Falcon GT By The Years: 1973
The new production touring regulations for 1973 allowed
quite a lot of modification to be done to the cars,
but within limits. Broadly presented, the modifications
allowed were as follows:
- The electrical system - free except that the voltage
could not be changed, nor could the battery be relocated.
- An oil cooler could be added if not standard equipment.
- Camshafts were free.
- The valve train could be modified, although valve
sizes could not be altered.
- Wide wheels and tires could be fitted, and for
the Falcon, a maximum rim width of 10in. was allowed.
The track width of the car must remain the same as
for the standard car.
- Body seams could be flattened to accommodate the
larger tires, although the body work could not be
changed. Therefore, no add-on air scoops, spoilers,
brake cooling ducts, undertraps or flared guards
could be fitted.
- Seats could be replaced provided the new units
w' ere made by the same company.
- carburetors were free, as long as there were no
more than the number fitted as standard.
- Suspension could be modified extensively, as long
as the same basic system was employed as on the standard
car. That is for the Falcon, front struts and rear
- Brake discs, drums, callipers and pads could be
changed as long as the basic format (eg, discs front,
drums rear) remained the same.
- The normal safety equipment had to be added - roll
bar or cage, laminated windscreen, fire extinguisher,
wired oil drain plugs, etc.
In addition, the gearbox and final drive ratios must
remain as offered as standard equipment on the cars.
Along with these changes came new rules on which type
of cars were to contest which series, The most important
was the Australian touring car championship, which
from 1973 was contested by cars from the production
touring class; that meant the Falcon GTH0’s,
Torana XU-1’s, Chrysler Charger’s would
be racing alongside the smaller Ford Escorts, Mazda’s
and Alfa Romeos.
The Grace Brothers/Toby Lee series at
Oran Park was now for the sports sedan, nee improved
touring cars, such as the Trans-Am Mustang of Allan
Moffat, the Porsches, lightweight Mini’s and
a whole new breed of high-powered hybrid cars, like
John McCormack's V8 Repco Charger, V8 Torana’s
and Bryan Thomson's V8 Volkswagen. The manufacturer's
championship (including the Bathurst race) would remain
for the production touring/series production cars,
as would Amaroo Park's Sun-7 Gold Medal series
Falcon drivers, including those of the works cars of
Moffat and Gibson were content to modify the GTHO Phase
3’s to the new specifications, but
one, John Goss, appeared with an XA GT in the first
series of the year, the South Pacific touring car series,
run in conjunction with the Australian rounds of the
The car was a two-door hardtop version
of the XA GT, this new model being introduced by Ford
late in 1972. The Falcon hardtop was built on the same
wheelbase as the four-door models and had the same
length and track, but it was two inches lower in overall
height and had widened rear wheel arches, which increased
the width of the car by three inches.
A major problem
developed with the Falcons in 1973 with the new regulations,
particularly on John Goss's hardtop, and that problem
was “oil surge”.
The problem wasn't new to the Falcon drivers, as it
had come to light when proper racing tires had been
allowed on the cars in the days of series production.
The racing tires allowed the cars to be cornered at
higher speeds than before, and the resultant centrifugal
forces pushed the oil in the sump to one side of it,
away from the pickups.
This was exaggerated under production
touring regulations, as not only did the cars have
a greater cornering speed potential `through their
extra power, but the wider tires permitted further
increased the cornering speed, thus increasing the
oil surge - the result being that an oil-starved engine
would destroy itself.
The reason for the oil in the
sump being able to move at all was simply that, in
the Falcons, the capacity of the sump is only seven
pints. When the engine is being run at race revs, five
pints are suspended in the engine, leaving two in the
.sump, both of which were very free to move around
and away from the pickups under high G-forces.
ideal and only permanent solution was to increase
the capacity of the sump more than two-fold, or to
fit a dry sump system. Both methods were not allowed
under the regulations by modification, and to incorporate
them in new production cars would have been impractical
and very expensive.
John Goss and his chief mechanic,
Bruce Richardson, attempted to solve the problem by
fitting baffles into the sump, designed to prevent
the oil from flowing away from the pickups. None of
these baffled sumps worked particularly effectively,
with the result that Goss blew a great number of engines
during the first half of 1973. Under the direction
of Howard Marsden, the Works GTHO Phase 3’s were
modified to the new regulations, and reliability, apart
from the oil surge problem, was not much worse than
it had been under the series production rules.
engine came in for a lot of development, as the valve
train and head were reworked, special head gaskets
were introduced to the modified inlet manifolding,
a full extractor system was fitted, as well as a heavy
duty radiator, an oil cooler and a baffled sump, and
a full race camshaft. The result was 440 bhp at 6000
rpm, which we don’t
really need to explain made the GT’s a rather
rapid automobile. To top it all, four-pot aluminum
calipers were fitted to the front 11.24in diameter
disc brakes, and the rear suspension was modified to
take double trailing arms and panhard rods. Carburation
was from an enormous 1150 cfm Holley four-barrel with
a 5in ram tube.
The 1973 championship, now run under
new regulations and with different (production touring)
cars proved to be an exciting and controversial series,
with almost every round featuring an extraordinary
occurrence of some description. The first round, at
Symmons Plains saw Allan Moffat the victor in a somewhat
dented Falcon GTHO Phase 3, as he had had a collision
with a slower car in practice. The defending champion,
Bob Jane, rolled his Torana in practice after losing
his brakes, but after a hasty overnight rebuild, he
managed to come home fourth.
Of the other Falcons,
John Goss in the hardtop GT came in third and Murray
Carter (GTHO Phase 3) was fifth. Round 2 at Calder
was also won by Moffat, but only after Bob Jane was
disqualified for having a car which didn't meet the
regulations. He brought out his 1972 championship winning
Chevrolet Carnaro, had then reconverted it to a state
somewhere near production form, and was allowed to
race. After the race, however, he was excluded from
results and Moffat received the points for first place.
Peter Brock and John Goss were among a number of drivers
also excluded for not being on the grid at the one-minute
board, as they were changing tires at the time.
3 and 4, at Sandown Park and Wanneroo Park respectively,
also went Moffat's way, his nearly two-year-old Falcon
proving to be not only very fast,' but also reliable.
In both races, Peter Brock's Holden Dealer Team Torana
XU-1 was a constant shadow to the Falcon, but at Sandown
Brock ran out of petrol, and at Wanneroo he just couldn't
get past the Ford.
John Goss, who was having a very
difficult problem with oil surge in the hardtop, retired
from rounds 3 and 4, and the ever-consistent Murray
Carter placed third at Sandown and fourth at Wanneroo.
The fifth round of the championship, at Surfer's Paradise,
saw the end of Moffat's winning run, when Peter Brock,
after a race-long dice with Moffat (including a loss
from both drivers), ran out the victor, carving some
3.5 seconds off the lap record in the process.
At 4am on the morning of the sixth round at Adelaide,
Allan Moffat was woken with the news that his Falcon
had been stolen from the premises of Adelaide Ford
dealer B.S. Stillwell. Stillwell offered him a Falcon
GT hardtop off the showroom floor as a substitute,
but there was no time to prepare it, as the race was
only hours away. The organisers postponed the race
until 3 p.m. in order to give Moffat a chance to get
into the race, but there was still no sign of his Falcon
as race-time approached.
Finally, Murray Carter offered
Moffat his Shell-sponsored Phase 3, the offer being
gladly accepted, although Moffat had to start from
the rear of the grid, despite his fastest practice
time in his own car. He ultimately came in a brilliant
second behind Peter Brock; he had to cope not only
with a strange car, but also with being black-flagged
to have a loose exhaust pipe looked at.
Two days after
the race, the stolen Falcon was found abandoned and
bogged in the foothills near Adelaide. Some damage
had been done to the front suspension, a couple of
tires and a headlight, but generally it wasn't too
bad, although a four-barrel carburetor was stolen
from the back seat.
The thieves left a note which said: “My
apologies to Allan. Sorry we inconvenienced you, but
what a beaut car it was. I hope you go on to beat the
Allan. Sorry about the spare carby but we had to hock
it for fuel. What a thirsty beast it was - the Phantom
Hunter". Two weeks later, a 22 year-old labourer
was arrested and charged with the theft.
two championship rounds were held at Oran Park and
Warwick Farm respectively, Moffat being declared the
winner of the former after Brock's Holden Dealer Team
Torana was excluded for having oversize manifold castings.
Fred Gibson brought his Phase 3 home in a good third
place, Murray Carter was seventh, and poor old John
Goss was out again, his hardtop running out of oil
pressure for the umpteenth time. Oran Park sealed the
series for Moffat, so the final round at Warwick Farm
was only a formality. As it turned out, it was just
as well, because it definitely wasn't the Falcon's
John Goss crashed in practice and couldn't start;
Allan Moffat, after an engine change carried out in
Warwick Farm's infield was completed just in time for
the race, had to retire with a blown radiator hose;
and Fred Gibson, who was suffering from bad oil surge,
retired to save his engine from blowing. The only Falcon
to feature in the results was the Phase 3 of Murray
Carter, who placed fifth.
It was perhaps a disappointing
end to the championship, but taken overall, the series,
particularly Allan Moffat's performance, was a triumph
for the Falcons, considering the Phase 3's were two
years old by the time the championship was over in
mid-July, and there had been a number of problems following
the change in regulations. The most serious of these,
the oil surge problem, did not trouble the Phase 3's
nearly as much as John Goss's hardtop, but was nevertheless
always there, as Warwick Farm reminded everyone.
the touring car championship had Falcons placed 1st
(Moffat), 7th (Gibson), 8th (Carter),
13th (Goss) and equal 14th (Dickson), Torana’s
finished second (Brock), 10th and equal 13th, plus
- surprisingly - Ford Escorts third (Ritter), fourth
(Holden) and equal 11th (Arnel). For their assault
on the 1973 manufacturer's championship, the Ford works
team introduced the XA Falcon GT hardtop. The introduction
of the hardtops had not been made particularly easy
as Howard Marsden's crew had to contend with a two-month
strike at the Ford factory, which meant the cars had
to be developed at a rushed pace.
Despite this, an
advanced GT Falcon was released onto the market under
the name "GT Special", featuring
a number of bits and pieces which would make the race
cars faster, and also more reliable. The car was introduced
behind a very complex security screen, the idea being
to avoid another "supercar" outburst, and
in fact the general public were never told the car
existed. It was sold at the same price as normal GTs
- $4857 in the case of the manual hardtop.
The GT Special,
which was called RPO83 (Regular Production Option
83) featured certain GTHO Phase 4 bits such as the
780 cfm Holley carburetor and the exhaust headers,
but it did not have the camshaft and valve gear modifications
of the Phase 4, or the special "finned" sump
of that car. The result was a bit of extra power (about
330 bhp at 5400 rpm), most of which came in at the
higher rev ranges, but the scope for race development
was much greater than the standard GT’s. Some
of the GT Specials featured four-wheel disc brakes,
as did the last batch of normal XA GT’s, the
advantages of these in racing being obvious.
homologation of the new brakes, 250 cars had to have
them, and Ford argued that their Landau model, a fully
optioned and dressed-up hardtop with 351 cu.in motor
and four-wheel discs was a variant of the GT Falcon.
The rules stated that if a particular component was
to become part of the future standard pr6duction car,
its incorporation in the race cars was within the regulations.
Ford's 1974 Falcon GT was to get four-wheel discs,
but Ford built enough XA GT’s with the new brakes
just to make sure they were covered.
The works hardtops,
complete with a new blue-and-white color scheme in
place of the familiar overall red, made their debut
in round one of the 1973 manufacturers' championship
over 250kin at Adelaide International Raceway in the
hands of Allan Moffat and Fred Gibson. Also representing
the marque were Kevin Bartlett, the former Gold Star
champion and current Lola Formula 5000 driver in John
Goss's McLeod Ford entered hardtop, by now updated
to the latest specifications, and Murray Carter, who
was also appearing for the first time in a Falcon hardtop.
This first outing for the cars was to be a most successful
one as Falcons took first, second and third places
(Gibson, Bartlett, Moffat) in appallingly wet conditions.
For the Holden Dealer Team the result was far from
good, as Colin Bond crashed his Torana XUA and Peter
Brock was forced to retire with wet electrics. In round
two at Sandown Park, over 460km, the results were reversed,
with Brock and Bond taking the top two positions and
the Falcons of Goss. Gibson and Carter coming home
third, fourth and fifth respectively.
retired from the race with a blown engine after being
well in the lead, and John French, making his debut
in the hardtop, also had to retire with oil pressure
problems. The other Falcon in the race was another
works car in the hands of Ian Geoghegan and Barry Seton.
This car was the first racing Falcon to feature the
new four-wheel discs - as all the world saw when the
car shed its offside rear wheel on the second lap.
The 1973 Bathurst classic was run for the first time
over a distance of 1000 kilometres (630 miles) rather
than 500 miles, due to Australia's conversion to the
metric system. It was also the first to be run under
the new production touring regulations, and there was
some doubt as to how many cars would finish, because
of the dual threat of more highly stressed components
and the extra distance.
For 1973, the classes were
based entirely on engine capacity:- Class A, 0-1300cc;
Class B, 1301-2000cc; Class C, 2001-3000cc; Class D,
over 3000cc. This put the XU-1 Torana’s and the
Falcons in the same class, together with the four E49
Chargers which were running. In all, five Falcons and
17 Torana’s faced the starter. To turn back the
clock a few years to 1969, co-drivers were required
for all the cars because of the extra length of the
Crewing the Falcons were Allan Moffat and fan
Geoghegan in the number one works car, and Fred Gibson
and Barry Seton together again in the number two car.
In the privately entered Falcons, John Goss was with
Kevin Bartlett, John French with Bob Skelton, and Murray
Carter with Laurie Nelson. For the Hoiden Dealer team,
Peter Brock was sharing with Doug Chivas, and Colin
Bond had Leo Geoghegan as his co-driver.
challengers were Bob Jane and John Harvey, plus Don
Holland and Max Stewart, all in XU-1 Torana’s.
Race day was warm and sunny, in direct contrast to
1972's pelting rain, and as the flag fell John Goss,
who had won pole position, leapt to an immediate lead
with Moffat, French and Carter filling the next three
Freddie Gibson's was the first Falcon to retire
with a cooked engine after less than an hour of racing,
his fifth did-not-finish in a row. Meanwhile, Goss
had increased his lead to 10 seconds over Moffat, with
French next, about to be overtaken by Peter Brock and
his XU-1. A very rapid pace was being set by the leaders,
and after only 90 minutes Goss, Moffat, Brock and Bond
were the only drivers on the same lap.
At this stage
things were looking rosy for the Fords, especially
since a number of Torana’s were having
troubles with conrods letting to and valves bending.
The problem was that most of the privately-entered
Torana’s were using 3.08 to 1 final drives, which
meant they had to use a lot of revs to stay with the
Dealer Team cars which were using a taller 2.78 to
1 final drive. The Dealers Team Torana’s were
pulling 6500 rpm on Conrod Straight for a top speed
of 1-50 mph. To match this, the lower-geared Torana’s
would need to have revved to around 7000, a speed of
revolution at which point things start to break.
the race progressed, the Goss/Bartlett car maintained
its advantage, but two things happened which changed
the face of the race: first, the Torana’s of
Bob Jane and George Garth (in a GTR) came into contact,
causing the Garth car to roll right into the path of
John Goss. The resultant damage not only wrecked a tire but also damaged a radiator hose. Goss pitted,
changed the tire and went out again. Secondly, Doug
Chivas, who had taken over from Peter Brock in the
XU-1, ran out of petrol, and had to push the car unaided
up to the pits.
The time lost possibly cost the Holden
Dealer Team car the race. Soon afterwards, the Goss/Bartlett
Falcon retired. The damaged radiator hose caused severe
overheating, ultimately resulting in a well-fried piston.
Understandably, Goss was a little savage about the
whole thing, especially when remembering that the offending
GTR Torana should not have been on the track at all,
as it had been towed to the pits earlier in the race
and was therefore ineligible to restart.
All this drama
put Allan Moffat into a comfortable lead, a lead which
held to the finish, giving him his third Hardie-Ferodo
victory and "Pete" Geoghegan
his first. Toranas filled the following four positions,
headed by Brock and Bond, with the Kaleda/Granger Charger
sixth, and the only other Falcon to finish, the car
of Carter and Nelson, in seventh spot. The Falcon of
John French and Bob Skelton, which was well up with
the leaders in the early stages, blew its motor to
pieces in Pit Straight at about two-thirds distance.
It was a very pleasing result for Ford, with the combination
of Moffat, Geoghegan and Howard Marsden demonstrating
a fine tactical plan and an equally fine execution
of that plan. The two remaining rounds of the manufacturer’s
championship were both disasters for the Fords and
the series went to Holden.
At Surfer's Paradise Gibson,
Moffat, Goss (driving the spare Ford works car with
hastily applied McLeod Ford decals) and French all
withdrew with problems ranging from blown engines (Gibson)
to tires (all the others); in fact Goss ;s car was
one of several which spun into long dry grass and started
a fire. Moffat's drama started as the flag fail when
' he could not engage first gear, and the Fiat 128
of Lakis Manticas ploughed into his boot. Both cars,
however, were*able to continue. The only Falcon to
finish was Murray Carter's, who came home sixth.
In the final round at Phillip Island it was even worse.
John Goss suffered a damaged radiator, Fred Gibson
blew yet another motor and Allan Moffat rolled at 120
mph when a tire blew. Moffat escaped with bruises and-a'
fractured sternum bone. Again, all the Falcons were
suffering tire troubles and were pitting to replace
them with sickening monotony, and again the only Falcon
to finish was that of Murray Carter, a gallant but
miserable 14th. It was a bitterly disappointing end
to the year, and even more so as it was, as we found
out later, the end of an era.
Falcon Race Results 1973
Bathurst Race Results 1973
Bathurst Race Program 1973
Bathurst Memorable Moments