Ford Falcon XA GT hardtop - buyer & value guide

By: Cliff Chambers, Unique Cars magazine

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FORD FALCON XA GT HARDTOP ord Falcon XA GT hardtop - one of the great Aussie Muscle cars. FORD FALCON XA GT HARDTOP

Once dismissed as too big and heavy, these hardtops have become hot property.

Having sat like a flock of shot ducks when its GTHO Phase 4 project was scuppered, the people at Ford ignored the competition potential of their XA Hardtop for more than a year. The superseded Phase 3 ran at Bathurst in 1972 and in 1973 brought Allan Moffat a Touring Car championship but it was that year’s Bathurst 1000 that brought the car’s first success.

Three Bathurst 1000 victories and various other trophies ensured that the two-door GT that had been launched in August 1972 would be a competition success. Winning the sales race was a more difficult task.

Two-door Falcons were similar in size to the four-door cars but headroom was cut by 30mm and rear passenger leg-room by 122mm. The doors and rear body pressings were all new as was the glass, tail-lamp panel boot and other components.

Although they look big and bulky, two-door Fords of this age aren’t especially heavy. With standard gearing and a top speed of 203km/h, mid-range performance is strong; 80-110km/h coming up in a twitch over four seconds.

Fuel consumption for anyone who cared ranged from 18-26L/100km.

GT versions sold only with 5.8-litre, 351 cubic inch engines that developed 224kW. That figure is based on cars with 600cfm carburettors as standard. If you come across one of the scarce RPO83 versions it would have been supplied with a 780cfm carb and special extractor exhausts. Power output for one of those has been estimated at 246kW.

The RPO83s are all manual and have been found with other ‘race spec’ components including a high-capacity sump and rear disc brakes. These items could however have been fitted later in life so cars with original documents listing all factory fitments are highly-prized.

Hardtops with their big windscreen and shallow rear window were regarded as a mid-summer hotbox and cars with working air-conditioning offer an attractive alternative to trusting Ford’s struggling ventilation system.

MARKET REVIEW

Back when XA two-doors were but a few years old, this writer worked as a driver/detailer at a Sydney car auction. We saw plenty of two-door Fairmonts, the odd Landau and a few

GTs (collectively and derisively known by the sales staff as ‘whales’) that had the blokes wielding the gavel in trouble just getting to the reserve price.

Today the scenario is very different and while they won’t all manage the $350,000 bid for a racer with documented provenance, any XA GT Hardtop in decent condition can get into six-digit territory.

Knocking on the door of greatness the highly prized RPO83 is staring at $200,000 and, should Phase 3 values move above $500,000, that may rapidly hit $250,000.

When considering an XA of any kind, rare colours, manual transmission in preference to automatic and period accessories all help bolster values. The cars in greatest demand will have all-original components and their history fully documented.

CHECKLISTS

BODY & CHASSIS

Forty years ago you could put an ear to the XA’s massive rear panels and hear the rust-bugs chomping happily. Lots of rusty XAs, even GTs, were deemed beyond repair due to rust and were scrapped. Others were hacked, welded and filled to get through rego but after a while the rust came back. Most should by now have been properly repaired but if panels look or feel lumpy with inconsistent gloss to the paint, have a body repair specialist inspect the car. Those long, heavy doors play havoc with hinges so check they close easily and don’t rattle. These were the last chrome- bumper Falcons and to justify top money all of the bright-work has to be undamaged.

ENGINE & TRANSMISSION

Ford 351 engines were first seen in Australia almost 40 years ago and pretty much nothing in the carb-fed, pushrod-operated world surpassed their ability to deliver affordable performance. They rattle when cold or when the oil is dirty and if they overheat the piston rings might crack. Should that spawn a trail of blue smoke a few thousand dollars at the engine shop will see everything sorted and ready for another 40 years. The venerable top-loader four speed can be replaced with a good reconditioned unit for $1500-2000 or if you’re mechanically handy the bits needed for a full rebuild cost around $600.

SUSPENSION & BRAKES

These big Fords can be encouraged without spending too much money to handle extremely well. Steering is their weak point and even with the front end in good condition these Falcons will wander on uneven surfaces. Creaks and groans denote tired ball- joints but they aren’t expensive to rectify. Rear springs crack and axle housing can bend, so if the rear wheels splay and the tyres are edge-worn, be suspicious. A soft brake pedal, dirty or leaking fluid are all signs that a major brake overhaul is due. Parts including uprated disc rotors are easily found. If the car has been fitted with larger than standard wheels, ensure the tyres aren’t being damaged by contact with steering components or the rear bodywork.

INTERIOR & ELECTRICS

Worn seat and door trims, carpets and headlining can be replaced at a reasonable cost. Dash units are repairable but removal and refitting are time-consuming so ask for a discount if the car has a seriously cracked dash. New lenses and gauge surrounds are being made. Fuel gauges are unreliable so don’t assume the car has fuel. Power windows that are slow to move, noisy or shudder can be repaired using parts from the USA. Starter motor noise is common but if the Bendix gear makes a nasty noise when engaging, a new starter needs to be in the budget.

VITAL STATS - FORD FALCON XA GT HARDTOP

NUMBER MADE: 891

BODY STYLES: steel integrated body/chassis two-door Hardtop

ENGINE: 5766cc V8 with overhead valves & single downdraft carburettor

POWER & TORQUE: 224kW @ 5400rpm, 513Nm @ 3400rpm

PERFORMANCE: 0-96km/h 7.2 seconds, 0-400 metres 15.1 seconds (4 speed)

TRANSMISSION: three-speed automatic, four-speed manual

SUSPENSION: Independent with coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers & anti-roll bar (f) Live axle with coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers (r)

BRAKES: disc (f) drum (r) power assisted

TYRES: E70HR14 radial

 

VALUE GUIDE - FORD FALCON XA GT HARDTOP

FAIR $35,000

GOOD $80,000

EXCELLENT $130,000

(Note: concours & special cars may demand more.)

Numbers from our 2017-18 Muscle Cars Value Guide.

Muscle Car Value Guide home page

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