Ford Falcon ED XR8 Sprint: Future classic

By: John Wright

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Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint
Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint
Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint
Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint
Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint
Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint
Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint
Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint
Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint
Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint
Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint
Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint
Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint
Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint
Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint
Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint Ford ED XR8 Sprint

John Wright looks at what makes the XR8 Sprint a worthy future classic...

Ford Falcon ED XR8 Sprint: Future classic
Future classic: Ford ED XR8 Sprint

 

Future classics: Ford ED XR8 Sprint

The relationship between the 25th Anniversary Falcon GT and the XR8 Sprint that followed is fascinating. The former made its debut just weeks after the original (EB II) S-XR6. It was the first car developed by Tickford Vehicle Engineering (TVE) for Ford Australia; the S-XR8 that preceded the six-pack by three months was developed in-house.

Under the late Howard Marsden, Tickford’s product planners conceived the XR6 as ‘family sports’. A clear idea of what Marsden meant by this came when he was asked why it didn’t have more expensive tyres. "We’re not falling for the soft rubber trick," he replied. The customer Marsden had in mind was happy to sacrifice the last nuance of grip in exchange for longer tyre life and lower replacement cost.

The S-XR6 was lighter and more poised than the XR8. Around a track it displayed better turn-in and balance than any HSV, and in manual form lapped Phillip Island in 2:04.

The ED superseded the EB II and another ‘hero’ car was needed. The S-XR8 (the ‘S’ prefix was dropped for the ED Sprint and altogether with EF) has Marsden’s fingerprints all over it.

He conceived the ED Sprint in precisely the idiom of that first S-XR6: understated, mechanically sophisticated, fast and balanced. "The Sprint still holds a ‘Family Sports’ position," he said at the launch. "It’s a Q-car that says, ‘I’ll see you at the traffic lights’."

It was also a case of ‘I’ll see you at the track’ because, like the S-XR6, the Sprint felt much more poised than a standard XR8 through the flowing corners of Phillip Island. The S-XR8 was redlined at 5000rpm, the Sprint, tellingly, at 5500rpm; this wasn’t just PR bullshit.

Interestingly, the Sprint used the powertrain and running gear of the GT, but maximum power was rated at 192kW rather than the full 200kW (on paper). But the Sprint was also 80kg lighter, which made it quicker. Zero to 100km/h took 7.3sec compared with 7.6 for the GT manual.

In late 1993 these times were still considered very quick for any four-door sedan, the WRX being a year or so away from its local debut.

Curiously, neither the flamboyant 25th Anniversary GT nor the subtle XR8 Sprint have retained much value. Both are sleepers. The GT started out at $62,500 and Glass’s Guide now puts an excellent example at $15,700. The Sprint cost $45K versus a standard ED S-XR8’s $35,490 and, according to the guide, top money is $10,700 and $5900 respectively.

One problem with hot Fords and Holdens is that they no longer seem hot compared with their successors. Nevertheless, the true nature of the Sprint beneath its bland wrappings surely guarantees a decent return for anyone happy to lock one away for a few years. Much as I loved the EB GT when it was new, it is ultimately a less genuine jigger than the XR8 Sprint, which promised less, but delivered more.

 

*****

 

More reviews:

> Buyer's guide: Ford Falcon AU XR8/Tickford T-Series

> Budget classic: Ford Falcon XR6

> Buyer's guide: Ford BA Falcon XR6 Turbo (2002-2007)

 

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