring car championship
in the hands of John French who finished fourth. French
also raced Ian Geoghegan's newly completed “Super Falcon” in
the sixth round of the championship and finished fifth
in that particular event.
Meanwhile, the time of the
year when people start thinking about Bathurst was
rapidly approaching - and the manufacturers didn't
disappoint too many. From Chrysler there was a brand
new car - the storming Charger two-door coupe. Smaller
than the previous Pacers and a whopping five inches
shorter than the Falcon’s,
the Charger had a couple of hundredweight advantage
over the heavier Falcon’s. It was powered by
a bigger version of the Pacer's engine, still a straight
six; but now with a 4.3 liters 265ci.
A series of options
could make the Charger into a racing car, and in E38
form it came complete with triple side-draught Weber
carburetors, the car had 280 bhp and over 300 lb.ft.
torque on tap, which could push it to a shade under
130 mph in top speed and to a standing quarter mile
figure of about 14.9 seconds. Unfortunately a three-speed
gearbox was fitted, so again, as in the Pacer, first
gear was, through necessity, a little on the high side.
With a year of active development behind them, Holden
had a much better chance for honours at Bathurst with
their Torana XU-1 in 1971.
Various engine modifications
had produced more power from the 3048ec engine (up
from 160 to 180 bhp), and in particular the power increase
at the rear wheels from 112-140 bhp was going to make
the cars a real threat to the Falcons. In fact, during
1971, while Ford were sorting out the Cleveland engine,
the Torana’s were getting faster and more reliable
all the time and the two cars were overall very even.
was some doubt during 1971 that Ford would introduce
a new GTHO at all, as rumours about a Capri with the
5 liter 302ci V8 engine were abundant at one stage.
But they did, and the Phase 3 arrived with everybody's
interest focused on it. Externally, it was just like
the XY GT, complete with "shaker", but in
addition to the normal GTHO front spoiler, it now had
one on the rear deck as well. The car featured the
Cleveland engine, plus the 780 cfm Holley four-barrel
carburetor and a reworked head.
New head gaskets from
the "Boss" Mustang engine were fitted and
changes were made to the bearings and lubrication system.
The engine also featured a larger crankshaft harmonic
balancer, a new radiator with better cooling characteristics,
a modified valve train mechanism, a baffled sump and
a full extractor system.
Also in the engine department
was a vacuum bottle to assist braking when the engine
was cold or immediately after full rpm. As on previous
GTH0s, 6150 rpm was the red-line. All this and Ford
still only claimed 300 bhp and 380 lb.ft. of torque!
However, according to John Goss, a healthy Phase 3
would have around 350 bhp available and estimates by
motoring journals at the time of the car's release
went as high as 380 bhp.
In the suspension department,
the only changes were heavier front and rear roll bars
and in the brakes the rear drums were increased to
21/2 inches in width. Four final drive ratios-were
offered with the Phase 3; 3.00 to 1, 3.25 to 1, 3.50
to 1 and 3.90 to 1, which gave 24.25. 22.5, 20.9 and
18.7 mph per 1000 rpm in top gear respectively.
Phase 3 went on sale at $5250 and was immediately recognised
as a classic car. Sports Car World called it “…simply
one of the best cars in the world, a true GT that could
take on Ferraris and Astons on their own terms…a
classic car worth buying to keep a lifetime".
Many now wish they had heeded those words. As well
as the choice of four final drive ratios. buyers had
a choice of a wide or close ratio gearbox. The wide
ratio box had internal ratios of 2.7811.93/1.3011.00,
while the close ratio box was 2.3211.6911-29/1.00,
these being the standard ratios in the Phase 2 cars.
The designers of the Phase 3 realized that outright
speed on Bathurst's Conrod Straight was no longer a
worry, as the Phase 2 cars were backing off anyway,
so they concentrated on getting the Falcons up the
mountain more quickly. The resultant gear and final
gave better acceleration in the short bursts between
the corners, rather than raising speeds at which the
ratio’s peaked out.
3 GTH0’s made their first appearance
in the Sandown 250, which was also round three of three
of the manufacturers' championship. It was a far from
successful debut, as only two of the five starters
managed to make the finish. The first Falcon home was
Murray Carter's, in second place, albeit five laps
down on the winning Torana XU- 1 driven by Peter Brock.
The only other Falcon to finish was Doug Grimson's
Phase 2 which collected 16th place, 17 laps behind
The Phase 3 shared by Bob Skelton and Phil
Barnes was leading the race for a long time before
it succumbed to a broken axle and retired. After yet
another disappointing Sandown race, 13 Falcon GTHO
Phase 3’s started in the 1971 Hardie-Ferodo,
led by the works' cars of Allan Moffat and John French.
Once again Moffat gained pole position, with a best
lap practice of 2:38.9, 10 seconds faster than 1970,
which did not encourage the Torana and Charger crews,
who then had to hope on a series of mechanical failures
from the big Ford’s to stand a chance.
happened, although five of the Falcons did fail to
finish, only one of these was due to mechanical problems,
this being the car of Trevor Meehan, who suffered brake
problems. Of the four retirements, the Gibson/Seton
car had its differential fail after someone had accidentally
put odd tires on the rear, the Beck/Rush car crashed,
Bob Morris’s car overheated after a sheet of
newspaper stuck over the grille.
And Bill Brown suffered
yet another dreadful rollover, when his Falcon blew
a tire at McPhillamy Park and rolled along the top
of the fence, the car being virtually cut in two (see: Bathurst
It was a terrifying crash
and TV viewers were treated to it’s
replay time and time again during the afternoon. Allan
Moffat led the race all the way and never looked like
losing it, but to add to Ford’s triumph, Falcon’s
also came in second and third (Barnes/Skelton and McKay),
fifth (French) and seventh (Goss).
The good result must
have been very pleasing to Ford, not only for their
sales figures, but also for Howard Marsden, who took
over the leadership of Ford's racing activities just
before Bathurst and was confronted with the fact that
the reliability of the modified Cleveland engines was
still fairly unknown.
The engines did hold together,
and very well too, so the months of time and effort
put into them were not wasted. It must have been very
pleasing for everyone concerned with the racing Falcon’s,
especially considering the high proportion of failures
in the 1970 race.
The 1971 season was rounded off with
the last two rounds of the manufacturers championship;
the Phillip Island 500 , in which the first Falcon
home was that of Allan Moffat (fifth), while Murray
Carter blew his engine; and the Rothman’s 250
at Surfer’s Paradise
which Moffat won. Despite the stellar performance,
the series went to Holden.
Falcon Race Results 1971
Bathurst Race Results 1971
Bathurst Race Program 1971
Bathurst Memorable Moments